A Broken, And Yet Resurrected, Heart

From the sixth chapter of Genesis, beginning at verse 5.

Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry that he ever made them. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will completely wipe out this human race that I have created. Yes, and I will destroy all the animals and birds, too. I am sorry I ever made them.

So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Yes, I will wipe them all from the face of the earth!

“Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing. Everything on earth will die!

Luke, chapter 23, verses 44 to 46, and this takes us back to the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and his last moments.

By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the thick veil hanging in the Temple was torn apart. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

When the captain of the Roman soldiers handling the executions saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw all that had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

As we consider these words from scripture, let’s remember that God’s Word can be found in these words. And God’s Word is life.  It’s not ink on paper, it’s bigger than that. It touches us, it sears us and it changes us, makes us new every day. We, as Christians, are in the season of Easter, and, as such, God has put it on my heart to visit aspects of Easter today in a different way.

And so I would just ask that you pray with me, a sinner…

Father, I was reading the Bible again today. I always see something new when I read it.  You speak to me through it.  Today you told me something I wasn’t expecting to hear.  You told me that your heart is broken.  You told me your child died some years ago.  I knew because I saw the part in the passage where the temple curtain was torn in half.  Am I right that that was you tearing your clothes in grief?  I remember being at a crime scene once where a young man had been murdered.  The street was chaotic.  It was dark except for the headlights and flashing red lights – police lights were red back then.  I saw the boy’s mother.  She was on the adjacent corner being told that it was her son under the blanket in the intersection.  I don’t know if anyone else even noticed her.  From across the intersection, I could see the breath catch in her throat as her soul tore in half, and people rushed by as if nothing at all was going on.  Her life was coming to an end, and the world did not even notice as she fell to her knees in a ball.  Family members helped her away.  I don’t know what became of her.  Today, I can almost see you like that.  I can almost see you ripping your clothes and crying out at the death of your son, as the whole world went on as though it was just any other day.   I can hear the rough fabric of the shroud rip, and I can hear the unmistakable wail.  I know the sound.  I have heard it.  I tremble at the thought of what it must have sounded like coming up out of your soul that day.  It must have swallowed up the whole world.  When I hurt… when I am devastated… I cry out to you.  But…who do you cry out to?

What’s wrong with me that I never saw your pain the way that I see it now.  I keep skipping over your son’s murder and jumping right to Easter because Easter brings me hope as if it’s all about me.  Even you must wonder sometimes at how awkward everyone is with you; not wanting to bring it up; not wanting to talk about it.  I have people in my congregation who have lost a child…and they know that their child is with you in heaven.  And how silly and wrong it would be for me to tell them that their child is in heaven and expect that that will heal their shattered hearts.  Their hearts broke the day they lost their children.  Why would your heart be any different?  I am sorry that it took me this long to come and sit in the ashes with you.  What’s breaking your heart today?

Even as I ask the question, I am catching myself thinking that in the loss of your son, at least you have lots of children.  I almost told you that.  I am sorry for even thinking it.  Can you imagine the pain the agony that statement would cause in one of these mothers here who have lost a child?  There will never be another human being like the one that they loved and lost.  And yet I almost said that to you.  I am so sorry.  Am I breaking your heart today?

What is breaking your heart today?  Is it the people who come by the food pantry on Saturday looking for a little hope in a small bag of groceries?  Is it that some of these, your children, are so lost and alone that they would even think for an instant that they could find life at the end of a dirty needle?  Maybe it’s the girl I met last month.  Is she breaking your heart?  Is it that this, your child, who has lived so long misunderstood and overlooked and used by everyone in here life that she has begun to cut herself just so she can feel something meaningful?   Until today, I haven’t even stopped to listen to what is breaking your heart.  Another boy was shot last night on the North Side, and I don’t even know his name.  He was your son, too.  I can’t help but wonder if the fact that I never made an effort to know the people on the North Side hurts you more than the death itself.  Is it like salt in the wound?

What is breaking your heart?  Am I breaking your heart today?  You spent countless thousands of years preparing this sunrise for me, preparing this day for me.  And not only did I forget to thank you, I didn’t even notice.  I was so absorbed with getting this service together and getting everybody up and dressed and here on time, that I didn’t even notice the day that you shaped and sculpted for me to walk in today.  Your tore your clothing that day so long ago.  Do you do that every day?  Your son laid down his life so that I could know you personally and come to you personally, and I have taken that gift for granted over and over again.  Am I breaking your heart today?  I got mad at my wife the other day.  When my wife didn’t meet my every expectation, I got mad because I forgot that you bent the universe from its beginning to prepare me to be a blessing to this woman, the woman that you prepared to be a blessing to me.  And I didn’t even notice.  I didn’t even say, “thank you”.  I had no sense of grace.  How awful that must feel.  I never meant to hurt you.   Am I breaking your heart today?

“It grieved him to his heart” relates the writer of the Noah cycle of Genesis.  A sentiment repeated three times in Hebrew means “Very Great”.  And so very great was your woe that the earth was flooded.  Did anyone notice that it was your tears that flooded the earth?  Where did they think that much water came from?  Divine tears.  Does anyone even notice now?  I always bring my wants and wounds to you.  And I never even thought about asking you what you want.  I never thought to ask you what wounds you and how I can help you to heal.  Maybe heal isn’t the right word.  Maybe that’s an arrogant sentiment.  Maybe what I mean is just asking how I can validate your woundedness and walk with you in it.  You didn’t have to open your heart to us to wound.  But you did.  You placed your beautiful heart in our hands.  And we broke it.  Not once, but over and over again.  Who do you cry out to when your heart is broken?  When you scream out your pain into the vastness of the universe, what do you hear back?  Who touches your shoulder and tells you it is going to be okay?

I can’t carry what you carry.  But I can listen.  I am listening now.  What is breaking your heart today and how can I walk closer with you?

Amen.

(Preached on 4/06/08)

Vision:

Growing into Christ

Purpose (DNA):

We are engaged in a personal and shared life journey driven by life-changing encounters with Jesus that lead us to accept people where they are and encourage them to find their gifts from God and go deeper into the vision of “Growing into Christ.” We have come to understand that our calling is to bring others with us into developing God’s mission here on Earth.

3 Seeds:

We give ourselves away.

We connect the disconnected.

We live life together.

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