The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

October 28, 2008


Bob Dylan once sang,

Broken lines broken strings
Broken threads broken springs
Broken idols broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain't no use jiving
Ain't no use joking
Everything is broken.

As a priest, I stand Sunday by Sunday before a worshiping community and I break a piece of bread. It strikes me as a deeply profound and important gesture. "Everything is broken."

There are times when I am almost overwhelmed by the brokenness of life. There are so many things that do not work very well. I do not know any communities or institutions that run along smoothly without encountering tension along the way. Businesses falter; the economy seems to be in danger of sinking beneath the surface; social problems grow more acute every year; governments struggle to govern; churches flounder. We are not getting better and better as the years go by. Institutions don't work very well because institutions are made up of broken people.

I get to hear a lot of stories of peoples' lives. Many of the stories I hear are filled with pain and struggle. I see people who feel completely bewildered by the circumstances in which they find themselves. I see so much tragedy and suffering without even needing to leave the comfortable suburban confines of my little parish. I wonder sometimes how people manage to keep going.

The pain I see may not be the pain of fearing for your life of those who live in a wartorn country or those who face the bleak daily struggle to find enough food to sustain a family. I do not see the grinding poverty of the truly poor. But the pain and the brokenness I see are no less real.

What do I have to offer this broken world as I stand at the table of the Lord breaking bread to share among broken people?

I wish I was Jesus with the power to heal all the brokennes I see. But even Jesus left more unhealed than he made well. Even Jesus left in tact the injustice of Roman rule over his people and the awful religious oppression of his day. Surely Jesus could have done more. Surely Jesus could have taken all the brokenness and made it better. He left so much undone, so much unfinished buisness. What was he thinking?

Jesus knew something I sometimes forget. Jesus knew he did not come to establish a visible, tangible physical kingdom here on earth. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed." (Luke 17:20) Rather Jesus came to establish a kingdom within the hearts of those who opened to him, "in fact, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21b)

All the brokenness, all the pain and the suffering of this earthly existence call us to open to a deeper reality within ourselves. The tragedies we experience summon us to recognize that God lives within us and that our ultimate peace and contentment lie, not in orchestrating the circumstance of life to work the way we wish they might, but in resting and trusting in the unchanging mercy and grace of God at work within our lives.

We cannot fix all the brokenness of life. We can only offer it back to God, surrendering our own wills and trusting in God's love. When we enter into this transaction with God, we will find that our lives become instruments of healing even within the terrible brokenness of life. We act, not in order to fix anything, but because the love that we discover when we surrender to God's mercy, compels us to be instruments of restoration. And so the world is a little bit more healed when our hearts open and embrace the loving mercy of Christ.

This is the hope I offer every time I stand at the table and break bread to share with broken people. There is hope within our hearts, because we do not face the brokenness of life alone. God is with us; God is in us. We are filled with the light, mercy, truth and grace of Christ that triumphs over all the pain and suffering we might ever confront. We are instruments of light when we surrender to the Goodness that sustians the universe and that dwells in the depths of our being.

1 comment:

Rob Holloway said...

We come into this world with no brokenness though perhaps our parents might be broken with a life challenge and hope for this baby to heal them, to bring them together or give them hope for the future.
If Christ is their center then they go forward in faith for the next step.
Perhaps it is the prayers of their family or friends even though they might not know Christ fully it invisibly allows them to see the light of Hope.
As one person said, life sucks when your thrown an event of brokenness.
We can give it to the Lord , share it. ask for strength and wisdom and what ever the result, we have hope to endure.
Many of these times can become growth even in sorrow. Each of us deals our cards different.
We know by Christ's promise that HE is with us and that our Church family is with us in spirit and support.