Autumn Leaves (13-11-2023)
Reading (2 Corinthians 4:7-18) Treasure in Jars of Clay
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke”, we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Over the past few weeks the leaves on our deciduous trees have been changing colour giving rise to some of the most wonderful displays of gold, orange, brown, purple and red. From the windows of our house we can see a lovely old oak tree and last week, when the sun was shining, the colours in the leaves meant that the whole tree glowed in glorious warm shades. Even the usual, rather unexciting, drive to the local shops has become a scene of multi-coloured trees adorning the sides of the roads. I can’t say I appreciate them quite as much when they have fallen and need clearing away from around the sides of the house and on the lawn, but at this time of year, when they are still on the trees, the view of autumn leaves is amazing.
The strange thing about all these colourful leaves is that they have actually been that colour all year since they first appeared on the tree back in spring, it’s just that we have not been able to see it. The colours we now see in autumn have been obscured from our view by the need of the tree to feed itself. In order for the tree to get food from sunlight it needs to have chlorophyll in its leaves, which is green and this green colour hides the true colour of the leaves. Only in autumn when the tree stops using its leaves to feed does the chlorophyll fade away and the true colour of the leaves, that has been there all the time, is revealed.
The wonderful colours of autumn do not last very long. In a few weeks’ time the deciduous trees will have lost all their leaves as we move into winter. The shortness of their display is in some way what makes it so impressive, if the leaves were always the bright colours of autumn we might not take much notice of them.
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth he is encouraging the Corinthians not to lose heart, as the time they spend on earth is only fleeting compared to the eternity they will spend with God. Paul, like many in the early church, knew what it was to be afflicted. And around the world today there are many Christians who will feel that they can empathise with Paul. It might be that as you read this you too feel afflicted in some way, be it in body, mind or spirit. Paul’s message for you is the same as it was to the Corinthians, not to lose heart, even when our outer body is wearing away for God can renew us from within.
There is a relatively modern hymn which we have in our hymn book based on this passage, it is number 1306 and I have used it in my choice of hymn below.
Father God, we remember all those who today feel afflicted in body, mind or soul. May they feel your love surrounding them.
(If this link takes you to a page saying that your browser is up to date simply scroll down to where it says Browse YouTube and click on the link to take you to the song)