A colleague gave me this image a while back: Chaos organizes around righteousness. And he offered up the image of dear ‘ol Pig Pen following after his buddies, dust ball of ‘chaos’ always right there at his foot. As each Peanuts character apparently represents different chapters, different seasons, if you will, of our lives, this colleague had come to see Pig Pen as the chaos chapter that eventually and ultimately organizes – joins – gathers – around righteousness, his friend, Charlie Brown.
He reflected upon my life over the past few years, noting how that proverbial dust ball looked to have been following me around – at least to others. What he saw was something different. He named all the ‘characters’ in my story and suggested many were like Pig Pens – folks who continued to live in the chaos, not trusting God, making decisions not grounded in truth, light, authenticity – faith. Well, that was his somewhat rather harsh, if not biased observation, but essentially what he suggested was that all those dust balls of chaos that surrounded me would go away when righteousness stepped up – if Charlie Brown made a stand and called the chaos into order. My friend suggested I might be that person in this season, in this little piece of my story and journey.
I’m not sure. But the idea that chaos does organize, gathers, around righteousness – well that is just one big, Holy Spirit-given truth that hasn’t left my heart and mind since I was first blessed to hear it from my colleague.
And there it erupted during today’s readings, which begin below. When I was editing the below entry, I felt I needed to introduce the idea that I was speaking about – so that is why you have read, first, my introduction. Chaos gathers around righteousness. Now on to today’s reflection: 🙂
Baruch 4:37 37 Look, your children are coming, whom you sent away; they are coming, gathered from east and west, at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Chaos organizes, chaos gathers, at the foot of righteousness. Think of the creation story – how God organized the heavens, the earth. Brought the thunder under control, as He did the seas. Of Noah and the flood and all those who gathered on the ark. Think of the period of exile, referred to in today’s lectionary reading* selection from Baruch – called to ‘gather’ – to come together at the word of righteousness. Recall Jesus’ birth in a manger and who gathered and around whom. Then there is the Prodigal story. Think of the cross – those huddled – gathered – at the foot of the cross. Chaos organizes around righteousness.
Gathering. That is what many of us are doing this time of year. At the foot of what are we gathering? Around whom and with whom? A Christmas Tree? A meal? Traditional outings? Holiday party? Cup of coffee? Friends? Family? Believers? Worship service? Strangers? Care facilities? Shelters? Church? Are we not able to gather with others? Are we alone?
No matter how that is answered, as Psalm 46 reminds me, 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge so that all the chaos that might look to be present in an Advent Season organized around traditions, parties, trees, meals, worship, family, friends, and gatherings that do not include all those we love – our Lord of hosts, our Abba Father, is with us evermore.
Chaos gathers at the foot of righteousness. This is what I heard, again, today from the Spirit. And I am blessed to be reminded of this truth as parts of my life continue to look like and feel like chaos while other parts hint at organizing around righteousness in some very small part due to God’s continuing faith in me.