So much potential tossed aside.
Ideally, our communities support the ongoing care of mutual spiritual growth and honour each part of the body as integral for our collective health. But in the real reactions of imperfect people, cracks in Christ-likeness are revealed with regularity. We walk as and among those in need of repair, not the glorified saints we one day will be.
Sadly, the clutter of competition, problems compounded by lack of prayerful consideration, and communication thrown about carelessly corrupts and ruptures relationships. Egos clash, crashing and creating widespread debris of destroyed possibility. Rejection is all too common and the joy of unity may be ruined with too many broken pieces to easily mend. We quench the Spirit in a yard full of discarded opportunities to serve together in love.
Pray for the peace and renewal of the church.
Disrespect riddled with unrelenting resentment becomes riveted in the back of minds. Restrictive regulations ordering daily routines about who does what may rule the day. Rigorous refusal to reach conciliatory agreement grins through gritted teeth. Rifts rise. Remembrance of good times dies.
And, as a low growl snarls through angry interchanges, the junk piles up.
Dismal observations, but if you need to offer leadership in such a context, you know this stuff can’t be dismissed. It completely misses the mark of servant hearts in the foot washing ministry given us by Christ and must be brought into the light to be redeemed.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5: 16a)
The rhetoric of surrendering to one another in reverence to Christ or loving one another as he loves the church may seem to become null and void, dull and devoid of true luster where we encounter leadership responsibilities in scenes of spiritual decay. And our hearts may just break before we come to know a new wholeness in such a scene.
Pray for the peace and renewal of the church.
Lenten journeys of repentance encourage congregations as well as individuals to look at themselves through the photographic lens of prophetic biblical witness calling us from chaos into order. These cameos of camera precision speak no deceit regarding where his healing word must be preached in personal or corporate life; where corroded human vessels need fresh coats of rust resistant paint to enhance loving and vital collaboration; where removal from a distracted focus might help us reach for grace and be restored, refurbished as available instruments through which his love may flow un-flustered by the fallout from the fall.
Jesus reuses what may appear to be no longer of use, forming from this apparent mediocre medium of brokenness a masterpiece, a new creation by his Spirit.
I wonder what he would make from old oxidized pieces strewn across the situations of our lives if we were to let him give them new life, to be washed down, re-tread, and reclaimed from dead ends of mainly irreverent irrelevance. Dear servant, tired of the eyesore of our need for new beginnings, keep hunting for the evidence that his hand is near … and watch and see.
There are a number of flea markets, thrift shops, and antique stores in our area.
Discarded items line the tables. Piles upon piles of housewares sit unused. Trinkets and gadgets are loosely laid out in no particular order. Shelves full of books, nooks and crannies with things one would rarely look for, pots dull with grease left behind from much cooking.
And there, against the window with the sun streaming through its broken shards, a piece of art. A small 6″ x 8″ tight with stained glass chips leftover from a grander project on a grander scale. Sketched in fine black ink, its title a tale of redemption.
‘out of ruins’
Discards caught in corners left to rot … but then a healing break.
A small alternative word of grace where only altered facts had been before, and resurrection hope shines through. Splinters and slivers of what had once been, now reset in Christ and letting in the light. Remade from the ruins of the past, we can choose life regardless of the paths which bring us to these yards of scattered dreams which sometimes weigh us down.
Several years ago, I was among a group serving a poor village near the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I wrote the following words in my journal.
‘We sit underneath colourful church windows set above low louvered windows intended for air and letting in the light. They caught my attention yesterday with their simple elegance and straightforward parable of the gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God restores what has been broken. And they draw me again into a moment of reflection and worship in the midst of happy children. These small arched windows are made with coloured glass retrieved from the garbage dump – brilliant blues, reds, greens and yellow, as well as clear and frosty white, and the rounded brown ends of empty bottles. The sun is playfully dancing in and through the panes of many shapes – the light of God shining through the mess of our lives to recreate beauty and new patterns of life out of destruction and death.’
Nothing and no one is beyond Jesus’ ability to rescue and display as a testament to his mercy. I stood in the market the other day reformed by the discovery of this little piece of stained glass artwork showing up some seven years later as a symbol of good news refound for yet another day and time … washed in his love.
I wonder what seemingly impossible mess may be molded for good in the days ahead.
‘Lord, you are able to make all things new. All things. New. Step into districts where life is crammed with damaged good and set things right, lighting new beginnings of authentic beauty. Take away the stains and make us into windows of hope for a world littered with disintegration, giving special vision and virtue to those who point the way to the Way. Amen.’