St Barnabas Church, Joydens Wood

Vicar’s Letter October 2017

Surely one of the most beautiful sights in nature is a rainbow.

And yes, we probably know the down-to-earth science behind that magical shimmering arc in the sky... Wikipedia will tell us that it is caused by “reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.” The sun shines through the raindrops, and creates what is basically an optical illusion.

Folk-lore tells us that there is a pot of gold buried at the end of the rainbow, but no-one seems to have ever found one!

In the Book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we read of a Promise, a Covenant that God makes to the world, following the Great Flood, which had Noah building his Ark. And he places the rainbow in the sky as a sign of this covenant.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Beautiful words, and yet, these are puzzling words too, as we have seen pictures of the terrible flooding following Hurricane Harvey, in which 60 people died, and the floods which devastated huge swathes of Southern Asia. These were, in terms of loss of life, worse than those in the United States. Nearly 1,300 people were killed and more than 41 million people affected by widespread monsoon flooding in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, from July to September this year.

Experts seem to agree that the situation has been exacerbated, if not actually caused by global warming caused by human activity. And also this summer that has been the terrible threat of nuclear attack, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the seeming incapacity of human beings to find solutions without resorting to violence and hatred.

Yet somehow, above the devastation, beyond the death toll and the loss of homes and livelihoods, our fears about this broken world, we must see the overarching promise of God, that there is hope, and there is a future for all of God’s creatures.

It is worth all people of faith reflecting on these poignant words of Pope Francis, on 23 August this year.
“There is a Father weeping with tears of infinite pity for his children. A Father who waits for us to console us, because He knows our sufferings and has prepared a different future for us. This is the great vision of Christian hope that expands over all the days of our existence, and it wants us to rise again.”

May each of us find our own way to be People of Hope.

God bless
Reverend Ren Harding
contact me at The Vicarage, 6 Tile Kiln Lane

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