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Chasing Rainbows

Date: 
February 4, 2018
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
Genesis 9:8-17

Theme: “Every time you see a rainbow, it represents the victory of grace over judgment.”

INTRODUCTION

  • Do you have a favorite philosopher? I do - Kermit the Frog!
  • Kermit once mused: Why are there so many songs ~ songs about rainbows ~ and what’s on the other side… Rainbows are visions ~ they’re only illusions ~ and rainbows have nothing to hide… Someday we’ll find it… the Rainbow Connection… The lovers, the dreamers and me.
  • Have you ever seen a rainbow and wondered what’s on the other side?
  • Have you ever chased a rainbow seeking the treasure at its end?
  • Rainbows have intrigued and fascinated people throughout the ages and caused them to wonder about their meaning…
  • Rainbows have been the subject of powerful legends, myths and mystery all over the world…
  • What do you see when you see a rainbow?
    • Do you see the sun shining through the rain – an extraordinary natural wonder – and become mesmerized by its breathtaking beauty?
    • Do you see the full spectrum of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet… as if God’s crayons had tumbled from the box?
    • Do you see a bridge or a ladder leading to heaven or perhaps to somewhere unknown?
    • Do you see the promise of God -  The reminder that every time we deserve judgment, God showers us with grace?
  • My message this morning is all about rainbows… if you remember only one thing from this message, I hope that you will remember this: the rainbow is a sign that God is a God of grace, a God of patience, a God of peace.  REPEAT!

 

GENESIS

  • In scripture the rainbow always symbolizes God’s glory – the radiance of God’s beauty, holiness and perfection…  (Ezekiel 1:28; Rev. 4:3; Rev. 10:1; Habakkuk 2:14)
  • The rainbow displays God’s grace toward all humanity, not just toward a chosen few…
  • The first rainbow appears in the story of Noah and the great flood (Genesis 9.)
    • The Bible tells us that the rainbow did not occur until after the flood… after the 40 days and nights of hard rain… after the rising waters… after the waters dissipated… after Noah, his family, and the animals had lived on the ark for 375 days…
    • Noah saw the rainbow as a sign that his voyage was over and his life could return to calmness and peace, which, I’m quite sure, were in short supply on the ark…
    • For Noah the rainbow was a reassuring sign - a welcoming sign of safety…
  • God had experienced a change of heart…
    • God sent the flood as a sign of judgement… humanity had not behaved… God’s intention  was to wipe out the entire earth with the exception of Noah, his family, and two of every living species of animals – the seed that would begin life again…
    • But when God saw what had happened, God’s heart changed… and God promised that never again would God cause a flood to destroy the earth…
    • As a sign, or reminder, of God’s covenant promise with every living creature for all successive generations, God placed a rainbow in the sky.
    • The rainbow was a reminder for God, but it was also our reminder that God is a God of grace, a God of patience, a God of peace.

 

OPEN AND AFFIRMING

  • A year ago this month, after much discussion, the members of Dennis Union Church voted to be officially recognized by the United Church of Christ as an “Open & Affirming” congregation… in practice, we have been an “ONA” congregation for more than 30 years…
    • “By declaring that we are an ONA congregation we lift up the torch – along with a growing number of other churches – for all to see…
    • … We want to say, ‘Come here if you don’t feel safe or wanted or embraced by others and by God’s love…
    • … if you yearn to breathe free, come here!’”  (Ahrens)
    • Our goal is to truly welcome all people!
  • Sadly some folks have never been welcomed by the churches they have tried to attend… I’m not just talking about folks from the LGBTQ community… I’m taking about folks of minority races, about folks with disabilities – folks who may not have sound minds or bodies, about folks who grew up on the other side of the tracks or live on the far side of town, about folks who may struggle to make ends meet, about folks who can’t contribute anything but themselves… the list could go on.
  • Churches have not always been welcoming and churches have not always been safe…
  • “The church should never be a place that judges, condemns, demonizes or destroys.” (Ahrens)
  • When our committee completed the writing of Dennis Union Church’s “Open and Affirming Covenant,” we knew that we had just taken the first step. We knew we had more work to do… we knew that the next step would be to get the word out…. If we made the very best pies on Cape Cod, wouldn’t we want everyone to know it? If we had the biggest pipe organ east of the Mississippi, wouldn’t we advertise it?
  • I feel that we, the members of DUC, have been keeping a secret… yes, we are an ONA congregation, but who knows it? I fear it’s just those of us on the inside.
  • How do the folks “out there” – the folks who are not currently church members – know that we are an ONA congregation?
    • I hope they will know that by our actions, by the welcome they receive if they do come into our church…
    • But in order to let the secret out, we need to create some signage that everyone can see…
    • Those who have been badly battered and mistreated by the churches in their past need to see some visible sign to let them know that they will be safe here at DUC…
  • The most recognizable sign is a rainbow…
    • Yes, the rainbow has had special significance to the LGBTQ community since it was adopted in the 1970s as their symbol…
    • But the LGBTQ community is not the only community to adopt the rainbow:
      • In the 16th century the rainbow was the symbol of the German peasants…
      • The rainbow was the symbol adopted by the Masons for their auxiliary for young women…
      • The Rev. Jesse Jackson while working toward civil rights and voter registration adopted the rainbow as the symbol of the Rainbow Coalition…
      • The rainbow remains a peace symbol in Europe today…
      • For many the rainbow is a symbol of inclusivity, equality, and unity…
  • I’d like to see a rainbow flag, or banner, or ribbon on the front of our church to show that all are welcome!
  • Being an ONA congregation does not indicate that we are focusing on just one group of people, the LGBTQ community…
    • “to be OPEN means we welcome all sorts of people and recognize that God is embodied in each of us in some unique way…
    • ... each of us brings our own color and flavor and texture to the mix…
    • … when we listen to each other and love each other as Jesus loved, we get an amazing glimpse of God’s will and intent.”  (McCall)
    • “Our diversity is a strength… our different perspectives are a gift from God… our many colors, ideas, opinions, and convictions remind us that God doesn’t see in black and white.”  (McCall)

 

CONCLUSION

  • A rainbow is a reminder that God loves us no matter who we are.
  • A rainbow on a church indicates that you are welcome here, you are safe here.
  • No matter who you are or where you have been on life’s journey, you are welcome here, you are safe here.
  • “You are welcome here if you want to grow in faith and if you want to offer your varied gifts for the sake of the community of believers.” (McCall)
  •  “Every time you see a rainbow, it represents the victory of grace over judgment.” (God’s Rainbow Covenant)
  • The rainbow is a sign that God is a God of grace, a God of patience, a God of peace. 
  • We are called to truly love one another… We should be a people of grace, patience and peace…

 

  • Sermon Seeds
  • Interpreter’s Bible – Genesis 9
  • God’s Rainbow Covenant – a sermon from Grace to You (http://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-263 Copyright @2018 Grace to You
  • Extravagant Love and Welcome: Uniting All in One Community – part 3 of 5 – sermon written by Rev. Dr. Timothy Ahrens   http://www.first-church.org
  • A Rainbow Marriage – sermon by Forrest Wickman
  • The Promise of the Rainbow – sermon by Fr. Almquist
  • The Rainbow Covenant – sermon by Daniel E.H. Bryant
  • The Rainbow Road – a sermon on Noah and the Flood – Rev. Teri Peterson
  • Indivisible – sermon by Ellen Jennings
  • A Rainbow World – sermon by Rev. Suzelle Lynch
  • God’s Box of Crayons –sermon by John B. McCall

Worship Bulletin

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