Rainbows and Floods

April 12, 2012

The few fans of this blog have perhaps noted my silence the last few days. Can it be true that Mary Naegeli is speechless, or has nothing to say? Au contraire, mes amis, the problem is the opposite! There is so much to say, so much to digest, so much to ponder, that one hardly knows where to begin. On the other side of my mind is the desperate need for some perspective, some peace and quiet, some reflection on the meaning of this moment in the life of the PCUSA.

And then the rainbow appeared.

This morning, as I walked out of the gym to dark skies and accelerating rain, a full, uninterrupted rainbow appeared before me. Reaching from one end of the horizon to the other in unbroken glory, God’s sign of promise also reached into my heart once again.

12“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: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I 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. 16When 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.” (Gen. 9:12-16 NRSV)

The original rainbow was God’s optical reminder to himself and the world that he would never again execute his judgment upon the whole planet by flood. Obviously the promise was not that there would never be flooding somewhere around the world, but God suspended his punitive power prerogative in order to live out the full ramifications of covenant. Human beings had not lived up to their end of the relationship, but God in unilateral covenant kept a grip on his people and would not let them go no matter what they did. By this means, they would know his unending love and amazing grace and perhaps remain open to his divine plan for reconciliation and redemption.

When I see a rainbow, this is what I think:

• that God is present and active in this world

• that God’s promise of care and relationship overshadows any overwhelming flood I might be experiencing

• that God possesses great hope for his creation

I needed that reminder, because this is what I am experiencing these days: a flood of work coming from three different employers (my seminary, my organization, my parish), the river of judicial process flowing to its mouth on April 27 (GAPJC), and what seems to be a denominational appointment with danger at General Assembly in early July.

I am appreciating very much the heart-cries of fellow pastors who do not feel they have the energy for the demands of the parish and the rigors of denominational discourse. I get that. I perhaps differ from many pastors in that I feel called and well suited for the denominational discourse. But for three months (this Spring Quarter) I am living with the tension of trying to balance discourse with discipleship, organizational strategy with organic ministry, geekiness with graciousness, teaching with learning, writing and reading, making things happen and letting things happen. The amazing thing—not to make my full-time pastoral colleagues jealous—is that virtually 100% of everything I do these days is at the heart of my calling, my gift mix, and my personality type, and therefore I love it all. There’s just too much of a good thing at the moment, and I will be very glad when the quarter is over.

Having said all this—in reflection, not complaint—I go back to the basics of spiritual vitality and ministry effectiveness:

• keep your eyes on the rainbow and its Creator (Psalm 8)

• take Sabbath rest and observe the daily rhythm of Christian discipleship (Matthew 11:28f)

• hold fast to the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

• persevere—do not give up (2 Timothy 4:5)

• seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)

• plan with humility (Proverbs 16:9)

• endure hardship in joy (Romans 5:3f)

• receive the Holy Spirit and walk in his power (Romans 8:11)

It’s time to get back to work! [You too!]

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One Response to “Rainbows and Floods”

  1. Linda Lee, mukilteo Says:

    Praying that you will have time and opportunity to REFLECT
    on the things of God so that you can REFLECT
    His will and image for the road ahead.

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