Destroying ourselves

Pastoral Messages | February 22, 2024

In the Noah story, God sticks a rainbow up in the sky as a memory device. That’s what I read in scripture and preached last weekend. As surprising as it may be to us, God evidently needs a personal reminder to keep this particular promise: “Never again will I destroy all people by the waters of a flood” (Genesis 9:11).  

We remember promises and commitments by doing things like tying yarn around our index finger, setting our cell phone alarm, or taping a note to the fridge. But God sticks a (rain)bow in the clouds to remember something really important: “I’m not going to destroy my people.” What God doesn’t promise in that little conversation with Noah, however, is that we won’t destroy ourselves.  

I wonder if that promise we need to make – that we won’t destroy ourselves – is the part of the rainbow that we can’t see. We see God’s promise to us; we just don’t see the promise we ought to be making to God, namely, that we will not destroy ourselves. Whenever we see a rainbow, we see an arch. That’s because that’s all our earthly vantage point allows for. If you go up in an airplane, however, and are lucky enough to have the right mix of moisture and light to see a colorful rainbow out your window, you will see it as a full 360° circle.  

For all of our technology and creaturely comforts, we can actually destroy ourselves as a people. We have that capacity. While bumper stickers speak of “saving the planet,” the planet isn’t going anywhere. I wonder if saving ourselves from destruction is the greater issue. We’re sleepwalking through a growing crisis. The majority of Americans are aware of climate change; they just don’t see it as urgent. Seven of ten see climate change as primarily a future problem. Almost two in ten dispute climate change is even happening. 

Here’s the kicker: The reason it’s tough to communicate urgency about climate change is because we don’t think easily at a planetary level. We don’t see full-circle rainbows from where we live. We think at the micro level of our family, our little community, our unfolded laundry, our shopping list for supper tonight. These are our urgencies and attention-getters, not the planet.  

Maybe the confessional words we use in our Lenten liturgies serve as our memory device for helping us see the other half of the rainbow. Lord, help keep us from destroying ourselves. 

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

6 Comments on “Destroying ourselves”

  • Doug Nelson

    February 27, 2024 at 3:01 pm

    Abundant, cheap energy created the modern industrial world and offers the best hope for lifting poor countries out of poverty. Climate change remains poorly understood – not one of the climate models matches the historical record. If there are adverse impacts (and it is not clear there will be any) we will adapt. “Green” energy sources are expensive, intermittent, and create their own environmental problems. The two energy sources with the greatest energy density are hydrocarbons and nuclear. It is quite reasonable for Americans to view climate change not as a crisis but an issue to be studied and when appropriate making changes in our sources and uses of energy that economically and physically feasible.

  • Dennis Moeller

    February 24, 2024 at 10:59 am

    Oh my, how we miss your words of wisdom. We often discuss this topic but never in such a beautiful context. Thank you!

  • Steven Witte

    February 24, 2024 at 9:59 am

    Call up Marty Haugen I’m sure he’d be willing to put that verse in the Holden Evening Prayer. I know the people at Holden Village wouldn’t mind at all.

  • Susan Grove

    February 23, 2024 at 6:53 pm

    Amen. We can pray for the seven generation view.

  • Scott Kelling

    February 23, 2024 at 12:40 pm

    It is very doubtful that there is going to be any rainbow after we self-destruct because of climate change.

    Our self-destruction will be due to an abject failure of our Elites to challenge and forthrightly condemn violence against our law enforcement authorities; violence against the Jewish people by Ivy League leaders looking for a “context”; violence against our children through woke encouragement to hate their race, gender, and nation all the while the public schools instead encourage kids to participate in Drag Queen Shows rather than teach the basics of education; violence against all people due to millions of pounds of fentanyl pouring across an Open Border; the willful destruction of the nuclear family; a looming world destroying international threat posed by Russia, China, Iran, Korea who are constructing the most formidable military machine the world has ever known and hell-bent on wiping out Western Civilization; and a false climate narrative perpetuated by those who ignore the real “inconvenient truth” that America has done more to reduce carbon emissions in the last 10 years that all other nations combined.

    But no worry. The hypocrisy of the moral Elite will securely insulate them from all the consequences of a self-destructing society, while all the rest of us will be fruitlessly searching for the Rainbow.

  • Deb Lamp

    February 22, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Such a good reminder for all of us. Thank you for the reminder!

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