I saw a t-shirt the other day that said, “Hope Dealer” on the front of it. In some respects, that is what I am. I deal in matters of perpetual and eternal hope. So it seems only natural for me to share an experience and image of hope that continues to inspire me, hoping it will bring you hope these days.
Right around the corner from our church in Preston Hollow is Temple Emanu-El. Several years ago, Rabbi David Stern invited me over for a cup of coffee and to tour the newly constructed Stern Chapel. I’ll never forget walking into Stern Chapel for the first time. Simply put, it took my breath away. The architectural design expressed a deep understanding of the nature of God. I was taken aback by the windows that oriented the community to God’s creation, while also revealing this chapel wasn’t separate from the world, but open to the world.
As we made our way into the chapel, Rabbi Stern drew my attention to the Arch at the center of the chancel. The Arch holds the Torah Scrolls, but this Arch was unlike any Arch I have ever seen. Lights illumined a rainbow tapestry, reminding the community of God’s new covenant. Rabbi Stern invited me closer to the Arch because this tapestry was anything but ordinary.
Rabbi Stern then told me, “The artist who made this tapestry lives in New York City. Every morning she would walk to the Hudson River and collect dirty, deflated mylar balloons that had washed up on the shore. She then took those balloons home, washed them in the sink, dried them off, and began putting them in strips. She took those strips to the loom in her basement, and for weeks she wove those strips together.”
I said, “It’s the most remarkable piece I’ve ever seen in a worship space. It’s certainly the most powerful.” Rabbi Stern asked, “Why is that?” I said, “It’s the fullest expression of faith I know! A God who takes what the world sees as broken, discarded, and disposable — and God sees the possibility for newness and life. God takes what the world no longer values, and knits it into something beautiful.”
Of course, it’s not just true about washed-up balloons on the shores of the Hudson River. It’s true for you and me. And if it’s true for us, then it has to be true for all of us. I can think of no greater message for our world today. No part of your life is too broken for God. No person on this planet is disposable to God; therefore, no life can be discarded. It is not God’s nature, for God sees immense value, beauty, and worth in what we see as worthless.
Take hope, my friends. Our identity is found in God who dwells with us. God takes what the world considers to be disposable and weaves all parts together into the beautiful tapestry of God’s people.
With great hope,
Rev. Matthew Ruffner is the Senior Pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. He is a husband to Sarah Ruffner and a father of two. You can follow Matthew on Instagram at @thisismatthewruffner and visit PHPC.org<http://PHPC.org> to watch the church’s live stream and listen to sermons.
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