The week was a triumphant one. I finished the nearly final draft of my novel,The Magdalene Mystery, which is concerned with the search for truth in a world of lies. I bundled several copies off to readers in Rome, Maryland, New Zealand, Provence, and Sunnyvale, California. Each person will bring his or her unique talents and background to my little creation and I shall listen to what they tell me.
My little creation. Sighing with relief and joy, I considered what I had done. For words on their own are wild things, meaningless collections of consonants and vowels that need to become part of a greater organized whole. Until then they lie fallow, waiting. But we humans harness those words into phrases, give those phrases shape in sentences, those sentences real substance in paragraphs. We fatten the paragraphs into pages, the pages into chapters, the chapters into books. (the books into libraries?… or flash drives?) We create language, and with language we tell stories, give meaning to our lives.
We impose order on chaos. Just like God when he made the world. Just like God when he created us.
Today in church we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. We sang glorious hymns. For the processional we sang the lyrical Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation; O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation…. For the Offertory we thundered Luther’s A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing; Our helper he amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing… And for the recessional joined in All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown him Lord of all! We soared into the music, lifting our voices in praise to our King, who has imposed order on the chaos of our lives. The music shall linger with me through the week, making sense of my minutes and hours.
Our preacher explained how we were created by God and thus impressed with his image, just as a coin is impressed with the figure of a monarch. God’s creative order pulses through us; we need only turn to him, realize his author-ship. Since World War II, he continued, the West has largely rebelled against authority and we find our world today retrogressing to the chaos of the jungle. Yet good – godly – authority is our only guarantee of freedom, our only means to meaning in our lives, our only path to love.
As I gazed on the realistic wooden crucifix over the altar, with its dying body on the cross, I recalled a Christ the King crucifix I have at home. A king on a cross! A king dying a criminal’s death, a shameful death, a vagrant’s death. A king with his crown and red robes, the robes of resurrection, the robes of victory, the robes of loving and sacrificial authority. A death that overcomes death.
As Christians we have a king with authority. As Christians we are given the power to create as God once pulled light from the dark. We have the means to order the chaos around us. We need only turn to him, obey his commands, allow his life to run through our veins.
Just as I harnessed my 88,000 words into sentences in The Magdalene Mystery so Christ harnesses our lives into sanctity, into love, into becoming creators.
And so it seems appropriate that tomorrow is All Hallows’ Eve, popularly called Halloween, the night before the Feast of All Saints. On All Saints we thank God for all those men and women who have allowed God to write his story on their hearts and in their minds, to recreate their lives, to impress them again and again with his image. We pray that we may be impressed, recreated, sanctified, that our chaos may be ordered by his authority.
We give thanks for Christ the King of creation.