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Looking for the Rainbow

Stories
Contents
"Looking for the Rainbow" by Peter Andrew Smith
"Remember Your Baptism" by Keith Wagner
"Faith Like Noah's" by Keith Wagner


Looking for the Rainbow
by Peter Andrew Smith
Genesis 9:8-17

Natasha made her way into the senior’s room. “What can I do for you, Mrs. Ford?”

“Can I sit up in the chair please?” the frail senior asked from her nursing home bed.

“Are you sure?” Natasha touched her forehead. “I don’t think your fever has broken yet and you need your rest if you’re going to get better.”

“I’ve rested all day. I think I need a change.” Mrs. Ford cleared her throat. “Please?”

“I suppose.” Natasha looked at the clock. “It is a couple of hours until bed time but given we’re short handed we may be a bit later than usual getting you back to bed.”

“That’s okay,” Mrs. Ford said. “I don’t mind.”

Natasha rang for Belinda and between the two of them got Mrs. Ford settled in the chair.  “Did you want to go to the television room?”

Mrs. Ford shook her head. “I’d like to look out the window if you don’t mind.”

Natasha frowned. “Are you sure? It’s pretty gloomy out there.”

“I’m sure.”

Natasha shrugged and moved the chair so Mrs. Ford could look out. The rain pelted the window and lightening flashed in the distance. She gave Mrs. Ford her buzzer. “Ring if you need anything.”

“Thank you.”

Natasha went about the rest of her duties. There was paperwork to be filled out, medications to dispense, and with only two of them on shift she had to assist Belinda with her patients.

“I wish Jeri wasn’t sick,” Belinda said as they finished helping Mr. Jones into bed.

“Me, too. I heard her on the phone though and I’m glad she isn’t here.”

“Does she have that bad flu?”

“It certainly sounded like it,” Natasha said. “I’d hate for anyone here to get it.”

“That would be bad.” Belinda looked down the hallway.  “Speaking of the flu, have you checked on Mrs. Ford lately?”

“Not in a bit. Ring if you need me.”

When she entered the room Mrs. Ford was looking out at the driving rain and the blowing trees. She gently touched the old woman on the shoulder. “Are you okay, Mrs. Ford?”

Mrs. Ford nodded. “I’m just watching the storm.”

“The latest weather report I heard said that it is supposed to be over before sunset.”

“I heard that too. That’s why I wanted to be sitting in the chair.” Mrs. Ford leaned forward. “I think it might be letting up just like they said.”

“If you say so.” Natasha tilted her head. “Why is it important for the rain to stop?”

“I’d like to see a rainbow.” Mrs Ford said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know how much longer I have left on this earth.” Mrs Ford coughed for a few minutes and then paused to catch her breath. “Seeing the rainbow reminds me that God hasn’t forgotten about me.”

“I’m sure God hasn’t forgotten you, Mrs. Ford. You’ve lived a good life.”

“No, I haven’t.” Mrs. Ford shook her head. “If I were judged on what I’ve done I’d be in bad shape.”

“You’ve been a model patient here in the nursing home.”

“Do you ever wonder why I don’t have visitors?”

Natasha shrugged.

“I pushed away my family through my addictions and choices.”

“Surely that was a long time ago.”

“I’ve tried to live a better life since I’ve been sober. I tried to make amends and at least my ex and children will talk to me on the phone.” Mrs. Ford sighed. “That doesn’t change the person I was though.”

“I’m sorry.”

Mrs. Ford lifted her hand as the storm started to break, “Here it comes.”

The rain tapered off and the sun broke through the clouds. A brilliant bow of color appeared through the gloom.

“It’s beautiful.” Natasha said. She turned to Mrs. Ford and saw tears running down her cheek. “Are you okay?”

“I know that God loves me because I know my Bible,” the old woman said. “Yet when I see that rainbow I know that God is still there and that promise is still true.”

“The rainbow is from the story of Noah, isn’t it?”

“It is a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the world or abandon us.” Mrs. Ford smiled. “I’m ready.”

“Okay, it might be a few minutes before Belinda and I can put you back in bed,” Natasha said. “Ring us if you need anything.”

“I don’t need anything else, my dear.” Mrs. Ford patted her hand. “Don’t forget that.”

Natasha went out to find Belinda. There were a few other people who needed to be attended to before they made their way back to Mrs. Ford’s room. The old woman was slumped over in the chair her buzzer still in her hands. They checked but couldn’t find a pulse.

“If she was in distress why didn’t she buzz?” Belinda asked.

Natasha thought back to their last conversation. “I don’t think she was in any distress at all.”

* * *

Remember Your Baptism
by Keith Wagner
Mark 1:9-15

Do you remember your baptism? If you were baptized as an infant you probably don’t remember. Someone had to tell you or perhaps your parents or guardian gave you a baptism certificate. I was baptized when my family lived in Mishawaka, Indiana. It took place in an Evangelical United Brethren Church. Mishawaka is a suburb of South Bend, not too far from Lake Michigan. I found my certificate in a folder after my parents died in 2009. The date was April 19, 1949. I was 16 months old. My certificate has the pastor’s name but not the name of the church. Fortunately my mother told me the name of the church. But where, when or who baptized us is not the issue. What matters most is that we grew up in the community of faith and we live out our baptism by remaining in the community of faith.

Mark doesn’t go into great detail about the baptism of Jesus. He was baptized by John in the River Jordan. Following that we learn that "he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit was upon him." Then there was a voice; "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am pleased." Jesus was affirmed by God and God’s presence was revealed.

