The story has it, God, that only a few generations after you created the world and pronounced it “Good”, you looked down and saw that it was filled with wickedness. So much so, that you decided to wipe out every living creature. Except for the family of one righteous man – Noah – and a pair of every creature, which he took into an Ark for safety. For 40 days and nights, you made the rains come and the floods rise up, until everything that had lived upon the earth had been swallowed up. And when it was over, you gave the earth, and everything on it, into Noah’s care, and told him to go forth and multiply.
And then, astonishingly, you recognized that you had gone overboard, and you made a covenant with Noah and all future generations, promising that you would never again send a flood to destroy the earth. And you created the rainbow, to be the sign of this everlasting covenant.
As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent, we come before you, God, to proclaim and renew our own rainbow covenants.
This past week, a team of scientists identified the oldest living species on Earth – a deep sea organism that lives in the mud off the South American coast, and that hasn’t evolved in more than two billion years. But also this week, the World Meteorological Organization reported that 2014 was the hottest year among recorded years dating to 1850; the evidence for human-caused climate change continues to mount.
We proclaim our rainbow covenant: what we have done, and are doing, that endangers the earth–we will do all in our power to instead become its protectors.
Help us, O God.
Also this week:
- Islamic State forces killed a captive Jordanian pilot, burning him alive. Muslim leaders throughout the world declared the act to be heinous and against the teachings of the Koran.
- In retaliation, Jordan executed a number of Islamic extremists.
- A new report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child says that Iraqi children are becoming victims of “systematic sexual abuse, including sexual slavery” in areas controlled by the Islamic State.
- Fighting has been escalating in Ukraine, and German and French leaders are enroute there with a new peace initiative.
- Chad has deployed 2,500 troops as part of a regional effort against the Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria.
- The United Nations International Court of Justice ruled that while both Croats and Serbs committed serous crimes during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, neither had engaged in a campaign of genocide.
Like you, God, when you sought to destroy almost all human beings in the flood, we have let our anger lead us into wanton acts of destruction against people in so many ways, in so many places. We remember our rainbow covenant: never again will we let humanity be destroyed by our anger. Never again will we let the innocent be destroyed because of the wickedness of a few.
Help us, O God.
- In Malawi, more than 300,000 people have been displaced by the worst flooding in 15 years, with many cut off from food or other aid.
- In South Sudan, there are still more 2 million displaced by the fighting.
- Each year, Somalis living abroad – primarily in the United States – send home an estimated $1.3 billion, more than all humanitarian aid combined. But last week, Merchants Bank of California, which handles 60-80% of the money bound for Somalia, said it would no longer handle these money transfers, which could end this lifeline for millions of people in the fragile country.
Just as you, God, made sure that Noah took plenty of food into the Ark, so we renew our rainbow covenant: even in the most challenging of times, we will make sure that every human being has food, water, shelter… We will treat all with the dignity deserved by the inheritors of your rainbow covenant.
Help us, O God.
In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, these things we promise, and these things we ask.
Amen, and amen, and again we say: Amen.