What Are Your Covenants (Under God’s Rainbow) This Lent

John Huân Vũ

Today’s reflection is from guest contributor John Huân Vũ. John is a lay ministry leader in the Diocese of San Jose and member of the LGBTQ+ advisory board for the San Jose Police Department. He is a product manager at PayPal and a former volunteer serving the company as the global interfaith prayer chair.

Today’s liturgical readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent can be found here.

On this First Sunday of Lent, we are brought into the story of Noah and his family who just survived a massive flood on earth. God recognized the destruction and established a covenant, a statement, or a promise to Noah and his descendants that “never again will all life be destroyed by the water of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11 NIV).

Let’s take a step back and just imagine how Noah and his family might have felt at this point in time. I imagine they felt fear, sadness, confusion, or even anger. Recognizing these feelings, God offered a “sign” of his covenant: a rainbow.

Isn’t it beautiful that the first instance of the word “rainbow” in the Hebrew Scriptures appeared at such a significant event? Almost all of us have seen a rainbow, especially those peering through the clouds after some rain. A rainy day can be depressing but seeing a rainbow can bring up our spirits. A rainbow is a beautiful gift to remind us to continue to hope in the covenant of God.

When you see a rainbow, what does it mean to you? How about a rainbow flag, banner, or even a pin on a government building, a home, or on another’s personal belongings?

In June 2022, I was on an Alaskan cruise ship that  made a stop at the port of Skagway. In the early morning, before taking an excursion later that day, we decided to venture through the town on our way to a hike at a nearby forest. As we walked through this quiet cute little town, we noticed several shops had something unexpected: rainbow flags, banners, and paraphernalia. I never expected that this town in Alaska would have so many rainbow items!

Later that day Skagway was bustling with tourists and open shops. Walking through town, we noticed a stereotypical-looking butch woman aiding the visitors. We asked her if Skagway was an LGBTQ+ friendly town given the amount of rainbows that we saw over the course of the day. She smiled and told us that this was the kickoff to the third annual Skagway Pride. A few minutes later, this town had a small but powerful Pride parade consisting of five cars decorated with rainbow flags, bearing the festival’s drag queens and kings. If you blinked, you’d miss the parade!

At the Pride kickoff event later that evening, we were the only passengers hanging  out with several residents to hear how they came together for Skagway Pride. It was touching to hear the mayor share how important it was to him that the  town assembly passed a resolution that welcomed people of all gender identities and sexual orientations to Skagway.

As we walked back to our cruise ship, I reflected on what this whole experience meant to me. Seeing those rainbow items represented a covenant, a statement, or a promise that the little town of Skagway truly welcomes all. Those rainbows reflected the intrinsic hope that God will be with us to help humankind become inclusive, welcoming, and loving.

When we look around our society, that intrinsic hope seems to be more and more impossible. Although we can easily choose fear, sadness, confusion, or even anger like Noah and his family, we know that a rainbow will eventually appear. We see that rainbow when strangers are helping strangers. We see that rainbow when people volunteer at a shelter, open their homes, donate their belongings, or help others find their loved ones. We see that rainbow when people can set aside their beliefs, their differences, their political views to work together to be inclusive, welcoming, and loving.

So the next time you witness a “rainbow in the clouds” in the form of human compassion and kindness, think about  the covenant that God is making with you. Is it a covenant of protection? Is it a covenant of a full life? Is it a covenant of love? Is it a covenant of service? Is it something else?

In all these years that humanity existed, God has upheld his rainbow. Do you trust that God’s covenant has been  made to “you and all living creatures of every kind”?

What is a covenant that you will make for yourself, for others, and for God during this season of Lent?

–John Huân Vũ, February 18, 2024

9 replies
  1. Tyrone Deere
    Tyrone Deere says:

    Thanks John. I was Cruise Chaplain about ten years ago and we went to Swagway. Good rainbow 🌈 connection.
    I enjoyed your message also.
    Tyrone Deere

    • John Huân Vũ
      John Huân Vũ says:

      Thank you Tyrone. I’m so jealous you’re a Cruise Chaplain. I hope you will enjoy Skagway the next time you’re there with my reflection!

  2. Mary Jo
    Mary Jo says:

    This is a nice article about rainbows and the hopeful and positives associated with them. A suggestion in the article is to possibly consider the language you use in describing “a stereotypical butch woman.” That isn’t how most lesbians might describe this woman or themselves . Thanks!

    • John Huân Vũ
      John Huân Vũ says:

      Thank you Mary Jo! I appreciate your feedback. This was based on my perspective hence why I wrote it that way. Thank you for your comment.

  3. gloria
    gloria says:

    I love the rainbow. I often times say I’m rainbow mother. Actually, I fully support the LGBTQ community. I have a gay son that I’m extremely proud, He’s out and proud and has demonstrated this in all aspects of life. I wish all mothers of LGBTQ children felt this way. I feel sorry for those who don’t have supportive parents. God loves us all, straight gay, or anything else.

  4. Tu-Ha Nguyen
    Tu-Ha Nguyen says:

    Hi John, I was 12 years old and my friend (Buddy, not his real name) was 13 yrs old about 4️⃣ decades ago.

    A year before, I wrote a letter to myself so I could save the date of the cancelled stamp.. Inside, was a letter I wrote to Buddy. “Hi Buddy, a year from now; you will come out to me. When you do I will love you more and respect you more than ever before. Never forget, I’m your blood sister from another mother. Be who you are. Don’t listen to anyone else’s voice except God’s, your own and those who love and accept you no matter what.”

    Buddy was stunned that I knew he was gay BEFORE he knew.
    Whatever …

    John — thanks for choosing to be your true self. Very much respect that because it’s a tough world out there. We must be the LOVE for ourselves;°then we can reach out to many others.

    In faith and pride,

    Tu-Ha P. Nguyen
    Tony D. (The Hubs)


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