At the college, this past Sunday represented the end of freshman move-in and orientation and the arrival of all the returning students for the beginning of the new semester. There was a brief system of clouds and rain that came through, that ushered forth some cooler air and some blue sky and sunshine before sunset. As I was walking across campus I sited this rainbow and thought to myself, “This year is a year of promise for all these students starting their year.”
Rainbows have gained popularity in general throughout American culture, as well as many other cultures of the world. There seems to be a certain ambiguity about them as a symbol that allows for many to grab hold of the warm-fuzzy rainbow and claim it as a symbol of its event, ideology, or group. Life, creation, initiation, promise, harmony, provision, spiritual connection, or transformative experiences are just some of the meanings people attribute to rainbows.
From a Biblical standpoint rainbows show up in Genesis 9, recounting God’s covenant, not just with Noah, but with all flesh on earth (including the birds, livestock, and wild animals). Perhaps this would account for its mass appeal; the Biblical rainbow is a message of God to the whole earth. It is a promise and covenant of God to renew his original creation intent and a promise never to destroy the earth again through flood waters. Whenever the rainbow is in the sky, it is a reminder that God is for us, for our flourishing and good.
Seems to me this is a good symbol as we begin a semester at college. Despite any anxieties or stresses caused by newness or workload, despite all the circumstances of life, in times of feeling overwhelmed, underwhelmed or somewhere in between; God is for us. “Be fruitful and multiply and rule the earth (steward and care for it), is still God’s intent for humans.” That might have something to do why we are all taking classes, pursuing majors, and thinking through “why am I here?”
God is for you, let the rainbow bring hope and encouragement to your day!