For the last week and a half, my life has consisted of planned…controlled…maddening…CHAOS. First, we planned and prepared Christmas dinner for fourteen people. Dinner was amazing and wonderful, even if my house only holds six or seven people at one time. We somehow made it work. Christmas Day was chaos but it held a Love that embraced us all.
A short twelve hours later the Christmas tree was down, decorations were stored for the year and we were ripping the carpet out of our living room. A different kind of chaos maybe…but chaos non-the-less! After spending most of the week creating a level surface, we finally laid our new flooring. Our new living room floor is flat, clean, new and beautiful. We still have chaos, little things that need to be done (like baseboards and bringing the furniture back in) but I am thankful that most of the dust is gone.
I would guess that my life over the past week had quite a bit of influence on how I read the lectionary text because chaos jumped off the page with every word. Genesis 1:1-5, the beginning. Chaos reigned; there was darkness, void, water…CHAOS. Then God brought light. Psalm 29 is a song that speaks of God’s power to create chaos. The wilderness shakes, the voice of God flashes forth flames of fire, God makes the oaks swirl and strips the forest bare. (We had a tree fall on our house last year during an intense windstorm, when the bible tells me that the LORD “strips the forest bare”, I can almost taste the chaos!) The next reading, Acts 19:1-7, Paul asks the people of Ephesus if they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, which sounds a bit like “was their chaos at your baptism?” Paul lays his hands on them and “they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” This scene is almost as chaotic as 14 people packed like sardines into my little living room! Finally in Mark 1:4-11 “[Jesus] saw the heavens torn apart.” More chaos!
Occasionally a theme shines through the lectionary texts. This week the theme could be the Breath of God, the coming of the Holy Spirit, or maybe the power that the people feel when they encounter God…but with a chaotic Christmas Dinner and the absences of a living room floor in my recent past, I see chaos in these texts. A God that comes into our lives and brings light into the chaos (Genesis 1:1-5), a word so powerful it frees the forest of its leaves (Psalm 29), a God not bound by language (Acts 19:1-7) and tears the heavens apart to acknowledge Christ (Mark 1:1-11). Our God is a God that is not afraid of chaos.