Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bits of Broken Glass

One image or metaphor about the transformation that is to occur in the Christian life that has always stayed with me, is C. S. Lewis' image of a lead soldier becoming flesh and bone. How would the lead soldier, if given voice, react to the hard metal becoming soft flesh? Like that mythical soldier, we, too, complain about being changed by God.

Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon at the Coffield maximum security prison. It was a Kairos reunion weekend. When I go, I normally make myself available for Spiritual Counselling and confession (I know I can't grant absolution, but these guys are often in extremis about their sins and need to hear that Jesus Christ forgives them.) Yesterday was no different.

Now, our reunions take place in the Chapel at Coffield. This chapel has a beautiful stained glass window with swirlling colors.

I've often used the image of broken glass and stained glass windows. A stained glass window is a beautiful work of art that is made with broken glass. Just as the artist in the window selects glass based in the artist's needs and not the glasses preference, so God selects us and the ministry He gives us based on His needs, not on our desires.

What if the glass could feel? What if the glass had a say in where it was placed or if it was placed in the window?

Brothers and Sisters, we are the bits of glass in God's stained glass window. God scores us and breaks us to fit where we are in the window. If we rebel, we are often broken more than if we hadn't rebelled. If we put ourselves in the hands of another artist, we may be malformed and need to be broken even more.

As pieces of glass, we have two functions. First we let the light shine through us. We are not the source of the light, but we do color the light by the shading given to us by God. Second, we fit into a pattern. We can't see the pattern from where we are, so we have to trust God - we have to faith - that God will place us where He wants and needs us.

While I can't see the pattern myself, I have the witness of others who have seen parts of the pattern. I faith that the Artist knows His mind and is creating something of utmost beauty.

Are you willing to be scored and broken? Are you willing to be heated and melted? Are you willing to let God prepare you for your place in the Great Stained Glass Window that is His Kingdom?

Pray that we will all have the grace to be scored, broken, melted, colored, and fitted into our place in God's designs.

Phil Snyder


Anonymous said...

The broken glass is a really great metaphor. Once again, that really "Preaches". Your metaphor describes very well, the process of transformation. His strength is mad manifest in our brokenness.God has given you rare gift of a heart for those in prisons.
YBIC Dcn Dale

Anonymous said...

Dear Deacon Phil:

I am Head Clergy for the Kairos Team at Valley State Prison for Women, and I have heard a few confessions myself on Kairos weekends. As a Deacon like you I cannot grant absolution, but I can give people a confirmation that Jesus Christ will forgive their sins as he forgives mine.

I also go to reunions every month, and we just did a two-day reunion with women from the seven Kairos weekends we have held at VSPW.

I love your image of broken glass and how God' transforms and uses us. I plan to use your metaphor, although I promise to give you credit.

I will pray for you and your prison ministry, and I trust that you will pray for me and mine.

Grace and Peace!

Deacon Francie
Diocese of San Joaquin
Southern Cone

plsdeacon said...

Deacon Francine,

I will pray for the Kairos ministry at VSPW.

Listen, Listen, Love, Love.

Phil Snyder