(Significant Scriptures: Isaiah 51:4-6)
Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
Have any of you heard of The Singing Pastor, Ken Grambo? He is a Lutheran pastor who has served in the three western provinces and he sings country Gospel music. But he also has a humorous side. One of the songs that he wrote “If it’s broke, don’t fix it, give it to the church.” It’s a send up of the tendency of Christians to give to the church our broken down leftovers, things that we wouldn’t use anymore, but we give them anyway and we expect the church to make good use our castoffs and throw aways.
It is humorous, but maybe it is also very fitting. For there is a lot of brokenness in our world. I see that brokenness every time I am invited to plan another funeral with another grieving family. I see that brokenness when I visit people in the hospital or in the seniors’ residences. I see that brokenness in human relationships. Former friends cannot see eye to eye and it drives them apart. Marriage relationships everywhere are under stress and some are breaking under the strain. And I see that brokenness in my own life. Day after day, I am reminded of my own failures and imperfections. My office is not clean like I would like it to be. I do not spend enough time with my wife and children. Time and time again, I do this which I later regret deeply. We need to go somewhere with our brokenness. And today we have brought it to the church.
And as we reflect on our own inadequacies, let us think for a moment about how we got here. For when first created the world, it was all good. There was no brokenness. Human beings lived in perfect harmony with each other and with God. Human bodies were wholesome and healthy with no trace or even threat of disease. Humans were made for a full abundant life that would last forever.
But something happened to change all that was so very good. Our first parents had only one rule to follow, and yet, of their own free will, they broke that one rule and disobeyed God. And that one act of disobedience had consequences that reverberated throughout the cosmos and down through all of human history ever since. Sin has consequences that go far beyond the person who is committing the sin.
A young man has too much to drink and then he jumps in his truck for a drive. He slams into a car at a stop light and now two little children no longer have a mother. Another young man has lost his fiancée. Parents have lost a daughter. Through the mistake of one person, numerous lives have been irreversibly changed forever.
Sin has consequences that go far beyond the person who is committing the sin and the sin of Adam and Eve changed all of creation from having perfect wholeness and health, to being riddled with brokenness, sickness and death. And that is why we are where we are today.
But on this last Sunday of the Church Year, God reminds that He has plans to restore the world. He will bring all things to fulfillment. Sickness and sorrow, disease and death will all be purged away, and all things will transformed into the perfect wholeness and health that he always intended for his creation.
For God himself entered into this broken world. He wrapped himself in human flesh and became a human being with all of our limitations. He experienced our brokenness: The grief of loss, the pain of betrayal, they were all his, just as they are ours.
And then this person, this God-human named Jesus, did something that was amazing. He was perfect, and yet he allowed himself to be completely and utterly broken, so all of our brokenness could be healed. As the prophet Isaiah tells us in chapter 53 of his book, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
Some of the healing that Jesus gives to us comes right now. Our souls are healed by the soothing ointment of the forgiveness of all our sins. Our health and vitality are invigorated by the fresh breath of life blown into our spirit by the Holy Spirit. We have wholeness in our lives because we have a living relationship with a loving God.
But there are some aspects of Jesus’ healing that we do not yet have. Our bodies still get old, we still get sick and, unless Jesus comes back first, we will all die. Even though we follow Jesus, we still have relationships that are broken and cannot be reconciled. And there is still much unbelievable suffering and violence in this world as Sunni’s and Shi’ites kill each other in Iraq, as civil war continues in the Darfar region of Sudan, and as the Taliban strives to regain control of Afghanistan. There are aspects of Jesus’ restoration that happen now, and there are aspects that are not yet.
But there will come a day when Jesus will return in a visible way to this world. The dead will be raised to life and everyone will be called to account for what they have done in this life. Those who trusted in Jesus will be publicly vindicated. It will be shown for all to see that believing in Jesus was the right thing to do. And those who turned their back on God in this life will be sent away to live life forever without God. All of the corruption of this world will be burned away. There will be a new heaven and a new earth: restored and renewed and unity between the two. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. And God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. (cf. Rev. 21:4)
We live in between the First Coming of Jesus and His Second Coming. We live between the ages. We live in the now and the not yet. It is a very hard time in which to live, for we know what should be and we know what is, and there is a huge gap between the two. Yet as we live in this in between time, we also live in a time of hope, for we know that a Great Restoration, a Great Fulfillment of all things is coming, and it is coming soon. We know that one day the suffering and sorrow of this world will come to an end. We know that one day all of the brokenness in our hearts, in our lives, in our relationships and in our world will all be healed. And it will all be because of Jesus.
And that same Jesus is with us now. He gives us strength for each day. He gives us forgiveness when we fail. He carries when we can go no further on our own. And he loves us with an overflowing, unconditional, unending love. So we live in hope, hope for today, hope for the future. And it is all because of Jesus.
If it’s broke, don’t try to fix it, just bring it to the church. For when the church is living like the body of Christ that she is supposed to be, people meet Jesus when they come here to this community of faith. And Jesus is the one who can and will heal all of our brokenness. Amen.
(Preached at Trinity Lutheran Church, Ponteix SK and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Swift Current SK on 26 Nov 2006)