The Bright Light at the End of Chaos
Sermon by Rev. Rich Tafel
September 19, 2021
We are living in a time of chaos.
Chaos is that confusing period when things seem to be falling apart and we’re not sure of the way forward.
Every week there seems to be more chaos.
After the debacle last month in our exit from Afghanistan, now learning that the drone strikes our government said killed an ISIS terrorist had instead killed an aid worker and his family. This was heartbreaking both in the death and loss in trust and increasing the sense of chaos.
The chaos in American political life was on display yesterday here in Washington DC when military troops needed to erect barricades around our capital due to another protest reminding us of the riots early this year.
The chaos in our health system continues through the coronavirus pandemic. We entered summer thinking the worst was behind us only now to see ICUs filled in certain states.
Our weather feels chaotic as climate change with its ever-increasing temperature continues in erratic weather patterns creating wildfires, hurricanes, and floods. And it that’s not strange enough, Thursday at 1030am I heard a boom. I though a tree crashing into the cabin only to find a meteor crashed nearby.
The church feels in chaos as a new generation rejects it and church leaders continue to be involved in scandals.
Our movies reflect our anxiety. They paint a dystopian view of the future. Can you think of a futuristic movie you saw recently that portrayed a positive future?
Many of the more successful religions also offer dystopian pictures of the end of the world with the chaos as a sign.
One thing that makes our faith different than many other Christians is we believe that the world is evolving toward the good.
We are taught that the world’s purpose is to move humans in the direction of heaven here on earth. We are making progress and chaos represents the natural uneasy phases we need to move through to move forward.
All of us are familiar with evolution in terms of our own lives, our species, and the planet, but few are taught about spiritual evolution.
We all know that evolve from helpless baby to child to adolescent to adult to mid-life and to old age until we evolve out of this physical sphere and continue our spiritual growth in heaven.
No one argues that humans evolve through a predictable cycle in our physical life.
However, few know that our spiritual life also moves through different levels of evolution as well. The creation story in Genesis also serves as a story of our own personal, spiritual development through the allegory of seven days.
The Bible is a narrative speaking to spiritual evolution of humanity. We start in Genesis in a garden and ends up in Revelation in the garden again, this time in the holy city.
Chaos, we are taught, is a critically important part of the transition from what we thought we knew to what we must learn. Things need to be rearranged to grow to the next level.
As Swedenborg says:
“Before anything is restored to order it is very common for everything to be reduced first of all to a state of confusion resembling chaos so that things that are not compatible may be separated from one another. And once these have been separated the Lord arranges them into order. Phenomena comparable to this take place in nature. There too every single thing is first reduced to a state of confusion before being put in its proper place.”
This chaos we feel is natural as we push back against institutions that no longer serve us as we evolve spiritually. Evils in the world and our own life must be brought to light before they can be vanquished. The future is looking bright. As we grow to a world that is more loving, more kind, more caring and more pluralistic respecting all faith paths and providing more justice and equality for all people.
To get there we need to see what needs to change.
When we reorganize a room in our house there’s a period where it looks much worse than before we began. If someone happened to walk in and see the mess, they might ask, “I thought you were going to organize your room. This is just a mess.”
We need that mess that chaos to get things out we no longer need and reorder things so we can go forward. And what a great feeling it is to remove the trash and find our space reordered to what needs to happen next.
Chaos works like that in our life journey as well.
The speed that our world gets there is directly related to the speed of each of our own spiritual growth.
During this chaos in our world and in our own lives, we can ask God for insights into the new ways the world is operating and ask for help letting go of the ways we used to make sense of things.
In today’s gospel today, Jesus gave us the perfect analogy. This is a time of new wine representing new truths coming into the world, this new wine will require new wineskins to hold it. We will need to create new institutions to meet the new truths of our spiritual evolution, but we are warned there will be chaos in this transformation from what we knew.
I invite you to see the chaos around us not as the end of everything, but the beginning of something truly wonderful and beautiful. The speed with which we all move through this period of chaos will depend on new leaders like you who can see this new world and help navigate us through the chaos.
Let’s pray our church can play a leadeship role as we walk through the chaos to the more beautiful world to come.