Aloha Friday Message – June 14, 2013 – Clay Pots

1324AFC061413 – Clay Pots

Read it online here, please.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-9But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

I’ve been sidelined again by another upper respiratory infection and so – perhaps this may be a little shorter than what I usually send (around 1300 words). There is a hymn I love which is based on this passage. The refrain says …

We hold a treasure
Not made of gold
In earthen vessels, wealth untold
One treasure only, the Lord, the Christ
In earthen vessels.

Do you remember seeing a story about someone walking to the well with water pots and that one of the pots was cracked and leaked on the way back? The side of the path where the water leaked out of the cracked pot was vibrant with flowers – the benefit of hanging around with a crackpot – like me for example.

In this passage, Paul is describing putting something far more valuable than gold into fragile clay vessels. The inestimable value of the Gospel message has been entrusted to earthlings. Why do I keep referring to us as earthlings? Other choices are human, humanity, Homo sapiens, mankind, and so on. You see the common thread there. But earthling describes exactly where all of us originated – of the earth. We are the clay into which the Creator breathed the Breath of Life. We are made of earth. We go back to earth. But the message of salvation by God is entrusted to us, little lumps of clay – fragile, fallible, moldable, breakable clay. In fact, this salvation came through the destruction of one such clay vessel – Jesus, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for us all.








Note, though, that Paul doesn’t focus on how crude or fragile these clay pots and jars are. He focuses on the treasure they contain. If you and I wanted to store something fabulously valuable, we would … what? Put it in a safe-deposit box at the bank? Build a vault for it underground and set armed guards around it? Put it in the center of a pyramid with all sorts of complex traps to annihilate anyone who would dare to steal our treasure (think Indiana Jones here)? An yet, we hold in these little amphoræ the greatest gift, the richest treasure, the most magnificent  mystery – the saving Grace of God in Christ Jesus … Emanuel. God-with-us came to us as clay but went beyond the clay to the glorified body of The Kingdom. God’s power dwelt among us in clay, and he entrusted to us, clay that we are, the Power of the Resurrection. We are used to pour out the gospel on the rest of the clay, and even more amazing, it is HE who fills us, and HE who causes the gospel to pour forth from us. We are empowered by him to do the same work as he and even greater things.

Paul also reminds us that, since we know that power is not ours but God’s, we should be able to keep the flow going in the right direction: From God’s heart to our hearts, to the hearts of others. We have nothing in which to boast; we’re just clay jugs after all. But other clay jugs need to be filled with that surpassing Joy, Peace, Hope, and Love that fills us. Our Joy is complete, our Peace is past understanding, our Hope is in the Lord who made Heaven and Earth and earthlings, our Love is the Love given to us by Jesus. We multiply that Love when we pour it out on others, and it doesn’t matter whom we pour it on, either.

SALT&LIGHTYou know, some of those little clay vessels were not for carrying liquids, or flour. They were also used for lamps. Little clay lamps with a wick laid off to one side in a little trough like this.

In this kind of vessel a piece of cloth or a bit of soft wood wicked-up the oil and provided light to the room. Other clay containers held spices, particularly salt.

And we are salt and light held in clay. Whatever the gospel needs to be in others it is as that in us. The Treasure is not withheld for only those who are worthy, only those who can be seen as righteous. It is held in us and poured out through us onto a world that is in agony because of sin.

We must not stopper up our clay vessels and seal them for some future use. When once we empty out the contents we find each vessel is refilled with startling quickness even to the point of overflowing.

I certainly know what it is like to be fragile. I also know what it’s like to be considered a crackpot. I will no doubt be an invalid some day, but I know that as a clay vessel I will never be empty of that Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that fill me even in my time of weakness. No matter how much I pour out – whether I am stingy or magnanimous – I will always be refilled with that Treasure. How do I know this with such certainty? Because I know I am an earthling, and I am constantly being refilled with “wealth untold.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.


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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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