when you’re broken

Christ comes to us in the only way any of us can recognize — with a body right broken.

Who of us isn’t busted?

On a Sunday, the pastor breaks the loaves, three of them, are broken right down the center.



Lays them white faced on silver platters, then takes them in hand and turns to us the congregants — the farmers and grandmothers, the wives and the truck drivers — the beggars waiting to part lips and partake.

This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

What if all we can remember is what a mess we are?

Young Christopher Eelman sits at the piano, his fingertips hardly brushing the ivories.

The platters pass from hand to hand, Maika Nagel leaning across her 4 kids to hand the torn bread down to Beryl Martin…

My mind forms the words that the piano notes weep.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

And there it is too — who I am.

Needing one tall to quickly get into the kitchen this morning, to scrub up another ten potatoes for company coming and calling her name and hollering her name and glancing at the clock and just straight out screaming her name.

The way I snapped at her when she dawdled to the sink. Time running out and her running water, splashing it about, ignoring dirty spuds at the bottom of the sink, and the way I fumed disgust.

Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

I look down at palms laying open in my lap. I hurt. Long after sin stains, it stings.

And when Joshua Hartung passes me the cold silver plate, I rip off a chunk. There’s no passing nice and neatly sliced and cubed bread. Every Sunday, the loaf goes from one stained hand to the next, and the starved have to do it in front of everyone: rip off a piece of bread. Because that is what I am — desperate and famished for the only Bread that can clean this filthy skin from the inside. We break bread  — literally —  because we’re messy and we’re torn and it’s my busted-up daily decisions that broke the body of God. A pulled apart piece of bread lies in my open hand.

The wheat died and crushed and placed in the furnace to rise again in the heat —  it’s there in my hand and I lay the torn bread on the tongue, and sin within liquefies and I spill repentance.  Is it possible that tears can soak stains? Many times the most sincere way to walk with Jesus is to say nothing with the lips, but bend the knee and weep the love.

The Farmer offers me the cup of the scarlet. I drink the warmth of His life laid down, and by faith and trembling hand, I believe the impossible: that my sullied hands and heart and lips are bleached by the salty blood of the hanging Lamb.

Sin-dyed hands can only be scrubbed clean by the One who died for our sins.

I can’t do anything and He can and does. I never get over this… the relief and the repentance.

I swallow the gospel right down. The good news: not that the good are rescued, (because what news would that be?), but the bad, the very bad, are loved, bought, redeemed. This is the thing: The only thing that fixes what’s broken is forgiveness.

And Charlie Heimstra and his sister Charlotte sing and we cleaned ones join, some still wet and wrung out:

Wash me in Your cleansing flow, now all I know…

Your forgiveness and embrace.

Singing, I raise my hand, the scrubbed one, towards His punctured one outstretched and His forgiveness is what never forsakes us.

Christopher plays the song slowly, the space of the sanctuary forgiving our busted tune, the notes breaking into a whole chorus …





Wherefore I say unto thee,

Her sins, which are many, are forgiven;

for she loved much.


Photo: “Forgiven Much” from artist Keith Johnson

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Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.

To read the entire series of spiritual practices

Next week, might we explore: The Practice of Faith… What does it look like to believe? How do you practice your faith day to day? How do you share that faith, deepen faith in Christ, live that faith out in the midst of fears? The whole community looks forward to your prayerful reflections stories, ideas….

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