We follow a God who desires not the death of a sinner, but that we all repent and live.
We follow a God who promises to be, and has been, with us through the storms of our lives.
We follow a God who reached down into the dust of the earth to breath life into humanity - and then, even when we turned away, came down and became the dust of the earth to redeem us.
I found this writing by Bruce Pewer a few years ago in one of his sermons on this text and it continues to stay with me:
Rejoice in the rainbow. It is the sign of God’s steadfast love which promises not destruction but hope and reconstruction. It is on the basis of God’s covenant love that we dare to confront evil; it enables us to laugh in the face of the evil one, taking initiative and daring to be pro-active.
Against all the evil you see in the world, against all the injustice and corruption you observe in our nation, against all the perverse evil you see raising its sneaky head within yourself, dare to paint a rainbow!
Paint a rainbow over your frustrating failings and wilful sins, and over your irksome doubts and ignorance.
Over your sins within family life, or the ugly compromises you may have had to make in the sphere of your daily work, set that rainbow.
Project a rainbow over the motley fellowship which is the church, with its flawed ministers, stumbling leaders and its sometimes passive congregations.
In your mind paint a rainbow wherever flawed and lost humanity struggles to find a way of its own mess.
The rainbow is a permanent sign of God’s faithful love. A love which not only creates, but constantly recreates and redeems.
So today, we literally painted a rainbow to remember God's promises. We painted a rainbow to remember how God has blessed us in the past. And we painted a rainbow to be a sign to us - even in these dark days - that God is with us, and that even in the wilderness of Lent, God will send angels to care for us.
In some ways - personally - with all of the excitement and joy that I wanted this response to hold, as a congregation we had heavy hearts this morning. Right before the service, we learned of the sudden death of one of our own. In more ways than one, this message about the rainbow in the midst of storm clouds really served as comfort and hope, even in the midst of our grief and sadness.
While there of course have been deaths in the congregation prior to this point, none have hit me quite so close as this one. We have said goodbye to many dear sweet older folks this past year, and in some ways, because I was new, and because many of them were in the nursing home and not actively present in the church, it has been easier to be the comforting pastor. This particular passing is the husband of someone I have gotten to know quite well in the past year. And I pray with all of my heart for God's strength to help me minister to her and her family in these coming days.