This past week, millions of us traveled far and near to be with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. Of all the people I have spoken to, each had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a part of me believes that they’d like to do it once more if they could. I stayed home and celebrated with my family, dining on a set of plates we’ve owned since before our first daughter was born. Those plates aren’t china, nor do they bear any semblance of sophistication, but we treasure them nonetheless and use them twice a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I am sure you can say the same for yourself... you have plates, maybe ones made of china, that you use on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, this occurred last week as I had lunch with a colleague friend and his father. My friend shared with me that they would, for Thanksgiving dinner, be using a china set given to them by his deceased mother. The wonderful part of the story is that the memory of a wonderful mother and wife is kept alive with a set of plates that had once felt her warm and tender hands.
Thankfully, we didn’t break any plate, glass, mug, pottery, or anything else this Thanksgiving, but I cannot say same for everyone. An interesting part of all we share in common is that our plates, glasses, mugs, or pottery reduce in number - we break them - either by accident or by negligence. And for many of us, when these and many others break, we either sweep them up and find a resting place for them in the nearest trash bin, or we find other suitable ways to dispose them. I need you to take a moment and reflect on your own brokenness, as I also reflect on mine.
The question is, what do we do with what we break? Better still, what does the world do with something that’s broken? We discard it. We throw it away. We consider it to be useless because it no longer serves any purpose. While you and I throw away things that are broken, there’s an art in Japan called Kintsugi. It is the art of repairing broken pottery. For any pottery that is broken, they put it back together and then use gold paint or gold filler - something precious - to put the broken pieces together. That broken piece then becomes an art piece in itself. Think about why the broken and mended piece becomes an art piece in itself…and it so happens because every broken piece has a story, every broken piece has a history, and out of brokenness the story of this broken piece of art is revealed.
Come to think of it, our lives are like plates, cups, mugs, glasses, and pottery of every kind; they break, and they are fragile. We can often feel this sense of brokenness where we are shattered into a million different and disparate pieces - similar to a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle I once saw at an assisted living facility. We often try, desperately and on our own strength, to fit these broken pieces together again. What we seem to miss is that when life is broken into many different pieces, we ought to surrender that broken life to the Master Craftsman, and the Master Repairer of our lives is none other than Jesus. He is not only the one who puts the gold paint or filler into our broken lives but he is, himself, the gold paint and filler that mend our brokenness, and calls us my beloved, my precious one. Listen to what 1 Peter 2:9 says: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We are way too precious to God to dwell on our brokenness.
If you are, or feel, broken and do not surrender your brokenness to God, you remain broken. The only change that is possible, especially during this Advent season, is to surrender your brokenness to the Master Artist, who would make something beautiful out of your broken life - Kintsugi.
My beloved, we may not be hungry but we may be spiritually hungry. And so the question is, where do you feel broken today? Where would you want the gold filler and gold paint - the healing Balm of Gilead - touch, soothe, heal and mend your brokenness? What’s in you that cries for release? What is it that takes you to the bosom of your bedroom, your inner temple, and breaks you down to the extent that your own brokenness overwhelms you? How much load are you willing to carry all by yourself? The questions are many, but the answer to these questions are one and the same. God. It is my prayer that this Advent season would be one of opening our own brokenness to God’s healing and mending grace.
Kintsugi... God takes our brokenness and makes something beautiful out of it.