Last week I had the opportunity to preach at our home church, Church in Bethesda. I hadn’t preached since Christmas Eve/Day last year. I was grateful for the opportunity… but wondered how it would go since I was feeling a little rusty.
I shouldn’t have worried… It went well – in fact, my Beloved Bearded Spouse said that it was the best he’d heard me preach. Ever.
If you’d like, you can listen to the recording here, mumbles, bumbles and all.
I used a quote from Henry Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. It actually showed up in my email early in the week and resonated deeply with me as I studied this passage.
Our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality. The way I am broken tells you something unique about me. The way you are broken tells me something unique about you. That is the reason for my feeling very privileged when you freely share some of your deep pain with me, and that is why it is an expression of my trust in you when I disclose to you something of my vulnerable side. Our brokenness is always lived and experienced as highly personal, intimate and unique.
Nouwen beautifully illustrated, for me anyway, the ways that imperfect, struggling, sometimes selfish or stubborn believers come together and form The Church. In my sermon, I referenced the beautiful stained glass windows in our sanctuary. The individual pieces of glass by themselves are unremarkable. But when they are placed together by a Master, the finished designs speak more than the individual pieces combined. They take on a life of their own.
During Communion, as people came forward to receive the Bread and Cup, I invited them to leave their brokenness at the altar. Large vases with water, brightly colored rocks and glass on the bottom, were placed at various places around the front. And the result was a mosaic of our brokenness, transformed into something new, and fresh, and totally God.
This was one of the tables before the service started…
I had my kaleidoscopes out on the prayer stations as well. I used them as an illustration of how, despite our brokenness, we can bring creativity, beauty and inspiration to the world around us — despite the constant tumble and change of our world. (You’ll have to use your imagination. I don’t have photos of the images from my kaleidoscopes!)
I did the math. This was my 24th sermon. Ever. So I’m still a rookie with a lot to learn.
Thanks be to God.