Use an egg as visual aid.
In a few weeks we are going to be seeing a lot of these, perhaps not quite like this one but of the chocolate variety . It reminds us of new birth, Easter, spring, growth . But in this form it is useless. We could stick it on our shelf and admire it but eventually it would go off and we would have to get rid of it.
This egg is of no real use to us unless we break it. We could then use it for all sorts of things, we could use it to make a cake and enjoy a sweet treat. We could use it to make scrambled eggs or an omlette which would nourish us. I discovered all sorts of uses for an egg, including beauty treatments leather and jewellery cleaning, and even as protection to help heal a skin graft or wound.
But for all of these things we need to break the egg first.
What has this got to do with today’s reading ?
We see Jesus going into the temple and breaking a few things! The leaders and priests might have thought that they had a petty hooligan in their midst. But Jesus’ actions are clear. This Temple built to glorify his Father had turned into something else a place where people thought they could buy their way out of sin and brokenness. A sacrificial animal was all that was needed to turn their lives around. But everything was broken and Jesus knew that God was going to have to intervene in a dramatic way to turn things around.
Brokenness is something I’m sure we all feel from time to time. And perhaps more so than ever at the moment. We have a broken world, with more unemployment; our economy has been broken , we have lost loved ones, lost time with friends and family. But I think this is where God meets us, in our brokenness. When we realise that we are all broken then God can use us. Just like the egg , if we maintain our hard shell , we are no use to anyone.
In our lent course we have been looking at God’s story and our story. How we fit in to God’s story and how God uses our story to help others to come to know him.
In our social lives, we often gravitate towards people that are like us, people who have the same upbringing, similar interests, a similar job or experiences; and on one level there is nothing wrong with that.
But that is not what Jesus did. Throughout the gospel stories we see Jesus associating with the weak, the outcast, the disabled and the vulnerable. In short, those who were clearly and obviously broken.
In the stories we will look at in the lent course this coming week; we see how Jesus responds to people differently. He acts in a different way to Jairus and the woman who touches his cloak. He treats them as unique and recognises their own version of brokenness. What is common to them all is that they all seem to have faith, faith that something can happen to change their lives for the better. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they approach Jesus or Jesus approaches them, they all accept that they are broken and need something from Jesus. Even if they don’t know quite what that something is.
So, how does Jesus respond? He treats them all as individuals and interacts with them in different ways. He doesn’t have one formula that fits all. Many times I have heard people say how hard it is to talk about their faith to others but if we take Jesus’ as a model then we don’t need a script. We need to meet people where they are and share ourselves. In the same way that Jesus shared his own brokenness on the cross. That is where Jesus meets each of us. Recognising where we fall short, where we think we are not capable, where we think we have failed. Jesus meets us and wants to make us whole.
When Jesus talks to the leaders in the temple about destroying it , they assume he is talking about the building . After all he has just used a dramatic visual aid in overturning the tables. But we know that Jesus was talking about himself. He is the temple, he is the sacrifice that makes things right with God. When we accept that we are broken and meet Jesus in his brokenness then we are transformed.
So, this week when we feel inadequate and unable to meet the challenge of talking to others, we need to remember that each conversation and each person is unique. When we take the risk of sharing our brokenness with others, God will be able to use us.
Quote from Mike Yaconelli
Faith is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Faith is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Faith is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the Christian life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of faith, not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and instead seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Faith is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.
Just like the egg, we need to be broken to be used; to bring joy, nourishment and healing.