Updated: Aug 1, 2021
The Story of the Rainbow (The Rev. Dr. Deborah White and Nicholas White-Spenik)
Today we heard a story about Jesus being baptized. Lots of the children of Grace have been baptized. Being baptized means that you are formally welcomed into God’s family and that we will all love you always. Right after Jesus is baptized, God tells Jesus that he loves him. But THEN, instead of going to coffee hour (like we do at Grace) Jesus goes out into the wilderness all by himself – and stays there for a long time. While he is there by himself, Jesus is tempted. Do you know what “tempted” is? Being “tempted” is when someone or something gives you the idea to do something bad and you think you might really to do it even though you know it’s wrong. So when Jesus was alone, The TEMPTER came and gave him some very bad ideas. Today’s gospel story doesn’t tell us exactly what those bad ideas were, but other storytellers said that the TEMPTER told Jesus that since he was very important and God’s son, he could be mean to other people, and test God, and he should just keep everything for himself because he didn’t need other people anyway.
But Jesus didn’t listen to the TEMPTER. Maybe that’s because he remembered the story about Noah and the Ark – the other story we heard today. That story is about how things got to be very, very bad on the earth and almost all of it was destroyed, but God saved just enough for people to start over again. And as a sign of hope that things could be better, God sent a special sign. That sign was a rainbow. The rainbow reminds us that God will never send another flood to destroy the world- AND it can also help us to remember why we need to do as Jesus did when we are tempted to think that we don’t need other people. Let me tell you a story that explains how:
Once upon a time all the colors in the world started to quarrel; each claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, or the most favorite.
GREEN said, “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and hope. I was chosen for the grass, the trees, and the leaves. Without me all the animals would die. Look out into the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”
BLUE interrupted. “You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and this is drawn up by the clouds from the blue sea. The sky gives space, and peace and serenity. Without my peace you would all be nothing but busybodies.”
YELLOW chuckled: “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”
ORANGE next started to blow its own trumpet. “I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious because I serve the inner needs of human life. I carry all the important vitamins. Think of the carrots, the pumpkins, and the oranges. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise, or give you a majestic sunset to admire, my beauty is so striking that no one ever gives another thought to any of you!”
RED could stand it no longer. Red shouted out, “I’m the ruler of you all. Blood, life’s blood. I am the color of danger and bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire in the blood. Without me the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy.”
PURPLE rose up to its full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: “I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have chosen me, for I am the sign of authority and of wisdom. People do not question me. They listen and obey.”
INDIGO spoke more quietly than the others, but just as determinedly. “Think of me, I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight, and deep waters. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”
And so all the colors went on boasting, each convinced that they were the best. Their quarreling grew louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightning; thunder rolled and boomed out. The suddenly RAIN started to pour down relentlessly. The colors all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
Then RAIN spoke: “You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the other. Did you not know that God made you all, each for a special purpose, each unique and different. God loves you all, he wants you all. Join hands with one another and come with me. God will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that He loves you all, that you can live together in peace, a promise that he is with you, a sign of hope for all for tomorrow.”
Maybe THAT’S what Jesus remembered in the wilderness when he was tempted to show off and think he didn’t need other people. He remembered that every one of us has a gift to share and every one of us is loved by God – and that God will always love us. That’s the good news. Do we agree? Good. Who remembers what we say when we agree in church? Amen. So let’s say it altogether (Amen).
Attributed to Anne Hope (1978) https://cyc-net.org/today2000/today000330.html.