The Rainbow Connection
“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”– Genesis 9:16 (NRSVue)
As I write, I’m in the midst of a season many pastors have experienced before: saying goodbye to a congregation where love runs deep and our shared ministry was infused with joyful purpose. Anticipating the ending, I’m longing for a sign from God that this church knows they’re loved, will be loved anew by their next pastor, and will be loved by God no matter what the future holds.
Enter: Noah gazing at a rainbow.
God’s covenant with Noah, the one with the rainbow where God promises to care for all creation, is often evoked at beginnings: the beginning of a pastorate, the start of a committee’s work together, the launch of another youth group year. But this covenant actually comes at the conclusion of Noah’s ministry. There’s a different (and less frequently quoted) covenant for the beginning, where God promises that if Noah builds the ark as shelter for the animals, all of Noah’s family will be protected within its walls.
The rainbow covenant doesn’t appear until the lands are drying, the animals are ready to disembark, and this chapter of Noah’s ministry is ending. God offers a new promise to assure Noah that even as his vocation takes a different path, God will continue to care for creation.
With every rainbow nestled in the sky God reminds us, err, God reminds Noah: You’ve done your part. You took good care of your ark community. Trust that I’ve got it from here.
At every hope-filled beginning and at every bittersweet ending, may the sacred spectrum of color point us to God’s enduring love.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author of Only Work Sundays: A Laidback Guide to Doing Less while Helping Your Church Thrive.