Beauty for Brokenness

Beauty for brokenness,
Hope for despair,
Lord, in the suffering,
This is our prayer.
Bread for the children,
Justice, joy, peace,
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase.

Graham Kendrick wrote this song following a visit to India: ‘Driving through Bombay in the midnight hour I saw an incredible sight: thousands and thousands of people sleeping out on the streets…There were lepers carrying babies, reaching out for rupees with fingerless hands.’

My life was changed seeing the desperation in Kosovo following the civil war thirty years ago, and then seeing poverty and need in cities and rural communities in Brazil. I didn’t fully understand it until I had seen it.

From such poverty I came home to see people buying things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to bring happiness that doesn’t exist.

Shelter for fragile lives,
Cures for their ills,
Work for the craftsman,
Trade for their skills.
Land for the dispossessed,
Rights for the weak,
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can’t speak.

It is comfortable to distance ourselves from the poor and needy. Foodbanks, night shelters and community projects can highlight what we are doing to help them.

Jesus taught in words and actions that we share in a common humanity. There is no them. It can only be us.

He also showed that we are all both broken and beautiful. We share physical, psychological and moral brokenness. And yet Jesus showed and shows that within the most broken there is great beauty.

Aware of my own mixture of beauty and brokenness I pray for compassion for the poor and the weak – to feel their brokenness and see their beauty.

God of the poor,
Friend of the weak,
Give us compassion, we pray.
Melt our cold hearts,
Let tears fall like rain.
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame.

Graham Kendrick ‘God of the Poor’ (Beauty for Brokenness) (1993)

Quotes from ‘The story behind the song’ – Graham Kendrick (2001)

5 thoughts on “Beauty for Brokenness

  1. Hadn’t heard this song or seen the lyrics before. Very well written by Graham Kendrick. I managed to download the lyrics to my mind map on Phil 4:8

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  2. Hi, Malcolm. Just catching up on a backlog of emails.
    I went on a Derby Diocese visit to the Church of North India some decades ago. Like you I didn’t really understand poverty and injustice until I was there. Bihar state was the poorest in India, people begging, living on a railway platform and trying to body wash with dignity. And they gave us everything they had! The Christian community were frequently attacked by neighbours just because they were Christian. Police turned a blind eye. One girl hid in the river for four days and only revealed herself when the army came. Yet they had a great joy in their Christianity. On arriving home I poured myself a glass of water and cried for my riches when I thought of those who are denied clean water. It changed my life and am convinced everyone should see the generosity of the third world to we ‘ rich’ westerners.
    Regards Les

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