How many of you have ever seen a rainbow? I imagine that most of you have. We see rainbows after rain storms and sometimes even when it’s raining. I’m not a scientist and I don’t pretend to understand how rainbows are formed but I know that it has something to do with the way sunlight hits raindrops that are falling from the sky. The white light from the sun gets broken up into the different colours of the rainbow, from red and orange and yellow to green and blue and purple. It’s like a prism that you can put in a window. When the sunlight catches it, it casts all of those colours into the room. And it’s so very, very pretty.
Rainbows are very pretty and I love to see a rainbow in the sky. I’m seen lots of them but every time I see another one I stop and stare. But did you know that in the Bible, God used a rainbow for a particular purpose? It happened during the story of Noah and the ark. In that story, God looked down upon the earth and saw that almost everyone had forgotten about him and were doing bad things. And that would never do.
So God decided to fix it by making a giant flood that would destroy everything. But God couldn’t destroy everything because if he did there would be no people or animals left. So God called Noah and his sons to build a giant boat that would float during the flood. It was called an ark and into the ark went all of the different animals and also eight people. There was also food and bedding and everything else they would need to survive during the flood.
Once all of the people and animals were in the ark, they closed up the doors and it started to rain. It rained for forty days and forty nights until everything was covered with water. And then the ark just floated around. It floated around for almost a whole year while the water evaporated. Finally, the waters dried up enough to let the ark once again rest on dry land. It was actually on a mountain because that, of course, was the first place that would dry off because it was higher up.
Then Noah and his family opened the doors of the ark and all of the animals went outside again. But that was not the end of the story for God then made a promise to Noah and his family that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood. Once was enough. That was it. Never again. And as a reminder of that promise, God put a rainbow in the sky. The reason why God used a rainbow was because rainbows appear when it’s raining and the rainbow would remind God not to let it rain too much. So it was a win-win for everyone.
What that means is that the rainbow is not just a pretty thing that appears in the sky. It is also an important reminder of the love that God has for us. God will never again destroy the earth and all the people and animals with a flood. If people choose to forget about God again, God will find some other way to bring them back.
Through the rainbow, God made a promise that he would never again destroy everything with water. It was one of the many promises that God has made. Promises are important. We all know that. All of the girls from the Sparks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders know that too. All of you have your promises and you recited them earlier today. Promises are important because they tell people what they can expect of us. When the Sparks promise to share and be a friend, they are telling people how they plan to act. And, as we all know, when you promise to do something, you really should do your very best to hold to that promise.
The Brownie’s promise is to, “do my best, to be true by myself, my beliefs and Canada, to take action for a better world and to respect the Brownie Law.” When you say that, you don’t just repeat it without thinking. When you say it you really need to be prepared to actually do it, whatever that means. The Guides and Pathfinders have very similar promises except that they promise to respect the Guiding law. Once again, when you make those promises, they aren’t just words rolling off your tongue. They’re important and your character is shown by your ability to live by the promises that you make.
God is the same way. We know that we can trust God because God has always been true to keep the promises that he makes. When he promised to never again flood the earth, he meant it and, while there certainly have been floods on the earth, there has never again been one like in the days of Noah.
God has made lots of promises since then. Another promise that God made was that he was going to make a new covenant. In the Bible, there is a book called Jeremiah and in Jeremiah 31:31 (NIV) God said, “‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.’” What that means is that God isn’t finished yet. Not only did God promise never to send another great flood, he also said he was going to fix some other broken stuff too. And then, in Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) God said: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We believe that in this promise God was talking about Jesus who the child that was born at Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. He’s the guy that we follow as Christians. We believe that he was the son of God and that because of him, all of the other promises of God will be fulfilled. And every time we see a rainbow we can think of that too.
Now I want to switch gears a little and move from rainbows to rumblings. Rumblings? What kind of rumblings? Have any of you people ever had your stomach rumble? I have. I get stomach rumblings when I get hungry. My stomach starts to rumble, sometimes pretty loudly. A couple nights ago, I was lying in bed reading before going to sleep – I often do that – and my stomach started to rumble. And it wasn’t just a little rumble. It was a giant size, rolling rumble. And it didn’t must happen once. It went on for about five minutes.
Ruth said to me, “Your stomach is so loud. Go downstairs and get something to eat.” But I was either too tired of too lazy to do that so my stomach just kept rumbling. Finally Ruth put in some earplugs and went to sleep.
Why do stomachs rumble? It’s because they’re saying, “Feed me! Feed me!” Now I want to read you a story about Jesus and a time when his stomach started rumbling.
Read Mark 1:9-13.
This story occurs right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Before he could begin, two things had to happen. First, he was baptized. The second is that he had to spend forty days in the wilderness.
You might ask what a wilderness is. A wilderness is a wild place. It’s a place where there aren’t many people. In fact, you may never see anyone for days in the wilderness. There are also no houses or stores. There may be a few streams where someone could get some water. There might be some small animals like mice or birds or snakes. During the day it would have been hot in the wilderness near where Jesus lived. There would probably be lots of bugs, especially at night when it cooled off a bit.
The wilderness was not a great place to go. So why did Jesus go there? I think it’s because he had to be by himself to think. He was about to begin a new ministry and he needed time to get his thoughts together. And sometimes, the best way to get your thoughts together is to just go off by yourself somewhere.
