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.