Rainbow dove – messenger for the New Year

Front Page of the January edition of The Niagara Anglican, print edition
Front Page of the January edition of The Niagara Anglican, print edition

By Hollis Hiscock

Instantly gripped my attention – nearly knocked my eyes from their sockets.

Craig and I were searching for graphics to illustrate a poem for the December Niagara Anglican.

We scrolled back and found the rainbow dove.

“A wonderful image for the coming year,” I thought, “Fantastic for our January paper.”

Since then I reflected upon, made notes about and formulated thoughts describing the rainbow dove as a worthy symbol for today’s world.

Its visible multi-coloured exterior exemplifies our multi-cultural, multi-valued and multi-intermingling global community as moulded by instantaneous social and technological communications.

Today’s state of affairs flowed unsurprisingly from the first Old Testament book (Genesis 11) – the Babel tower story. It recounts how, in the beginning, people were the same colour and spoke only one language. But after seeing the city people built and fearful of what humans would do next, God mixed up their colours and languages, and scattered them around the globe.

The rainbow signifies God’s presence (Ezekiel 1:28) and God’s signature sealing the covenant between God and humans (Genesis 9:16).

The dove is depicted as a symbol of peace (Matthew 10:16 – Jesus tells his followers to be as gentle as doves) and a sign of God’s spirit (Luke 3:22 – at Jesus’ baptism God’s spirit descended upon him in the bodily form of a dove).

By wedding rainbow colours with dove symbolism, I concluded that externally people and nations may look and speak differently, but underneath – minds, hearts, souls and actions – we are very similar.

Occasionally we need to reaffirm our core goals and commitments, especially during times of transition, tensions and uncertainties. Currently we need a double dose!

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States, realized this after recent events in his country, by reiterating “it is important to affirm our core identity and values as followers of Jesus in the Episcopal Anglican way.”

In his post-election message he confirmed that welcoming ALL people is not a slogan but a reflection of what Jesus taught – the core of the movement he began. “As Christians we believe that all humans are created in God’s image and equal before God – those who may be rejoicing as well as those who may be in sorrow.”

Anchoring on Jesus’ foundation to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and to treat others as you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), Archbishop Curry reiterated the church’s mandate …

“We maintain our longstanding commitment to support and welcome refugees and immigrants, and to stand with those who live in our midst without documentation.

We reaffirm that like all people LGBT persons are entitled to full civil rights and protection under the law.

We reaffirm and renew the principles of inclusion and the protection of the civil rights of all persons with disabilities.

We commit to the honour and dignity of women and speak out against sexual or gender-based violence.

We express solidarity with and honor the Indigenous Peoples of the world.

We affirm the right to freedom of religious expression and vibrant presence of different religious communities, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers.

We acknowledge our responsibility in stewardship of creation and all that God has given into our hands.

We do so because God is the Creator.

We are all God’s children, created equally in God’s image.

And if we are God’s children we are all brothers and sisters.”

This mandate applies equally anywhere in God’s universe, especially on earth.

You may want to share it with others and place it prominently so you can recall it frequently during 2017.

Feedback is always appreciated.