Sermon of the Week:
Join the Club that Would Have You as a Member?
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Keywords: Shame, Forgiveness, Groucho Marx, Many Rooms, The Cracked Pot, The Good Place.
Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-733469. All rights reserved.
Dawn Cooley tells this great story
about this guy in India whose job it was
to carry water for his little village.
He had these two large pots, each of them hanging on the end of a pole,
and would carry the pots by putting the pole across his neck.
Those two pots were almost identical,
but one of them had a crack in it.
The other one, it was just perfect.
That perfect pot always delivered a full portion of water,
every trip, nothing spilled during the long walk from the stream to the village.
On the other hand, that cracked pot,
it arrived only, oh, half full or so.
For a full two years this went on.
Everyday. The water-bearer delivering one and a half pots of water per trip.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.
But that cracked pot.
it felt ashamed of its own imperfection,
miserable that it was only able to accomplish
half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what seemed like bitter failure
it spoke up, saying to the water bearer one day by the stream:
“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” Asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“For these last two years,
I have been able to deliver only half of the water you place inside of me
because this crack on my side
causes water to leak out all the way back.
Because of my flaws,
you have to do all this work,
and you don’t get full value from your efforts…”
Well, the water bearer’s heart went out to the old cracked pot.
And he said:
“As we return to the house,
I want you to notice all the beautiful flowers along the path.”
And they set off,
And indeed, as they went up the hill,
the old cracked pot took notice of the sun
warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path,
and this cheered it some.
But by the end of the trail,
it still felt said, because it had leaked out half its load of water.
It apologized, again, for being such a failure.
And the water bearer said:
“Did you not see that there were flowers only on your side of the path
not on the other pot’s side?
I have always known about your “flaw…”
So I planted flower seeds on your side of the path
And every day while we walked back from the stream
You watered them.
Without you being just the way you are,
This beauty would not exist…”[i]
Every Sunday we hold a few of these ancient texts together,
and we ask ourselves what we can learn about God from them,
and maybe, also, hope to learn a bit about us people in the process.
We’re in this sermon series called “Because he lives, there’s hope for you,”
and the underlying premise is that this Easter story of Jesus’ resurrection should matter
in some way,
for your life, and for mine.
So we’re walking through the season of Easter exploring Easter’s impact
and we find ourselves, today, holding together
this story from the Gospel of John where Jesus begins to say goodbye
to his disciples, to the people he has spend three years with, whom he loves.
This is the start of what are called the farewell discourses,
Jesus’ effort to prepare the disciples that they’re going to have to carry on
this work of being the church without him.
As John tells it, Jesus knows that things are going to change,
and the disciples like things the way they are, thank you.
Why change when things are going just fine, Jesus?
Well, sometimes things happen, and just like that, the ground shifts under your feet
your leader is no longer there with you in the flesh
or your temple is rent asunder by the roman authorities
or you’re required to stay inside for weeks on end
and you have to figure out how to do things altogether differently…
…we find ourselves holding together this story from the Gospel of John
with this interesting reading from Psalm 31:
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me be put to shame…deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me…be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save…
What I love about this little Psalm is that it begins to tackle shame head on,
and I think all of us know a little something about shame. [Read more…]