Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bethany Bullet - March 1, 2011

In the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, the viewer travels with Dorothy and her dog Toto on a quest back home. After being displaced from Kansas by a storm, she arrives in the Land of Oz. During her journey along the yellow brick road she is accompanied by characters that are all searching for something, a brain, a heart, courage, and a way home.

The journey is dangerous and filled with obstacles as well as a villain who wants nothing more than to see the destruction of Dorothy and her companions. There are many similarities between the journey of the characters in The Wizard of Oz and our own journey in this world.

This past Sunday, we focused on our parish theme, “A Heart like His.” I can’t help but relate to the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz; a faithful woodcutter, who got stuck in a rainstorm, and finds himself frozen with rust, unable to work, or interact with the world. As Dorothy loosens up his joints with oil she says to him, “Well, you’re perfect now!” To which the Tin Man responds, “Perfect? Bang on my chest if you think I am perfect.” After a couple of empty thuds he continues, “The tin smith forgot to give me a heart.” After which he begins his lament in song:
(*click to view Youtube clip of song; if unable to open copy/paste this to browser, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF0zKH7ksPk)

When a man's an empty kettle
He should be on his mettle
And yet I'm torn apart
Just because I'm presumin'
That I could be kinda human
If I only had a heart

In reality our hearts are in no better shape than the Tin Man’s, not because they are absent, but because they are broken. Outwardly we may appear perfect, but we have been caught in the storm of sin and we have become frozen with fear, doubt, self-centeredness, and a whole host of other maladies that make us unable to work or interact positively with the world and complete the tasks set before us. Our hearts have been broken and sin affects everything we do.

The past few weeks in our previous sermon series we have talked about the many ways in which we see the brokenness of our world. In an attempt to live up to the Golden Rule, we fail miserably and all too often engage in those behaviors condemned by Jesus. We are filled with anger and lust, we are not honest, we put up false fronts, and we judge the actions of others. Clearly we live in a broken world.

A few weeks ago, Pastor Kritzer detailed the loathsome acts of one of the greats of Scripture. King David, who gave in to the temptations of sin, stands before us as an example of brokenness. Standing in the shambles of his life, he was inspired to pen some of the most well known words that we find in the 51st Psalm, and was our text from Sunday:
“Have mercy on me O, God, according to your unfailing love…
Create in me a clean heart O,
God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”

This is a lament that has been put to song for generations, words that remind us of our brokenness before God, an acknowledgement of our corrupt hearts.

David continues, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

  • What has frozen you solid, rusting in the rain shower of sin?
  • What laments are you singing as you look back at your actions and inactions?
  • Are you finding it hard to find home?
  • Are you seeking wisdom?
  • Do you need courage?
  • Where are the struggles that break your heart?
  • Is it in the words said in anger or haste?
  • Is it found as you look to balance the bank statement and the bills?
  • Does your heart break because the loved one, who used to sit next to you, now sits with Jesus?
  • Are you struggling with doubt or depression, loneliness or laziness, panic or pride?
  • Do you put up a false front, hoping no one will see your failures?

Like David, we find ourselves standing amongst the shards of a shattered life. We live in a world where things are broken, marriages crumble, relationships are torn apart, businesses fail, retirement savings have been eroded away, health falters, nations topple, hearts are broken, and emotions are raw.

And in the midst of all of this, the heart of God breaks for His creation. His love can’t bear to see what we have become.

Luke records these words of Jesus, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

When faced with the death of a good friend, John tells us, “Jesus wept.” (John11:35)

From the cross Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” (Matthew 27:46)

Quoting from the 22nd Psalm in which we find these words, “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” (Psalm 22:14b)

We have a God whose heart has been broken by our sin and sent His Son to break into our world. We have a Savior whose body was broken on the cross to bring us wholeness, whose spirit was broken on our behalf, and who broke through the barrier of death to bring us life.

In the brokenness of Christ, we see the wholeness of life. It is only because Jesus was broken for us that we can be restored.

Towards the end of The Wizard of Oz, as the main characters receive gifts from the Wizard
(*click to view Youtube clip, Wizard of Oz-Brains, Courage, & Heart; if unable to open copy/paste this link to your browser, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky7DMCHQJZY), he tells the Tin Man, “As for you my dear friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made un-breakable.”

Hearts may not be practical, but the heart of Jesus broke through the sin in this world, He sets our feet on the road leading to the golden streets of heaven. He gives to us what we need, wisdom found in the scriptures, courage to face the attacks of the evil one, a heart that is like his, and a way back home.

As the Tin Man is presented with a token of esteem and affection the wizard tells him, “The heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

The same might be said about us. It is the love of Jesus that mends our broken hearts; that restores the joy of the salvation that is ours in Christ. We are assured that God will not despise us as we come to Him with our brokenness and simple sacrifices for we have been loved by a Savior whose heart bled on the cross, who exchanged our brokenness for His, who has created in you a clean heart, who has renewed His Spirit within you, who gives you wisdom and courage, and a heart like His, who does not cast you from His presence but brings you home to heaven, and there is no place like home.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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