Skip to main content

broken aquarium

on sunday we had our annual church conference.  we were able to do it combined with two other clusters in our district, and we had about 200 people there for worship before we split into our smaller groups for the business of church conference.

one of the themes of the worship service was the idea that we all bring our own brokenness to God, and we all live and minister in communities that are obviously broken.  so when people entered the sanctuary on sunday, they were given a broken piece of colored glass and invited to begin to think about the brokenness of their community.  as i pondered the brokenness in sunbury, i couldn't help but think of Jesus in matthew's gospel, in chapter 9 as he saw the people who needed good news.  "when he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke....'what a huge harvest!' he said to his disciples. 'how few the workers! on your knees and pray for harvest hands!'" (matthew 9:35-38, the message).

and so i wondered, do our hearts break when we see the people around us?  do we feel their brokenness as sharply as the broken bits of glass in our hands; as compassionately as a break in our own hearts?

during the message, our district superintendent talked about the need for us as Jesus-followers to start being fishers of people and to stop being keepers of the aquarium.  as i considered Jesus' words in matthew to pray for more harvest hands, i couldn't help but feel a bit of a sting.  are we praying for harvest hands?  are we willing to stand in the gap and be the hands for the harvest?  or are we too busy keeping the aquarium, making sure the glass is clean and shiny, and the little colored pebbles are all in the right place?  ouch.

during the worship service, we celebrated the sacrament of holy communion.  when people came to receive the bread and juice, they were invited to bring their broken bit of glass and put it in a basket, as a symbol of handing over our own brokenness to God, as well as the brokenness of our community.  then, those baskets of broken glass were brought to me, in a sunday school room in the back, where i began frantically gluing them to a broken window i had rescued from the side of a road.  as i was gluing, the rest of the congregation was in the other room, praying specifically for the needs of their communities, offering up the brokenness of their neighborhoods.  as i listened and adhered glass to glass, my mind went back to that image of the aquarium, and i couldn't help but think that this glass not only represented that God takes our brokenness and turns it into something new, but also that sometimes we need to break the walls that are keeping us comfortable, so that we can get out and get into the harvest.

when the prayer was over, i brought the window into the sanctuary where everyone could see what had happened with their broken fragments.  hopefully it was a meaningful reminder to all of us that our brokenness, and the brokenness of our communities, can be a part of something we can scarcely imagine, when we put it into the hands of our Redeemer, who brings beauty even out of ashes.  and i hope, too, it was a powerful symbol of our need to break out of our comfortable aquariums, to feel with Jesus the brokenhearted pain of our neighbors, and to get into the fields where the harvest is ripe for good news and for love.  because of this, i have called the piece, "broken aquarium" as a reminder for us to stop shining our glass walls, and get into the broken places.

 "broken aquarium"
(assemblage of broken glass on old, broken window, glue)
november 8, 2015
gregory a. milinovich


Popular posts from this blog

bad haircuts (for a laugh)

everybody needs to laugh.  one good way i have found to make that happen is to do a simple google image search for 'bad haircut.'  when you do so, some of the following gems show up.  thankfully, my 9th grade school picture does NOT show up.  otherwise, it would certianly make this list!  please laugh freely and without inhibition.  thank you and have a nice day. 

State College to Birmingham

 as some of you know, i have been working towards a goal i set at the beginning of 2020 of running 1000 miles in one calendar year.  today is the last day of september (what?!?), and so that means the year is 3/4 of the way complete, which means i should be right around the 750 mile marker.  however, i am doing better than that, as my 5 mile run today put me at 847 miles for the year, almost 100 miles ahead of schedule!  i am feeling great, enjoying the journey, and experiencing a real sense of accomplishment as i work towards this goal.   i have also enjoyed these little milestones along the way, just to see how far i've come.  as it turns out, 847 miles from State College (along the roads, not as the crow flies) would have me arriving in Birmingham, AL, right about now!  not too shabby!  only about 150 to go!

i will give you a new name

in our church, we are continuing with a series called "letters from Jesus," in which we are looking at the seven letters in the beginning of revelation addressed to seven churches in asia.  we are imagining what it would be like if we were to receive a hand-written letter from Jesus to our church.  what would it say?  how would we be encouraged?  how would we be challenged?  we've looked at three of the letters now.  this week we looked at the letter to the church in pergamum.  the letter to them includes some harsh criticism of some of their behavior, but it also says that Christ understands how difficult their situation is.  and in case they feel like they are stuck in their sinfulness, Jesus says something amazing to them:  i will give you a new name.  the world gives us so many names, doesn't it?  our parents, of course, give us our birth names.  but the naming doesn't stop there.  it continues right on through elementary school, high school, and into t