“over the rainbow”
Gen 9:16 “Whenever the
rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant
between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth”
of York Gave Battle in Vain”
It’s a mnemonic - if you can remember the words,
you can also remember the colours of the rainbow -
Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet
The rainbow contains every colour - “all the colours of
the rainbow” -
each clearly to be seen, yet all merging at their edges into each other.
So it has become for us a sign of inclusivity, unity and diversity.
South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation -
a reference to post Apartheid land in which every colour has a place
and Gay groups have for many years now
used the Rainbow symbol standing for the need to honour and
respect those of differing sexual orientation within wider society
· Half a dozen European nations have
spawned Rainbow Coalitions -
groups of politically distinct and disparate parties
who have none the less come together for an overriding purpose.
From which we go back to the story of Noah.
When the flood has abated and the ark is back on dry land,
God makes a covenant with Noah,
and gives a symbol of his promise - the rainbow
On a day
when a new report identifies particular
British prejudice and hostility towards Muslims,
we need to recall the covenant made between God and all his people -
regardless of their race or colour or creed or political or sexual orientation.
It is truly a Rainbow Covenant.
Read on through the Bible and you find covenants between
and a group which is very specific in religious and ethnic terms.
The covenants with Abraham and Moses relate specifically to the Children of Israel -
But remember in Noah’s time there were no Children of Israel -
Abraham was yet to be born
The later covenants with Israel are thus a specific
of a wider and more inclusive covenant with and for all people -
indeed with “all living creatures of every kind on the earth”.
And it is
the most generous of covenants.
God doesn’t say “I will keep my side of the covenant
· if you go to Synagogue every Saturday or chapel every Sunday,
· if you help people stuck in the snow,
· if you tell the truth and wash behind your ears.
No he says to the whole world, to every living creature on our rainbow planet, “You are mine and I promise to be faithful to you.”
In the story God actually says He will never flood the
I am sure that the original tellers and hearers of the Noah myth
understood this in a very straightforward way.
God organized the weather,
and this was a meteorological management decision on his part.
The floodgates were literally to be kept closed.
you who work at the Met Office
might not see it quite so simply.
· Tsunamis can happen - and sadly do happen.
· Global warming may well happen
(if humanity continues in its current selfish and blinkered approach)
and then nothing will save the Maldives
and much of Bangladesh from another great flood.
We now know that God doesn’t control the weather like
But at a deeper more profound level his promise remains -
simply a promise that death and evil and destruction
will never have the last word.
It is the promise that
· even if my home is flooded, my land submerged,
· even if I die, you die,
if global warming or biological warfare
destroys our very planet
yet still will God be there for us - he will never desert us.
Remember Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz?
“Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds Are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops that's where you'll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true”
“Over the Rainbow”
Well - one day we believe that God’s promise
to us will be fulfilled-
and that in another world the dreams we dare to dream on earth
will come true -
And though there is not be a crock of gold
at the end of the rainbow,
there will be yet be something far richer -
a city of God whose streets in John’s vision are paved with gold
and in which there shall be no more crying
for every tear shall be wiped away.
And if this is a hard time for you - remember
- God is faithful -
he has covenanted with us, and his covenant endures
and all will be well and all will be well.
But meanwhile we are not yet over the rainbow,
we are still in the storm -
and the streets are paved with ice not gold
and dreams often seem impossible.
So what do we do?
begin with a prayer from Guatemala:
“Lord, forgive us the narrowness of vision
that sees only the clouds but misses the rainbow.”
Then in the midst of the clouds,
lets come to our covenant renewal and say
“Lord, you have promised us you unconditional love and
let me offer you in return nothing less than the same.
Lord, you have embraced each of us whatever our colour or creed -
let me do no less for others in your name
Lord, you have committed yourself to this whole planet -
let us likewise work for the good of planet earth.
· Lord, you have given
us a rainbow -
let us work your rainbow work.
Weaving Rainbows isn’t always easy -
it often means making complex ethical and political decisions -
everyone from Moses onwards knew that.
Thomas Muntzer, (1489-1525)
carried a Rainbow Flag
with a Peasant’s Boot superimposed on it -
he was an early Protestant preacher
who led the ill fated Peasant’s War in the name of
a working class Gospel against the secular and religious authorities.
Martin Luther condemned the revolt
as an ungodly attack on the appointed authorities.
Mercenary soldiers butchered the peasants.
Chasing rainbows isn’t always easy or straightforward.
Nearly 500 years later, Donald Eadie tells
how a group of women in his congregation were debating
what they should do on Good Friday -
should they attend the service in the chapel,
or take the Good Friday Cross to the peace camp
on the edge of the Greenham Common Nuclear Base?
