[#pictureLent] March 4: BROKEN

By Henry Gibson
Eulaton United Methodist Church
Anniston, AL

First, read Psalm 51:15-17 

As a teenager, I felt a call to ministry, but I sought to define it on my own. I studied scripture, I read books on eschatology and ecclesiology, I used my new-found knowledge in arguments with peers and adults alike, and I found myself lost amid my own study. I knew my view was the correct one, and others simply had not found the wisdom I possessed. My life experience and the challenges I’d faced far outweighed that of others.

Yes, I was a teenager, but even Paul encouraged Titus not to be discouraged when others cited his youth against him. Right? 

I was in for a rude awakening at the hands of my college professors. 

My head held high, I walked into one of my college theology courses. I was met with the viewpoints of my peers, which were troubling to me, as they obviously hadn’t read as much as I had. Yet, the professor didn’t seem bothered by their views. He pushed back gently, but never told them how wrong they were. 

After class, I set a time to meet with my professor sure he would agree with my perspective. Instead, I left my meeting with him two days later even more confused with a list of unanswered questions and books to read. He encouraged me to explore the views of my peers and learn to appreciate the authenticity of their walk with Christ. 

What a farce! I expected to get answers in college, not more questions. I expected facts, not the nuance of personal religious views.  

Yet, as I engaged in conversation with my peers, I found myself caught between my head and my heart. I learned more about the facts of authorship and Biblical interpretation throughout the years, but I also faced the reality that I had lost sight of my own relationship with Christ.  
I was broken by the gray space of faith, called back to the roots of my own unknowing.  

We glorify God in our brokenness. This is good news, considering how often we fall short of God’s kingdom. We were built for perfection, but have fallen from that lofty hope. Yet, God has been with us in our journey since the fall, inviting us as participants in the transformational work of kingdom building. 

The mystery of faith may be revealed in our acceptance of our own brokenness and submission to penance. This lent, I encourage you to discern penance as an act of worship represented in the humility of our ability to gather with one another. Despite our brokenness, we are invited to do the work with Christ together.  

Discussion Questions: 

1. Have you ever had to admit you were wrong? What was that experience like? 
2. What does it mean to repent of your own sinfulness? How might we repent as a body for group failings? 
3. When have you been confronted a view that was different from your own and could open yourself to hear that view? What was the outcome?