The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit:
a broken and contrite heart…
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians: 6-12, 16
The great mystery of God’s love is that we are not asked to live as if we are not hurting, as if we are not broken. In fact, we are invited to recognize our brokenness as a brokenness in which we can come in touch with the unique way that God loves us. The great invitation is to live your brokenness under the blessing. I cannot take people’s brokenness away and people cannot take my brokenness away. But how do you live in your brokenness? Do you live your brokenness under the blessing or under the curse? The great call of Jesus is to put your brokenness under the blessing.
~Henri Nouwen from a Lecture at Scarritt-Bennett Center
Every day, as the sun goes down,
I pause, broken, remembering how often
I messed up that day, in big and small ways.
I’m cracked open, my mistakes illuminated,
weighing down my heart, impossible to forget.
Yet, as I pray for mercy, there follows a peacefulness,
as my errors are blotted out.
My slate, one more time, is wiped clean.
This ceramic pot is meant specially for our kitchen table — handmade by a friend using the abstract artistry of mane hairs from our farm’s Haflinger horses burnt onto the sides. But it hit the floor and broke into many pieces, looking completely beyond repair.
It is back on our table, repaired with love and care by another friend, using nothing more than copious amounts of Elmer’s Glue. This is the glue of every child’s school desk, the glue of every mother’s junk drawer, the glue of every heart that needs mending. Elmer’s is not the gold of the Japanese art of kintsugi, where broken vessels are repaired with precious metals, creating an object even more valuable and beautiful than before, with streaks and tracks of gold highlighting their shattered history.
Yet this ceramic is now even more precious to me. Someone we love cared deeply enough to make it in the first place, and another we love cared deeply to repair it, making it more beautiful and blessed in its brokenness, highlighting ragged pieces made whole again.
Someone made us.
Someone repairs us when we fall apart.
Someone blesses our brokenness with a glued-together beauty that makes us whole.
Therefore do not lose heart…
~Allegri’s Miserere — setting of Psalm 51
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness
According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offenses.
Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:
that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.
Behold, I was shaped in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness:
that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn Thy face from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of Thy help again: and establish me with Thy free Spirit.
Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health:
and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew Thy praise.
For Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee: but Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.
O be favorable and gracious unto Sion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness,
with the burnt-offerings and oblations: then shall they offer young bullocks upon Thine altar.
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2 thoughts on “A Broken and Contrite Heart”
Amen & amen.
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What a stunning symbolic post just three weeks from Good Friday. A perfect meditation to ponder
through one’s own personal prayer and admission of our guilt and our sorrow as manifested by both our fallible human ‘sins’ of commission and omission.
The picture of the shattered tree is at once realistic and frightening as it illustrates the meaning of near-complete destruction and the lifelessness of death.
The stunning picture of the lovely vase depicts its deeply cracked woundedness, hopefully awaiting restorative repair that will ensure its former beauty and wholeness. (This picture here resembles the work of Japanese artisans who use gold and other precious metals to restore and to
‘renew’ broken pottery in a process called Kintsukuroi )
The graceful budding green leaf erupts with its arms outstretched and uplifted — in prayer and
thanksgiving to its Creator?
It is our Soul, then which acts as our Conscience, Teacher, Enabler, to help us to identify our sins
and human shortcomings that, in turn, help us to seek forgiveness (and ‘wholeness’) from our loving, patient Savior, Jesus, the Christ.
Thank you, dear Emily, for your blessed gift to us this day of your so appropriate welcome post.
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