Cornwall is a beautiful place; probably the most beautiful I know and has the largest coastline of any county in the UK. Looking inland there are hills, farms, moorland, woodland, magical gardens and mines. Looking out across the coast the waves roll in and then crash and break in dramatic and glorious fashion.
The scene is beautiful at all times, in all conditions and all weathers. The scene, however, is most beautiful when the waves reach their climax and break on the rocks, the cliffs, the beaches and the shore. It is in the breaking of the waves that there is increased beauty; broken beauty.
Whilst driving home one evening a friend of mine, Helena, passed a bus shelter which had been damaged by vandals leaving broken glass across the floor and some in the frame. You have probably come across a similar scene, perhaps a broken phone box or a smashed car windscreen. Helena pulled her car over to the side of the road, climbed out and picked up a piece of the glass. Holding the glass between her fingers she lifted it up towards a streetlight and looked at the light reflecting and refracting. Different colours shone, glistened and sparkled from the glass. Whilst others looked at the destruction, the vandalism, the devastation and waste caused by the damage to the bus shelter someone had been able to find a hidden beauty; broken beauty.
Spending any time with people and giving an opportunity to be honest, to share what’s on our hearts and minds soon we discover that we are all broken. I have heard many people apologise for crying, for sharing a deep and long hidden thought, for sharing a burden, a frustration about them self, for being honest and emotional. Why people apologise I do not know; it is in these times of honesty, emotion and brokenness that we are most beautiful.
My experience of churches is that they often appear, at first glance, to be filled with people who have no problems; with people who look down on others for certain lifestyle choices; and with people who wear plastic smiles to ensure that no one sees the mess their life is really in. I believe that Christ meets with us in our brokenness. I believe that for others to meet with Christ then those who claim to know him must first be prepared to admit and share their own brokenness and to trust that it is in this weakness and brokenness others will see beauty and discover the beauty of Christ.
Perhaps the most beautiful image of all is that of a man taking the weight of the world as a sacrifice for others so that they can be set free. The most beautiful image is that of God as a broken man hanging on a cross saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
The church should be broken, the brokenness celebrated as honesty prevails and hope is released.
Welcome to the Broken Church.