For our first theme, we're walking through the anointments of Isaiah 61--the passage Jesus read in the Nazareth synagogue at the beginning of his earthly ministry (Luke 4:16-20). After finishing his reading, Jesus rolls up the scroll and says to the crowd, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." If this scripture has been fulfilled, how does a fulfilled version of Isaiah 61 impact our lives today?
...He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...
What breaks your heart? or What has broken your heart?
Few of us if any would truly be able to say we've never had a broken heart.
Maybe we've never been the protagonist of a Greek tragedy, but even "small" things break our heart from time to time--disappointment, gossip, white lies and black lies and gray lies and sometimes the truth.
The heart breaks in many ways and because of many things.
With my niece and nephew staying with us last week, I watched a lot of Winnie the Pooh. Benjamin loves the classic 1980s version of the cartoon and often pulls out my parents old VHS tapes despite the track lines bleeding across the animations.
I don't mind watching them over and over because I love Winnie the Pooh too. I love traveling to the Hundred Acre Wood and waiting for Christopher Robin while the silly old bear and his friends get themselves into all sorts of trouble.
What I love most about these old cartoons and the original A.A. Milne books--and what I think keeps drawing children back to these classics--is that every tale is just ever so slightly sorrowful. If you really follow the plot line, if you really listen to the dialog between Pooh and his friends, you'll find a gentle sadness permeating throughout.
Of course we all know Eeyore for his gloomy outlook. Poor Eeyore, so often overlooked by his friends. So often dumped on by Rabbit. So often unable to do many of the activities his biped friends can do.
And then we know Piglet for his perpetual fear of everything.
And Rabbit for his anxiety and worrisome nature.
Tigger and his bouncy-trouncy self is a bundle of laughs, but take away his bounce or have him discover there is something he can't do and Tigger too falls into the doldrums.
What of the lovable Pooh?
So often, to me anyway, Pooh Bear is the most sorrowful of them all as he daily fears one day waking up and finding Christopher Robin gone and the magic of the Hundred Acre Wood all part of a dimly lit past.
Children connect to these sorrowful heroes because of their fear, because of their anxiety, because of their poor self-esteem, because of their sadness. Because even when we're children, even in a two-parent home with no abuse and little fighting, even in the most charmed childhood existence--we all experience sadness. We all fear the monster under the bed. We all get disappointed when we fail. We all have hearts that break from time to time.
Throughout my career, I've had the privilege and the heartache to work with and know children whose broken hearts need much more than a hug and a kiss to heal.
Abused and neglected children. Children living below the poverty line and in extreme poverty. Children of drug addicts. Children of military families. Hungry and starving children. Abandoned and orphaned children. Children finding out their HIV status for the first time. Children dying of TB. Children forced into running away. Children raising other children. Children alone. Children whose hearts seem broken beyond repair.
But so often I've marveled at the resiliency of children. Children overcome their broken hearts so much better than adults. Given love and a safe and stable environment, children can and do heal.
I love the image of binding up the brokenhearted. It invokes a picture of a broken arm in a sling or a broken leg in a cast. The injury is bound up so it can set and mend. I love the image of our broken hearts being bound up in a cast--held so closely and so tightly until they can set and mend fully.
I love the image because I've seen firsthand the hearts of children bound up and held close in love and safety and security.
I've seen and known personally the effects of binding up a heart and know how it can change a life.
I love how Jesus can come into our lives and bind up our broken hearts. I love how he comes into our lives and uses our bound up and healing hearts to help bind up the hearts of others. I love how our bound up hearts can empathize with the broken and bound up hearts of others. I love that the idea of binding up signifies a process of healing rather than an instantaneous healing. I love that a binding up kind of healing takes time and allows us to learn through the binding up and the healing.
I love an anointing on Jesus to bind up the brokenhearted. I love how that anointing overflows from Christ onto us. I love how in Christ, we can trust for the binding up of our own broken hearts and for the binding up of the hearts of others.
I love it. I'm thankful for it. And I'm awed by it.
How has Jesus bound up your broken heart? How is he using you to help bind up the hearts of others?
This is the second post in a series on the anointings of Isaiah 61. You can read the first post on "proclaiming good news to the poor" here.