Rainbows in a Fallen World
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 3 December 2021
Noah and his family leave the ark, together with all the living creatures that God has saved. But this is not a return to the innocence and goodness of the first creation, where humans lived at peace with the animals and all creatures were content with only fruit and green plants for food (Genesis 1: 29 – 30). Now the fear and dread of human beings will fall upon all living creatures and God will demand a reckoning for any human life taken by another. It is as if God has accepted that humanity has fallen and there is no way back. The world is no longer as God intended it, at the beginning of creation, but what choice does God have? To end it all again – or to live with it and try and restrain humanities worst destructive tendencies.
In the end, with infinite compassion and grace, God takes the latter option. God makes a promise that he will never again destroy all life on earth, no matter how bad things get. And the rainbow is a sign of that promise. It is a sign of hope that the world is held in being because God has promised that it shall be so.
Julian of Norwich, a mystic from the 14th century put it like this,
“God showed me a little thing, the size of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand. I looked upon it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And I was answered thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for its littleness. And I was answered, “It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it.”
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
And so it is with the world. God made it, God loves it and God keeps it.
On the second Sunday of Advent, we are encouraged to look forward to the time foreseen by the prophets, when there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which men and women will live in peace with one another and with all living creatures – just as it was in the beginning. Until then we live in the in-between times, in an imperfect world of fear and doubt and compromise. Yet still we have cause for hope, as we remember the rainbow, God’s promise to us, that,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning,
Great is God’s faithfulness.
Song: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.
We thank you for the promises that run through your word from the glorious rainbow of Genesis to the vision of the new heaven and new earth that we find in the prophets and the book of Revelation.
Help us to know that our world is in your hands and under your protection
And may we be encouraged by your steadfast love and never-ending mercies
To commit ourselves to caring for your world and the people within it.
For we ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen