Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair…
I found myself humming this classic 90’s Graham Kendrick chorus, as I went about my first Kintsugi project, repairing a favourite pottery bowl that got broken during a teenage game of ‘blind-man’s buff’ in our kitchen.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art form that repairs broken ceramics with gold lacquer. It embodies the philosophy that embracing imperfections and scars, can result in something more beautiful and valuable, a bit like the notion that spiritual growth comes through challenge.
Having bought a kit off the internet, I prepared by reading and re-reading the instructions, together with watching tutorials on YouTube. The perfectionist in me was so over-prepared, I nearly didn’t start the project, as I was anxious I’d make a mistake.
It was a slow process as I started to stick the bowl back together, having to wait for the golden glue to dry enough before I could add the next piece. My emotions revolved around fear of making a mistake, to impatience at the wait and then frustration that the final piece of the jigsaw didn’t quite fit properly, as the glue in the broken seams had expanded the bowl slightly. I was struggling with the imperfection of not having a perfectly round bowl!
At that moment, my teenage daughter entered the room and exclaimed, ‘Wow – the bowl looks so beautiful, even better than before!’ In my frustration of undertaking the task, I had totally missed the beauty of the re-creation.
I wonder whether in our messy lives, and in the lives of our Messy Churches, we miss the beauty of the moment, as we strive for perfection in our tasks?
The incredible thing about our faith journey is that God sees us at our worst and yet, Jesus chose to take all our brokenness and suffering on himself, once and for all times, when he died on the cross. Through his resurrection, what once was broken, is put back together and made more beautiful. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes that when he pleaded with God to heal him from a ‘thorn in my flesh’, God declares, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Let’s be encouraged that God’s restorative work in and through us, will make a difference in the lives of those around us.
I wonder if at the start of 2024, rather than make a whole host of New Year resolutions to perfect our lives, we should embrace our imperfections and prayerfully let God do ‘Kintsugi’ work in us? Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to ‘change our love from a spark to a flame’ (Kendrick, 1993).
BRF ministries Messy Church Ministry Lead