When we are baptized we, too, are affirmed. God loves us as God’s own. Our lives are now linked to God, Jesus and especially the Spirit of Peace.

At Jesus’ baptism a dove landed upon him. When the dove landed it landed ever so gently, peacefully descending upon him. In other words, baptism and peace go hand in hand. When we are baptized we become beholders of peace.

Charlotte Yonge, in “Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul,” tells the story of The Wives of Weinsberg. It happened in Germany, during the middle ages. The year was 14ll. Wolf, the Duke of Bavaria, was trapped inside his castle at Weinsberg. Outside the walls was the army of Frederick, the Duke of Swabia, who was Wolf’s brother. The siege lasted a long time and the time had come when Wolf knew he had no choice but to surrender.

Messengers rode back and forth, trying to establish conditions and proposals. Wolf and his officers prepared to give themselves over to the enemy. Their wives however were not ready give in. They sent a message to the Duke of Swabia requesting safety for all the wives inside. They also requested that they be allowed to leave with their personal valuables. They promised to take only what they could carry in their arms.

Their request was freely granted and soon the castle gates were opened. Out came the ladies, but they weren’t carrying precious jewels, gold or other valuables. Each one was carrying their husband. Moved by their determination the Duke of Swabia assured them a safe passage. Then he invited them all to a banquet and made peace with his brother, the Duke of Bavaria.

The wives at Weinsberg left behind their gold and precious jewels. They chose instead to carry something far more valuable, those whom they loved. They trusted in the power of peace and peace came.

Baptism is a mystery. But, I am convinced that whenever someone is baptized, God showers us with grace. It is an event which seems to transcend our humanity. It is an event that brings people closer to each other and closer to God. It has the power to bring people who are estranged to come together in peace.

Who are we to deny the reality that the love of God is present every time someone is baptized? Baptism prepares us for the chaotic world in which we have to live. Baptism gives us the power of peace. And baptism brings us together and closer to God.

* * *

Faith Like Noah’s
by Keith Wagner
1 Peter 3:18-22

In First Peter, the church was experiencing persecution and they could easily succumb to a corrupt world. Here, the writer of 1 Peter was attempting to strengthen the church in times of distress. The atoning death of Jesus was upheld as well as the encouragement of mutual love. Non-retaliation was encouraged as was the endurance of suffering. “Watch what you say, do good and seek peace,” were included in the message. The congregations were asked to stand fast in the face of opposition and not be intimidated.

The writer connected his message with the faithfulness of Noah. Just as Noah kept the faith alive by surviving the flood, the faithful in the days of 1 Peter would keep the faith alive through baptism. Baptism provided a special dispensation that enabled Christians to endure persecution. In other words, the faithful could withstand persecution because of their relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship affirmed through their baptism.

I know a young family who bought an old home, updated it and made numerous repairs and improvements. They put in hundreds of hours of labor and spent thousands of dollars to make it a home. They sold the home because they couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments. The new buyers had the home inspected and purchased the house outright. About a year later, the new home owner sued the former home owner for $2,000 because of a water leak in the roof.

In our society people sue each other as a way of retaliation. It seems to me people today are just as spoiled as people were in Noah’s day. Getting even does nothing to contribute to peace. Revenge only alienates people from one another. On the other hand, when we don’t retaliate we receive a blessing.

One of the details that is left out of the story of Noah and the ark, is the fact that his family endured great suffering. Not only did they have to endure endless months at sea, caring and feeding for an entire boat load of animals, they also had to leave their homeland. Imagine the grief they experienced as the flood waters engulfed the lives and homes of their neighbors. Imagine the terror of seeing their homeland vanish from sight. Imagine the fear of watching the waters rise and then drifting aimlessly for months with no control of the ark and not knowing where they would end up.

God found favor with Noah when he was five hundred years old. It wasn’t until Noah had raised his three sons that God told him to build the ark. When the flood waters came upon the earth, Noah was six hundred years old. It took Noah approximately eighty years to build the ark. I am sure his neighbors scoffed at the idea. He must have endured criticism and ridicule. Consider the patience it must have taken to complete the ark and then wait for the flood waters to subside.

The famous painter, Michelangelo, painted the “Last Judgment” which was considered to be one of the twelve master paintings of the ages. It took him eight years to complete the painting and it was the result of more than 2,000 sketches and renderings. Leonardo da Vinci worked on the “Last Supper” for ten years. He frequently worked so hard he often forgot to eat. Patiently, these two great painters contributed greatly to the sacred art of the church.

In the midst of their suffering the early church needed to have patience like Noah, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Their patience reminds us that there is indeed a much larger picture. There are times when we have to wait upon God.

The society we live in is not unlike the society of 1 Peter. We too live in a society that is spoiled rotten. Mutual love, not revenge is what God expects of us. When it comes to suffering we will do anything necessary to avoid it but God reassures us that through suffering we will be blessed. May we also “walk with God” as Noah did, being patient in all that we do.

*****************************************

StoryShare, February 18, 2018, issue.

Copyright 2017 by CSS Publishing Company, Inc., Lima, Ohio.

All rights reserved. Subscribers to the StoryShare service may print and use this material as it was intended in sermons, in worship and classroom settings, in brief devotions, in radio spots, and as newsletter fillers. No additional permission is required from the publisher for such use by subscribers only. Inquiries should be addressed to permissions@csspub.com or to Permissions, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., 5450 N. Dixie Highway, Lima, Ohio 45807.
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