Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Order Out of Chaos

Brad Sullivan
4th Sunday of Lent, Year A
Sunday, April 6, 2014
St. Mark’s, Bay City, TX
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11

John 11:1-45
Since January, I’ve been helping to teach a leadership class called CLAY Leadership in the elementary and middle schools.  The classes are 30 minutes every two weeks in every class in the schools, and folks around the community have signed up and trained to lead these classes.
Good days and bad days – by and large, the student seem to respond pretty well…In these classes, we get to hear some from the kids’ lives, and some of the things and situations these kids are facing.  There are discipline problems and kids acting out.  Of course there are.  You get that sometimes from kids living with two parents in a stable, loving home.  There are kids living with hardly one parent, very little stability, and a very little love given.  Looking at the big picture around the schools, at the home life of some of these kids, it seems sometimes like the world is slipping into chaos.
 We’ve had several family members of parishioners die in the last couple of weeks.  There was another shooting and suicide at Fort Hood.  With an awful lot of wonderful things and good in the world, it sometimes feels like the world is slipping into chaos.
Chaos is how the world began.  In the beginning the world was a formless void – there was chaos, and out of this chaos, God spoke, and the words God spoke created order out of chaos, created something out of nothing.  Light, etc…
In Genesis 2, God fashioned things with his hand to create order and beauty and life.  Adam was fashioned by God’s hands out of the dust of the ground.  Places him in the garden, and for the first time, something isn’t good.  The man is alone, and that isn’t good, so God fashions animals out of the dust of the ground, and finally fashions Eve out of Adams rib. 
God speaks to create order out of chaos, and it is good.  God fashions life out of the dust of the ground to make life and companionship and beauty. 
In our gospel lesson last week, Jesus, fashioned new eyes for a blind man out of the dust of the ground.  He made mud with dirt and saliva, spread it on the man’s eyes, and the man could see.  Jesus fashioned the world with his hands just as God did in creation.
In our Gospel lesson today, when Lazarus died, Jesus spoke, and it came to be.  “Lazarus, come out,” Jesus said, and Lazarus, though dead until Jesus’ words were spoken, came out of the tomb, alive and well.  Jesus spoke life into death, spoke order out of chaos, just as God had done in creation.
Jesus showed himself to be God, the same bringer of order out of chaos that spoke in creation, the same former and fashioner of the earth that formed and fashioned all of life.  Jesus also showed us who we are because Jesus was fully human.
We’re made in God’s image, as we’re told in Genesis 1. 
Our words have power. 
We’re made to do creative and meaningful work with our hands and bodies. 
We are made as light bearers, carrying the fire of Jesus to help bring order out of chaos as well. 
We take part in God’s story of bringing order out of Chaos.
We’re meant to do creative and fulfilling work, and our jobs may be that work.  Our jobs may also be tasks we fulfill.  Our creative work that God has given us to bring light and life, and order out of chaos may be different than our jobs.  Our creative work is our ministry, something God has fashioned us to do to help bring beauty and life into creation, to help bring order out of chaos.
Our words also have this power to bring order out of chaos.  Our words can destroy, and our words can create.  We talked in the CLAY Leadership classes about the power our words have to discourage people from their dreams.  Even people who love us and want to encourage us sometimes say the wrong thing and end up discouraging us.   Our words, of course also have the power to encourage, to give life.  We may not just say “get up” to a dead body and it will, but our words our tremendous power to give life. 
The kids in our schools who have such tragic home lives need words to give them life.  They need more positive influences from loving people full of the light and life of Jesus.  They need to know they aren’t alone in trying to raise themselves.
We’re not fully human if we are alone.  The first part of creation that was not good was that Adam was alone.  We’re made for deep and meaningful relationships.  We’re mean to be naked with each other and with God.  We’re meant to share vulnerability and intimacy with loving friends and family. 
Words of love given intimately and nakedly, metaphorical nakedly are ways we bring order out of chaos.  Creative work to bring life and light to the world are ways we bring order out of chaos.  Jesus brings order out of chaos, and we carry his fire, his spirit with us to bring that order out of Chaos.
Over the next two weeks, CLAY Leadership is having what they call “Parent University”.  Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next two weeks, the trainers and other adults we can gather will be at the three elementary schools and the middle school to have some time with the parents and the kids together.  It’s going to be simple things, playing games together, there will be a lesson.  It’s a chance for some relationship and knowing that there is light and life, that there is order to be brought out of chaos.
I’ll be at two of the four; I’ll be here on the other two.  We need folks from here to come to these as well.  We need folks there to help with the activities, and folks to be there to be carriers of Jesus’ light.  It’s public school, so from the front, we don’t really mention Jesus, but we bring his light anyway, and we do get to mention Jesus in private conversations. 
Talk to me.  Sign up for a school after church.  Take a chance to speak words of life to people in need of those words.  Take a chance to do some creative work, fashioning life out of the dust of the ground.  Take an opportunity to help bring order out of chaos.  Amen.

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