As we end the month of November and the theme of “blessing each moment,” I have been thinking of God’s promises to bless us. One of the most spectacular signs of God’s blessing is the rainbow. In the story of Noah and the flood, God tells Noah: “This rainbow is a sign of the covenant I make between me and you and every living creature, for all future generations: I have set my rainbow in the clouds over the earth, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth… Whenever the rainbow appears in the sky, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-16)
I recently received the stunning photograph above from one of our Sacred Rhythms’ companions, Linda Graham. She shares her response below:
These rainbows are truly blessings from our God. I was so excited to share this with my son in law and granddaughter, Norah. I had the chance to tell them of God’s love and promises to us. Rainbows hold such a special place in my heart. I decorated my children’s room with them and even had a rainbow crib that each child and grandchild enjoyed. I constantly reminded them of God’s love and blessings when they woke from their naps.
One of my own memorable rainbow encounters happened almost 20 years ago, as I traveled home to Pennsylvania after being in Michigan with my beloved brother as he received news of his untreatable brain cancer. Our entire family was crushed. I did not think I could bear the reality of this impending loss.
After spending a week with my brother, we were driving home: three young children in the back, and my husband beside me. As we entered the hilly terrain near Pittsburgh, huge storm clouds gathered in front of our car. It matched the storm of feelings within me; certainly the future seemed a menacing storm ahead.
Holding my brother in my heart, I repeated the prayer of Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” I told God that I could not see — at all — how all things could be well. This beautiful, young man, my “baby brother,” would likely die in a few months. Unbelievable. How could all things be well??
“Please God, help me to know it will be well,” I prayed. Immediately my daughter called out from behind me, “LOOK AT THAT RAINBOW!” I looked to the left and there in the sky was the most magnificent rainbow I had ever seen! A huge, full-arching rainbow filled the sky. We pulled over to savor the amazing sight.
Somehow… I told myself… somehow… all will be well. I took a photograph of the rainbow and sent it to my brother the next day — “Dearest Burt, here is your rainbow!” I could do nothing to change his illness, but I could bring him rainbow blessings from God.
Beginning next week, we will explore the “Sacred Rhythms” of the season of Advent. Instead of one entry per week, I will include an additional reflection each week featuring some of my favorite Advent poetry, music, videos, prayer and creative suggestions.
We will follow the four weeks of the Advent, using the following focus for each week :
Week One: Hope
Week Two: Peace
Week Three: Joy
Week Four: Love
Two suggestions for your Advent prayer:
1) Advent Wreath
Consider buying or creating your own Advent wreath – if you don’t already have one. Our family lights the appropriate candle(s) for our Sunday dinner (reading the scripture passages for that day and playing some Advent music). I also light it during the week during my prayer time.
You can check out Pinterest for ideas for creating your own wreath. There are many fun options from very simple to more advanced. It can be as simple as placing four candles on a plate or tray, or inside a pre-made grapevine wreath (available at many stores). You can use tea-lights, votives, tapers or pillars.
Below is an Advent Wreath available on Amazon for 11.95. The candles are not included but you can buy them on Amazon as well. Our family often uses a similar wreath. I like the simplicity and flexibility. We usually wrap the base with artificial greens (or use real, but are careful as it becomes dry). You can add pine cones, ribbon, or other decorations. We also add a white pillar candle in the center for the Christ candle which we light on Christmas Eve.
2) Advent Calendar
I have enjoyed creating Advent Calendars with templates furnished on Sybil Macbeth’s website “Praying with Color.” It is very easy to download the calendars (there are several different shapes to choose from). You add one image or word or verse for each day.
This year Macbeth is also including suggested “words” for each day from #AdventWord, a global online Advent Calendar, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary, which offers daily meditations and images.
Here is a link to Sybil Macbeth’s invitation for 2018:
#AdventWord and Advent Calendars