Cracked Pot

 

 

It’s nice when our local Church begins to feel like family. We can walk in without wondering if we will be accepted or not. It’s a pleasure to feel comfortable in Church. 

Priests like to see the congregation living together as a family, but he can never be comfortable. Hearing confessions, he knows the church is filled with hurting and broken people. He sees people struggling with habitual sin. Some are on the brink of financial trouble. Marriages are struggling and children are a problem. Work is hard and the boss is a terror. Teens struggle with peer pressure.  Health problems abound and everyone is getting older.

You don’t hear the priest’s confession so you can’t see behind the robe and the beard. Personally, I always thought it odd that God called me to priesthood. I have quite a history in this part of the world.  I was involved in almost every human vice and foolish act possible, and then I mixed it all with religion. Besides living as a rocker and general hell raiser, I tried to live as the head of a religious commune. I gained a reputation as a bit of a crackpot.

Look around and you wonder why God didn’t call the strong, the beautiful, the rich, the powerful, and the got-it-all-together people to fill the Church. There have been some who converted that were smart, beautiful, rich and strong, but most of them were cracked pots. St. Paul said that we are “jars of clay” (2nd Corinthians 4:7). Clay jars are nothing remarkable, very common, and very easy to crack. Of course, they are also very useful and necessary household items.

Hopefully, we are all cracked pots and not just crackpots.  Being a cracked pot is not the end of it. Into these jars of clay, God places a great treasure.  It is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Light, knowledge, glory, and the face of Christ – truly an incredible treasure to have. Are we worthy to contain such a thing? No, of course not. We are clay, common, fragile, earthen vessels.

Are we to remain cracked pots? No, because this treasure glorifies and transforms us. This idea is demonstrated by the way the Orthodox decorate their churches. It is theology in form and architecture. It preaches the truth that when God and matter are joined, matter is transformed and glorified. So, it was in the Incarnation, and in the Theotokos, and in the Eucharist, and in iconography, and so it should be in each one of us.  The treasure transforms the pot.  The prophet Zechariah said that one day, “every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 14:21)

 It is this reality, a heavenly treasure in a clay jar, which shows to the world that this power comes from God and not from us. For if we had it all together, if we were beautiful, rich, and successful, and without a care in the world, then no one could be sure if it was God at work, or just us “fine” people. 

 My ambition is to go from crackpot to cracked pot, and then from cracked pot to a vessel of honor. Like Paul I can glory in my weakness and take no pride in anything that I do.  Yet, I also want to know the transforming power of the life of Christ in me. Someday, I can join with St. Paul and proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)   That would be a sweet deal for a crackpot like me!

Someone once said that a person must decide which is more powerful – the grace of God or human nature. I am either optimistic about the ability of God to change me, or I am pessimistic about the possibility that my human nature can change.  Is it that a “leopard cannot change his spots” and “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; or do I believe that even the most broken pot can be mended by grace?.

St. Paul writes, “…we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus…so we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”  (2 Corinthians 4) Faith is trust and the most fundamental trust that I can have is to believe that despite the reality of my brokenness, God will finish what he has started in me   I do believe this, but the part that bothers me is that this renewal is “day by day.” Its a gradual thing. Man, I was hoping to get this done right now! (After all, I am an American cracked pot!) 

If I have moved from being a crackpot to a cracked pot, I am happy for now.  My joy is that at the moment of my baptism, God placed a heavenly treasure in me. My hope is that this treasure will heal this cracked pot. 

The light of the glory of God in the face of Christ!   What a treasure.

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