Pastor Mark’s eNote – Chaos and Elegance

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The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness.

        Those words were spoken by Albert Einstein, who understood stuff that I cannot even imagine, but he began where all of us begin—confronted by the mystery of how life fits together. His wonder and awe led him to seek and discover some of the fundamental principles at work around us. And for us in the church, such wonder and awe keep us reaching toward and discovering the glories of God.

        We need awe and mystery. It is essential to our humanity, to our stretching and reaching, our studies and prayers.

        Mystery is a powerful and often awe-inspiring experience, but it has its ugly side, too. The biopsy shows cancer, and we don’t know why. The song of rainfall becomes the flood’s rushing waters. Why? At the foundation of the world one tectonic plate rubs against another and whole cities are laid waste. Why? In the midst of tragedy, mystery becomes mockery and agony consumes worship.

        We long for the simple at the heart of beauty and are continually shocked by the tangled forces at the heart of our days.

        Einstein spent the last decades of his life in search of a unified field theory—an overarching formulation that could hold all other forces—time, gravity, space—together in one beautiful equation. He never found it. Instead, he saw his work surpassed by the dominant theory of the day, Quantum Mechanics, which perceives at the center of life not simplicity, but forces that are chaotic, indeterminate, and unpredictable.

        Einstein protested the seeming randomness of Quantum Theory with his famous remark, “God does not play dice.” To which his friend and fellow physicist Neils Bohr replied, “Einstein, quit telling God what to do.”

        Our desire for the simple does not make life simple. Chaos is both intimate and cosmic. The apostle Paul argued that in the depths of our souls and at the heart of the universe is a messy collision of forces—good and evil, creation and destruction, life and death.

        All creation groans, Paul says, but it is not the groan of death but of birthing. Something new has come into the world, a new creation, a new life, and that newness is seen in Jesus Christ. Do you want to know what is good, what is true, what is life? Look to Christ.

        In Christ the new humanity has come among us, and his way is the way of life. He moved through the chaos and sin of our world with grace and beauty. Can we call his way in this world “simple”? Maybe, but I think there’s a better word—a word that Einstein would appreciate. The word is “elegant.”

        No, I’m not talking about high fashion or home design. Elegant has a richer meaning than that. It means precise and graceful and effective. An elegant design accomplishes what is needed with minimal movement and parts; an elegant mathematical formula cuts to the truth with an economy of concepts. Jesus’ life and ministry were elegant. He was direct and economical in his encounters, revealing in his moments nothing less than the mystery at the center of the universe. And that mystery—the elegant power that empowers life? It is love—the love that overcomes all barriers, the love that never ends, the love that created life, creates life, and gives to life meaning and purpose. In other words, God.

        In a world violent and chaotic where bombs explode and storms hit and tectonic plates groan against each other, there is a way elegant and powerful. It doesn’t waste a moment or a movement, but it has the power to create a new world. It is love, that way; it is Christ. And we can make that way our own.

                                                                      In Christ,

                                                                      The Rev. Mark Westmoreland

Author: Jenn Harris

“I am dedicated to helping our church communicate the love of Jesus Christ, and passionate about helping people connect with others and our amazing God.”

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