Today's Lectionary Text
Genesis 1:1-2When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
John 1:1-3aIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
Both passages of Scripture listed here are printed by hand and laying in front of me in the New Revised Standard Version, the Message, and the Common English Bible. Reading through these passages sequentially in any of the 720 possible logical arrangements might send the brain into a dizzying spin. The whole mess is chaotic. No one particular order causes the words to make more sense. Why engage in such an exercise? Is it not an exercise in futility?
However, the sentence penned by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley might help, “Invention . . . does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.”
That seems to contradict at least the NRSV and the Message in their accounts of creation. They use “formless void” and “soup of nothingness” respectively to describe conditions before God began creating. The Common English Bible suggests only that it was “dark over the deep sea.” Add in the Word, though, which seems to be necessary to God's creating. My head hurts! None of this makes sense! My thoughts are pure chaos.
Is this not cool, though? Stepping back and taking a deep breath leads to an understanding that chaos is another word for mystery. And Mystery catches the essence of who God is. Even recognizing that the Word is God and believing that the Word came among human beings in the form of Jesus does not explain all of the chaos implied in the chaotic opening words of Genesis. It is okay, though. God is Mystery and we do not have to understand the Mystery completely. It is important to simply recognize that much creativity and comfort dwell within that Mystery. Our challenge is to move beyond the need to intellectually and logically understand the chaos, the Mystery, and accept what comes from the gift.
Using the creativity that is part of the gift could lead to an outpouring of solutions to be used in the chaotic world that daily surrounds us. What solutions exist for food insecure persons? How about some answers for racist behaviors? What about children who have learning disabilities, or teens with behavioral challenges? Are there ideas within the chaos for extending concrete help to abused elders?
The list of woes, or the content of the chaos swirling in 2022 here on the earth that God created is mindboggling. At the same time the action of God in the form of Word and of brooding wind is a Mystery that cannot be described completely. It can be tapped, though, and applied as we each allow ourselves to be used in a way that brings a bit of order and answer to that which today exists within the chaos. Let us help to make it so!
-Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Prayer for Reflection
Holy Mystery. Thank you for creating. Allow me to be a vehicle to bring a little bit of comfort and order to this hurting creation. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color