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Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Mark 1: 9-15

The Rev. Jon Roberts

22 February


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; 11 and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son;[a] with thee I am well pleased.” 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”


Baptism of Jesus, Daniel Bonnell, 1955-Present

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh, why can't I?[1]

In 1939 this became the theme song receiving an Academy Award for writer E.Y. Harburg and musician Harold Arlan in the epic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” You may recall the Scarecrow needed a brain. The Tin man needed a heart. The Lion needed courage; and little ol’ Dorothy, well, she just needed to go home. This fantasy came to life as a few months later as the wicked witch of the east, in the form of a Nazi Germany, would invade and blitzkrieg over Poland. Three years later, the wicked witch of the west, in the form of an Imperial Japan, forced General MacArthur to evacuate the Philippines. The spell of evil would sweep over the entire globe, making an indelible mark on our human history. Several lost their minds. Several lost their hearts. Several lost their courage and so many would never return home. The human soul in the face of such wickedness yearns to fly above it as the blue bird. There are two stories today that relate to the lyrics of our song. Both the rainbow and the bird in flight can be seen. The first is the story of Noah. The second is the story of Jesus’ baptism.

In the story of Noah, he was faced with a very difficult assignment, to build an Ark. In this very large boat, he would be responsible for carrying male and female species of animals to an unknown destination from a landlocked port. That’s right; he was inland, far away from water for miles. Where would the water come from and where were all these animals that God had promised? As the story goes there was a tremendous flood and all the animals did come to Noah’s Ark, two by two. All the people around, who Noah had warned about the flood, agonized in great pain, losing their minds, their hearts and courage, seeking a safe place to call home, but they perished.

For forty days and forty nights the rain came down and the Ark floated away with the rising waters. [2] Perhaps at the end of their supplies and the near loss of hope, God sent a bird; a dove with an olive branch as a sign that the far-away land was very near; a place to call home. At their landing on safe ground, on a mountain no less, a rainbow of God’s promise was seen in the blue sky. Their dreams really did come true.

In the story of Jesus, he was faced with a very difficult assignment, to actually become an Ark. He would carry disciples two by two into his miraculous teachings and healings. Like Noah, he was given only the bare necessities in which to build.[3] He was not seminary trained, nor from an influential family. He was not seen as the typical rabbi nor doctor but yet he taught with authority and healed with sincerity. He warned his generation that a flood was coming, a day in which the world would be swept by pain and affliction. He invited them by saying, “Come to me all ye that travail and are heavy burdened and I will give you refuge.”[4] But so many turned away and scoffed at him. They made fun of him, just as the people did with Noah. Human history before Jesus continued to drown in sin and He was sent to provide transportation to a new home. The dove that came to Noah is the same dove that descended upon Jesus at his baptism. Jesus was adrift in the sea of wilderness for forty days and nights as well, and afterwards went down into the water of baptism, rode out the storm of the crucifixion and he ascended into the blue sky with the same promise of a dove’s peace.[5]

How many of us see Jesus as the Ark of our salvation? How many of us see that the blue bird that flies above the rainbow is actually the white dove of the Holy Spirit? This is not fantasy. This is reality. Today, let this be our Lenten reminder. We are called to board the Ark. We are to rise above the flood waters. We are to go through the forty days and nights of storm. This is the mark of the Christian, to have perseverance in the face of affliction. We are cast in our own sinfulness and we are cast in the sinful nature of the world which we need to rise above.

Wrestle with your issues. Go into the storm with prayer and supplication. Rely on God’s voice who continues to say, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” Speak your dreams of a far-away land that you wish to call home. Receive the lullaby of hope that is delivered by the white winged dove who carries the olive branch. Many of you are struggling with personal sin. Many of you are struggling with what is going on around you and in the world. The Lord Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” How many times have you been caught up in the flood, wondering if you will drown in it? You are no different than the countless souls who have begged for God’s mercy and wanted to be saved. Will you turn your life over to Christ? Will you board the ark?

If so, you will find…
the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh, why can't you?

[1] E.Y. Harburg, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” vss. 1 & 3, 1939 (Wizard of Oz theme song).
[2] Genesis 9:8-17
[3] 1 Peter 3:18-22
[4] Matthew 11:28
[5] Mark 1:9-15

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