Chaos Theory suggests that our universe is not as ordered as we once thought, but that within that chaos there is some sort of order. For example, while weather forecasting is reasobaly accurate today, just a slight change in one of the many variable factors in the interactions at the edges of our weather systems can lead to a dramatic and unexpected change in conditions.
What has all this got to do with Nathanael? Activity at the edges is what brings us to the conversation between Nathanael and Jesus. Philip finds Nathanael under the fig tree – on sidelines, the edge – watching the to-ing and fro-ing of John the Baptiser, Jesus and the disciples of both.
Now the fig tree is an Old testament symbol, the shelter of true Israelites in the age to come – a place of peace and safety. Sitting under the fig tree Nathanael is at the edge – between two worlds; that of the here-and-now and of an-age-to-come. Jesus is at the edge – between, but part of, these two ages – and offers Nathanael and the other disciples a vision of the age to come which he, Jesus, has already inaugurated.
All of the people in story are out of their normal situations and it is in this situation beyond the ordinary that Jesus’ mission begins. When things are out of place, out of order, chaos develops. Jesus introduces a kind of chaos into our world, into our lives. Jesus calls into mission people on the edge, people prepared to live on edge, because that’s where Jesus’ mission is. In our following the way of the Christ we live with chaos: not knowing just what is going to happen next.
Eternal God, by your creative word
you brought order out of chaos,
and by your Incarnate word you brig chaos
to the order we make for ourselves.
by your adventurous, free-moving Spirit,
and by your abundant, free flowing grace,
give us the audacity to live joyfully in your chaos;
give us the willingness to serve you;
give us and the freedom to be vulnerable;
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
How often we scorn or deprecate ‘the other’:
someone from the other side of town,
from over the river,
from the across the rail line,
from the community whose football team
is our archrival,
or from a country and culture
that is not ‘ours’.
if we dare investigate more closely
we may find in ‘the other’
not just ourselves
but also the glory of God.
“Come and see.”
Jeff Shrowder, © 2012 More for Epiphany 2B…