What Color is an Iris?3 min read

Spring flowers are a beautiful thing to behold. Yellow forsythias are among the first harbingers of colorful new life, along with crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. Next come the lilacs, which are nearly always fuchsia in color, but sometimes white. Now, as my wife and I take our morning walks, we are cheered on by an infinite variety of colorful irises standing on their stalks as if watching a parade. There are surely as many colors among them as there are colors in a rainbow. In fact, the Greek word for rainbow is iris.

You may or may not be familiar with the names of flowers, but chances are you know the word “iris” as also a part of the human body, particularly that part of our eye that gives it color. So much are eyes capable of having an exceptional variety of color that they too are named using the Greek word for rainbow. Along with all the variety of eye color, humans have a wide variety of hair and skin color that is consistent with the variety God built into His creation.

Jesus reminds us that God is the one who has so beautifully clothed the flowers of the field that even King Solomon in all his glory was not any more splendidly arrayed (Matthew 6:29), and God is the one who has made each and every human being, with all the distinctive variety of features and characteristics that humans have. The same Creator God who delights in variety in the flowers and plants and in the animal kingdom, also delights in differences among humans and so has made us each unique. We are so very grateful and delighted that God did not make the world in black and white, and we should then be equally grateful and delighted that God did not make people in black and white either. He made us all uniquely special and different from one another, and we celebrate that rainbow-like variety among us humans of every skin, eye, and hair color, as well as our wonderful variety of facial features, ethnic identities, cultures, and languages.

As St. John in the book of Revelation describes his vision, God in heaven was seated on a throne from which emanated lightning and thunder. Seated with Him were twenty-four elders clothed in white with golden crowns representing all God’s people of both Old and New Testaments. Around God’s throne was a rainbow, and standing before His throne “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” worshiping God and saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:3, 11; 7:9).

Let us remember these things as we pray for our fallen world that is so fractured by fighting among ourselves, and so polarized with prejudice, racism, and discrimination against each other. Remember this beautiful rainbow image of heaven as you pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” and then do your part to celebrate human diversity, embrace human dignity, and champion human equality. All of us are not the same, but all of us are equal. Every human has been created equally in the image of God, and all of us are those whom He loves and for whom He gave His Son Jesus to live, die, and rise again. “He Himself is our peace, who has. . . destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). We look to Him as our healer, and our only hope.

Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. Paul R. Naumann currently serves as Senior Pastor at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Portage, Mich. During his over thirty-five years of ministry, Naumann has been active in positions in the Circuit, District, and Synod, working especially in the areas of Youth Ministry, Outreach, Worship, Campus Ministry, and Small Group Ministry. He has been published in various periodicals and has been a speaker at a number of seminars and workshops.

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Thomas F Fischer - June 22, 2020

Thanks, Paul, for an inspiring article!