Holy Chaos

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.

Chaos on the web:

Similarities…

David and Saul

Sometimes I look through the lectionary text and wonder if the passages someone choose the passages randomly…”we haven’t had this one for a while, lets add it!” They just don’t seem to have anything in common. I have to admit, I miss things (all the time) and maybe I rarely read the lectionary text this close or maybe they don’t have much in common with the other texts for the week. Nevertheless, this week there are themes in the four texts

I choose you…

God takes David “from the pasture, from following the sheep” (2 Samuel 7:8), Mary is “the lowliness of his servant” (Luke 1:48). If we were to look for these people today, we would not find them in the White House or in the boardroom. We might find David working hard on the family farm. Not the father that runs the farm, not the mother that makes sure the family runs smooth, but the child working and playing along his siblings, working so that there would be food on the table.

Have you seen Mary lately? She is the child from the “wrong side of the tracks,” the small town that everyone forgot about. Do you drive by cheap, run down motels on your way to work? Do you think maybe there is a young unwed mother that has gone through hell? Maybe Mary knew she was carrying a very special baby but to others she was unwed and pregnant. I wonder what her parents thought. Did they make her leave the only home she had ever known because of how she disgraced her family?

Today we know that how important David and Mary are in the history of the world. It makes it hard to return to the time and place of the story and remember that the people around them saw them the same way that we see outsiders, not good enough, not loved or the wrong kind of people. But God choose Mary, God choose David.

Forever…

“Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me” (2 Samuel 7.16).  “According to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1.55). “I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations” (Psalm 89.4). “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:33).

These texts are very clear on one thing “forever.” From generation to generation, we have a King, a Son of God that “to whom be the glory forever!” (Romans 16:27). These texts also lack one thing…”if.” Jesus will not reign “if” I have the right belief system, the right way of thinking, the right way of doing, there is no “if” even if I don’t know what the Kingdom of God looks like. There is no “if”…Jesus is King whether I know it, believe it or walk it…forever, from generation to generation, there is no end to his Kingdom. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it.

Strength…

It is Advent; Christmas is coming (in December EVERY YEAR!). A joyous time for all. Right? Not so fast, most of us need strength to face the difficulties of this season. These texts offer that promise…”I will give you rest from all of your enemies” (2 Samuel 7:11). “He has shown strength with his arm” (Luke 1:15).  “My hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him” (Psalms 89.21). “Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (Romans 16:25). “The power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).

I may not know much…but I know that Mary and David needed strength. How do you tell your father that you are leaving the family farm to become the king? How do you go to your parents and tell them that you are pregnant? To have a messenger from God tell you that you are pregnant is one thing, to relay that information to your future spouse and parents is another. To allow others into the pain and fear that we face is facing down the gates of hell and choosing to walk through them. Hoping that what is on the other side is more like heaven. A place that we are not alone with our fear and pain anymore, a place that we know we are worthy of love, even with the mistakes of our past and failures of our present. We face many of the most difficult and tragic times in our lives feeling alone. To walk through those gates to find that we are worthy of love and no longer alone, this takes the strength of God to do.

The worst pain in the world is the pain suffered alone. Do not be alone: share.