The Blessed Broken
We all heard the crack. In a moment the antique chair gave loose and the entire back structure popped off and fell to the floor. Our guest was devastated. The chair is well over 150 years old and has been in Martha's family way, way back from Pennsylvania. We all had that sick-in-the-gut feeling. But Martha dreaded calling her mom and telling her about the chair. When she did, her mom paused and then let out a big laugh. "Oh that chair? When I was a little girl my momma had some of my daddy's preacher friends over and one of them leaned back and broke the back right off!" Martha's mom is in her early 80's, so that first break was about 70 years ago. Then Martha's mom went on to tell her about her life in the parsonage, her preacher-father and the lessons they learned around that dining room table. And soon, that broken chair turned into a blessing.
I can hardly avoid all the breaks around me: Mark Foley, Bob Ney, Randy Cunningham, Mel Gibson. It seems like each new day bring up new dirt on someone. A moral indiscretion, long hidden now found out. A financial impropriety discovered. Power and authority abused. Shareholders lied to, voters duped, consumers cheated. It seems like an awful lot of energy is consumed trying to manage shame, trying to keep the lid on secrets and covering up mistakes.
Then along comes Jesus in Matthew 5:1-12 calling all the broken chairs "blessed." The list is a catalogue of failures and flops. It's a list of those who are in the back of the crowd and out of the limelight. It's about old what's-his-name. Being able to preach a great text like this is such a total gift, because if forces me to go back and hear Jesus' words to me: "Don, you're blessed exactly because you're such a goof and you know it." Blessing is all about Jesus and nothing about me and my accomplishments and achievements. He's not impressed. He jsut wants to bless.