Donald recalls that they chose Greenham Common.
They returned for the Easter services
and Donald asked them what it was like.
“We laughed” they said,
“and we wove wool into the wire fencing to make rainbows”
Donald Eadie, Grain in Winter
I leave you to judge appropriate responses
to the Duke of Saxony in 1520s or the USAF in the 1980s
But the Covenant Service is not historical
it is a call to action - today and tomorrow.
Next time you see a rainbow in the sky,
thank God for his covenant with us and all his people,
and his promise never ever to let us go.
And next time you see a fence or an army or an
abuse of power
its time to start building arks and dreaming dreams -
its time to get out your wool and start weaving rainbows.
Thus may we in our day and age
also covenant with our God.
And thus, as he is our God,
so in word and deed shall we be his people.
Order of Service
10th January 2010
Sunday after Epiphany
10.30 a.m. Annual Covenant Renewal Service
with Holy Communion led by Andrew Sails
Theme: “Over the Rainbow”
Hymn 11 “Lord of all Being”
Prayers (Methodist Worship Book
Readings: Genesis 9:8-16 (p.10)
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (p.1029)
Hymn “A Hymn of the Incarnation”
[Michael Forster, CTBI “All Year Round 1999” CCLI No 58752 Tune HAP 204]
Sermon: “Over the Rainbow”
Hymn 685 “O Love that wilt not let me go”
Introduction to the Covenant (MWB p.285)
Prayers of Confession (MWB p.285)
Covenant Renewal (MWB p. 289, “B”)
Silence (congregation sits)
Prayers of Intercession (MWB p.290)
Peace (MWB p.291)
Hymn “In Christ Alone”
[During which the collection is taken and the offertory brought forward)
[SOF 1346 Stuart Townend & Keith Getty (alt) © Thankyou Music CCLI 58752]
Holy Communion (congregation remains standing)
Minister: Lift up your Hearts.
All: We lift them up to the Lord.
Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Minister: Father we give you thanks for all your love for us throughout history,
for the gift of your Son, living our life from stable to cross,
walking alongside us in our pain and sorrow, even unto death.
So with the heavenly choir we join the song of praise:
Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord;
거룩 거룩 거룩하신
Minister: On the night he was betrayed,
the Lord Jesus took bread,
he gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying “Take, eat, this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.”
the same way he took the cup;
he gave thanks and gave it to them saying:
“Drink of it, all of you; this is my blood of the new Covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Hear us, O Christ,
and breathe your Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and wine.
May they become for us your body, vibrant with your life,
healing, renewing and making us whole.
And as the bread and wine which we now eat and drink are changed into us, may we be changed again into you,
bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, loving and caring in the world.
The Breaking of the Bread
Minister: Look, the Body of Christ is broken for the life of the world.
Song:“Bread is blessed and broken” [The congregation sits to sing]
1. Bread is blessed and broken,
Wine is blessed and poured:
Take this and remember
Christ the Lord.
4. God has kept his promise
Sealed by sign and word:
Here, for those who want him -
Christ the Lord.
[NHAWS 33 © 1989 Iona Community. CCLI No 58752]
Distribution of Bread and Wine
Minister: Jesus said, “I am the bread of
life”. Those who come to me shall not
and those who believe in me shall never thirst. Draw near with faith.
invited to receive bread & wine.
Please come forward to the rail when the steward indicates.
Please fill up the rail from the centre and return to your seats via the side aisles.
Should you wish to receive a blessing only, simply come forward to the rail,
but do not hold out your hand for bread & wine.]
Prayer after Communion:
All: God of power,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
and may the gifts of your Spirit equip us
to serve and worship you
now and always. Amen.
Hymn 267 “Love Divine” (Tune Blaenwern)
1. 하나님의 크신 사랑 하늘로서 내리사
우리 맘에 항상 계셔 온전하게 합소서
나의 주는 자비하사 사랑 무한 하시니
두려워서 떠는 자를 구원하여 줍소서
2. 전능하신 아버지여 주의 능력 주시고
우리맘에 임하셔서 떠나가지 맙소서
주께 영광 항상돌려 천사처럼 섬기며
주의 사랑 영영토록 찬송하게 합소서
3. 우리들이 거듭나서 흠이없게 하시고
주의 크신 구원 받아 온전하게 합소서
영광에서 영광으로 천국까지 이르러
크신 사랑 감격하여 경배하게 합소서
(The Communion Liturgy
this morning includes material
from the Iona Worship Book and the Methodist Worship Book)