What Does Chaos Really Look Like?

Sunday’s sermon!  Sorry – no audio.  I got caught up talking before service, was running late and ran out of my office without my phone.  I’m guessing Paul never had that problem …

(I couldn’t think of a good “chaos” picture so I decided to use one of me on a jet ski, haha.  That day was pure chaos.)

Genesis 3:8-15

What Does Chaos Really Look Like?

Jesse Pacheco stopped by my office this week and handed me a comic strip. On the top left hand corner of the strip a heading read, “On the eight day, God created fishing.” And on the right hand side of the strip was a picture of a disgruntled looking Eve, shouting, “Adam? ADAM?!”

The timing of this was perfect, actually, considering the fact that Bruce had crawled into bed around 6:00 that morning after being out all night fishing for stripers with a friend of his.

Who knew Eve and I had so much in common?

This text is always such a tricky one to preach on. Original sin! The fall of humanity! The reason childbirth is so painful! Why men are superior to women!

Throw a female preacher into the mix and this has the potential to be very awkward.

How many times have you asked yourself the question, “What would the world look like if Eve HAD NOT eaten the apple?” Would we all get along? Would we make no mistakes? Would we all be perfect? Would there be no famine, disease or hunger? Would peace replace violence? Would countries being built up around community replace countries being brought down by war? If Eve had just resisted the temptation, would we be living in paradise right now?

Let’s face it – most of us live in the middle of chaos. We are constantly running from one activity to another, desperately seeking some semblance of balance in our lives. Our phones and computers connect us to one another constantly, our calendars are always overbooked and there are never enough hours in the day. The problems that exist in the world are too great for one person to fix and everyone has a different opinion as to how we should fix them. When it comes to making important decisions about how to run our families, our churches, our communities and our country, it is impossible to come to a consensus. People are petty with one another, jealous of one another and competitive among one another.

So, I often ask myself, would our lives be less chaotic if Eve had not eaten the apple? What would it be like to live in paradise; to live in a world where everyone was alike? What would it be like to live in a world where everyone agrees with one another? What would it be like to live in a world void of pettiness, jealousy and competition? Would our lives really be easier? Here is what one commentary had to say in answer to these questions:

One might ask, in the context of preaching, what would have become of humanity if the woman had not plucked the fruit from the tree. Everything hinges on this, and our text today deals with the chaos that ensues from—dare we say it?—her act of courage (or defiance—however you wish to characterize it). Everything turns on this, because without it, humanity remains docile, numb, obedient, and forever trapped in the garden of sameness and blissful ignorance. This place, as it turns out, is no paradise. No differences, no opposites, no innovation, no creativity, no diversity, no rebellion, no need for grace or redemption. You can see where that path leads. {Bert Marshall, Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 3, Page 101-102}

So – is order better than chaos? Don’t get me wrong – I am not trying to say that the fallen world that we live in is paradise. It is far from it. But sometimes I do start to wonder if the chaos that came from the “fall of humanity” is really as bad as we think it is. What does chaos really look like, anyway?

Chaos looks like diversity. Our church would be so boring if we all looked like one another, believed like one another and agreed with one another. Our ministries would not flourish because no one person would have a particular passion to make something flourish.

As a human race, we are extremely diverse – and sometimes we do clash. But diversity is not a bad thing. It is like harmony in music – you just need to know how to put the different pieces together the right way.

Chaos looks like innovation. If we never tried to do something better than the person who did it before us, we would never move forward in our lives. Diseases would never be cured, communication would never advance and safety would never improve.

Sometimes we do try to push innovation too far. Sometimes our competitions between one another are too great. But think about where we would be if we never tried to be better, to move farther or to think bigger.

Chaos looks like progress. As a woman, I would never have been ordained into the ministry had it not been for the progress that was made by those who came before me – and for the way that they challenged the people who told them that they were wrong.

I feel called God called me into the ministry. And I am forever grateful that I live in a time and in a space where I am able to live out that call.

Chaos looks like courage. Leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent most of their lives living in utter chaos. But the world is a better place because of what they (and so many others) did and because of the lives they were willing to endure.

Chaos looks like creativity. The Confirmands planned and led worship a few weeks ago. Things looked a little bit different that morning than they usually do – but it was such a wonderful worship service. And the spirit moved for those who were present in a way that it never has before.

If we are always looking back and thinking about the good old days and never allow ourselves to change, we may miss out on an opportunity to see what is on the horizon – and to see and feel God working in a new and powerful way.

Chaos looks like compassion. If there was no pain in the world, there would be no compassion in the world. If there was no hurting in the world, there would be no healing in the world. If there was no hatred in the world, no one would understand what love truly means.

Chaos looks like taking risks. Jesus took risks in his life and in his ministry. The earliest Christians took risks to spread the Gospel. Martin Luther and other reformation theologians took risks when they came up against the Catholic authorities. Members of this church took risks to create the church that we know, love and care about today. Today we are taking risks as we discern what it means to be a church in the 21st century.

These are all risks worth taking.

Chaos looks like finding balance. There are days when Bruce and I epitomize the age old expression, “Opposites attract.” But through our differences we balance each other out – and I am forever grateful to him for that. I know many of you would say the same thing about the partners in your lives.

Chaos looks like beautiful artwork; it sounds like perfect harmony; it tastes like the perfect blend of ingredients and spices.
Chaos creates fun, love and commitment. When was the last time you laughed so hard that you cried? When was the last time that you felt pure joy? Did those moments come from order – or did they come from chaos?

So maybe chaos isn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe chaos is what gives our lives meaning. Maybe chaos is what makes grace worth receiving.

What does chaos really look like? Maybe not look as bad as we thought it did.

Eve took the apple; she ate it. She gave one to Adam; he ate it as well. We have always interpreted that moment at the fall of humankind. Perhaps it is time we start interpreting it as the beginning of humanity.

Blessings to you as you embrace the chaos in your lives.

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

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