|Victoria Falls, Zambia, July 2013|
18 Mar 2015
The Province of Joy - Lenten Series 2015 - Rainbows over Victoria Falls
Contributor: Melanie Sullivan
The photo I have chosen for the Lent reflection is not a famous one nor is it the work of a famous photographer. The photo was taken by me in 2013 when I was lucky enough to take a holiday at Victoria Falls with my parents. It is a simple picture, snapped with a simple camera by someone whose simple Christian faith has sustained and shaped her through the ups and downs experienced so far in life. It is my favourite photo of nature as rainbows are my constant reminder that after dark days, good times will follow, although like the rainbow these can be elusive and we have to search.
How does the rainbow fit with a Lent reflection? After 40 days of flooding in Genesis, the waters take time to recede and when Noah, his family and the creatures of the earth finally the ark, God promises he will never again send a flood to destroy the earth. The beautiful rainbow, usually hidden by the clouds, is the sign God gives to Noah of this promise. It is our constant reminder of God’s love.
Lent is the time we prepare for Christ’s death on Good Friday. We remember Christ’s 40 days in the desert when he prepared himself for the death he knew he was born to accept. These are dark days, like rainy days when we can’t see the sunshine, even though we know the sun rises every day. During Lent many choose to give up their favourite food or drink, TV programmes, or all sorts of other things they enjoy to help them experience the darkness, the loneliness, the metaphorical rain that Christ felt in the desert. On Easter Sunday they are released from this darkness, see sunshine and the accompanying rainbow as their favourite treat is restored to them.
The darkest day of Lent is Good Friday when the Mary and the disciples watched Christ willing die on the cross. What is it like to give up your life for others? The best sermon I heard about the Passion asked us to image the pain that Christ would have experienced. How do you lie on a cross, already in agony from being whipped and beaten, as nails are forced into your hands and feet? The pain must be indescribable, intolerable and yet this is exactly what Christ did for us. Amazing! How do you watch a close friend or a child die? How do you bear that grief? Coming to terms with the death of a loved one is a very dark time and when I have needed God to carry me. What Mary and the disciples did not know on Good Friday was that Christ would rise again on Easter Sunday, the day they would see the metaphorical rainbow. This promise of resurrection is what has sustained me through dark times.
Dolly Parton, well known for her Christian faith as well as her singing, is credited with saying “if you want the rainbows you gotta put up with the rain”. I couldn’t agree more. Without the rainy days of Lent we would never have the rainbow on Easter Sunday when we receive the gift of our risen Lord.