By Doug Redford
Many evening news programs begin with an announcement of “breaking news”; typically it’s a story that has just recently occurred or come to light and thus deserves being covered first in the telecast. Ironically, that story often is about people or things that have been “broken.” Individuals have been injured or killed by gunfire or a serious accident, a fire has destroyed a house or business, or a hurricane or tornado has caused extensive damage.
Modern cities seem especially vulnerable to brokenness. Many are beset with a host of problems, including frequent crime, struggling businesses, and a crumbling infrastructure. David’s words in Psalm 55 sound as if he had just watched the nightly news: “I see violence and strife in the city. . . . Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets” (vv. 9, 11).
Sometimes it may seem that the church is “broken,” that it has its own issues with questionable or sometimes illegal conduct that hinders its effectiveness in fulfilling Jesus’ mission. It’s true the church is not and never has been perfect; even in the first century, serious moral problems had to be addressed (as in Corinth, for example). But those matters should not be allowed to impact the church’s “breaking news”: Jesus has come to “break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Communion uses broken bread (1 Corinthians 10:16) and “broken” grapes (the fruit of the vine) in remembering the impact this breaking news has had on our lives. Ironically, we ourselves must become broken, for it is only when we realize and acknowledge our brokenness due to sin that we are genuinely prepared to receive God’s grace and be restored to wholeness. Even David, living nearly a millennium before the time of Jesus, understood this truth when he wrote in his psalm of repentance, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Unlike the breaking news on television that often announces something tragic, our breaking news is still “good news that will cause great joy” (Luke 2:10).
Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Now retired, he continues to write and speak as opportunities come.