700 people attended Rock the Flood – a concert of many musical genres that Jeff and Patti Moat, Christine Evans and Steve Gal and a host of other volunteers put together to benefit both the flood relief efforts of The Broome County Council of Churches and the Owego Revitalization and Betterment Corporation. In all we were able to raise $25,000 to help people recover. If you’re interested you might want to check them out on facebook at Binghamton Rocks for Flood Relief. There you will get a sampling of the music on the compilation albums and find links to the t-shirt order forms. Of course you can get these things from me too, if you ask nicely.

But that’s really not the point to this blog entry. On the Sunday before the day of concerts was to begin, I had to meet the crew at Country Pines to get some posters, so I could distribute them to a few places. The weather up until that Sunday had been terrible. So much rain had fallen that the rivers were again near flood stage in some areas and we were all getting rather nervous that more relief shelters would be needed.

As I was driving down the road, I found myself slipping into a funk. On the previous day I had spent most of the day helping a person gut out her house. Dry wall dust and I have never had a good relationship, but when you add black mold the cocktail can be quite a problem for me, so I had a sore throat, coughing, wheezing, and a bad sinus head ache to boot. So funk is probably the best word to describe how I felt.

But there I was on Rt 17 at the Endwell exit for 17c and what should I see, but a rainbow. A full rainbow appeared with it’s end right in front of my 2002 Ford Focus Station Wagon and the other end stretching across the area where flood waters only two weeks before had washed away homes and businesses. All I could think was, “Well the end of the rainbow (where the pot of gold belongs) is either a stretch of Road or the hood of a Focus. Imagine that!

As I’ve reflected on that event, I’ve become a little more aware on how Broome County with all of its flaws and floods, is indeed a land of promise. Rainbows after all are a sign of a covenant between God and this world that God will never again destroy the entire earth with flooding. In a spiritual sense the rainbow is used as a symbol for our baptism – it is a sign of the covenant between God and us that God will be with us through all the course of our life: for better or worse. God is predisposed toward us and God says Yes, this one is mine.

Here a rainbow is set stretching across the land of valleys created by the confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers. A land that is prone to flooding, and to hunger, and to disease, but this land is the land of promise. It is also home to a place that when the sun comes out in October can take your breath away and where trout raise up out of the river catching the morning sun, showing the onlooker a gift of grace that can best be described as symbol of God’s love. Climb the Hill behind Binghamton University sometime and watch the sun rise in the morning and you will know exactly what I am talking about. This is a land of promise – and for those of us who have decided to dwell here, we know of this land as home.

And that Rainbow stands as a promise that in life, in death, in flooding, in famine, in good times and in bad times, God is with us. God marks us and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And it compels us to rise up out of the filth and the dust of this flood and to again create life and community in this place and to treat others with tenderness and care. It causes us to step out of the funk, to breath the fresh air and sense the Spirit move us to care for each other.

So what began as a simple Rock Concert, has become for me a symbol of what can be done when we try to do something that is larger than ourselves. Rainbows are raised, people’s lives are touched, and God’s promises are kept. God is with us. Thanks be to God.

Peace and towels,

Joe Sellepack


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