Reflection for the Seventeenth Sunday of Trinity 2020

Order and Chaos

The God who Turned Chaos into Order

The late Professor Fred Hoyle was an astrophysicist and talked much about the complexity of design and pattern in the universe, and the processes that turned chaos into order.

With many leading scientists, he concluded that the fine tuning in all the bits that make up the universe, and the intricately tweaked forces that hold them in place could not be an accident, or just a random coincidence, or a mere chance event. Such an accidental creation was beyond all possibility.

Hoyle didn’t believe in God but was prepared to admit: “Nothing has shaken my atheism as much as this discovery.” This is his conclusion:

“A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”

Prof. Fred Hoyle 

Now the good news:  that super-intellect is here, and ready to change your chaos into order.

“Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”

Colossians 1.16-18

The Gospel Reading: Matthew 21.33

‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants……’

A Parable about the Lord’s Well-Ordered Vineyard 

In this parable, Jesus paints a picture of a well-ordered vineyard, where everything is just right and ready to produce the best fruit; and the landowner has an agreement with the tenants.

Chaos and Pattern in our Lives

For me, it says the Lord is able to take the wasteland of our lives, the hectic mess of 21st century existence, and bring to it order and growth – no matter how derelict and entangled our lives have been.  God invites us as His people, into an agreement:

“I will give you all this; all I ask is that  you put all your trust in Me, love Me, and share your blessing with Me and those around you.”

 Let our Ordered Lives Confess the Beauty of Thy Praise

In the 1780’s Moravian missionaries from German came to Droylsden, Manchester and set up the most orderly and beautiful village, called Fairfield, as a base for their mission. (Close to the Manchester City Etihad Stadium).

The leader of the Moravians was Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, and this was his mission:

 “We will work simply and quietly. Even if we never see wonders with our own eyes or hear them with our ears, we are planting the kingdom of heaven into the nations and will look for the fruit which grows from it.”

How can ordinary people experience that simple, ordered life?  From his own experience,  Zinzendorf, realised that everything comes from a intimate relationship with Jesus.  He alone can be trusted to become the source of all our meaning, purpose, security, and blessing.

‘Whoever wants true holiness must look for it in the heart and person of Jesus. They must know nothing but that the Saviour loves them and love Him in return. Then no matter if they are a child, a youth or an adult, they will become what they ought to be: accepted in the beloved and resting in the Father’s affection. They may have many defects…..yet they belong to the family and their heart delights in becoming humble, faithful, chaste, kind and gracious, like the Lamb. The moment we begin to live and act in Christ, He makes us holy. Then He transforms us so that we begin to think like he does. We begin to believe, to hope, to weep and to rejoice like him.’

Nikolaus von Zinzendorf

Turning Away from the Lord’s Pattern

The baddies in this tale, the tenants, are at odds with the landowner, and turn out to be the pious and religious ones!

When the chief priests and the Pharisees hear the parable, they recognize themselves in the story. Why are they the baddies?  They look the part, but know nothing of the true power of God in  their lives. This is the common trap of tradition and religion; a numbness that displaces a real relationship with the Lord.

“Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our lives the strain and stress, and let out ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.”

Lord Jesus, do this work in me.  Amen.