While our family was on vacation in Virginia this summer, we had thunderstorms nearly every afternoon. So much so that we began to wonder if we had somehow ended up in Florida. It is, after all, 2020 when anything can happen! After one particular thunderstorm, we saw the most vibrant double rainbow that I had ever seen. It was beautiful and lasted about 20 minutes.
As a Christian, the rainbow makes me immediately think of the story of Noah found in Genesis. You remember that after the flood that God made an unconditional covenant with Noah to never again flood the earth. As a sign of the covenant, God put a rainbow in the sky. Certainly, this wasn’t the first rainbow, but there was now new meaning attached to the rainbow.
I heard Dr. Sandra Richter, a professor of the Old Testament, speak on the Noah story at a conference I attended. She said that the same word that is translated as “rainbow” can also be translated as “warrior’s bow.” When God puts a rainbow in the sky, the image of the story is that God has hung up his warrior’s bow. God would not destroy the earth again. As God hangs a bow in the sky, God extends grace in the midst of our sinfulness. God does not move us to repentance out of fear or violence, but out of kindness, love, and grace. Paul reminds us in Romans 2:4 that it is God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.
The hits keep on coming in 2020. On a macro level, we’ve experienced the continent of Australia on fire, Murder Hornets, Tornadoes, Derechos, civil unrest, fires, COVID-19 and the fallout from the outbreak. On a micro level, we each have wrestled with our own circumstances: financial uncertainty, relationship struggles, anxiety, fear, doubt, and so on. We can be tempted to believe that God is a warrior in the clouds with his bow aimed at us, waiting for a misstep in order to send some punishment our way. The story of Noah reminds us that God has hung up the bow. That God has not forgotten you. That God is for you and not against you.
As the Church, we have the opportunity to reflect the posture of God to the world. As our neighbors experience the same uncertainties, fears, and worries that we do, we can model the love, grace and kindness of God. We can point people to the hope that we have in God, who is making all things new.
Steve LaMotte is the Lead Pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, DE. He has been involved at Delanco as a Dean, Evangelist, Worship Leader, and Bible Teacher. He is married to Andrea (a Delanco alum) and they have four kids: Abbie, Chloe, Malachi, and Caleb who love Jesus and Delanco.