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The Journey: First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah

Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on with 1 Comments

I commute to Ukiah from Marin most days of the week. On average I drive between 800-1,000 miles per week. A lot for me, but nothing compared to an interstate truck driver. I began my position at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah two months ago. Since then I have listened to nine books on CD, had two oil changes and one cracked windshield. At first with the cracked windshield I wanted to cuss, but I got this funny feeling that my seminary professor might be watching so I said it in ancient Greek. “Thah treh —LA-thoh OH-poo NA-neh, ma-LA-ka.” Translated, “I’m about to lose it any minute dude!”

It was the cracked windshield that got me thinking. I went to Grants Glass Werks in Ukiah. Grant and his wife, Julie, taught me more than I ever knew between strong glass and broken glass. My main take away was that no matter what, the difference between strong and broken comes down to good choices matched with good luck.

On my way back to my office to write my sermon, with a sparkling new windshield, I remembered a famous line by Ernest Hemingway from his book “A Farewell to Arms,” published in 1929. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

If you have been broken by grief, loneliness, joblessness, depression, mental illness, cancer, homelessness or addiction, a wonderful passage to read from the Bible is Psalm 66. The Psalm assures us what every age has to be reminded of: when we hunger or thirst, and this can be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, God is trying to reach and guide you to a spacious place of abundance and nourishment.

Psalm 66 takes us to the broken place; the place where our faith makes contact with life and death. Psalm 66 is about Resurrection — Resurrection to commemorate God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. For Christians, the Psalm is often associated with the season of Easter.

We, like our ancient Hebrew brothers and sisters, have our own experiences that are radical, agonizing, joyous, celebratory, and we too lift our cries, pleas and thanksgivings toward God at work in our lives and our world.

Psalm 66 teaches us that faith moves back and forth between individual and community. Our individual spiritual growth informs our community spiritual growth, our community growth informs our individual growth. The two are knit together.

The broken place, our suffering, is not a consequence of faith, but is itself part of faith. Sharing in the Exodus story out of Egypt and in Christ’s sufferings is how we come to know the living God who bursts into the darkness and brings light and changes death to life.

Psalm 66 is also a call to each of us to be the healing one in the broken place. Remember a time when you were not the broken one in the broken place, but the healing one, in the broken place. When you got strong and now that wisdom and strength is essential to help others. Help others by being a light for God in the darkness of our world.

It’s always risky to amend the words of a Nobel Laureate, but I am going to do so to Mr. Hemingway, “The world breaks everyone and afterward, ‘by faith and the grace of God, a God who brings life where there is death’, many are strong at the broken places.” The broken place of our life and our world is where God meets us.

May it be so for you, and also for me. Have a blessed weekend.

Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah.

Tags: blog, broken, hemingway

Comments

Lee Markus October 13, 2017 1:44am

I really like your experience about broken glass, windshield and many other things.Broken glass might put you in trouble while driving car , you windshield replacement is necessary before going on long drive.