One of my favorite stories on facing and surmounting disappointment is one I heard many years ago. In a small town in Italy, after World War II, townspeople gathered in a village piazza around their beloved statue of Christ, which had stood there for hundreds of years. Bombs from the recent war had devasted the villagers’ lives. The blasts had decapitated their statue of Christ and blown off the arms. On this day they gathered around their Christ figure, which had once stood with arms outstretched – a gesture of love and protection over the village. Now the statue was headless and armless, a visual reminder of their own devastation and brokenness.

            The villagers gathered to find ways to reconstruct their beloved Christ figure. Eventually a wise villager said, “It is right to replace the head of Christ on our statue. But instead of also replacing the arms and hands, perhaps the statue of Christ in our piazza should stand as a daily reminder that each one of us are the hands of Christ in our world today.”

            The villagers were deeply touched. And to this day the residents of this small town are reminded daily that they themselves are the hands of Christ in our broken world.

            Sometimes disappointment overwhelms us and seems all consuming, leaving us with little energy to move forward. But what would happen if, when there appears to be little hope, we can somehow begin to see ourselves as the hand of Christ in a new way, even amid life’s disappointments and brokenness? How might we, like the villagers, build something beautiful out of the pain and destruction around us?

            As we live into the new reality of COVID with the Omicron variant with the consequences of loss and grief to come, let us consider the story of the Christ statue. Together we began to reflect on new ways to be the hands of Christ. How might God be at work even now to redeem our disappointment, turning it into an opportunity for being the hands of Christ in our world?

But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

                                                                                                Isaiah 43: 1-3

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Jay Eckman