The Broken Presence of Others: A Sabbath Meditation

Something in this resonates with me. Can our individual brokenness be a gift of healing we offer to one another?

"...the more I interact with these [people] outside of Sunday morning 
church the more I get a truer sense of what the church looks like. 
Somehow the act of walking through the liturgy together on Sunday 
morning makes us more pliable the rest of the week, more flexible with 
the shape our interactions take, and more open to showing up just as 
we are--cracks, fissures, duct tape, and all. Because we are learning 
to recognize the Christ in one another, we are also more susceptible
to being healed just by being in one another's broken yet holy presence."

— from Enuma Okoro, Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community (p. 148)

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4 comments on “The Broken Presence of Others: A Sabbath Meditation

  1. Liz's Dad says:

    Except for worship as the main reason I find this a very compelling reason to fellowship with other believers regularly.

    • elizabeth says:

      I’m not sure if your “except” means that you agree with the author that worship is what enables us to do this or you disagree with her. I would say that “walking through the liturgy together on Sunday” is her way of saying that worship is the reason we gather in the first place. So I think you’re in agreement with that…? Or am I misreading you?

      Regardless, thanks for sharing!

  2. Anna H. says:

    I love these thoughts. Yes, absolutely, our individual brokenness be a gift of healing we offer to one another? (That’s why marriage is a sacrament, by the way. We live out our brokenness together and the potential is there for us to be transformed by it.)

    Interestingly enough, when I gave the welcome/call to worship this morning at our little chapel service at church, I picked up on some of the same ideas as your blog post. . Thought you might like to read it:

    You know, things aren’t always what they seem to be; in fact, they almost never are. Consider the words of Jesus: “I and the Father are one…and, whatever you do it unto the least of these you do it unto me.” Those are astounding statements, aren’t they? And if you take those statements seriously, then every person you encounter is your teacher and your savior. These seem like good things to remember in a place of worship. Do you see the face of God in each of the faces in this room? What about your children, your teenager, your parents, your co-workers, the guy who cut you off in traffic? What about the homeless person downtown? Do you love them all as if they were the Son of God? If you’re honest, you’ll admit that there are plenty of people who don’t elicit a Christ-like response from you. But it’s kind of like in the Bob Newhart show – remember the character Darryl who had two brothers who were also named Darryl? He’d say “Hi, I’m Darryl, and this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.” Think about that sometime, whenever you’re angry with someone, feeling superior to someone…hmmm…this is my brother Jesus and there’s my other brother Jesus.

    You know….What seems to be happening at the moment is never the true story of what is really going on. We see through a glass darkly. Don’t assume that you are fully awake to what is.

    Things aren’t always what they seem. Most of us sleepwalk through our days. We work in our sleep, we eat in our sleep, we speak in our sleep. More than anything, we need to wake up.

    Thomas Merton tells a story about a certain moment in his life when he experienced that awakening: He writes, “…at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of…self-isolation…. This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. … I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. … At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is…his name written in us … like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”

    An incredible vision…and one that rings true. What we see on the surface isn’t the full picture. So welcome to worship, welcome to each of you Christ-bearers. Take these moments of stillness and contemplation to be open to God’s presence in unexpected places.

    Awake, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.


    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Anna!

      And of course my favorite part is the TV reference. J was reading your comment to me out loud and when he said “the character Darryl who had two brothers also named Darryl,” I couldn’t help but blurt, “This is my brother Darryl, and my other brother Darryl” and was totally cracking myself up. (I crack myself up a lot.)

      Then you got to the “This is my brother Jesus…” and I remembered why we are friends.

      I miss you, friend! And I miss worshiping with you at our special church where even in the call to worship we can say things like “my other brother Darryl.”

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