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Broken Things at Home and Church

       Once a year we have a garage sale.  For me, it is not a happy time.  It is a kind of cathartic ritual of displaying my many home repair failures in broad daylight before our chuckling neighbors.  Behind the wreckage of my folly in believing the DIY YouTube video that assured me this was a repair job any idiot could do at home, it is not hard to imagine snippets of marital dialogue.
       “Turn it back off!  Whatever you did made it worse!”
       “Look, is that smoke coming from the back of the microwave?”
       “OK, the repairman came this morning.  He worked on it for two hours.  He said whatever you did to it the last time you tried to fix it…well, let me read it off the $200 bill he left for labor, “Like Humpty-Dumpty, this thing is broken – broken is underlined.  PS: In the future, keep all tools away from your husband.”
       And so it goes. 
Things we want to work end up breaking.  One day they work, the next they are broken.  Chaos Theory demonstrated at the local level.  And, as we all know, if it isn’t broken, then don’t try and fix it.  So, why would Jesus want to take something that isn’t broken and break it?  “The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you.”
       One image many churches miss in using the little ready-made Chiclet-size bits of bread is the image of breaking.  Taking something whole and breaking it into little pieces.  And behind that the reality of a human body that was healthy and strong is submitted to blows and whips and thorns and nails until, like most things if you just keep breaking them enough, it just stopped working. 
       Have you ever actually made the flat dry loaves of unleavened bread and used one at the beginning of a Communion service.  To experience the effect, make sure there is no background music being played.  Then, as you recount that upper room meal, at just the right point, break it.  In the ancient church, in the quiet moments just before Communion was distributed, they would have heard the distinct crackling crunch of bread breaking.  It is a startling sound in a small silent room.  It brings to mind nothing so much as the breaking of bones.   
       It would have been a sobering moment.   Everyone seeing and hearing that representation of terrible violence inflicted on an innocent body.  And, with these sounds still hanging in the air, the church would begin serving the Sunday family dinner of the Messiah.
       It is one of our faith’s great ironies that this breaking is the very thing that brings us together.  It is wounded flesh from which God pours out the healing balm of Gilead over broken hearts.  He is broken so we can be mended.  Shattered fragments bringing together the scattered children of Babel, men and women from every tribe, race, place, and nation.
       But, we dare not come to the Eucharist just to be fixed.  Nothing so narcissistic and self-serving can stand before a crucified God.  We come to offer ourselves to be broken.  Broken again and again in that ongoing crucible of conversion in which we are gradually formed and reformed from who we have made ourselves to the restored imagio dei that God wills us to become.
So, the next time we come to this breaking of bread, it must be us, coming to the last extremity of self-preservation, whispering, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.”
       It is only the broken that can ever be made whole.

1 comment:

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