Recalled to life in the midst of chaos
When the chaos surrounds us, we must be recalled to the life God ordained for us.
At times it seems as if we live in a cauldron of chaos.
In the midst of such chaos, people instantly reach out for the assurance of a greater truth. We long to know who we are, where we stand, and where we are called to go.
People, then, are always in search of metaphors, allegories and stories to enliven the Gospel story and to demonstrate what it means for us to be human and created in the image of God.
The one that comes to mind today:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Set in London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution, Charles Dickens writes from an 1850 English perspective. “A Tale of Two Cities” is sympathetic to the overthrow of the French aristocracy but highly critical of the reign of terror that followed. Dickens describes similarities between the forces that led to the French Revolution, a half-century earlier, and the oppression and unrest occurring in 1850 England.
This season of social, political, and spiritual unrest in the U.S. and many places around the world creates a sense of chaos and uncertainty. For many who are vulnerable, and those who love them, it feels like the worst of times.
We’ve witnessed, in the last two weeks alone:
- The horrific murders of 11 faithful Jewish worshipers in an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- The horrific killing of two African-Americans by a white supremacist at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, following the suspect’s failed attempt to enter a nearby predominantly black church.
- Another school shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- The antidemocratic mailing of more than a dozen pipe bombs to political opponents.
- The sending of the U.S. military to the U.S.-Mexico border, coupled with the enhancement of administrative policies designed to dehumanize the children, men and women seeking asylum from violence and poverty.
All of these — and more — point to the normalizing and heightening of violence, hatred and unfettered nationalism.
All of these acts are antithetical to Christian life as well as to the United States’ foundational value of welcoming migrants who are fleeing poverty, racism and violence.
“A Tale of Two Cities” ends as a story of resurrection with the main characters, Dr. Manette, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, being “recalled to life.”
The doctor’s freedom and sanity are restored. Darnay escapes a death sentence three times. Carton‘s soul is redeemed through sacrifice. Resurrection, in Dickens, demonstrates that the spiritual lives of all people depend upon the hope of being born anew, recalled to life.
We must soberly ask, in the light of the chaos and violence around us, what does it mean for us to be recalled to life?
Psalm 8 provides one answer.
When I look up at your skies,
at what your fingers made—
the moon and the stars
that you set firmly in place—
what are human beings
that you think about them;
what are human beings
that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
crowning them with glory and grandeur.
We are claimed by the Creator, forever embraced and born anew.
To be recalled to life is to turn from our ways of violence and hatred. To be recalled to life is to live into our creator’s desire for each of us to be whole. To be recalled to life is to work to make a world where every human is afforded this divinely-ordained dignity.
It is not the worst of times. It is not the best of times. It is a time when people of faith are recalled to life — a life of resurrection and a life of hope.