Last year, I had the opportunity to review and then co-teach a class based on A Resurrection Shaped Life by Jake Owensby. As you can read in the linked review, I highly recommend this book, from cover to cover. The way in which the author takes you from death to resurrection is powerful. Anyway, in that book, Owensby uses an image from Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway. Lamont compares the grace of God with the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Kintsugi artists mend broken pottery with a lacquer of gold. This technique, which you can see in the bottom image of the collage below, is meant to draw the eye to the imperfections and to see the beauty that can result out of the broken places.
I was reminded of Kintsugi this morning as I read the collect for Epiphany 2. In it, we pray that God might illumine us through Word and Sacrament so that we may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory. As I read that prayer today, my initial reaction was to think of shining Christ’s light like a mirror. In my perfected state, I am able to reflect perfectly the love of God into the world. Quickly, however, another Japanese art from came to mind. Dorodango uses earth and water to create a shining sphere. The Mythbusters once used the technique to polish a turd, and concept with which Martin Luther would have had a lot of fun.
I think our prayer for Sunday is probably less about asking God to make us perfect mirrors, but maybe more like a Jack O Lantern. The light of Christ can only shine through the places where we are cracked open, vulnerable, and willing to let our messiness be visible for the sake of the Gospel. This assumes that the light we have resides within us, which isn’t a bad assumption, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a little bit of both pumpkin carving and Kintsugi in our prayer.
Shining with the radiance of Christ’s glory, we are called to both reflect the grace of God by way of the glorious scarred wounds of our brokenness, even as we have to be willing to let the light of Christ shine through the cracks in our facade. These cracks, sometimes self-inflicted by sin, sometimes brought upon us when the brokenness of the world breaks our hearts, are, as Owensby suggests so wonderfully, gifts for they make us more able to accept and extend grace to the people around us who are also cracked, scarred, and vulnerable. Rather than trying to attain mirror status, my prayer this week is for the Holy Spirit to do some Kintsugi on my heart so that I can shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory. I pray the same for you as well.