Sunday, October 18, 2015

From Dystopia to Love: Sky Sunday

Jeremiah 4:23–28
October 18, 2015
Chatfield UMC
Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Sky Sunday

From our passage in Jeremiah: I looked at the earth, and it was without shape or form, at the heavens and there was no light.

It is an echo of the beginning of time: And the earth was without form and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
I think it is creepy.

I think this passage should send chills down our spines. It is like we are caught up in a space-time continuum in which time has reversed. We are flung backward to the beginning. When nothing existed. When nothing existed except chaos. It should scare us; that this sort of thing could happen.

Imagine the first blood moon. With no commentators and forecasters telling you what was going to happen at 9;45 pm. Imagine seeing it...for the very first time, in a veil of silence. I imagine when the first blood moon appeared in the sky, I imagine when the first new moon didn’t appear in the sky, humans thought, “this is it” We are doomed. The world is coming to an end.

Surely, we are doomed. But everyone woke up the next morning. Everything got back to normal. And so it happened year after year,  month after month. The moon waxed and waned. It always came back.
So we developed a rhythm. A hopeful rhythm. Everything was going to be all right. And as wonderful as that rhythm is, as reassuring as that rhythm is, it began to create in us apathy. An intense apathy.

There was always going to be a future. We were always going to be saved from destruction and our own lack of watchfulness. So we didn’t see, we didn’t perceive as world becomes more and more in the grip of greed and callousness, we didn’t see as neighbors sink further and further into poverty and despair, we didn’t see as cities are choked more and more by pollution and economic corruption. We didn’t see...until it was too late. Because the moon kept coming back every month so we were safe in our own little corner of our own little world.

And then one day we looked and there was no one left,; every bird in the sky had taken flight. We with the eyes of Jeremiah, looked and the fertile land was a desert; all its towns were in ruins.

I read novels that involve dystopian worlds, the opposite of utopia. Worlds that have fallen apart completely because of some kind of human made disaster.  The words of Jeremiah echo the landscape of these novels. I looked and the fertile land was a desert, all its towns were in ruins.
The Hunger Games, the Maze Runner, Ember from Ashes, Cinder. It is a popular genre right now.

Most of these books are written for a middle school or high school audience so the heroes and heroines are mostly young people. Almost all of the books speak of a disaster that comes to the world because of greed, lust, abuse of power, pride, anger...the so called seven deadly sins. The sins that keep a person from knowing and being a person of charity and love.

My very favorite and first was Madeline L’Engle’s A Winkle in Time. In this story Meg Meg Murry, a high-school-aged girl is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O'Keefe to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin encounter adversaries and evil as they try to find their way to Meg’s father.
Meg and her friends find Mr. Murray on a planet ruled by IT. A being that creates conformity and apathy. Even Meg’s super intelligent brother, Charles Wallace is seduced by IT and becomes catatonic and cruel.
It is up to Meg to rescue both her father and her brother and she must do it on her own.

In order for Meg to find the power she needs to overcome the seductive power of IT she must learn that her capacity for love is the one thing IT cannot control or overcome. Meg realizes that “If she could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love.” But giving love to the thing that took her brother and her father is asking too much. How can she love something so cruel and so IT?
Until she realizes that love is the only way and that being able to love, even those who have capacity to love her back is her greatest gift.

Most of the dystopia novels revolve around this theme, this powerful theme of love overcoming the vast destruction of greed, lust, anger, abuse of power. Love that restores. That brings order back from chaos, light out of darkness.

These novels geared towards young people, tell the biblical story of what happens when have forgotten God and have therefore allowed themselves to be ruled by self-interest and desire rather than the virtues that arise out of relationship with God. They have forgotten to know or find ways of living with hearts of justice, community-mindedness, and compassion.

Creation suffers and bears witness to the consequences of humankind living only for self and forgetting their hope in God.

But God remembers. God remembers that God has made a covenant with us, with God’s people. We may hurt and destroy on God’s holy mountain, but God will not leave us in total destruction.

The Lord proclaims: the whole earth will become a desolation, but I will not destroy it completely.

Like Meg’s power of love, even more God’s power of love will not allow total destruction. We may take our planet to the very edge of chaos but God will help us snatch it back.
If we are willing to recognize the sins of greed, lust, anger and abuse of power that are destroying our world and speak out against the powers of darkness.
If we are willing to break the cycle of apathy and concern only for our own little corner of our own little world.
If we are willing to look to the skies and see the power and majesty of God and ask God to give us the will to love the world with the love of our Savior.

One of our favorite hymns declares: I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, all who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save. I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright, Who will bear my light to them? Who shall I send?

And we rightly respond: Here I am Lord, I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

Because we are people of the covenant of baptism where we have promised to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, we are called by our baptism into helping God snatch our world back from the brink of chaos.
By our baptismal covenant we are called to treat our world with divine Love. With the love of a Creator. With the love of the one who came to save the world. With the love of a Savior.

We can show that Savior/Creator like love in something as mundane as the way we recycle our trash and as difficult as the kind of car we chose to drive. Something as mundane as the type of food we buy or as difficult as the way we plan our vacations.
We can show that Savior/Creator like love in something as mundane as the way we water our gardens or as self-sacrificing as giving generously to organizations that work to provide clean sustainable water to the poor.

In all of this, the mundane or the profound we are helping God snatch our world back from the brink of chaos, the brink of dystopia. We are helping God keep our world for the sake of our children. 

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