Wow – it has been two weeks since I last posted. I guess that’s what happens when end of school year comes, two kids are confirmed in the faith, trip to the Indy 500 qualifying, a quick trip to Chicago to go to the U2 concert, a pulpit supply Sunday happens, and Memorial Day weekend. Whew. But it has been a great last few weeks.
In the midst of all of that, however, was a consistent theme that I heard in 2 Corinthians in my daily reading about brokenness and imperfection. Throughout Paul is responding to the issues that are present among the Christians in Corinth and it is in the context of brokeness that we all have in our lives. In chapter 4, Paul shares how we have the treasure of God within clay vessels or jars (us) that are fragile and imperfect. He follows this with an amazing message about how, even when things are “falling apart” we can have faith and hope and strength. As the letter goes on, similar themes are echoed. But what really grabbed me later in the letter was in 10:10 when Paul writes, “For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.'” Paul is sharing about what others have said about him and what’s really striking to me is that Paul doesn’t deny those things but just lays them out matter-of-fact and acknowledges that God can use even him, a broken vessel for the transforming work of Christ.
That is a message for me today and a message I feel for the church today. We want to portray ourselves as having it all together. Weakness, humility, vulnerability…all of them tend to be seen as less-than-ideal values for us. Yet we need to live in those ways. Recognizing that we each have places of weakness and need. Seeking to look to others before ourselves. Opening ourselves up to the blessings that others can bring into our lives. I think that’s what I love about the movement of people like Brene Brown who are helping us to recognize the crippling power of shame and the ways that it prevents us from living as fully as we can.
This is by no means easy for me to acknowledge and live. My personality is one that wants to do things on my own and I can feel far too often like I don’t need others. But I have learned time and time again that I do need others. I need to be vulnerable and open to others. I need to recognize like Paul did here in 2 Corinthians (and also in many other places) that there is weakness and there is need. But when we are in community and relationship with others in the ways that the Spriit leads, then a new wholeness can emerge.
This picture is of one of the many dishes that we have (that we received for our wedding nearly 18 years ago) that is far from perfect. We have many dishes that have chips and a few that have cracks but they still work. It is tempting to want to toss them, but they still do the job. I am grateful that God doesn’t look at us and see the cracks and chips in us and feel that it is time to move to someone who is a bit more “together.” God takes us clay vessels and uses us for extraordinary things – cracks and all.
Thanks be to God!