Lenten Discipline Week 2: The Flood and the Rainbow

Hi Friends and Readers!

Welcome to Week of our shared Lenten Discipline, to meditate, reflect and pray on one of the Old Testament Wednesday Bible texts. I will share a text, brief reflection, discussion questions, and prayer. I invite you to use this brief study with family and friends, or even on your own.

This practice is my attempt to grow spiritually during the Lenten season, rather than giving up something. My hope is that it will draw me closer to God and bring me the clarity of purpose I need in this busy season. Thank you for joining me!

ICYMI, here's Week One, from Ash Wednesday

Lent Week 2
The Old Testament Text: Genesis 8:13-9:17

Gen. 8:13   In the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying.  14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.  15 Then God said to Noah,  16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.  17 Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”  18 So Noah went out with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.  19 And every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families. 

Gen. 8:20   Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 
22 As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.” 

Gen. 9:1    God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.  2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered.  3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.  4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.  5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life. 
6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
God made humankind. 
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.” 

Gen. 9:8   Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,  9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you,  10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.  11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,  15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Reflection: God has a good sense of humor. I read this passage about the end of the Flood while I looked out my window, watching pouring rain drip onto our snow-covered backyard, the kind of cold rain that paints the world in shades of gray. Did you know that "flooding" is also a psychological term? I learned about it during our pre-marital counseling. When people become emotionally overwhelmed during a conflict or stressful situation, they become "flooded," and therefore incapable of engaging in further conversation or decision-making. Have you ever felt flooded?

It has been a bit of a flooding season this week, and not just outdoors. My grandpa Jerry died last Thursday. While we hadn't seen each other as much in recent years; he spent his time in rural Georgia and rural Northern Minnesota, we were very close when I was little. He was a Lutheran Pastor for much of his life, and a brilliant preacher and Bible scholar. Until recently, he often sent out weekly emailed sermons and greetings. He was passionate about his faith, but frustrated by organized religion and even Lutheranism; sometime he felt flooded by forced confession but not bathed in the healing of the absolution.

Me and my grandpa, Jerry, my mom's dad

So, life - and death - is tough. Still, God has a good sense of humor.

This coming Sunday is St. Patrick's Day. I'll be preaching at Easter-by-the-Lake and attempting to wear green. What does this have to do with our Bible reading and with the flood? Well, after the flood, God made a new covenant and promise with Noah. The sign of the covenant: a rainbow -- the same rainbow that my boys are promised when we finish our Lucky Charms cereal and try to catch a leprechaun this Sunday for St. Patrick's Day. 

Rainbows sometimes seem elusive. I kind of doubt one will peek through our cloudy, late winter Minnesota sky today. But when it does, I will remember God's promise. That God has come not to destroy but to heal and to renew; that God's joy is in life and in relationship with you and with me. That gives me hope this rainy day.


1. When have you felt flooded?

2. What do you do when you feel yourself becoming emotionally overwhelmed?

3. How do you think Noah and his family felt when they saw the flood waters recede? Do you think they were still angry or frustrated with God?

4. God makes several covenants in the Bible. Many are exclusive covenants with the Hebrew people. But this covenant is universal - to all of creation. Why does that matter?

5. Do you remember any rainbows from your own life experience?


O Lord, throughout these 40 days, I want to hear your voice. I want to feel the presence of your Spirit even on the days when I feel flooded, the gray clouds cover up the sunlight of your presence. God, grant me places and people who can renew me when I feel flooded. Surround me with your comfort and love, and reassure me that your promise is new life, renewal, and everlasting love. In Jesus' name we pray, AMEN


Popular Posts