God’s beautiful redemptive love
All of us who have responsibility for buildings, whether a home or, like me, for community buildings of historical and architectural value, will readily identify with the challenge of looking after and maintaining these places – especially roofs! You may well have noticed that all through the end of November and much of December, the Vicarage, along with large parts of the North and West faces of St Matt’s, has been covered with scaffolding.
For us in the vicarage it came after a particularly heavy downpour with a resulting leak above the desk where I was beavering away over a working supper at my computer. The subsequent conversation with the Diocesan building people went something like this: “When did you first notice a leak?” Me, scowling: “Last night, when it took over three hours to finish my soup!”
Amazingly both Vicarage and the work at St Matthew’s were finished in time for Christmas. Indeed, thanks to the huge generosity of members of St Matt’s and St Thomas congregations, the entire section to the rear of the church covering the office wing and side chapel have been stripped, insulated, felted and reroofed all in time for any inclement winter weather, making the building waterproof for the first time in years. Now, excitingly, we await the final stages of planning with our architects as we focus on the full redesign, refurbishment and refitting of St Matts for a new chapter in the ongoing life of this fabulous building.
All of which makes me think about the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Rather than simply discarding broken pieces of ceramics, craftsmen practise the art of ‘golden joinery,’ a method of taking broken pieces and restoring them with a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. This work makes a mended vessel look even more aesthetically valuable than before it was fractured. Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, something with a redemptive beauty, not simply to discard, disguise, or cover up. Throwing away a broken pot is to destroy its unique story. To repair it this way is to continue its story of adventure and triumph.
For me, this is the good news that we as Christians have to offer the world. It should be our own story. God never throws away the broken pieces of our lives; He longs to redeem all of them and not simply patched badly back together, but beautifully lined with shining grace through every scar and broken space. Gold-filled crevices of our heart, now stronger and better – more beautiful than before. When we yield to God and begin to realize that He can use and transform us, healing the cracks and pieces of brokenness, our pain, our failures, our weaknesses and our disappointments to bring about a very beautiful redemptive story – we can truly be a people of hope with our wonderful stories of transformation.
As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
May 2018 be, for you, a year where you experience anew the healing, shaping and redemptive love and power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.