13C Pentecost 14 Aug 2016 Proper 15 One of the books I did not read when I was in grade school was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This summer I decided to pick up the book, along with all the other books in the series about the Murry family. I have just finished the third book in the series called Time Quintet, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. However, it is the second book, A Wind in the Door, which for me encapsulates Luke’s Gospel reading for today. L’Engle wrote books that combined her knowledge and fascination with science and her belief in God. She was a lifelong Episcopalian who was able in her writing to capture a deep and abiding belief in God’s love. There were for her no real boundaries of time or place; there is a oneness to the universe and an interconnectedness of everything, no matter how big or small, to everything else. For those of you who read these books when younger, or perhaps read them to your children, I apologize for repeating what you already know. The series of books books revolve around the Murry family, the two parents both brilliant scientists who work from their home, and their four children: Meg, the oldest, two twin brothers, and the youngest: Charles Wallace. The oldest and youngest have been taught so much from their parents they do not fit in well at school. Charles becomes very ill, and is in fact dying, because his mitochondria in his cells are dying. His sister is determined to find out why and save her youngest brother. What she finds is that what is taking place in his body is a battle of good vs evil. The death of his mitochondria is link to the death of stars. As Meg works to discover what is causing this evil she meets a host of characters from a cherubim to microscopic being. But what she discovers is that there is a cosmic evil behind all of this.
“This microscopic plague is somehow linked to the mysterious cosmic star deaths, which her husband, Mr. Murry, is researching at the behest of the president of the United States. Meg, her boyfriend Calvin O'Keefe and Charles Wallace discover the link between these two strange phenomena when they meet Blajeny, a mysterious man who introduces himself as their Teacher. Also being taught by Blajeny are Sporos, a tiny farandola who lives inside Charles Wallace's mitochondria, and Proginoskes, a cherubim who looks like a drive of dragons.
The evil beings behind the cosmic and microcosmic destruction are called Echthroi. (GREEK WORD FOR THE ENEMY) Echthroi exist to destroy; their goal is to un-create the universe. The Echthroi are responsible for all war, destruction and lack of communication throughout the universe. They find a foothold in Sporos and also in the un-likeable Mr. Jenkins, the principal at Charles' grade school. As Proginoskes explains to Meg, anyone who does not know who they truly are provides an opening for the Echthroi to do harm. Meg and Proginoskes are Namers. Their job is to help people know themselves better so that they will not become tools of the Echthroi. In order to keep both Sporos and Mr. Jenkins from siding with the Echthroi, Meg must find enough love in her heart to appreciate and recognize who these two individuals really are. As Blajeny teaches them, the balance of creation can hinge on something as large as the birth of a star or something as small as the life of a single child. Charles Wallace's survival is critical to the well being of the entire cosmos. In order to save Charles Wallace's life, Meg and her friends must save Sporos and Mr. Jenkins from the Echthroi. To succeed in these tasks, Meg must come to realize that love is the most powerful force in the universe.” 1
She must love that which seems unlovable, but by turning them away from the destructive seduction of power, or the illusion of power, she is able to save her brother. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus saw: we are a planet troubled with evil and that evil is like the Echthroi L’Engle describes. It is the destruction of the essence of who we are when we are seduced by power, profit or some presumed pleasure. In Jesus’ time and with the words he utters today he could well be telling his followers just how difficult it is to practice the radical kind of love his is teaching and that many will follow the Echthroi; they will find the supposed way of the world easier. Jesus says to us we can know who we are: we are the beloved children of God and if we know that we can no longer be tempted by the Evil One. But many will not see it that way and so you have father against son, mother against daughter, brother against sister. There will be division and, as Jesus said, the sword. Should not things be left as they were if following Jesus means destruction and death? But perhaps the fire he is to kindle is the fire of the Holy Spirit. That is a fire we welcome. There is no doubt these words of Jesus are discomforting and have been so to readers of the Gospel since its beginning. They have been used to justify an “us against them” and “us” is the only right way to be in relationship to God. I, however, take a cue from Jeremiah. If a prophet is telling you things are good and you are doing things the way God wants, beware of that prophet. We are held to a very high standard by our creator and it is one of giving and nurturing. We have elections coming in my mind none too soon given the level of hate mongering I am already hearing. It is as though the Echthroi have taken over and evil wins. I would pray that we take a different way, that we listen to the Jeremiah’s who tell us a true prophet will not encourage us when we persist in evil and listen to Jesus who tells us that when we take the lighted fire, the fire of Pentecost, we perhaps have only begun a battle against evil, against the Enemy that would devour. Fire can light the world or it can burn it. We can create or we can destroy. As for me, I will take that fire and use it to light the way.
1 Bookrags.com study guide for A Wind in the Door