For the next few weeks we are looking at the theme “From Chaos to Community”, hearing again some of the stories in scripture which provide insight into how God builds community and how those insights can help us be in community in the midst of chaos.
This isn’t a series about us specifically. It is a series with applications which can help us as we face the sometimes messy situations in our lives and stay in relationship with God and each other.
In some ways, I think humans live in a constant state of some level of chaos. It can be as routine as a “To do list,” which seems unending and as complex as working your way through personal health challenges while caring for others, keeping up with job and household responsibilities, facing strained relationships, and finding out you must move, all at the same time.
At various times of our lives we may face periods when everything seems to be coming apart at the seams.
Difficult situations to navigate.
A job is lost.
An accident intrudes abruptly.
Illness disrupts all aspects of our daily life.
A fire destroys.
Violence makes us a victim.
We lose someone important to us.
Just the changes of growing older can create uncertainty and strife. From the security of the womb we are propelled into a journey that includes more than one bump or bruise along the way. That takes us from being dependent on others for survival – to feeling independent – back to relying on others to keep us safe and secure.
Our times of chaos are not unlike those who followed the Creator God of Genesis 1 who are described in our sacred texts. Those are the stories that will inform and encourage us in the coming weeks as we hear again of how faithful men and women find themselves wrestling deeply with the reality of their humanity and the challenges it brings.
“Into each of these stories of jumbled, chaotic mess we will hear the voice of God speaking light and life and love and hope
Sometimes God’s words will bring comfort – God brings order to the chaos, Other times, God speaks demands that make us uncomfortable and raise difficult questions about the nature of our faith – questions for which we do not have easy answers.”
As we begin, we go back to the beginning: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”
As we heard in this morning’s paraphrase: “In the beginning there was God… and a mess. And it was a real mess.”
It is a time of visible and tangible chaos. Into the chaos comes community.
Genesis 1’s references to God include the wind or spirit of God over the water, as well as God’s talking to self, saying, “let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness,” and God’s action: “God created humankind in his image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
In Matthew Jesus is recorded as telling us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and John 1:1 tells us that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.”
From these and other passages, we get a sense of God in community with God, of God’s essence centered in community. This essence enters the swirling darkness and creates order and community reflective of its communal nature. The Trinity bringing order which reflects its very nature.
Creating new ways of relationship: light and darkness, land and water, fish and birds and animals with earth and humankind. Humankind with creation and Creator God, the Word, and the Spirit – three-in-one Person, Holy Trinity.
Humans are brought into community with God and Creation: Receiving resources, relationships, and responsibilities. Put in charge.
God continues to create and to call us into community. Steadfastly giving us the resources, relationships, and responsibilities to fulfill that call.
This story of the beginning prepared Israel for life in spiritually chaotic neighborhoods like the land of promise and the Babylon into which she was exiled. It prepares the church to stay faithful in a world that looks to many “things” as gods and has so many different ideas about God. Genesis 1 and 2 teach us that God exists, and that God is a loving creator and caretaker, and we are made in God’s image. “Being image bears of God is also at the heart of how we see other humans, which results in treating them with dignity, regardless of race, age, gender, social or economic status.”
It is not easy to be in community with those very different from ourselves. With those with whom we disagree or don’t understand, with those who annoy us, have harmed us, or seek to harm us.
It is not easy to be in community with others when our lives are upside down because of health, disappointment, betrayal of trust, and other disruptions in what we hope for.
It is not easy to be in community when we choose to try to do it alone.
It isn’t always easy, even when we are intimately in community with God through Jesus Christ empowered and revealed through the Holy Spirit. But it is in that community that it becomes possible against everything of this world that tells us it isn’t.
The community that is the Trinity is a holy mystery. We can try to explain it, but no explanation can fully grasp the substance of this reality. We can claim it, illustrate it, reflect it in our relationships with others, but How three persons share the same essence and are one is something we must accept on faith.
As the video played during the scripture lesson this morning we moved away from the earth to the planets of our solar system to the Milky Way and other galaxies. It is a view comprised of scientific discovery and the imagination of those who created the movie “Contact” in the 1970s. It provides us with a visual image of the overwhelming majesty of God’s creation and the power it exhibits. Not actual pictures of actual objects light years away, but a sense of the wonder of it all.
The Creation story doesn’t give us photos of the beginning of the earth and humankind. No one was there capturing it as a “Kodak moment, ” or transcribing it into their electronic device as an eyewitness. Genesis 1 does give us a visual image of how the community of creativeness, love, and faithfulness that is the Triune God is the community we are called to be with God, each other, and the world.
It does remind us that we serve an Awesome God who is above everything and everyone in power and majesty.
As we continue this series we will discover in new ways the truth that the presence of God is a constant in the lives of our forebearers in the faith, just as the presence of God is a constant in our own lives, through the good times and the bad.
My hope is we will experience the good news that God-in-Three persons is with us, speaking light, life, love and hope into the murky, jumbled, chaotic mess of the world as we continue through this series.