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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "chaos"

The pre-creation formlessness of Genesis 1...

Grocery stores in the South before a snowstorm...

And, of course, Dr. Ian Malcolm's theory that was played out in Jurassic Park...


As you might expect, most of us don't really like chaos. We like predictability and order. We at least like to feel like we have some control in any given system or situation.

Perhaps that is why the biblical writers imagined God's creation as bringing order and life out of chaos...or, more accurately, out of a "formless void" (Gen 1:2). That's what chaos means, actually. The word comes from the Greek word for "abyss; that which gapes open; a void."

Dr. King - whose life and legacy we celebrated earlier this week (and hopefully, whose legacy and work we will continue in for weeks and months and years to come) - entitled his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

The book is a reflection on the state of American race relations one decade into the civil rights movement, and his thoughts, plans, and dreams on the future of the movement and the country - primarily rooted in economic justice. Much (if not most) of it is still relevant today.

And I see Dr. King's work - and the continuing work of anti-racism, civil rights, economic justice, and overall equity in society - as a part of the broader work of God, which moves us from chaos to community.

In the beginning, God took the chaotic void and began to shape it, not only creating life but connecting the parts of that creation to one another. Throughout the story of scripture, we see God continuing to draw humanity closer to one another and closer to God...that is, closer to true community. In such community, we realize that we are interconnected - that (in the words of Dr. King elsewhere) "we are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." That destiny is the movement of God in the scriptures, in our world, in our lives toward community - which, in the Trinity, we see is God's very nature and essence.

And it is in such community that the gaping distances between us - the voids of loneliness and lovelessness, fear and distrust, the abyss of self-centeredness - are closed...or at least lessened. It is in such community that life - abundant and full (even if messy and difficult and sometimes downright chaotic) - can emerge.

So maybe Dr. Malcom was right...

Life finds a way - whether through God's creation out of chaos, through our life together in community, or through our work to create opportunities for a life of justice, well-being, and abundance for all of God's children.

May we walk in that way - from chaos to community - which is the Way of Jesus.


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