Sermon September 13, 2020

Broken for You
Luke 22
September 13 2020

 It was only months afterward when the disciples recognized the meaning of that Passover meal they shared with Jesus.  At the time it was just another Passover meal–to be sure a meal fraught with the deepest possible significance for every Jew–remembering each year how God had delivered their forbears from the trammels of Egypt.

But on this night they were completely clueless about this Passover meal. They had no way of knowing how in time they would come to understand the underlying meaning of bread broken and wine poured.

 “This is my body broken for you.” They could never think of these words again without envisioning Jesus nailed to the cross, suffering the cruelest punishment the savage Romans could devise.  “This is my blood shed for you.” They could never  think of these words again without envisioning the blood seeping from Jesus’ scalp where the crown of thorns had pierced his flesh and the blood oozing from his side where  the Roman soldier had thrust his sword.

 This is my body, broken for you.  All of us know something about brokenness, the brokenness of our lives, the brokenness of our relationships, the brokenness of our society.  

First, the brokenness of our lives:   

“Dear God,” prays Marianne Williams.  “I feel that I have wasted my life, thrown away my resources, taken too much time to gather my strengths. Now, dear God, I feel it is too late for me.  My age, my weaknesses, the lies and betrayals of times gone by, make me seem a lesser talent.  You, dear God, know the love in my heart and how much I want to serve, how much I have to give.  I need a miracle, a new beginning, which only you can give me.  Please, dear God, I give my life to You.  Please bring other my talents.  Please increase my gifts and use them for Your purposes.  I surrender my future.  Make it unlike my past.  Amen.”  

We carry our brokenness from our past right into this very moment.  All of us are marked by it, things we regret, things we are ashamed of, things we dare not mention to anyone.  Some of these painful memories ease up over time.  Others never let up, always accusing us, like some furies from hell tormenting us day and night. And all we can do is to fall on our knees with the cry: “Dear God help me.”

Second, broken relationships.  Believe it or not there is a Museum of Broken Relationships, located in Croatia.  If you think I’m making this up, well then Google it. In the museum are objects which exemplify a broken relationship.  Each object has a story attached to it.    For example, there is a bicycle on display which a young wife gave to her husband on his 25th birthday.  When the marriage broke up a few years later he had to sell it because it so painfully reminded him of a happier past.
From time to time all of us struggle with a broken relationship.  The internet teems with formulas of how to restore broken relationships.  But the one common factor as I read through many of them was this: It ain’t easy.  

 It’s not easy because even if we are willing to try to restore harmony, the other person may not be.  It’s not easy because the person with whom we want to be reconciled is now out of our life, perhaps dead.  It isn’t easy because–let’s face it–we are just so bloomingly stubborn and we fold our arms in front of our chest and say, “No way, Jose.”    

And then, third, there is the brokenness of our society.    I am worried sick about our country–how we are constantly tearing asunder what God has joined together.  The continuing violence against people of color, the looters, the white supremacists, the raw vitriol against those who do not share one’s views.      
Whatever happened to that wonderful little song–

We work and play together
We hear our nation’s call
No matter what our race or creed
we are Americans all.  

Do you know the names Kellyanne and George Conway?   Kellyanne Conway announced a few weeks ago that she would be leaving her post as White House counselor at the end of August.  Her husband, George, said he was withdrawing from The Lincoln Project, which is a group of Republicans working against President Trump’s re-election.  

Kellyanne Conway said in a statement.

“We disagree about plenty, but we are united on what matters most: the kids. Our four children are teens and ‘tweens starting a new academic year, in middle school and high school, remotely from home for at least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”

As we have heard many times in recent months, the vote of November 3 is the most important in our life-time.  I don’t know what criteria you use when you decide whom you will vote for.   But I think Kellyanne and George Conway’s decision gives us all something to mull over as we go to the polls.  
–Which candidates offer the best promise for our children and grandchildren?   
–Which candidates will lead us to care for this precious earth?  
–Which candidates will help us honor all our fellow citizens, no matter what their race or creed?  
–Which candidates will inspire us to become a more decent and compassionate nation?    

This election is more consequential for our children than it is for us.         

In 1929 Ernest Hemingway wrote “A Farewell to Arms.”  In the book is this powerful line: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Hemingway, who later won both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, knew first-hand about brokenness.   Four marriages, riddled by alcoholism, perennially depressed, he took his life with a shotgun in July,1961.  

I have to believe that Ernest Hemingway knew the story of that Passover Meal from Luke 22.   I’m certain he knew about the crucifixion and having seen so much suffering as a war correspondent in the Spanish Civil War and World War II he must have been deeply affected by the suffering of Jesus.  

Sadly enough, Hemingway did not become strong in his broken places.  His depression, exacerbated by alcoholism, sent him into a dark downward spiral from which he did not recover.

In just a moment we will observe communion for the first time since March.  For the first time in many months we will hear those momentous words: “This is my body, broken for you.  This is my blood shed for you.”

And although we do not harbor the awful affliction that led Ernest Hemingway to ultimate despair,  we do hold in our hearts and minds the brokenness of our lives, the brokenness of our relationships, the brokenness of our society

And the promise of this meal is that as we  partake of the bread and wine we will experience the healing of the God’s Spirit and become strong in our broken places.