When Howard Thurman pondered the symbols of Christmas, he didn’t call upon the obvious: tinsel-strewn trees, sparkling lights and sprinkled sugar cookies. Rather, he pointed to a rainbow “arched over the roof of the sky when the clouds are heavy with foreboding.”
I never associated rainbows with Christmas, until one year. Christmas Eve was in a few days, and I was struggling with a message on hope. What could I say about a holy night in which God came to us in the flesh when lately it seemed as though God incarnate was as fabled as “a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow”?
I went for a drive to clear my head. As I drove, I noticed something arching over a barn in a valley. Could it be a rainbow this time of year? It was, and its vibrantly colored arches created a perfect bow. I had my Christmas message:
Years ago, God’s announcement of hope breaking into our lives came with the appearance of a brilliant star in the East pointing to the Christ Child who would bring light to our chaotic world. I’ve always stared up at the sky on this holy night, wishing I could see a sign that God is still at work in our lives. And I know many of you are looking for such a sign as well. If only we could see that star for ourselves. But we did see something. There was a rare December rainbow in our skies. What made this rainbow even more amazing is that it appeared in the the moment our nation paused in silence to remember those killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut. I know this, because when I called my mother to tell her about the rainbow, she rushed me off the phone because she was watching the televised memorial service. For those who say, “God has forgotten us,” I say, “Open your eyes. God is with us, as promised. In the brilliance of a star, in the cry of a newborn baby, in the songs of the angels, and now, in a rare Christmas rainbow — yes, God is with us!”
God of stars and rainbows, you never stop revealing your presence among us. May my eyes be eyes of great faith this day, seeing clearly your beauty that is always before me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Go outside either during the day or in the evening and gaze up to the skies. What do you see? What do you feel? Make sure to end your sky-gazing moment by giving thanks for God’s abiding love and presence.