Good News: Beauty in Brokenness

Posted on 16 Jan 2019

 

Good News: Beauty in Brokenness

Luke 2: 1-20

I’m going to start today by re-writing some popular stories that most of us probably know. After each re-write, I want you to tell me if I made the story better or worse.

Rudolph

A reindeer named Rudolph has a regular nose and helps Santa deliver presents with no hiccups in the plan.

 Better or worse than the story you are familiar with?

Spiderman

Once upon a time, a guy named Peter Parker lived in a world without villains, crime, death, or spider bites. He was just an ordinary guy?

 Better or worse than the story you are familiar with?

 The Lord of the Rings

Once upon a time, there were some happy Hobbits.

 Better or worse than the story you are familiar with?

Good stories involve _conflict__, __brokenness_, and _trial_.

 

We know this is true in the stories we listen to, read, or watch. Without it we would be bored and feel like we have wasted our time.

 

We tend to define what a good story is in _our lives_ differently.

 

In our own lives we define “good” and “bad,” “better” or “worse” in our stories very differently. While you or someone you know or love is in the middle of brokenness, trial or conflict, it doesn’t feel good at all. In fact, it feels wrong. We often find ourselves wondering—could this be God’s plan? How can this possibly be the story God is writing in my life? Did I do something wrong? Did I get off track somewhere? Is this what God intended?

 

It’s almost Christmas. The season is FULL of stories being told: Frosty the Snowman, The Nutcracker, and for believers, especially, the very real story of Jesus’ birth. I am going to read this story to you today through a paraphrase of Luke 2: 1-7. As you listen, think about this question:

 

What can we learn about how God writes a good story based upon the story He wrote for _Himself_?

 

Paraphrase:

Once upon a time, a pagan leader demanded that all people, including the Jewish people who this leader did not respect or support, report to their hometowns for a census so they could all be held accountable to pay their taxes to him.

 

Everyone was going. So Joseph loaded up his pregnant (not by him, but by God) fiance’ and traveled 70 miles from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David. While they were there, away from their home and people, the time came for the baby to be born, and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 

Questioning God

 

This isn’t a pretty little story is it? It’s full of broken systems, inconvenience and messiness. When we step back and think about it, the same question for God arises with His story as we ask of our own:

 

Why this way, God?

If you can do anything, if you could create any story you wanted for your Son, why this?

 

Real Life Example:

 

I heard a story this week on K-Love about a mom who had a son with Down’s Syndrome. I imagine there was a time (times) when she asked God why? Why was my son born with this condition? He will have to grow up with a lot of different challenges. Why, God? And then, about four years ago, this mother found out she had terminal cancer. Why God?

 

Have you ever asked God these kinds of questions? I have. Maybe Mary and Joseph did, too, there with their new baby and the farm animals: If this is your Son, what are You doing?

 

Questions can feel wrong but they can put us in a _posture_ to grow.

 

This question to God: What are you doing? Can feel unfaithful, ungrateful. But the truth is, this question—God, what are you doing, puts us in a place to grow, if we let it. Because…

 

God is doing something _beautiful_, beyond our understanding.

 

He is writing a story that is beautiful not by avoiding brokenness, not by leaving us in brokenness, but by what He will accomplish through this brokenness.

 

Here are some other bad re-writes of those earlier stories:

 

  • Rudolph’s nose makes him so embarrassed he goes into hiding; Santa can’t find his way. Christmas is ruined.

 

  • A guy named Peter Parker is bitten by a spider, turns radioactive, spends life in basement.

 

  • Frodo puts on the ring; evil wins; the world is destroyed.

 

It’s not brokenness that makes a good story but what happens _through_ it.

 

  • Rudolph finds out, through his trial, his unique giftedness and contributes to the very society that tried to outcast him.

 

  • Peter Parker takes his great power and adds great responsibility to it.

 

  • Frodo goes on an adventure he never would have imagined capable of having, and saves the whole world, all while making a set of friends along the way.

 

Real Life Example

 

I want to go back to the story of the mom with the child with Down’s Syndrome

A teacher in the school that this woman’s son attended grew particularly fond of this young boy. And when she found out that the mom had terminal cancer, she went to her family and said that she believed God was telling her that if something happened to this mom, they should take in this young boy. They all agreed.

 

When the teacher told this mom what she was offering, the mom said it was the first good night’s sleep she had had in a long time. Just a week ago or so, that mom died, and the teacher and her family have taken guardianship of this young boy with Down’s.

 

Back to Jesus’ Story

 

Let’s look at Jesus’ story again (not the paraphrase, but from the NIV). This time, as you listen, I want you to listen with this specific question in mind: what is God doing with all that brokenness we found earlier? How is He making what is broken, beautiful?

 

Luke 2: 1-20…

 

The Broken Beauty of the Gospel

 

God came as a baby and in human form. God came humbly. He announced the birth of Jesus to the lowest rung of society, in a far-off field, at night. He was born to an unwed teenage girl in a home for animals. It wasn’t pretty.

 

But that wasn’t the end. Through this brokenness, our God told a story where He loves us so much that He will not remain distant. He will not remain separate. He will go to any length. Through this brokenness, Our God wrote a story where the road to love is low, where the messengers of love are the small and unexpected. Through this brokenness our God invites us to a story where we do not need to clean ourselves up; we do not need to meet secret qualifications. No, it wasn’t pretty, but it is beautiful.

 

Faith in Action:

 

Two things to put into practice from this message today:

 

  • Recognize and remember…how God has brought about beauty in your brokenness before. So, right now, we are going to take just a short moment of silence to contemplate and maybe even write down a word or symbol that represents a time in your life where God has taken something broken and made it into something beautiful.

 

  • Ask and hope. Identify a situation in your life or world that is broken. Maybe you’re right in the middle of it. We have remembered that God has come through before, maybe not in the way we would have chosen, but always in the way of love and beauty. So we ask right now, in the middle of this thing: God, what are you doing? But then ask, how can I join you in what you are doing? And we hold onto the hope that we have: Jesus came to be with us. And through the Holy Spirit, He is still with us. Immanuel in your mess, ready to turn our mourning in dancing. Our brokenness into beauty. Our grief into joy.