LOOK UP. WAY UP. THERE IS A RAINBOW.
GENESIS 9:8-17, PSALM 25, MARK 1:9-15
October 1, 2000 by Tad Mitsui
I moved quite a few times in my life, and worked in different places and in several countries. From that experience, I can say that it takes two years before one can start working effectively in another place. In the first year, you notice and only hate the differences from the place you lived before, and remember how good things were. In the second year, you begin to forget the old and begin to appreciate the new place. The third year is the time to start functioning effectively living in their language and loving the food. You don”t have to hate or forget the old ways. Your past is what has made you what you are, and without it you lose your sense of identity. The secret to a successful transition is seeing beauty in both the past and the future. Rainbow is a fitting metaphor for such a time.
A rainbow appears in an in-between time, as the sun comes out when the rain is not quite finished. It is beautiful, because the interaction between rain and the sun brings out all colours of the sun separately. After the flood, God showed Noah a rainbow as a sign of hope. Today, we are living in between times. We are still living partly in the past, though it is passing. And we are moving into a time zone we have never seen. It is not an easy time. However, the message of the rainbow is that the time in between times can be beautiful, bringing out the grace of the past and the hope of the future. It is a time to remember and appreciate the old times and hope for the better times in future. Old ways do not work any more and new ways are so new that we are not quite comfortable with them. Often we hate the new ways or are scared of them. Religion seem to be on the way out and the church seems to be on the decline. Families do not look the same any more. However, we must realize that the notion of the "good old days" were not always so wonderful. If we remember how we used to live and work, we are living better today and enjoying things that we had never believed possible even a few decades ago. Times are definitely better today in many ways. We suffer today because we live in a time between times, and not so much because we don”t live in the so-called good old days. The good old days were not as good as we want to brag about.
Noah and his family lost everything they owned in the terrible flood. But eventually the rains stopped and land became dry. Standing in the middle of vast devastation, Noah and his family were lost and asked themselves, "What now?" They did not see that the future was theirs to make. All they saw was enormous uncertainty. They could see only the vast wilderness of chaos and wrecked humanity, and could not look up to see a beautiful rainbow of hope and possibilities of the future. Noah was a good and righteous man. But he had difficulty coping with a normal life after the experience of terrible calamity and trials. Noah had difficulty coping with an enormous potential offered by future. After the first harvest, Noah became uncontrollably drunk. He lay naked on the ground and fell asleep. His sons were so ashamed of their father and walked backward towards him trying not to see their father”s nakedness in order to cover him. Time inbetween times was difficult for Noah. Even he had a hard time coping with the first bumper crop.
It is important to remember the past, appreciate it and learn from it. But also it is equally important to let go of the past and move forward into the future, hopefully, and joyfully. Neglecting either of those times will cause disasters. When the past is good, one wants to remain in the past, basking in nostalgia, and does not want to look into the future. This situation creates a person who refuses to grow up. On the other hand, when the past is bad, one wants to forget it as fast as possible and run as quickly as one can into the future. Such a person is condemned to repeat the mistakes that caused the disaster, because this person does not know how to learn from past mistakes.
Jesus saw the rainbow of the covenant of God, when he was tempted in the wilderness. Satan offered some self-serving options for him. Money, power and popularity were attractive options for many past leaders. Jesus rejected those options. He saw God”s options differently. Jesus lived the life dedicated to others. The other end of the bargain for us in this covenant was our pledge to take care of God”s creation by loving our neighbours and taking care of this world. Let us come together to renew our promise to build and maintain the community of caring and sharing. Let us see a rainbow and celebrate it.