January 27, 2021

Rev. Beverly Markham
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit."
Psalm 51:12
Our family’s Star Word arrived in the mail and when I looked at the word, I admit I was not enthusiastic. What kind of word is “restoring” anyway? Who gets a gerund as their Star Word for the year? I love to think and dream about God’s creativity and new gifts each day that move us forward in our lives and in our faith… restoring sounds to me like backward movement. (Disclaimer: this is not a commentary on anyone’s work at APC. Delivering Star Words is a program that I initiate every year).

Receiving guidance that we do not think we need is the whole point of Star Words. We trust that this very human tradition of handing out paper stars with words printed on them is shot through with the Holy Spirit so that somehow in the mystery of all that God provides for us, we find direction, challenge, guidance, growth, and grace for living in that little (irritating?) Star Word. That is a heavy challenge for one little cut-out piece of paper with a word printed on it.

So, we begin with a definition. Restoring is the gerund or present participle of “restore.” It means to bring back (a previous right, practice, custom, or situation), reinstate; OR return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position; OR repair or renovate (a building, work of art, vehicle, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition. These days we hear a lot about restoring our democracy, restoring our trust in the health care system or the political system, or the media. This word gets a lot of use in January 2021 and it feels like restoration cannot happen without acknowledging where we’ve been and the pain we’ve been through. We do not simply leave behind our history when we are restoring.

The Psalmist prays for God to restore to him the joy of God’s salvation and to uphold him with a willing spirit. The restoration is not simply wiping away whatever has removed his joy. Restoring this person’s joy will require some support moving forward and some acknowledgment that the restored joy has deep wounds.

Kintsugi is one process of restoration that both brings objects back to their previous condition and also celebrates the object's unique history. “Poetically translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi, or Kintsukuroi, is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than rejoin ceramic pieces with a camouflaged adhesive, the Kintsugi technique employs a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece (mymodernmet.com). As we seek restoration in God, we hope that our conspicuous cracks showing our joys and our losses, our faith, and our doubts become beautiful seams in our appearances.
Restoring God, hear our cries of lament and our desires for being made new again through your love. Care for the places where we are broken and restore us to wholeness again. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com