given on Sunday, September 6, 2009
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Have you ever had something that was special to you that broke? There is a sense of anger or hurt, often depending on how the item was broken, when you discover the damage. Sometimes you do not see the break at first; sometimes it cannot be overlooked. When I started thinking about the various things that were broken in my life, I thought of a chair.
This chair was one that I knew ever since I was a little tyke. It sat in the front room to the right of the fireplace in my grandpa’s living room. We really did not go in there that much because we usually sat in the dining room playing pitch. Still that chair sat there forever, until he moved out of the house in 1976.
I did not see the chair for a while. He was living in a trailer on his farm, but then shortly moved into another community. I had graduated college and moved to Lexington. I was surprised when Mom and Dad brought me the chair. They had had it stripped—it had always been that black, cracked varnish we all know so well—and had a new leather seat in it. It was absolutely stunning and it thrilled me to have it. I knew I had Grandpa sitting right there with me.
Still, the chair broke. Much less, it broke due to two young people sitting down in it. The chair had a cracked arm, it was not the strongest antique around, but it meant a great deal to me. I was heartbroken.
The same must be said about us as people. We are broken, but some breaks are healed easily while others take years and years to fully heal. Sadly some do not know they are broken or never do heal. I know that the body can break down and not function, but so can the mental and spiritual side of us break.
How do we fix what is broken? We go to a doctor if it is a physical breakdown. If it is a mental breakdown, we seek mental health specialists in order to heal. The spiritual breakdown is an entirely different situation and the effects of a broken spirit or a spiritual breakdown can spread like a cancer throughout the body, the family, and the network of friends. A spiritual breakdown can even destroy work relationships.
No matter what type of breakdown I have, I turn to my spiritual resources to heal. I think God feels much like I did when the chair broke. God knows when we break, and it fills him with heartache. I was upset with a chair broken, but I also know what it feels to have someone very dear to me be broken.
Broken or not, God is with us always. We have learned that as kids when we came to Sunday school week after week. We heard that each time we sat in the pews with our parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. We went to MYF with our friends and the leaders told us that over and over. God is with us always. We do not have to be broken if we know that God is with us. When we do have a break—whether a leg or a relationship or our spirit—we rely on God to be there with us as we struggle to heal.
This weekend, many have returned to our community to have a break in the work world, to celebrate Labor Day. This annual three-day weekend is often filled with family reunions, fairs, and special events; but maybe the weekend break from work also makes us stop to look at what has always worked in our lives.
Last week we heard the words from Romans 12, that told us to :
“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
What better reminder that every little side of our lives is connected to God. I believe that is we turn ourselves over to God; whatever does break in our lives will be healed. God needs us to carry out his message: love one another. God needs all of us to make sure that the message and his children are transforming the world.
The clichés could be listed, but it is in the words of our Bible that we find the wisdom that has helped those who are broken and those who are not. I have often skimmed Proverbs thinking that there must be just a wealth of advice in there. I figure that Proverbs is much like that little book published a number of years ago, Life’s Little Instruction Book. I have used the little snippets for years. The students usually have never heard any of those ideas, so I share one and then discuss how it makes a difference in their lives.
In this week’s lectionary one of the readings came from Proverbs 22:
“A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.”
How true! At least in my experience, limited though it may be, I have yet to find that there is not one individual that God does not love. In fact, when I really look at the world, and all the people in it, I know that “the Lord is Maker of them all” and it is my goal to see that in them. I want to see each one through God’s eyes.
The concern I have is how do I do that. How do I look at each one and see their brokenness as well as their wholeness? Look farther into Proverbs 22:
“He who sows wickedness reaps trouble,
and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.
A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.”
The way to see this world through God’s eyes and to live in this world as God would have us live are right there in the words of the Bible.
I think this weekend while we have been running into our old friends and the family comes home, we have had the perfect time to say, “Welcome back home.” We have opened our doors, our hearts, and our hands to so many people. Have we welcomed the broken as well as the ones not broken? Have we been generous? Have we served one another?
Welcome back home has another invitation hidden in it. Hear those words as though God said them: “Welcome back home, my children.” We are here in church to regroup for the week ahead. We share in worship, in fellowship, and even the cup and the bread as one big family. We know that our bodies can be broken, our spirits crushed, and our mental agility damaged, but we come back home each Sunday because God is our father and, as Jesus is quoted in Matthew 18:18-20:
“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
Broken or not, we are God’s children and we have the tools to heal. Welcome back home where God is in charge. During the next few weeks, we will be looking at God’s instruction book, especially Proverbs, to find the tools to live in this world filled with wickedness, but also filled with millions of our Christian family members. Let’s meet weekly to remember who we are, broken or not, and seek understanding of how God works in our life. Welcome back home, where the arms are open and ready to give hugs, where the ears are open to hear your stories, where shoulders are provided for tears, and where love abounds for each and every one of God’s children, broken or not.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have been blessed to welcome back home family and friends for this weekend. We know that there are times when we are broken and you are there to help us heal. We know that the times when we are healed, not broken, we have much to share. Thank you for giving us your support, your guidance, your grace and your love. Help us to continue welcoming others into your Christian family. Help us to provide for the needs of those who are broken, so they can