Although the weather outside may change from week to week and season to season, there are always showers of blessing in worship for the people of God.
by Rev. Dr. Greg Wismar
Eight for the April rainers counts out a line in the old English folk song Green Grow the Rushes, O. Interestingly, the April rainers are not clouds. Rather, they are the eight stars that form the Hyades constellation. Appearing in the morning skies in April, the Hyades have been associated with the coming of the springtime rains in Europe and America for many centuries. But rain is plentiful both on the pages of the Bible and in the hymns that we sing as well.
For most of us, the experience of rain is so constant and consistent that we take it for granted. We may even find a rainy day to be depressing or a nuisance when it interferes with plans we have made for outdoor activities.
In Bible lands, rain is more noted and noticed. There are distinct wet and dry seasons. A year in which the early and the late rains do not come in their appointed calendar sequences can bring disaster to the people of the land. Early rains are in the autumn (Deut. 11:14), and latter rains are in the spring (Prov. 16:15). Many of the Scripture references to rain celebrate it as one of the very good gifts of God.
The Psalmist writes, Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished (Ps. 68:9). Psalm 147 encourages God’s faithful people to Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving . . . He covers the heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth (Ps. 147:7a8). A number of stories in the Old Testament mention rain, including the account of Noah and the ark (Gen. 7:12) and the plague narrative about Moses and Pharaoh in Egypt (Ex. 9:33). Not only is there rain, but thunder and hail are included in many of the Old Testament records.
In contrast, the Gospels are almost rain-free. A rainy day is never mentioned by any of the four evangelists. Even in the account of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, only blowing wind is mentioned. Jesus Himself speaks of rain only three times. In the Sermon on the Mount, He says that Your father who is in heaven . . . sends the rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45). In telling the parable of the houses built on the sand and built on the rock, He notes that, The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against each of the houses (Matt. 5:2427). In Lukes Gospel, we read, He also said to the crowds, When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, A shower is coming (Luke 12:54). Rain has great power and is an important component part of the climates in which we live out our lives.
Reflecting the verses of Scriptures, the pages of the hymnal contain numerous rain references. We sing of how God makes the clouds rain goodness (LSB 893:2) and invite Hail, wind and rain to Sing to the Lord a new song with us (LSB 817:2).
Although the weather outside may change from week to week and season to season, there are always showers of blessing in worship for the people of God. In the Book of Deuteronomy, we have the assuring words of the Song of Moses (LSB 926): Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak . . . may my teaching drop as the rain . . . like gentle rain up on the tender grass (Deut. 32:1a2). May we rejoice in God’s very constant and most beneficial rain!
About the Author: The Rev. Dr. Greg Wismar is pastor emeritus of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Newtown, Conn.