We invite you to take a peek inside our Light for the Way devotional series. Each week we provide staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.
By Pastor Chris Wheatley, Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services
“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: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’” — Genesis 9:12-13, NIV
We have grown accustomed to paying extra attention to signs in the past year.
Consider the many signs we check before entering a front door: Will a cloth mask be sufficient, or will they provide me with a surgical mask instead? Are goggles required, and if so, where are they? Will I be judging six feet of distance on my own, or should I look for the taped X on the ground? Is handwashing requested upon entrance? Should I be counting the number of people in a room before I enter, or just wait to be asked to step back outside?
These signs matter. They help keep us safe and within the boundaries of the law. But when God gives us a sign, it does something even more.
A "sign" in the Old Testament is a visible representation of the life-giving relationship between human beings and God. So an ark, a wooden box that is never opened, can be the visible reminder of Israel’s promises to be faithful to God. And in the New Testament, "signs" become "symbols," in which we participate alongside God. We feel the washing away of sins in the waters of baptism and we taste our salvation in bread and wine.
In today’s reading, God gives a sign from the very midst of the danger itself. The rainbow, caused by the rains that have wiped out most of humanity, becomes the sign that God will never do such a thing again. From death, a sign of life going forward.
As a ministry, Presbyterian Homes has declared that it is time to look to the new normal. That in the midst of ongoing precautions, we will find ways to return to as much openness and freedom as we can. That we are at a turning point, and the floodwaters have begun to recede.
And so it is time to recognize the signs of God’s protection in this as well: the moving vans outside our buildings as occupancy begins to rise; the sounds of activities from rooms that have been empty too long; the vaccine itself, the focus of so much hope and the catalyst for so much change.
In all of these, we see God at work and know that just as he has brought us through this trial, he guides us still into the newness and fullness of life beyond.
Rev. Chris Wheatley serves PHS as Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor and has served in hospice, eldercare, hospital, HIV/AIDS and congregational settings. He and his wife Nicole are perpetually outnumbered by cats and Dobermans.
Find more in the Light for the Way series:
Love from ashes: an Ash Wednesday reflection
Loving what you do and enduring with confidence
Be still. Know God.
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series
In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care website.