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This Sunday, I was working with the lesson of the Pharisee and the tax collector for text of my children's message. The general idea of the text is that the proud with be humbled and the humbled will be lifted up. Because the background and context of the text was somewhat fuzzy for my grade school audience, I made a quick comparison to the characters in the story - but stayed with the main thought. So the story goes like this...
Here are two apples. One refuses to be eaten and only wants to sit on the kitchen counter for all to see because it is so beautiful. You can pick it up and admire it shiny red skin and smell its sweet aroma; but you can't eat it. This apple says, "I'm too beautiful to be eaten. My purpose is to sit here and be admired."
The other apple is inside this plastic container and it's all chopped up and ready to be eaten. It say's, "Yes of course, you can have me for a snack; after all I am an apple. If all I did was sit on the counter, I'd go bad over time and be good for nothing - and that would be a waste of a sweet, juicy apple."
Which apple do you think the kids liked? Which apple smelled best when they compared them? Right on, the apple that was chopped up in bite size pieces was the one they liked better. They could greater experience the "wholeness" of the apple that was actually, well broken.
The humble, edible apple was the one they liked and made disappear in the end. I suppose you could say the lesson is: Humility brings people together and helps us find places and ways to serve and share with each other.
This weeks question of wholeness and brokenness is this:
When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented?
In the parable from Sunday, the man that came to worship feeling the most "whole" or "together" is said to go home without feeling justified, where the man who humbly pleas for God's mercy when home justified and whole.
This talk of wholeness and humility is a tough thing to think on, but I would have to say that most of the times I feel I have my life "together" I really don't. Then in the time I know I'm a mess, God seems present in a special way by helping all the pieces of my broken life become a surprisingly sweet aroma.
It's like a line from a song I wrote a while back,
I want so much to fall apart, I'll just fall apart, I'll just fall apart - so You - can put me back together. Will you put me back together?
God there is a mix of brokenness and wholeness in my life. God may the wholeness be there, because you have rebuilt and made it whole; as for the brokenness - may you break away the pride that keeps me apart from You and the people around me. I know I am a clay pot - but may this clay pot become something beautiful because of how it functions and the Craftsman that make and re-makes it every day.
For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Broken and whole; it's all bread. Thank you for sharing your bread here.