Read: Isaiah 58:12 and 61:4
In the verses you read for today, the prophet Isaiah makes some claims about people who rebuild things that are broken. They are “repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.” They are people who repair, restore, rebuild, and renew.
What do you think when you hear the word repair? Perhaps you think of an appliance repair person, sent to fix something that can still be useful, rather than thrown out. What other words are similar to repair? Improve, upgrade, modify. All words that suggest making things better.
We Christians are called to be “repairers of the world.” We are the ones who are to fix what is broken. In the Jewish tradition, this is called tikkun olam. Tikkun olam means to fix the world. Tikkun is often translated as repair. But in the Hebrew Bible, and in the early code of Jewish law called the Mishnah, it has a range of meanings: improve, fix, prepare, set up, or just “do something with…”1 Tikkun could be used to describe straightening a crooked rod, maintaining a roadway, cutting fingernails, setting a table, or devising a parable to explain a difficult idea.2
Olam in biblical Hebrew connotes all of time. In later Hebrew, it came to mean the world. So tikkun olam literally means to do something with the world that will not only fix any damage, but also improve upon it, preparing it to enter the ultimate state for which it was created (Chabad.org). You can read more about this concept at this link: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3700275/jewish/What-Is-Tikkun-Olam.htm
We followers of Jesus are the repair people of the world. We work to return the world to a state of flourishing. It’s a high calling, sure, but it is the work to which we are called.
Reflect: How is God speaking to you about being one of his “repair people”?
Pray: God, help me to practice tikkun olam. Help me to be a person who is making things better, rather than worse. Give me eyes to see what needs to be repaired around me.
Read: Isaiah 58:12 and 61:4
Yesterday, when we read these passages we focused on the words about repairing. But what needs to be repaired? Today, reread these two passages and focus on what is broken. Buildings, foundations, walls, dwellings. Notice the specific words used to describe these broken things–words like ruins, devastated, broken.
Have you ever had to repair something? Why do things need to be repaired? They fall into disrepair. They stop working. They break down. Parts need to be replaced. Things need to be upgraded. When our household appliances stop working, we hope that a cheap and easy fix will repair them.
But sometimes, things are beyond repair. Sometimes, those appliances need to be replaced. Some things are beyond repair. Or, things are so outdated they aren’t worth the repair. In the age of the smartphone, no one would spend money to update a rotary phone!
COVID-19 has broken many things in our world, and it has also pointed out many things in our culture that were already at the breaking point. Some things are in need of repair. Some things can be fixed with new parts or upgrades. But some things might need to be replaced.
Our times of disruption and seasons of disrepair offer an opportunity to step in and become God’s repair people.
Reflect: What around you is broken? What in our culture needs to be repaired?
Pray: God, help me to be wise about the things around me that need to be repaired. If something is beyond repair, help me to come up with a new and better solution. Give me creativity as I do your repair work. Amen.
Read: Isaiah 61:1-11; Luke 4:14-28
Notice in these two passages how familiar Jesus is with scriptures from Isaiah. He knew just where to look in the scroll! Jesus used Isaiah 61 for his very messianic mission. Jesus was sent to “repair” all the damage sin has done to the world … and to people.
Sin damages. It destroys. It breaks. But Jesus is in the business of repairing the world. He makes all things new. He takes those broken people and systems and organizations and makes them new. It truly is good news.
There is a question in one of the Lord of the Rings books where the character Sam Gamgee asks Gandalf, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” For Christians, the answer is yes. In Jesus, everything sad is going to come untrue. He truly is the repairer of the world.
Reflect: What has sin done to the people around you? What damage has sin done to you? How are they experiencing the “repair” healing/saving work of Jesus about what is broken in their lives?
Pray: Jesus, I invite you to do repairing work in my heart, my life, my relationships, and all of the systems and organizations I am a part of. Repair the world, God, and start in me. Amen.
Read: Nehemiah 3
In Nehemiah 3, the people are returning from exile and working to repair what has been broken. It’s a collaborative effort. Jerusalem is really broken. Nehemiah and a small team of leaders can’t repair it. The entire people are needed.
Similarly, we can’t expect to fix everything that is broken on our own. We can’t fix the problems on our street on our own, and we certainly can’t fix the problems in our community on our own!
Living Word is a place where hundreds of ministry partners are working together with the leadership team to repair a broken world. And now, that team is more important than ever with all the breaking that COVID-19 has done.
Nehemiah shows us that it takes a collaborative effort by lots of different people with lots of different skills to do God’s work of repairing the world. On our own, the task is too overwhelming. But together, we can make a difference. Together, we are the body of Christ. Together, we represent God in the world.
Reflect: God, where can I serve as part of your “repair team”? Where can I help?
Pray: God, help me to find my place on your team. Help me to join together with my brothers and sisters to do your repairing work in the world. Amen.
Read: Psalm 68:6
The family is one of the seriously broken “systems” in our culture. The family is foundational. You know many of the statistics: the divorce rate is high, people are less inclined to commit themselves to marriage. Many children are growing up in situations that are less than ideal.
Did you notice in yesterday’s passage from Nehemiah 3 how many of the workers were doing repair work near their own homes? Similarly, our own work of repairing the world should first start at home.
Our current season has put extra stress on families. Many parents are being stretched financially, unable to find childcare and navigating changing school schedules. Additionally, we are worried about our elderly relatives and grieving without being able to comfort one another in the ways we normally do.
“The COVID-19 pandemic places heavy responsibilities on all of us. Families have a unique and crucial role. The place where we begin and are first formed, families are also a residual home base when other institutions close and a guardian of the sanctity of life. Families watch out for elders and those with special needs; ask difficult questions of nursing homes or care facilities; and gather and remember when it is time grieve.” (Rachel Anderson in Christianity Today)
Living Word is all about repairing families and marriages. We want to equip you to do the hard repair work that starts first in your home.
Reflect: How have you experienced the repairing work of Jesus in your home? What work needs to be done?
Pray: God, when it comes to repairing the world, I need to start at home. Who in my family needs your healing touch? Where can I start the repair work with the people closest to me? Amen.
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