Summary: In this world torn by pandemic, tragedy, and violence, we turn back to the beginning, to what God created us to be. Order out of disorder, light out of darkness, all of us made in God's image
Looking back over the last few weeks, perhaps the best word we can use is chaos.
We have seen chaos as a disease struck our nation.
We have seen chaos as hospitals have been overwhelmed and more than 100,000 have died.
We have seen chaos as businesses closed and people lost their jobs.
We have seen chaos as our church doors closed and we had to find our way without rules or guidelines.
We have seen chaos as we figured out how to reopen doors, and businesses, and churches and keep people safe.
And in the midst of chaos we have seen peaceful protests taken over by rioting and looting.
To be honest, this chaos is causing anger in us.
We only want our lives back
We only want normal back.
We only want things to be how they used to be.
We are tired of Chaos.
And so today we go back to the beginning, Genesis, chapter one. God creates the universe. It begins with the universe in chaos.
For those of you who love science, you probably know the second law of thermodynamics is that the everything moves from controlled to uncontrolled, from order to chaos. A common example involves adding a cup of hot water to a cup of cold water. They move from ordered and different and spread out until the water is not a combination of hot and cold but of warm.
This week I read an awesome article on how scientists believe at the beginning of time the entire universe rotated consistently in a single direction around multiple pivot points. In fact that is how galaxies rotate, and 98% of galaxies rotate in the same direction as our Milky Way. Over time, due to entropy, the universe itself lost that dance of rotation, but we still see it played out.
But here in Genesis, we see the very opposite of entropy. We see chaos turned into order. We see that which wasn’t become. God is not a God of chaos, but a God of order. If you read through the entire first chapter (and I wish we had time to do so today) you hear this again and again.
This first chapter of Genesis is all about order. God separates light from dark, sky from earth, waters from land. God is repeatedly taking disorder and bringing order. God is taking what isn’t and making what is. God is creating the rules by which our world operates.
So, the very first thing we learn today, is that in the midst of the chaos in which we live, God is a God of Order.
Now, I COULD put a lighthearted joke here about Presbyterians, since so many people define us as a people who believe all things should be done “decently and in order.” Just so you know, I am a big fan of decently and in order, both in worship and in the world around me.
I believe God calls all of us to create order out of chaos in how we live in the world.
The second thing I want to talk about is the first action that God took in bringing order. God separated darkness and light. These words are often used in Scripture in speaking of the difference between good and evil. They are used to speak of those who follow God and those who do not. At Christmas, we often quote the words of Isaiah 9:2 when we hear, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.”
Just as God brought light into the darkness at the beginning, God brought light into darkness when Jesus came into the world.
God is a God of light, not a God of darkness. And God shines light on our deeds revealing them to be worthy or unworthy. Perhaps the best standard for living our lives within God’s light is found in the New Testament under the fruit of the Spirit:
But, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Ephesians 5:22-23)
There were early Christians who thought that the fact that they were forgiven meant that they could do anything they wanted. Paul says no. Paul reminds us that God is a God of light, and that we are to live is people of the light and of the day. We are to be above reproach.
Just as God’s voice in the beginning created order out of chaos in the universe, when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, God creates order out of chaos in our lives. We are no longer a people walking in darkness, we are a people walking in light. Jesus said that we are to be a light and a lamp to the world. One of my favorite expressions is that there is not enough darkness in all of the world to put out the light of one small candle.