Thursday, March 15, 2018

We Are Broken

A couple of weeks ago I was standing line to get popcorn at the movies.
My daughter Phoebe was with me.
She was telling me about some things happening at school.
Then she asks me this question, "Is everyone broken"?
It is a deep question, and where I want to start my sermon this morning.
In order to understand John 3:16 I think we need to understand this question.
Everyone is broken.
Not some people, some of the time.
But everyone all of the time.
And because everyone is broken our world is broken.
This is important the world is broken.
We tend to read this passage as being about our individualistic salvation, but it is really about how God saves not just us but the world.
The world doesn't work.
We have a false sense of security.
We think the world works, or will work.
if only we vote in the right person, or pass the right law.
Or we think it works in certain parts of the world, but not in other.

My answer to Phoebe was, "Everyone is broken, some just hide it better."
Some of us can hide our brokenness behind money, or tough talk, or self congratulations, or self delusion.
But if we are able to really see everyone for who they really are we would see people broken by something.
We all have something.

This week I read an article by the Basketball player Kevin Love.
He plays for the Cleveland cavaliers.
He is an all-star, NBA champion.
Richer than you or I will ever be.
He wrote about his problems with anxiety.
He had a panic attack  in the middle of a game.
At the end he wrote this, "Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing.
What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are.
 This is an everyone thing.
No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside."
Kevin Love is essentially saying everyone is broken.

And this is why the world is broken.
It is why nothing works as it should.
It is why politicians are always caught lying, or cheating.
It is why our schools are not helping children succeed.
It is why we are killing each other.
It is why we are working harder and getting less results.

I want to believe that things can be fixed.
That we can make things better.
But I know that we are all broken.
It is hard to put things back together that are broken.

God's answer to this brokenness of the world is not to fix it.
God didn't come down to earth and make take away all the brokeness.
It is not to give us a prescription for getting rid of it.
God's answer is to join in it.
To be lifted up on a tree.
To be killed in the most humiliating way possible.
God's answer to our pain is to join it.

Interesting that we took that and made it into an institution.
We gave people titles of honor, we made a hierarchy, we gave power to a few people.
We built up a church around Jesus and made it almost impossible to actually see Jesus.
Because when we come here together we dress up.
We look good, we keep our kids quite so they don't disturb anyone.
We put on a good show.

I don't understand us.
We talk about our need for Jesus, our imperfections.
But we try to hide them from each other.
What God tells us is that it is only in love that we enter into each other's pain, and brokenness.
It is only out of love that we try to understand someone else.
It was out of love that God tried to understand us through Jesus.
Jesus came so that we might stop trying to be something we are not.

When something bad happens the first reaction we have is to ask, "how do we fix this?"
how do we stop this from happening?
And maybe the first question we should be asking is, "How has my brokenness contributed to this?"
Where is there a need for confession?
Where is there a need for love, empathy, justice, forgiveness, kindness?
Where is God's heart in this?

While talking to Phoebe she wanted to know how to fix it.
And I struggled to give her a good answer.
I struggled in this part of my sermon to come up with something that will be helpful to all of you.
Here is what I came up with.
Reading Kevin Love's story again, he talks about how he never thought that he could have anxiety.
He was taught to be a man, be tough, deal with it himself.
That is what lead him to his panic attack.
We need to talk about our brokenness more.
We need to share it with each other.
We need to name it.
That will be healing for us, to know that we are not alone, that we can find solace in each other's pain.

And as people of faith we need to look up.
We need to see Jesus lifted up on a cross.
It is there that we find God's heart for the world, and for us.
God comes not to condemn us, but to love us.
To give us something we can use in this life.
I have been clinging to that lately.
Yes, the world is broken, the systems the world creates don't work.
And yet God loves this world enough to join it.
And I don't believe that God has left us alone to spin out of control.

I think of what St. Paul said, "I see now only in a mirror dimly."
I can't see all the ways that God is fixing the brokenness.
Most days I can't see it at all.
But in faith I trust that it is being fixed.
In the meantime God has entered our pain in order to understand it.
That God is there for you and me, and the world.

Today you came to worship broken.
You will go back out into a world that is broken.
But you have come here and lifted up your head to see Jesus there for you, and now you leave knowing that you are not alone.
You know that other's share in your brokenness, and that it is good and right to talk about it.
That we can't fake it.
It will be our brokenness that saves us.
Because if we can see that we are all broken then we can be more Christ like to each other.
We can be more loving, forgiving, kind, and merciful.
Not because we are those things, but because Jesus Christ is.

We all have something we are dealing with.
So let us share our brokenness with each other, with the world.
Let us look up to Christ who is broken so that we can know the depths of God's love for our world.
Let us trust that Jesus has come to save our world from our brokeness.

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