A simple faith.
A simple faith.
A wonderful new hymn from Stephen Fearing, with a good trinitarian form:
Peter Campbell: On the Run, from ‘Of Time and its Distance’ 1975
For we bear the face of Jesus,
no other god has wounds;
prepare to take your place beside the King.
One time, four Yorkshiremen—Josiah, Obadiah and a couple of others—were having a conversation over a bottle of fine wine—in fact, a bottle of Château de Chasselas. They were talking about the old days, before they were well off:
In them days we was glad t’ ave t’ price of a cup o’ tea.
A cup o’ cold tea.
Wi’out milk or sugar.
In a cracked cup, an’ all.
Of course, this is an excerpt from the famous (and hilarious) Monty Python sketch, Four Yorkshiremen. I mention it because one talked about drinking from a ‘cracked cup’. Today, I want to talk about cracked things, wounded things.
Here in the church, since Good Friday we’ve had a cracked jar—or if you like, a crack(ed)pot. It has these lines through it that show that it’s had some damaging experiences. Is it useless, do you think?
Paul talks about clay jars in 2 Corinthians 4.6-7. He speaks of God shining within us ‘to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’. However, he doesn’t want us to get bigheaded about it, so he reminds us:
…we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
We contain a great treasure; the clay jars in which we have this treasure are our ordinary human bodies. These clay jar bodies are all different: some are tall, some short, some taut and terrific, some flabby. They may be black, yellow or white bodies, male or female bodies, young or old. They’re all different but they have one thing in common: these clay jar bodies of ours—and we ourselves—are cracked. We are each flawed or damaged in some way. Does that make us useless, do you think?
Evidently, this jar isn’t useless. It’s still a lovely thing. It’s broken, yet still beautiful. You and I aren’t useless. What do we hear every Sunday after the confession of sin?
You are forgiven.
You are set free from the past.
In God’s eyes, you are beautiful.
That’s the truth about us: we are cracked, we are wounded, yet we are still beautiful to God.
You and I and the pot aren’t the only cracked things. Jesus is cracked as well. When I say that Jesus is ‘cracked’, I’m not being disrespectful. I’m talking about the wounds in his hands and side, still there in his risen state. No other god has wounds.
I’ve been struggling with what to say this Sunday… So many possibilities, but little inspiration. I caught a phrase this morning in a wonderful book of Richard Rohr’s I use, called Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, in which he writes:
We want to plant ourselves in near occasions of grace, yet we spend all our life avoiding near occasions of sin. Can there be situations that we allow ourselves to enter which will force us to reevaluate everything? That is certainly what the Third World did for me. That’s what joining the Franciscans as a young man did for me, that’s what New Jerusalem did for me. You have to find those situations and contexts and ways of looking out at the world, so you will feel and think differently about reality. It won’t come just from sermons and books. We are converted through new circumstances. Grace best gets at us when our guard is down.
(If you buy any book in 2011, buy this one: It’s a treasure.)
I’m pondering ‘near occasions of grace’ in the wake of the flood/kingdom of God as a theme for preaching in two days. Might happen. Might not.
It also reminded me of U2’s excellent song, Grace, from All that you can’t leave behind. Here’s a clip from YouTube:
The lovely Kate Rusby is my favourite folk singer, singing as she does with her South Yorkshire twang. The Elfin Knight is a great showpiece for her voice… I’ve tried to embed the code, but it doesn’t seem to be working, so go to YouTube to listen:
An Orthodox Easter song from Serbia, and a lovely video.