Communion of the Broken
Jeremiah 18: 6
6 Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
‘The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise’ (Psalm 51: 17).
The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer offers this verse as the Opening Sentence for Morning and Evening Prayer through Lent. Brokenness of this kind does not come easily to any of us. It is the opposite of arrogance or pride and is the necessary condition of God’s refreshing presence with and among us. The communion of saints has always been a communion of the broken.
Jeremiah’s picture of the potter at his wheel is a graphic illustration of what this means. As the malleable clay is worked by the potter into his chosen shape and design, so God wants to shape his people in his own likeness to serve his purposes of love and to reflect his glory. To reject God’s good will is as absurd as a vessel that argues against the potter. Sometimes we are like that. God can only use us when we have been ‘broken’ - made passionate about doing his will rather than our own. Like Jesus.
A great saint of the 19th century, George Müller once said, ‘There was a day when I died. Died to George Müller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure … and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.’
Brokenness means ‘Not I but Christ’ (Galatians 2: 20). The road to glory lies in our willingness to become the servant of all. Like Jesus, who for us was broken on the cross.
Your tears fall on us when in selfish pride we insist on having our way and not yours. Give us the brokenness of spirit which submits joyfully to your will and to which you are always near.
Shape us into vessels that will carry the treasure of the gospel to others, so that broken lives may be healed and a broken world made whole.
Spirit of God, breathe your life into us and fill us with faith, love and hope.