Sermons

Summary: Peace in the world of Chaos?

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11So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth,£ called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body£ through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.£ 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.£ 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually£ into a dwelling place for God.

Ephesians 2:11 - 22 (NRSV)

For me July means hitting the books. Continuing education can be all about survival! One leadership class in which I’m involved this year has us considering the characteristics of various generations.

The people born between 1965 and 1976 are referred to as “Generation X”; they are 51 million strong. The group following “X” is called “the Millennials”. Born between 1977 and 1998, there are 75 million of them.

Between the ages of 11 and 44, the Gen X/millennial population is 126 million (more than one-in-three Americans ). They are also a lot different than your grandmother! From the “X’rs” to the “Mills” they have some very noticeable similarities. For instance, they either reject or rewrite the rules, and institutions (like the church) are either mistrusted or considered irrelevant .

Now, those are trends and generalities; not every person of those generations is exactly like that. But one unshakeable fact is that the 126 million X/Mill-ers are changing the landscape. They are multi-taskers moving at light speed; they have what anyone on the AARP mailing list would consider a chaotic lifestyle. Chaos! Anyone who travels the Interstates, parents a teenager or does occasional baby-sitting for a grandchild understands the meaning of chaos!

One of my professors this July is a “Gen-X’r”. He doesn’t give tests, but rather moves the class along with mini-projects, breaking into small groups for interaction; he builds a sense of community so the whole class can work on a learning curve together. Not exactly the Little House On the Prairie school marm teaching the three R’s! To a 40’s-born Baby Boomer it is chaos. Give me a book, three quizzes, a mid-term and a final and I’ll get an “A”. Force me into small groups and I break into a cold sweat.

There has always been a gap between generations. I’m certain I gave my parents more gray hair than they deserved. When it was my turn to be the parent, I was the one on the receiving end. When my son was a pre-teen he would get lazy about cleaning his room (big surprise!). Elizabeth would drop a hint or two, but never get any results. Then one day while Jason was at school, the “white tornado” would visit his room, restoring order and reclaiming a view of the floor surface. When Jason would come home in the afternoon you could hear it all over the house: Oh NO! She trashed my room again! One person’s “orderliness” is another’s chaos!

So what does chaos have to do with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? There’s a connection between Paul and Moses. Listen to the first and second verses of the creation account in Genesis:

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1 - 2 (NRSV)

That expression “formless void” in Hebrew is בֹּהוּ bo’-hoo, and it means to be empty . Formless, empty and covered in darkness; this is the very essence of chaos.

Paul uses the word “peace” a couple of times in his letter to the Ephesian church. This word is εἰρήνη eirēnē, and it means to join (as in knit back together that which was broken apart). When healthy bones are broken due to an injury, often they knit back together stronger than before the break.

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