In my sermon I mentioned a unique artistic practice from Japan dealing with broken pottery. The practice is called kintsugi and literally translates to golden joinery in English. Here are some beautiful examples of this technique of repairing broken pieces with gold.
The philosophy behind this is that instead of concealing flaws, working within cracks and gaps can actually make a pot or dish more beautiful in the end result.
This practice reminded me of unique issue in faith. There’s a popular phrase that is nowhere to be found in scripture that Christians sometimes repeat (yes, sometimes Christians struggle with making up bible verses or misinterpreting ideas!). Perhaps you’ve heard of the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.”
Too often we think we need to have our life all together for us to be useful for God’s kingdom. Maybe we even struggle with the false belief that God won’t love us if we aren’t perfect as a result of our own effort. We treat God like a disappointed parent, that God is wishing we would just get our act together.
The truth is that God uses the idea of kintsugi on us. We are like a broken plate or bowl, shattered into several pieces. But instead of throwing us away and trying again to make something better, God picks up the mess in our life and can still use it for the redeeming work of Christ.
The Christmas story highlights this perfectly. Jesus was born in tough circumstances. He had parents who struggled with various shortcomings. He was born into a broken society, oppressed by the evils of colonialism and callousness. Yet God used all these circumstances to give us the gift of Jesus Christ.