Several weeks ago, Bishop Curry preached a sermon at Prince Harry & Meghan Markel’s wedding that ignited conversation around the globe. His words were reprinted, quoted and tweeted many times over. Perhaps you read his sermon and shared them with others on your social media platforms as well. Why did his words generate so much interest? Personally, I think it’s wonderful that so many people paid attention to a sermon. It’s a rarity these days.

     But lots of people preach lots of sermons. What was it about Bishop Curry’s words that captured the imagination of millions of people from diverse faith perspectives and political ideologies? The answer is quite simple. In an age where we often feel powerless; where our divisions threaten to destroy us; Bishop Curry reminded us of the transformative power of love.

     Here’s a quote from his sermon: “There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart, a seal on your arm. For love it’s strong as death. ”

     There’s power in love. It’s the kind of power St. Paul speaks of in our Second Lesson. He uses an analogy that’s well known among people of faith. He says “we have this treasure in clay pots, so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.” [CEB]

     Paul makes it clear that we are not powerful people. We may think we are strong. We may think our emotional shields are study enough to handle whatever comes at us.

We may think we are made of industrial strength steel. But Paul tells us differently.

     He says we’re nothing more than clay pots. We are fragile and can be easily broken. Cracks can form on our bodies and in our spirits from all the stress and challenges life throws at us. We are not as strong as we think we are.

     This might make you feel really depressed. But it is Paul’s intention to make you feel the exact opposite way. We are not as strong as we think we are, but God’s love is. It’s the treasure that our earthen vessels hold. It’s the power that flows through us whose source is the Creator who loved the world; who gave birth to the cosmos; who sent Jesus to dwell among us and show us what God’s love looks like when it’s put into action.

     This love is stronger than death. In fact, it defeated death forever. That, my friends, is some mighty powerful stuff! And when this powerful stuff gets put into our clay pots, when we let love take up residence in our hearts and in our lives, stuff is gonna happen.

     Bishop Curry put it this way: “Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where love is the way. Imagine this tired old world where love is the way, unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

     When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down, down by the riverside to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of God’s children.

     Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.”

     This is the treasure that is poured into our clay pots. This is the force that Martin Luther King Jr said, “Can transform an enemy into a friend.” It is the power of Christ’s love working in us, on us, and through us, that enabled Paul to exclaim with confidence: “We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.” Can I get an Amen on that?

     These clay pots we inhabit may be showing some wear and tear. They may have a few cracks and chips in them. We may even doubt they can hold anything useful, but God sees things differently. God doesn’t want us to be industrial strength steel. God wants us to be moldable and pliable. God wants us to allow holy hands to shape us and transform us:

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

     Friends in Christ, it’s a good thing to be clay pots. It’s a good thing to not have to be strong all the time. It’s a good thing to be fit vessels where God’s love can take up residence and change our lives and our world forever. This is the kind of power we possess, but quite often we are unaware of it.

     Quite often we go through life thinking that it’s our job description to be strong all the time. Well, as the old saying goes, “Get off the cross, we need the wood.” We do not have to be strong all the time because Jesus was strong for us. He faced death and defeated it forever. Paul states this quite profoundly in 2nd Corinthians: “We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies. We who are alive are always being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies that are dying. So death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

     Whew, that will preach! It reminds us that that we do not have to be strong all the time because Jesus is strong enough for all of us!

     So where do we go from here? Well, we begin by doing a little inspection of the clay pots we inhabit. How are they holding up? What kind of shape are they in? Are we so battered and abused by life that we don’t think we are of any use to anyone? Has fear filled our pot to the brim and overflowing? Have we allowed the paranoia of this world to take up residence in our earthly vessels until there is no more room for love?

     Let’s be intentional today and make time to do a thorough inspection of the clay pots we inhabit. When our inventory is complete, we will know what to do next. Maybe we just need a little Sabbath rest. Maybe the illusion that we have to be strong all the time has left us feeling depleted and exhausted. If this is the case, then “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

     By this, I don’t mean simply going to church. I take my cues from Marva Dawn’s book “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly,” by creating space in my life for ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. Sabbath rest doesn’t always happen on the Sabbath! In fact, my favorite Sabbath rest is movie night where Gary & I go to see an afternoon movie, usually on Fridays, and follow this up with dinner somewhere in town.

     I am certain that you have favorite rituals as well, that recharge and renew your spiritual, emotional and physical batteries. If you haven’t done any of these activities in a while, you need to do one this week.

     In addition to Sabbath rest, it’s vital that we unplug from the matrix that is a spin cycle of hate, paranoid and bad news. I’m talking about 24 hour news. I’m talking about Facebook. I’m talking about Twitter and other social media platforms. While these things are useful and helpful tools, I think they are taking a toll on all of us. They fill our minds with an overload of fear and hate, and leave little room for love to take up residence in our lives.

     Finally, beloved, we need to “Let go, and let God” as the saying goes. It may sound trite, but it’s true. We need to let go of our need to be strong all the time, and let God be the strong one. We need to let go of anger, hatred, fear, and worry and let God replace them with “whatever is true, whatever is  honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, whatever is excellent and worthy of praise.” [Phil 4:8]

     We need to let love rule our lives and change our world forever. The kind of love that is tough and tenacious; the kind of love that gives of itself for the sake of others; the kind of love that is redemptive and transformative. It is this love, poured into our fragile clay pots, that can change the world. I believe it’s true. You must believe it’s true. And together, God’s love will flow through us and become a source of healing and renewal like no other. Amen.

Copyright ©2018 by David Eck

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