Fragmented Stories Restored


Dr. Sahalanirina Harison Rasamimanana examines a patient during the Mercy Medical Team clinic on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at a Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy (FLM) Lutheran church in Antsoantany, Madagascar. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

by David Rufner

Not long ago we experienced a day of personal and national drama. Nationally, it was the second of the ‘Super Tuesdays.’ Personally, I was out of state, sitting vigil with my mother as my father was in surgery.

Fifteen years on, my father’s cancer is back. He is again mounting a hopeful campaign against it. And four years on, as a nation, we are again frothing at our political mouths – waging campaign after vigorous counter-campaign.

While I knew that these were the two major events that were going to command my day, I didn’t know how much a conversation with the anesthesiologist would also inhabit my day.

After explaining the care he was about to give we struck up a fun conversation about the unique nature of his job. “Doc, I’ll bet you see some strange things…”

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I had a guy just the other day who kept telling me the same joke over and over again but he never got to the punchline! And that’s pretty common. I meet nice folks, strike up a conversation like this with them, they begin to tell me their story, and then they pass out. I rarely get to hear the end of their stories.”

There’s an occupational hazard for you – a run-on of fragmented stories!

In the coming hours I kept thinking on what he said. But why? I came to these conclusions:

  • At a national level we desire wise politicians who will pull through on promises, solve problems, show grace and gravitas, show strength and resolve, and who will write and complete a great chapter in the American story. But what do we get time and time again? We get a run-on of fragmented efforts.
  • At a much more local and human level, we desire health, wealth, the pursuit of happiness and happy endings  – for ourselves and all whom we love. But what do we get time and time again? We get a run-on of fragmented lives.

Or at least that’s what life looks like outside the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Inside the accomplished – for you –  Gospel of Jesus the view is entirely different. Inside this Gospel life we have a Savior who at His incarnation into the flesh wore fragmented cloths in the manger. Then He bore our fragmented and ungodly lives on the cross[1]. Then He walked, and still does, with disciples whose hope was fragmented by His death[2], but whose fallen eyes were raised up, and whose fragmented lives were knit together as new creations[3] when He opened His eternal Word to them. And still He faithfully does the same with us.

Martin Luther writes: “Therefore we believe in him who daily brings us into this community through the Word, and imparts, increases, and strengthens faith through the same Word and the forgiveness of sins. Then when his work has been finished and we abide in it, having died to the world and all misfortune, he will finally make us perfectly and eternally holy. Now we wait in faith for this to be accomplished through the Word”[4].

Having made complete payment for sin upon the cross, Jesus unites us to His resurrection by Baptism and to the fullness of the life to come. In a world filled with a run-on of fragmented lives in nation after nation constituted by a run-on of fragmented efforts, Jesus has authored a redemption in His blood that even now brings full, free and complete redemption to those who trust in Christ.

The Rev. David Rufner is pastor of New Hope Lutheran Church, Hudsonville, Mich.

[1] Rom. 5:5

[2] Luke 24:13-34 (ESV)

[3] 2 Cor. 5:17 (ESV)

[4] ‘The Book of Concord,’ Kolb/Wengert, Fortress Press, 2000, 439.61.

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