As springtime approaches and we start to see a little more rain, I start to get very hopeful. Don’t get me wrong, the dreariness of the rain can make me long for the sun…but I know what the rain brings. I know that the earth and plants need the moisture to replenish and prepare to grow and come alive again.
Winter can provide such a small dimension of colors as everything hibernates: trees have no leaves, grass is dormant and yellow, even the sky can be cloud-covered and gray. But then, as spring approaches and the rain comes, everything that seems asleep or dead, starts to take in the moisture to begin a process we only get to anticipate, and not yet see. Sometimes the rain just makes everything look even a little bit more dreadful.
This is sometimes the underlying feeling in the church during Lent. There is a lot going on as far as preparation for remembering the journey towards the cross that Jesus took. There can be a feeling of solemnity. When we get even closer to Holy Week, we can be reminded of the sacrifices He made for us in the stories we might read or hear in our worship services…and that can lead to a feeling of dread or apprehension.
Noah, one of my favorite characters, felt fear, apprehension, and dread, He had to! He watched as the entire world was overtaken by a flood that destroyed all that he had ever known. The desolation after the great flood had to be overwhelming.
There are so many examples of apprehension or solemnity in the stories with which we are familiar!
That is never where the story ends, though, because that’s not who our God is! Our God is a God of promises and hope. And this is where we can tap into the hopeful feelings of the promises made and kept.
We know what happens at the end of Lent…there is hope in a promise kept!!! He rose from the dead on the third day: a promise kept. His Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples with the vow to always remain with them: a promise kept. He continues to be with us to this day: a promise kept.
If we go back again to Noah’s story, God made a covenant with Noah and his family after the great flood was over.
“And God said: “This is the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My everlasting [promise]. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds I will see it and remember.”
So God said to Noah, “this is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on earth.” (Gen 9:12-17)
There are plenty of reasons to feel dread or feel weary of the weather we see and maybe even the time of year as Lent is not known to be entirely celebratory, but more solemn. In the solemnity, though, may we find time to prepare our hearts with great hope for the promises that await us. Let us note this in the weather around us. Let us feel it in the air. Let us move, like the earth and plants around us, to take in the hope and anticipate the life and promise that we know in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Let us be a colorful, rainbow reflection of His love and promises kept in a world that needs hope.
Wrap it up:
Lord, as we prepare our hearts to remember your sacrifice, may we see around us the many signs you give of the promise that your sacrifice afforded. Thank you for giving us the sun in the sky which helps to illuminate all living things. But thank you, more importantly for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, through whom all things live!
For I know the plans I have for you, plans for hope and a future (Jer 29:11)