Hope in Clay Pots

This was written for our Circuit Daily Devotions which appear Monday to Friday as part of the online ministry. If you would prefer to watch and listen to them they are available here:

This is the written version for those who find that more helpful:

Today’s suggested reading talks about our hope, our hope in God.  Not like Moses, who when he approached God his face was bright with God’s presence, but which very quickly faded when he left that presence. 

Not like the people whose minds were closed to God and God’s revelation. We are people who are joined by Christ.  The presence of Jesus is with us.  We can know what God is saying – and respond to that.  We are called to reflect that. 

I’ve added a couple of verses on the end.  Seeing the title of Chapter 4, Spiritual Treasure in Clay Pots, led me on to one of my favourite bible passages, so I have added on verses 7-11.  In the context of Lent it seems to help – it certainly offers me hope (and shows I do actually refer to Paul’s writings on the odd occasion!)

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, 7-11

12 Because we have this hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. 14 Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined to Christ. 15 Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds. 16 But it can be removed, as the scripture says about Moses: “His veil was removed when he turned to the Lord.”17 Now, “the Lord” in this passage is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18 All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.

Spiritual Treasure in Clay Pots

God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we do not become discouraged. We put aside all secret and shameful deeds; we do not act with deceit, nor do we falsify the word of God. In the full light of truth we live in God’s sight and try to commend ourselves to everyone’s good conscience.

Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10 At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies.

What a privilege to have the promise of Jesus’ presence within us.  And where that presence is, there is peace.  That is such a precious promise to us.  How much more special to know that it is a treasure is even in “common clay pots”.  If the spiritual reality check of our lives leaves us feeling less than glorious, or realising that we are just a common pot, nothing special – God’s treasure is still in us. 

It does not matter is we feel common or broken, God is still there, still in us still working through us.  Common clay pots are not useless, but very much useful and how God works.  God does not need fancy ceramics, or valuable pottery.  God is not looking for a Clarice Cliff or a piece of fine Minton china.  God is with us and can use us, as we are.  God works his beauty within us, whatever the container looks like.

I enjoy watching The Great Pottery Throwdown on tv, but it breaks my heart when the judges crush the ones they do not think meet up to scratch and throw them in their bucket.  Wonky for them is not good enough.

Fortunately for me, and maybe you, God thinks otherwise.  It is not about me, but what God can do in and through me.

In the immortal, and beautiful word of Leonard Cohen in his song Anthem,

“There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in”   **

I love that song, and it sustained me through a time when life was anything but beautiful.  We do not have to be pristine for God to use us – and indeed perhaps being a little bit cracked or broken makes us all the more useful.

We may be troubled, in doubt or despair – but not destroyed.  God in Jesus is still within us, however frail it appears our vessels are.  And I for one am very grateful for that.

Thank you Lord
for our hope
– hope found in you.

Thank you that you live within us,
however we feel.
Even,
or perhaps especially,
when we are troubled,
in despair,
doubting
or broken.

Thank you
that I am enough,
whether fine bone china,
ornately decorated porcelain
or common clay,
even if it is cracked.

May I reflect your glory
in my life.

Today’s song suggestion is Leonard Cohen’s Anthem – let it feed your soul.  If that is not your thing there is a link to a video I found with a story about a cracked jar and one that to all intents and purposes was perfect – and the difference they made. 

**as an aside, although Leonard Cohen rarely explained his songs, he did speak on this one:

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
–  from Diamonds in the Line HT https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/leonard-cohens-anthem/

If you enjoy these posts more of my work is available in my books

~ by pamjw on February 18, 2021.

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