“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
He’s still in my mind’s eye. Humpty Dumpty. Right there in my children’s storybook, plain as day. The poor egg has had a great fall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put the egg man together again. It seems that to my child’s mind the moral of Humpty was obvious: things do get broken, and you can’t put them together again.
Through the years the story of Humpty Dumpty has captured the imagination of children and adults alike. He has become an image of the human condition. Humpty Dumpty finds resonance in our lives, telling us that we are broken. His story has even been used to illustrate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, namely, the whole universe is running down and hurtling towards disorder. Cars rust. Lights burn out. And human lives are broken. Adam and Eve started the fall, the falling of humanity into brokenness.
When today’s scripture says that God “was pleased to reconcile to himself all things”, it means that all things were in a state of estrangement and hostility. Paul says as much in verses immediately following: “And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death…” Colossians 1:21-22a). God’s work of reconciliation stands over against its opposite: human alienation and enmity. We are broken!
But even such estrangement and hostility towards God could not confound God, nor deter His purposes for us. God took the initiative to reconcile all things to Himself, on earth and in heaven, “by making peace through the blood of the cross.” Such is the unfathomable love of the Father for us. “To put it in the simplest way, what unites God and us men is that He does not will to be God without us.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV, 1)
S. Lewis, in his book Miracles, describes the Incarnation in an imaginative way. He depicts Jesus as a deep-sea diver on a salvage project:
“In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity… But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world with Him.”
I remember that picture and meaning of Humpty Dumpty in my children’s storybook. I was a child, but I knew all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. I knew that. But I did believe the king could put Humpty together again! In the Christmas story, King Jesus puts His whole creation together again!
- Where do you see brokenness in the world? In our churches? In our families? In our relationships? In our physical world?
- How does God go about taking on and dealing with the brokenness?