September 22, 2020

Community of Bruised Reeds

Matthew 12:15-21

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. . . .”

—  Matthew 12:20

A church pastor shared what he had learned about the community he preached to every Sunday. He had learned that appearances can be deceiving.

The smiling woman in the sixth row was terrified that the medical tests she had last week would show that she had cancer. The father and son sitting expressionless behind her had argued on the way to church, and both were still fuming. The elderly widower toward the back worried that he would not have money for food that week. A woman singing heartily in the third row was no longer sure she believed the words she was singing.

When I was younger, I thought the world had two kinds of people: normal ones and hurting ones—bruised reeds. Later a counselor taught me that there are no normal people.

Churches are communities of bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. Often there are folks in churches who pretend to “have it all together,” but no one’s life is free of trouble and struggle.

Yet Jesus, the Servant, gives us hope! “In this world you will have trouble,” he says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Some of my favorite times in church have been celebrations of communion, when I have seen in people’s eyes a longing for the day when Jesus will return and “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. . . .” (Revelation 21:4). Lord, come quickly!

Lord, we are bruised reeds, smoldering wicks. Thank you for tending us with your care and grace. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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