4th Sunday after The Epiphany

Not happy. That’s how I was leaving the Apple store in Cambridge. I had gone in as a ‘last resort’ sort of thing to enquire about or have them take out a broken ear plug from my iPod. The store was busy – lots of customers – lots of people wanting to help – they were polite for sure – but simply not interested. ‘It can’t be done’, I was told. ‘Every time we try and get a tip of a jack out we wreck the item.’

I had been to a jeweller in Portugal with no luck. I had been to a shoe repair type place in Cambridge and they actually gave me a pair of tweezers and wished me all the best! After about 15 minutes trying in the store I thanked them for the tweezers and left (a home project). So it seemed that I could tackle – and wreck – this myself. Ok, self reliance and all that – not a bad thing. What I wasn’t happy about – like a grumpy bear with a sore head – as I made my way home – was why things are built not able to be repaired. I suppose I wasn’t really being fair. You don’t tend to be when you’re a grump. If I’d gone to the shop having accidently walked on it – even if it wasn’t an accident! – and handed many broken parts to the shop assistant and said ‘fix it’, I think everyone would regard my request as unreasonable. Some things break beyond repair. ‘But this was a little thing … the iPod still works, I just can’t hear it’ (and no, I don’t have a docking port). Little things we expect to be fixable.

I broke a tooth in Portugal. I was able to get it fixed this week. Little things. We can replace knees, hips, hearts, and a lot more. Bigger things. But should I get stomped on – metaphorically or in reality! – then there comes a time when we wouldn’t expect me to get better. Our bodies do repair themselves – it is a wonderful thing that they do (thank you, God). Yet it occurs to me that actually God didn’t build us to be repaired – renewed maybe – but not repaired. When sin entered our world – when we sinned! – we brought death in all its anti-life and against-God context into being. That’s why Paul in Ephesians calls living breathing people ‘dead’ – dead in sin (Eph 2:1). Consequently because we’re alive and our bodies repair and we can mend broken ‘stuff’ – little things – I think deep down we regard sin overall as a little thing. (We’re not that bad, not as bad as …) And yet when we sin the end result is death and there’s no repair for that. No, that’s too big. A repair just won’t do – won’t really or finally work. But a rescue is a different matter!

I had nothing to lose with my iPod so I searched for solutions on the net and found a YouTube clip on how to remove a broken jack from an iPod. ‘Armed’ with superglue and part of the insides of a pen and a toothpick I went to work. Charlotte wasn’t confident of my success and regarded me as one does someone in denial (‘it’s gone, George’) but was suitably impressed (as was I) when the solution worked first go! So I write this … happy!

We have already lost. God had everything to lose (and I’m not even sure what that means) except that in Jesus’ entry into the world there was a real chance of failure – temptation leading to sin winning out or something else ‘breaking’ (Jesus ‘giving up’ perhaps and ‘going home’?). But the rescue happened and the message of the cross and empty tomb can’t be silenced. There is new life – a new birth – new beginnings with forgiveness. This isn’t a bandaid job. This is life – to be lived to the full with Jesus, now struggling with sin, and dying in defiance of death. Happy. GS