Grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus, the bright morning star, the first, the last, the one who was, who is and who is to come. Amen.
Last weekend I bought a step edger. I had just planted a small blueberry patch, and I wanted to clear the area of grass, put down some mulch and put up some netting. I started to outline the area with the edger. I had no problem with the first side, but when I turned the corner, I hit a root or something and my new edger bent at the base where it attaches to the handle. It wasn’t broken, just bent. It’s still useful; it gets the job done, but it’s disheartening because right off the shelf, it’s bent. I suppose there’s a warranty, and I will see if I can get a new one, but it got me wondering if there’s anything around us that doesn’t eventually break.
I guess not. Part of owning a home is realizing that it is always in some state of disrepair. There’s always something to fix. Our property committee knows that about this place too. I suppose this is so frustrating and exasperating for us because we live in disposable world. Regular maintenance doesn’t usually factor into the American dream, and we have structured our lives to rhythms of work, leisure and sheer exhaustion. We don’t have time for housekeeping; we have lives to live, better things to spend our time on. Some of us – like me – don’t even know how to fix things. We weren’t ever taught how to, so there’s no way we could know. Houses break; tools break.
Our hearts break. Our spirits do too. We all know and feel that our bodies wear out, but live long enough, live deep enough, and our hearts and spirits will break as well. Sometimes someone else will break us; other times we’ll inflict the damage; and still other times it will simply happen even when we have done everything correctly. Just the way the world goes. We live; we love. Then one day, we hit something and bend just like my new edger. But who’s going to fix our heart? Who’s going to straighten out our spirits? And if we can’t fix heart and spirit, is there a place to buy a new one?
The thing is -- with our hearts and with our spirits -- we need to learn how to tend and care for them, we need to learn how to fix them and fix them in almost every sense of the word.
Maybe the first thing we need to learn, though, is that this maintenance and repair is never a do-it-yourself job. We cannot bind up our own broken hearts; we cannot repair our own broken spirits. We can a do try, but it usually just makes things worse. That is at the heart of Jesus’ invitation to the broken in this world: “Come to me, and I will give you peace; I will make you whole.” Jesus puts us back together again. He fixes our spirits and hearts by fixing them to him.
We have little trees in our yard. There is no way they would be able to stand up to our winter and weather unless they were fixed and steadied by a sturdy stake. Christ Jesus fixes our hearts and spirits and minds to him in just that way. Bound to him, we endure and grow and thrive because he is able to bear the strain and suffering. I think that’s what’s going on in the hearts and spirits of Paul and Silas as they sit bound in stocks in the jail in Philippi. They sing praises to God. Fixed fast to Christ, their spirits soar in praise. Fixed to Christ, they do not move or break when the earthquake strikes and breaks the prison walls. Instead their love and gentleness witness to Jesus. Their captor becomes their brother.
Lost and far from home, the younger brother in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son wallows among the pigs as the portrait of a broken man. Yet, there at rock bottom, God stirs his spirit and his heart remembers the joys and comforts of home in his father’s house. He fixes his course to turn toward home and fixes his heart on his father’s house. It is like that with us too. We lose our way. We wander. We need that fixed point to find our location, to find the north star to fix our course and move toward home.
In Revelation, Jesus is called the morning star, the sign of a new dawn about to break and light the world. The vision of the new Jerusalem, the new heaven and new earth with God at the center shines as vision of peace and wholeness – the hope our broken hearts, broken spirits, broken world repaired, restored, renewed in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God with us fixes our hearts, minds and spirits on God out ahead of us, preparing a place for us, making a way for us through this world to the new heaven and new earth.
Maybe that’s a way for us to understand what we do as God’s people in this world. Maybe, as our own hearts, our own spirits are renewed, fixed to Christ, we might also be a community that fixes hearts by binding them to God in Christ. In that way, I guess we are a community that works to repair and restore God’s people, God’s creation. In what we do and say, by God’s spirit fixed within us, we proclaim the good news of Christ and point to the new life God is raising up in us in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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