BOOO! (from the back of the sanctuary successfully startling some folks)
It doesn’t take a lot to scare some folks. Take me for example; I it seems have always had a healthy dose of fear. As a kid, I think thunder storms were the worst. There was one in particular. We were traveling in our motorhome on vacation and we had stopped at some park or something. I don’t remember all the details, but we were parked very close to a dam. Well that night a doozy of a thunder storm rolled in, and there I was up in this bunk in the motor home. As the lightning strikes and thunder clap shook the motor home, my imagination ran overboard and my fear the dam would break and we would be wiped away by the deluge of water.
Yeah, I may not be terribly creative in some respects, but I could always dream up some doomsday scenarios. So buying a bunch of ark, animal, and rainbow baby stuff was never high on my list. I knew the whole story. I knew about God getting so sick and tired of all the evil just about everyone was doing that God opens up the heavenly floodgates to in a sense reverse creation and wipe the slate clean. Except for Noah and his family, and 2 or 7 animals of each kind depending which verses you read in the bible.
The whole rainbow thing comes after the destruction. As if God looks down and decides enough is enough, one flood is enough and promises to never ever wipe off the face of the earth with a flood, and to make sure there’s no forgetting on anybody’s part, God hangs up the instrument of waging war, the bow in the sky, so now we have the colors of the rainbow as a symbol for love, hope, joy, and welcome for all.
Of course, that in itself can be unsettling for some folks. In these days of rampant fear of dire predictions floating from experts, pundits, political action committees, and politicians themselves just about drenching and drowning us in fear. Perhaps that is what is keeping us so paralyzed and polarized on so many things, especially today with the reality of climate change, why some people refuse to acknowledge even with the overwhelming majority of scientist and the data that human activitiy has and is impacting the undeniable reality of global climate change. The water is rising, and again it’s our fault.
But fear is a funny thing, and maybe their fear is that if we admit this it may mean that God’s not in control. But God is in control of God’s self. But ever since the beginning God’s not controlled us, we’ve been given the freedom to do great and evil. We could learn a lesson or two from God’s self-control. See that rainbow still appears in the sky, and God does remember the covenant—the promise made and established between God and with every living creature. See God doesn’t limit his or her care and love to just a few folks, to one category of people, people who say the right words and pray the right prayers. All God’s children, Lutherans of even all brands, Roman Catholics, Baptists, non-Christians too, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, non-believers, atheists all God’s children walking on 2 legs, or even on four or 6 or 8 or more, or none at all, the promise we read and heard in our first lesson is for us all.
We’re all in the same boat, so to speak. The thing about us, what makes us the church is that we know it. And knowledge is a precious gift and responsibility. We’ve now entered the time of Lent in the church. And you know what Lent has been about ever since it’s beginning about a 1000 years ago? It’s about training us to live faithfully in a fearful world. We spend 40 days in the wilderness of struggle, of sacrifice, of trying and doing stuff that doesn’t really make sense to the rest of the world around to build up, clean up, to focus our faithfulness.
These forty days plunges us again and again back into the water, but for us it’s not just rising sea levels but the waters of baptism, immersing us in love and forgiveness so that we can put our fears at bay and free us from their evil power to control us. These days of Lent are the churches days, in that they are your time. So as you head out this morning, out in the lobby at the welcome center is a pile of papers, just take one it’s a list of 40 things, one for each day, these are just ideas and suggestions adapted from a Lutheran mission ministry lead by the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber in Denver.
Go ahead feel free to take it, and I urge you these 40 some days to really take the plunge, jump in and immerse yourself in all that Lent has for you, in the promises God offers us, don’t be afraid for you to be the person God’s calling, today.