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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | 2 Corinthians 4:1–12

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But 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 are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (NRSV)

“We do not lose heart.” That’s where this passage starts. But how do we get to that place, the place where we do not despair for the future?

When the gospel of “the god of this world” suggests that the way to achieve one’s end in the world is to attract attention to yourself and gold-plate everything around you, how do we not lose heart? When everything is a zero-sum game, where progress for one comes at the expense of another, where is the hope for a better life for all?

I mean, we live in this world. We see this stuff all around us. We see the few who flaunt their position and their power. “We’re the winners; you’re the losers.” And they seem to get away with it. How do we see this and not lose heart?

We live in this world. “The god of this world” can be a powerful influence on how we see the world we live in, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of allowing those standards, those metrics, to shape how we go through our lives. To believe the tenet that there are only winners and losers is to believe the great lie that leads to despair, because no one wins all the time. The world will, eventually, break everyone.

We are all jars of clay. We all break and are broken. If we gild the outside of the jar, when it’s broken, it’s just trash. If our treasure is held inside, when the jar is broken it is spilled out for everyone. And maybe that’s how you avoid despair: by spilling out the treasure that you contain, by setting that extraordinary gift loose in the world, by embracing our individual brokenness in the knowledge that what we contain—the all-encompassing love of God—is not to be hoarded but spread.

Lord, remind us that we exist to be broken and that the crack in everything is not only how the light gets in, but how it gets out as well. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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