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Searching for the Rainbow

I walked outside and said out loud, “Now there is something that you don’t see every day.”  It was a rainbow glistening against the dark gray sky to the east over the baseball diamond across the street. The sun shone brightly above me; the drizzle still managed to drop tiny sprinkles on my face. It was refreshing and the earth was alive with spring. The worst was gone and the beautiful colors of orange, blue, pink, and orange painted the sky what was left after a downpour. I always attempt to find the pot of gold at the end of her arc.

I have seen a few really good rainbows over the years. The most beautiful one I have ever seen was in Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa. I have long ago lost the photograph, but the image remains in my mind like a stiff breeze from the west.

I thought about the Genesis story where God gets a bit upset at how crazy life on the planet had become, so he wipes everybody out with a storm and started again. A reboot, if you will. When I read the story, I hear a God who loves and yet becomes intolerable of us fickle folks who go our own way. God is always in love with us but at times intolerant, like a parent with a teenager.

That story is not about water, rain, or even rainbows even though the primary image is a rainbow. The rainbow is for God. The story is about God. The rainbow reminds God that we are loved though God becomes intolerant with us at times, and rightly so because we are intolerable upon occasion.

Lent is a good time to think about how we have strayed near and far making us a bit intolerable. In the midst of crazy times there is a divine antidote. The world is always being flooded with divine fidelity in the midst of all or collusions with infidelities.

I say collusion intentionally because that is the word of the season. Was there collusion, we are all asking?  As people of faith we have to come to grips with all of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we do, in fact, collude with our fickleness.

We still collude with Pharaoh, a ruler of absolutism who is certain of his own opinion, perhaps it is a military-economic-political leader, perhaps a gnawing moralism, perhaps a closed-down sense of self, or a failed family with eating disorders, dysfunctional, addictions, anxiety erodes fearful communities exhausted and at their wits end.

We still collude with the magicians of Pharaoh’s day trying to please the emperor with new ideologies to control, bring justice with forced rule of law from the top down. Liberals love the certitude that comes from this top down, increase government manner.  Conservatives love control and certitude that hangs on to what we have by closing the purse strings on God, people and neighbor. We collude by forcing our pet project, favorite idea, doctrine, program, word, song, musical style on everyone else simply to hang on and outlive our true fear and anxiety, that we cannot control a thing. Not a lick of it.

We all collude with someone or something. We are all fickle.  So, when things get a little crazy for everyone, God gives us a rainbow. So, he will remember as we ought to recall as well. There still is a downpour of love for all people. There is room for all people. All people still matter. Why? Because God is. Or shorter yet, because God.

 

God can accomplish good in all things. And God does accomplish in all things, good. IF, and it is a pretty big IF, IF we allow God to have Gods way with everything and everyone.

So, the rainbow is aimed at God. But it would help if we noticed it too. The rainbow is a reminder that the craziness of all of our collusions is our making, not God’s.  The rainbow is to remind God that God loves us and there is an ocean of fidelity drenching us all around IF we get on that ship, or should I say ark.

That ark has many names. Here are a few: dazzling, surprising, loyal, safe, free, peaceable, just and on and on the names go. The names are as endless as the great theological words in the totality of the text are. If we only remember them. If we only receive them. If we only get out of our own way to live into them.

Bring on the Rainbows, bring on new life, bring on the Friday death to Easter Sunday new life preening across the landscape story. As far as I am concerned, it cannot come fast enough!

Searching for the rainbow,  Tobin

 

Posted by Tobin Wilson with
in Lent

A Follower's Indentity

Stop the train, I wanna get off! Have you ever had a day when you said that to yourself?  I have them once in a while. Well, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, Resurrection Sunday is a time to stop the train and get off for a bit, at least metaphorically speaking. I recently came across this reading by Walter Brueggemann in a Lenten devotional that I thought was really good and worth sharing:

 

An Old Identity Made New

Seek the Lord while he may be found,call upon him while he is near;let the wicked forsake their way,and the unrighteous their thoughts;let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God,  for  he  will  abundantly  pardon.—Isaiah 55:6–7 

These verses are a familiar call to worship or a call to repentance, not a bad accent for Lent. The face of God shown here is of a Lord near at hand, ready to forgive, a God of grace. But this is a God to whom a turn must be made, a God of demand, a God of demand ready to be a God of grace . . . not just hard demand, not just easy grace, but grace and demand, the way all serious relationships work.

The imperative is around four verbs, “seek, call, forsake, return,” good Lenten verbs. But this is not about generic repentance for generic sin. I believe, rather, the sin addressed concerns for Jews too eager to become Babylonians, too easy to compromise Jewish identity, Jewish faith, Jewish discipline—in order to get along in a Babylonian empire that had faith in other gods with other disciplines. The imperatives are summons to come back to an original identity, an elemental discipline, a primal faith.

I suggest, moreover, that these are just about the right imperatives for Lent among us Christians. For I believe the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence. 

The good news for the church is that nobody, liberal or conservative, has high ground. The hard news is that the Lenten prerequisite for mercy and pardon is to ponder again the initial identity of baptism … “child of the promise,”… “to live a life worthy of our calling,” worthy of our calling in the face of false patriotism; overheated consumerism; easy, conventional violence; and limitless acquisitiveness. Since these forces and seductions are all around us, we have much to ponder in Lent about our baptismal identity. Lent is a time to consider again our easy, conventional compromises and see again about discipline, obedience, and glad identity. And the climax of these verses:   

that he may have mercy . . .   

for he will abundantly pardon.    Isa. 55:7 

The word to the compromised deportees is that God’s face of pardon and mercy is turned exactly to the ones who reengage an identity of faith.

 

Here’s to remembering our baptismal identity…

Tobin

 

 

Posted by Tobin Wilson with

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