This was what Cindy said to me when we went next door to meet Jim at the house.
Butterflies and Rainbows.
“That was who Angelika was,” Cindy said.
Free-spirited. And in awe of the creation around her.
Chasing a butterfly.
In awe of a rainbow.
Enjoying a glass of wine with Jimmy at the beach at sunset.
Discovering rocks to bring home.
Hiking. Running. Picking up trash along the way.
Getting her hands dirty in the garden.
Taking time to get each kid a shovel too,
So they would learn awe and wonder and find that same inspiration.
Butterflies and Rainbows.
They are two Christian symbols.
The butterfly is a reminder that in death comes life.
That after Good Friday comes Easter. The Butterfly is an Easter metaphor.
Death is not just dust and ashes and returning to the precious Earth from whence we came, but is also the beginning of a new story. The Jesus story. Our story. Angelika’s story.
Where God makes all things new.
The rainbow is God’s sign put in the sky after the flood.
It is a wonder of science – light refracted through the raindrops, also captured through a prism. For us today it is a reminder – that one day mourning, and sorrow and pain will be no more, that the reign of tears that holds us captive breaks way to something more beautiful than we can really describe; it must be experienced to fully know it and see it for oneself.
The rainbow reveals to us that God is present. That we have not been abandoned.
That we are not alone. That God promises to stand beside us when things look most bleak or dire; and all we want to do is crawl into a hole or under the covers in the dark wanting it all to go away.
Butterflies and Rainbows.
Yes. Angelika was all that. And she was much more.
Funny. Caring. Open. Welcoming. Organized.
Whether it was managing at Old Navy; or setting up the family logistics,
Or figuring out where to stay, where to eat, and in what order to go on rides at Disney – She was on it.
But not just out of duty or responsibility.
She did it as a labor of love. She did it for those she loved.
Butterflies? YES! Rainbows? YES! But also Mom. Wife. Daughter. Friend.
Tammie and I had the great pleasure of being her friend.
She made our lives better for being part of it. She helped us see Butterflies and Rainbows.
It seems hard to see them now.
Butterflies and Rainbows. Not quite yet.
First, the cross.
First, the unexpected death.
First, the dark place.
First, the storm.
First, the shock.
First, the loneliness.
First, the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Which is exactly where Jesus meets us.
Christ comes not just in times of joy – but especially in our sorrow.
In death. In shock. In pain. In tears. In mourning.
The cross is God’s answer – when we don’t even know the question.
He meets us on the cross not just in our sin and brokenness,
But in our suffering, fear, worry and time of despair.
Butterflies will come. But not until Winter yields to Spring.
Rainbows will come. But not until the storm is over.
The promise of God meets us in the dark. In the cold. In the rain.
And where everything we think is certain is suddenly ripped away.
What is that Promise?
That tears will be wiped away.
That death and mourning and crying and pain will be banished away forever.
That indeed, one day, all things will be made new.
That Good Friday will become Easter.
And this time in between. This time of waiting. This time we in the church call Advent.
Will break open the dawn of Christ’s coming completely around us.
God’s reminder for us in this time between is that Christ is already in our midst and at work as we wipe each other’s tears away.
Butterflies and Rainbows are coming.
It is no great irony to me, that quite literally the cloud of this week is already opening to sunshine. This week began so normal. Texting between our families who would take the kids to school. Off to work. Off to our day. Off to our business as usual.
And then the rains came after everything had changed.
This rain has been torrential. Cold. Wet. Damp. Miserable.
Matching the somberness of mood. And the melancholy of our collective spirits.
But then the love poured in.
Neighbors and family members.
Friends both far away and near.
Food and visits and calls and plans put into action –
Within the community and within this church.
And hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.
The sun started breaking through the clouds.
And though tears still fall– they became not just tears of pain, but also tears of laughter, stories and celebration, and enough light shining in the darkness to catch that prism for a rainbow to form.
“Peace I leave with you.” Jesus says.
Not just an end to struggle and all that is broken.
But peace. The kinds that surpasses any understanding.
Deep peace that transcends who we are – to what God is calling us, and forming us to be.
To be people who care for one another; like a community and church gathered around a grieving family. In love. In generosity. In care. In faith. In friendship.
That will still shed more tears – but will also be there to help wipe them away.
Butterflies and Rainbows. Yes. They are real.
Angelika knew them well. She taught us to look for them, and dream, wonder, and share among us.
So do it. Take in a sunset. Go for a walk. Take up a run. Pick up some trash. Play with a child. Laugh. Sing. Give thanks to God for it all. Know that comes, but in death there is life – that often comes by a cross and leads to new life in Christ.
His love and peace go with you. AMEN
12 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: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Proverbs 3:5-8 (Responsively)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge God,
and God will make straight your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.