Name: The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Executive for Worship
Location: Chicago, IL
Scripture: Psalm 31:11-12 NRSV
I am the scorn of my enemies, a disgrace to my neighbors, a dismay to my acquaintances; when they see me in the street they avoid me. Like the dead I am forgotten, out of my mind; I am as useless as a broken pot.
“Come, O Christ, among the ashes, come to wipe our tears away, death destroyed and sorrow banish; now and always, come and stay.”—Susan Briehl, “Once We Sang and Danced,” ELW 701
REFLECTION: “Beauty in Brokenness”
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” (Barbara Bloom) This understanding of “brokenness” is so counter-cultural to the way many of us live and think.
We see brokenness and broken things as objects to be disregarded. But God, who calls us to walk this week toward a cross, reminds us that even the brokenness of his own son’s body on a cross and his death is not useless.
For many years, I felt like I was “broken” as I fought the internal struggle to come out and say that I was gay and to not only do that but then to continue being able to serve as a pastor in this church. I felt shame, brokenness, sense of not being right. Then a dear friend and pastor, reminded me, I was exactly what God created and even in what may feel broken to me, God calls it beautiful. I now can claim that I am a beautifully and wonderfully created child of God who is gay. Being broken-open means I now live free as the person that God created me to be. In that broken-openness, there is such beauty.
So, for us, we who are broken-pots, we who may feel forgotten, we who may feel judged by the world for our brokenness … God takes our broken-potted selves and reminds us that through his love, we are loved. Loved in life and in death. Loved in brokenness and in newness. Loved to let others, even our enemies, know that Christ comes among the ashes and wipes our tears away.
God who binds up the broken-hearted, give strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless.