Final Sermons: Broken Things (Video and Manuscript)

On August 20th, the Patterson Avenue Baptist congregation ceased to exist.  News about our disbandment is available on this blog.  You can find it when you click here.

Beginning in June, when the congregation made this difficult decision, I began a series of messages aiming to prepare us spiritually for that eventuality.  These sermons focus both on the congregational grief, as well as the HOPE that is always ours under God’s grace.

These sermons have been sitting on my YouTube Channel  For the next week I intend to publish them all on the blog.  The first is titled Broken Thing.  The video and sermon notes are below.

Before you read/watch/listen, I wonder if you might me out with a project.  I am recently hired PT as the Subscription Sales Manager for two great lectionary resources for the whole church (clergy, adults, and teenagers)  that can help the whole church engage the scriptures in an interesting and exciting way.   It’s called “Reading Between The Lines.”

I’d like to invite you to simply follow the company’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.  In time I will be producing brief videos focusing on preaching from the lectionary, using the selected texts for the day.  So, if you follow the company on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll be able to keep up.

Of course, if you do not follow my personal social media accounts, that would be appreciated as well.

Follow Reading Between The Line-Teentext on Twitter @RBTLTeenText 

Join the Facebook Community at


Broken Thing
John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the LORD. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

The rock band Three Days Grace has a song titled “Broken Glass” that describes how we feel on many occasions in life. The refrain declares:

All we are is broken glass
Thrown to the floor we were never meant to last
And all we are are empty shells
Try to pick us up you’re gonna cut yourself
What really my hearing was the lyrics of the second verse of the song which says:

We fought to rule the world
Not knowing just how fragile we really were
Like it was the first day of the rest of our lives
Than the bricks began to fall
And we can see the cracks along the wall
We didn’t know it couldn’t go on forever

We approach most of life unaware of our mortality. We think that all we lay our hands to will last forever. Then the bricks fall, we see the cracks in the wall, and we discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

I’ve known parents who celebrated the birth of a child. They had great expectations of providing her with opportunities for happiness, hopefulness, and success. Then she was diagnosed with a birth defect that robbed her of her life before her second birthday. The bricks fell. They saw the cracks in the wall. They discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

I’ve know a couple who’ve worked diligently to retire early. They intended to spend their final decades traveling the country in a motor home. After one brief trip, the husband began suffering dementia. He died in just a few three years. The motor home was sold to pay for medical care. The bricks fell, they saw the cracks in the wall, and they discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

I’ve know a man who left his career to start his own business. He had a plan, capital on hand, and potential clients. But the economy faltered and his startup business left him in huge debt. The bricks fell, he saw the cracks in the wall, and discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

It happens in all facets of life:

a job terminates with no hope of another;
a marriage ends and loneliness takes up residence;
grief comes at the death of a spouse;
the promotion promised is given to another;
available finances are below necessary resources.

You’ve had one or more of those moments. You had high hopes and great expectations, but then the bricks fell, you saw the cracks in the wall, and you discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

In an old poem titled “The Widow in the Bye Street,” John Masefield describes a scene of tremendous agony. A young man is about to face public execution. A crowd has gathered in the town square to witness the event. Nearby stand his widowed mother, who is on the verge of being left alone in the world. The trapdoor opens and the rope finishes its work. The mother falls to the ground and begins to sob uncontrollably. Nearby somebody mutters something about “broken things, too broke to mend.”

We understand that kind of anguish. We have experienced those moments when we felt broken beyond repair; “too broke to mend.” We know what it feels like to stand on the precipice of a new day without hope. The future looks bleak and feels empty. The bricks fall, there are cracks in the wall, and we discover that “it can’t go on forever.”

I’ve been with several of you during moments like these. We’ve stood together during times of heartache and anguish:

you were approaching an unemployment line;
or getting ready to take chemotherapy;
or near a loved one on their death bed;
or dealing with emotional burdens of all sorts, brought on by the burdens stresses and sorrows.

You’ve felt those emotions. Maybe you are feeling them right now. You hear the bricks fall, see the cracks in the wall, and be reminded that nothing about our mortal life can “go on forever.”

We know these are the emotions of Good Friday. The disciples had watch from the distance as Jesus was crucified. The disciples had given themselves over to a cause; a relationship, a mission and ministry. But now it is over.
Good Friday did its worst. Jesus took his final breath. His mother fell to the ground, sobbing in sorrow. The hope of the disciples is broken into a thousand pieces. The bricks fall, there are cracks in the wall, and the disciples discover that “it couldn’t go on forever.”

Even after the resurrection, there is the reminder of broken things, “too broke to mend.”

The women are distressed thinking the tomb had been desecrated by grace robbers.

Two disciples are escaping to Emmaus in despair even though they had heard the fantastical tale of the resurrected Christ.

Peter encounters Christ near the lake, distressed at the thought that there would be no place for him with Jesus since he had denied three times even know Jesus.

And then there is Thomas who couldn’t even fathom the notion of resurrection.
Over and over again, even AFTER the resurrection, we see the disciples frozen in fear and suffering confusion. That’s an important message to consider. Even when good news is being proclaimed, people can still be too traumatized by life’s brokenness to move forward. They can feel like “broken things, too broke to mend.”

We should understand that the disciple’s were correct. There are moments when things become too broken to repair. When you dropped a priceless heirloom and it breaks into a thousand little pieces, it cannot be put back together.

We mistakenly believe that Easter means that God fixes what is broken and sets us on our way. But that’s not the truth. Easter is not a continuation of what is. Easter actually affirms the lyrics of that song: “bricks fall, there are cracks in the wall, and we discover that it couldn’t go on forever.” Easter actually teaches that some things are “too broke to mend.”

The message of Easter is not that God repairs our broken spirits. Here this carefully. Broken things are not repaired by God, but rather they are replaced by something new.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the continuation of Easter. Pentecost is Easter’s message becoming actualized in our lives. The celebration of Pentecost is not that the broken is fixed or that the old is restored. Pentecost means that something new is given birth.

We so desperately want to hold on to what we have in the moment. Or we want to move back to the way things use to be. But the Kingdom of God is always moving forward. The Kingdom of God is always about new expressions of God’s grace for new and differing generations.

Today’s scripture lesson is John’s version of Pentecost. Jesus has been raised from the dead. It’s him. But he’s different. He’s is not the same. His body now carries the marks of our human brokenness. He accepted the worst our sin and rebellion could dish out. He took that brokenness to the cross. Humanity dies with Jesus on the cross. Paul makes that abundantly clear in his writings to the early church. Consider what he wrote to the Galatians.

“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. But it is not me; it is Christ living in me. And the life I now live is by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

Jesus was raised as the victorious Christ over all that darkness, despair, despondency, and death. He wasn’t the same as he had been. He was not simply the continuation of the Jesus they had known. Easter is something different. Easter is something new. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “the old has gone, the new has come.”

Jesus enters the room where they are gathered, even though there are no open doors or windows. He enters where they are hiding and he speaks:

“Shalom.” “Peace.”

Then he commissions them to a ministry and mission.

“As Abba sent me, so I send you.”

Then Jesus recreates them. He breathes on them and says:

“Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In that moment, everything changed. They had something to share, something to give, a mission that could be extended. They had new hope.

Now hear this: WE are the beneficiaries of that moment. The bodies of those disciples are now nothing more than dust in the wind. The congregations they founded are nothing more than rubble at an archeological site. But that Spirit which Jesus breathed into them is also in us.

Generations have come and gone. Yet what they were given has been extended through multiple generations. Now we have been entrusted with that mission and ministry. Jesus has breathed on us. The Holy Spirit has given us life. Now it is our calling to pay it forward to new generations of disciples.

Our body will not go on forever. The bricks have fallen, there are cracks in the wall, and we cannot go on forever. But we can still be faithful by leaving a heritage that advances God’s Kingdom.

Here is one of the undeniable truths of reality. We do not go on forever in the human flesh. Our bodies all crumble and fall to the ground. When that happens, out mortality is broken beyond the ability of restoration.

But that is not bad news. You see Jesus is in the business of sending the Spirit to birth something new. Jesus once said:

24Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

A new movement of God in our lives always is precipitated by death. The seed must fall to the ground and die so that the Holy Spirit can give birth to something new, different, and exciting.

Now please understand this. That new thing that is birthed will one day become old and commonplace. We do not gone on forever on this side of eternity. But the Holy Spirit, the resurrected Christ, and our loving Abba, continues to be extended to each new generation. When the new becomes old, Jesus will still be breathing his Spirit. There will always be something new on the horizon.

Tom Garisson writes:

We tend to look at things “horizontally,” as if our strength and wisdom are the only forces at work in history. We are like those women making their way through the dawn, worrying about the grave stone and how they were going to move it. It presented a challenge far beyond their resources. But when they got there — what did they find? It had been rolled away! Why? Because there is also God in the drama of history! Easter speaks directly to this. (In Romans 4:17) Paul sums it up by describing the Holy Spirit as “the one who can make the things that are out of the things that are not…” Translated functionally, this means that there is both a power and a mercy in God beyond anything that we can imagine.

Many things might be broken to you right now. It may truly feel like the bricks have fallen, revealing cracks in the wall. Life might be revealing to you the truth: nothing goes on forever.

But I hope you will also see that there is a God. This God loves us; has redeemed us, and has breathed his Spirit into us. This God does all things new.
Whatever is broken in your life does not have the final say. But that does not mean that what is broken will be put back together. God has an even better possibility. God’s Spirit wants to replace our brokenness with His life.

God’s power was with the disciples. It was power to change the world. And they changed the world. And the generations between then and now have been faithful stewards of the Spirit who makes all things new. Now it is our turn. There is a future. There is a tomorrow. There is a risen Christ, a loving Abba, and an indwelling Spirit.



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