Jars of Clay (27-07-20)
Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ. But 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. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
Some years ago, after going on a pilgrimage around the biblical sites in Israel, Helen and I had a short holiday on Israel’s northern coast. While we were there we visited the ancient town of Caesarea where Paul appeared before King Agrippa and we saw the Roman amphitheatre where Christians were later martyred. We also saw a collection of large clay jars which had been discovered in the sea and which dated back to the time of Jesus. Some were cracked, others had holes in, but some were still in remarkably good shape. Like the clay jars in our reading they had been crushed and abandoned, but they had not been destroyed.
As a collection of old clay jars, to us they had a beauty all of their own, but in their day they would have been very ordinary. What they held inside them was what was important: water, wine, olive oil, and maybe lamps or lighted torches.
Over the last few months, like the clay jars, we have been hard pressed and perplexed. Many have lived in fear or with great suffering, but we have not been destroyed by the pandemic or abandoned by God.
Much that is good has been evident in the clay jars that are the people of our communities and our country, many acts of kindness, generosity, courage, endurance and sacrifice; treasures of great value.
As Christians, we too are like jars of clay, containing a greater treasure within, a light that shines in the darkness, a light that comes from the life of Christ within us. And we have not been abandoned by God. As in some measure we share in the sufferings of Christ, so in a greater measure he shares in our sufferings. It is as we allow Jesus to share in our sufferings that his life is revealed in us to show that, as St Paul says, ‘the all surpassing power is from God and not from us’.
Almighty God, I thank you that through faith in Jesus, I am hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. May the light and life of Jesus be revealed from the clay jar that is my life, to your glory.