Chaos and the Light

Chaos and the Light

Perhaps it was providential, or maybe just a strange coincidence, but this week the same stream of thought occurred in several different contexts: in a discussion with Kofi Frempong , the Lexington Theological Seminary student that I serve as a mentor; on any number of news broadcasts; and again during Monday Morning Bible Study. Kofi and I were discussing the topic of “created in the image of God” for his class, then there was the continued news coverage from Charlottesville, South Carolina, Hurricane Harvey, which has inundated Houston, Texas, the total eclipse of the sun (in Hopkinsville, at least) and lastly, on Monday morning we were discussing differences in the Lord’s Prayer as it appears in the Gospels according to Luke and Matthew. What do you suppose they all had in common? Chaos.

In the Hebrew text of Genesis, the vivid language of the first chapter captures the image of chaos represented in the darkness which surrounds everything, by the uninhabitable mass and by the waters of the deep. Chaos reigns where there is no light, so God begins the act of creation by bringing order to the churning morass, “Let there be light!” And so it began, but the darkness is not eradicated, the waters are not dried up and the uninhabitable mass still needs work. Those ancients, who wrote this story down after generations of oral tradition, believed that evil lurked in the darkness, swam in the deep and was ever threatening to return it all to the chaos of earlier times. Even a modern eclipse can create thoughts of the darkness overcoming our world.

“ Thy will be done.” we pray each week in worship. Again, the ancients understood nothing of science and believed that it was God or a god who caused the hurricanes, the floods, the tornadoes, the earthquakes, the volcanic eruptions, the tsunamis and the lightning strikes. Could God be responsible for these devastating natural disasters? Was God the source of the chaos? If evil is not of God, does it come from people, from free will? Questions without easy or simple answers.

People run over by a car while walking down a street, rain in Houston not unlike that pictured in Genesis as Noah completes the building of an Ark, flooding of epic proportions, shootings in a library (a library!?!), and multiple deaths in Barcelona, Spain at the hands of terrorists. Chaos reigns in the streets of the world, still. People are afraid and fear is a byproduct of chaos. And God said, “Let there be light!” And we saw it. The sun returned to light the sky; the people of Barcelona went into the streets to show they are not afraid; the people in Charlottesville, Boston and elsewhere exposed the hatred of the neo-Nazi/Klan/white supremacists; the people of Texas came to the aid of their friends, neighbors, and even strangers offering rescue, shelter and food; “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” Praise be to God!