Drawings and paintings of a rainbow have been widely displayed, around the UK and the world, as a symbol of hope and encouragement in these times. The rainbow in all its beauty and mystery is being used to bring a moment of joy and happiness to those who are finding this pandemic hard. The fact that many of these drawings have been produced by children, who naturally desire to see happiness around them, brings an added poignancy as the nation resolutely focuses on another week of battling the Covid-19 virus until we are delivered from its effects.
We are now in our 7th week in the UK of lockdown and seeing the virus take its toll in our care homes, with deaths tragically rising amongst the elderly although reducing in the country as a whole. This week we have celebrated the ending of World War II in Europe with the 75th anniversary of VE day and, although the war had not finished and still raged in the Far East, we heard of the incredible joyful release amongst people that the war in Europe was over.
King George VI’s speech on VE day started with these words “Today we give thanks to Almighty God for a great deliverance. Speaking from our Empire’s oldest capital city, war-battered but never for one moment daunted or dismayed – speaking from London, I ask you to join with me in that act of thanksgiving”.
It is in those times that the nation recognised that hope and eventual deliverance from evil came from God himself. In the most stark terms – goodness will always overcome evil and light will always overcome the darkness. Christians know this in their hearts because Christ bought this for us on the cross, giving his life so that God’s goodness and hope will prevail and we never forget to be faithful to him in our prayers and our praise and our petitions, no matter the circumstances. Paul in his letter to the Church in Colossae (Colossians 1:15-23) explains who Jesus Christ is and the hope and deliverance he brings to our world.
“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers–all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him — provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.”
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ coming to live with us and die for us and be resurrected for us; so that wrongs can be forgiven, deliverance from evil and reconciliation back to God can be known and people can be saved, and joy and hope prevails. This is why we are called as all people to be faithful to God in Jesus Christ and why King George VI’s speech starts by giving thanks to God for deliverance from pure evil. Listen to the words written by Brian Doerksen in ‘Jesus, hope of the nations’.
The cross of Jesus Christ draws us to it as a powerful reminder of deliverance and hope and goodness overcoming evil. The rainbow, however, is seen by many as a sign of nature which we can see across the world. We don’t put our hope in a rainbow of course, but it is a symbol of hope and goodness and comes as a promise from God himself to Noah and his descendants, after he delivered them from a great flood that destroyed their world in times that were evil.
“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 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.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
The rainbow becomes a sign of hope that floods will not be allowed to destroy the whole world, but Jesus warns us not to be complacent about the evils in the world that would seek to destroy and to ensure that we look to him and know he is our hope, our light, our saviour and our deliverer and will come amongst us again, (Matthew 24:36-44). He shows his faithfulness to us, can we be faithful to him?
Perhaps our prayer could be:
We thank you and praise you Lord for your faithfulness to us. Help us to come afresh to you this week and know your grace and your mercy upon us. You are our great deliverer, the one who rescues us and saves us from our own sin and the sins of our world. We pray for those who are suffering at this time, that they will know your love, strength and healing as you walk with them.
We pray for your wisdom and discernment upon our leaders who have so many decisions to make and so many responsibilities on their shoulders, may they know your mercy and your grace.
We thank you for the witnesses of previous generations from both World Wars, may we be open to learn your lessons from those times, to know you as our God.
May you give us patience and resilience and strength in whatever path you are leading us as we commit to be faithful to you, our Lord and our deliverer. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
May we all know that hope in Christ always prevails.