During the forty days that he was in the wilderness, the Bible tells us that Jesus had nothing to eat so you can imagine how much his stomach was rumbling. My stomach rumbles after about four hours of not eating. I can’t imagine what it would be like after forty days but that’s what Jesus did.
The interesting thing, however, is that during all of that time in the wilderness, although there were no people around Jesus was not alone. It says that there were wild animals with him and that there were also angels in the wilderness. What they did was look after Jesus. It doesn’t say the wild animals were any danger to Jesus. It just says that they were there with him, maybe like companions or like his friends. It also says that the angels attended him. I think that means that helped him to get through that time because it wouldn’t have been easy and its always easier to go through tough times if you’re not alone. They helped him to focus on what he was supposed to be doing and helped him to prepare for the ministry that he was about to begin.
Jesus gave up a lot when he went into the wilderness to prepare for what he was supposed to do later. That sort of reminds me of what the Guiding movement does for girls. It prepares them for what’s ahead in life. When Lord Baden- Powell and his sister Agnes started the Guides back in 1909 I think that’s what they had in mind. The first Girl Guide unit in Canada was formed in St. Catharines in 1910 and since then it has spread all across Canada. In more that 100 years more than seven million Canadian girls have been in Guides. And all of those girls have been prepared to live better lives. They’ve been taught not just to be good Guides and Pathfinders and Brownies and Spark. They have also been prepared to be better Canadians and better people.
I know that sometimes going to meetings and weekend events means that you don’t get to do something else that maybe you wanted to do. Like, Jesus, sometimes you have to give up something in order to be prepare for something better. But like Jesus too, because you are involved in this great movement, you will be better people. And while you don’t have wild animals and angels to look after you, you do have great leaders to teach you and show you the way. So keep up the good work and always strive to be the people God created you to be.
that’s what I want to say about rainbows and rumblings.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
God of Life and Awesome mystery, we come to you our Creator on this first Sunday in Lent. The reality of life surrounds us. We see our sin and we experience the pain of the world. Yet, in the midst of suffering, there is your great mercy for all people. Remind us, once more of the forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ. Thank you for giving yourself to us and for us that we may have the great gift of eternal life. We acknowledge your greatness and your grace.
We thank you for the coming spring, for the geese that we see in the sky, for tulips and crocuses that are thinking about popping their heads above the earth. We thank you for sunshine and warmer day, and the prospect of bike rides, hikes and gardening.
We give thanks for the birth of Nathan Ghikadis, a son for Cindy and Steve. Bless them as they begin this new adventure of family.
We also lift up in prayer those who are trying to help the people of Africa who are experiencing the devastation of drought and potential starvation. We ask for a concerted effort by the international community to alleviate the suffering in Jesus’ name.
We pray for the sick or recovering at home or in hospital, especially Paul Mayville, Don Raymont, Helen Upcott, Alex Archer and Jacqui Seguin. May your love and your healing grace be upon all of us at it brings healing and peace to our troubles lives.
Heavenly Father, when we begin to feel overwhelmed help us to remember
the struggles of those who have gone before us. We are part of a great parade
of Saints who have lived faithfully throughout the generations. Because of
their faith, courage and persistence, we have the opportunity to know you
today. Give us such strength and wisdom that future generations may look back
and call us faithful. We are grateful for the assurance that you are with us
and that your promises never fail. We lift these prayers to you in Jesus’ name.
WORSHIP RESOURCE PAGE
March 5, 2017 / Lent 1
Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22
CALL TO WORSHIP
The mercies of God are abundant and great;
To you, O God, we lift our souls.
The paths of God are true and trustworthy;
To you, O God, we lift our souls.
The ways of God are loving and sure;
To you, O God, we lift our souls.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Every part of Earth is sacred. Every life is precious. Every memory, every feeling, every hope and every tear are holy and belong to you for you are the One True Creator. We honour you with our worship, O God. We praise you for being with us when we would rather be somewhere else. And so we come to renew our relationship and our commitment to you. You are the one who gave us life and you have promised to walk with us no matter what the future may hold. We praise you God, the God of all. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
You, Merciful God, have shown us the pathway to true and everlasting life. You have offered us renewal and hope. Still, we are tempted by the things of this world and we turn away from you. We neglect to look after ourselves when we go through hard time, only making the tough time worse. We forget to reach out to those who love us and we forget that you have promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. We are grateful that even in the midst of our unfaithfulness your promises never fail. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Hatred lasts for a moment. Jealousy evaporates like morning dew. Covetousness lingers like a breath of air. But the mercy and compassion of God are eternal. They overcome the deepest recesses of our sin and give us the gift of life from above that is ours in Jesus Christ.
DEDICATION OF OFFERING
Accept our gifts, O God, as you accept everything else about us. They are probably as flawed as we are but you still receive them with grace. You make them worthy of your service. Use us and our gifts that the world may be changed and lives restored. Amen.
The time has come to leave this place and journey, once again, into our world and community. May we go with confidence, assured of the love of God and the Spirit in our midst. There is One who walks with us along every step of our journeys. May the presence of God continue to encourage and inspire us.