Mark 12: 28-34
Many years ago I bought this orbital sander to go with my collection of hand and power tools.
The beauty was that the sanding disc spun so consistently and fast that it made short work of even the hardest timber.
Ultimately, however, it broke down and refused to start (the points had won down which I didn’t know at the time). These were able to be replaced by a friend some time later. In the meantime however, I decided to get a new orbital sander from Bunnings. I took it home and started it up and this sander went at inconsistent speeds and directions.
I immediately thought it was defective and I took it back and explained my dilemma to the hardware assistant. He explained to me that the variable speeds is a feature that sits behind the name ‘random orbital sander’. I said mine only went the one speed and that was fast. He then said those words that sat with me, ‘your old one must have been broken all along’.
For all those years I had been making holding crosses that had brought to many healing and wholeness – using a broken instrument, which I didn’t realise was defective.
Like the broken instrument, I too am broken – not whole – not perfect – none of us are – yet we can still be an effective instrument in God’s hands, despite our brokenness.
So it is with the men of the Shed who – like all of us – are a motley crew – providing love, community and wholeness through their actions, indeed through their very presence.
In today’s Bible passage (from the Common Lectionary) – thus read all around the world this day – Jesus says, amongst other things, that with love we cannot be separated from ourselves, from others and from God.
The scribe asks Jesus what is the greatest (single) commandment. Interestingly, he answers with three commandments – Love God, Love yourself and love your neighbour.
Now it may be that Jesus had a level of industrial deafness brought on by being a carpenter in his father’s – in Joseph’s – workshop and didn’t hear the scribe’s question properly. Or maybe Jesus was saying that love of God, love of self and love of neighbour cannot be seen as separate or divisible but are indeed all part of each other, born from the spark of God’s love – given to all creation to apply everywhere.
When St. Luke tells the story of loving your neighbour, he adds the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus asked ‘Who is my neighbour?’ We often respond by saying all the people I am living with on this earth, but specially the sick, the hungry, the dying and the needy.
But this isn’t what Jesus says. The neighbour is not the poor, beaten up man who is helped by the Samaritan when others more socially acceptable person crossed the road to avoid him.
The neighbour is the Samaritan who cross the road towards the man to help him.
Jesus is saying, as Henri Nouwen reminds us, that ‘my neighbour is the one who crosses the road for me’.
Our men’s shedders – broken like all of us – still remind us that when we love our neighbours we love God and are loved by God.
Thank you to our kingdom builders who do such amazing things in their brokenness.