But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7
“I get knocked down,
but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down.” – Chumbawamba (1997)
Most Mondays I try to offer a nod to the content of Rebekah’s closing series of “pre-retirement” messages. She is always profound, moving, powerfully engaging, on point, challenging, and entertaining – but this “Final Ten” has absolutely pushed the envelope and I don’t want anyone to miss it. In person if you possibly can, or click the WFPC video link; it’s “can’t miss” every week.
This Sunday she chose the Gideon story from Judges. Gideon famously had trouble trusting God, and his most well known “test” was “putting out a fleece” (not once but twice, just in case). It’s a great story, including God whittling down Gideon’s army from 32,000 to just 300, and I love the way it deals honestly with all the doubts and fears and inconsistencies that plagued Gideon and his people.
Rebekah did a great job telling some of our own story, and how we narrowly avoided shutting down the entire Southeastern United States electrical grid because of our own spiritual immaturity (it’s true, you can listen to the story right here in Sunday’s Message! – starting around the 29:00 mark).
Over the past few months we have become so fixated on “opening up the church”, she said, that we too easily forgot the more critically important imperative to, “Open up our hearts…”
For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37)
Like Gideon, we have what can look like a close to impossible task. But, more importantly, we have the knowledge that God’s promises are true, that God’s love is real, and that “God is working his purposes out” through this church in powerful and compelling ways.
God is working his purpose out,Arthur Ainger (1894)
as year succeeds to year;
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be:
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.
“Dear, fine people,” Rebekah concluded, “Wake Forest Presbyterian Church is moving forward, with the same calling we have always had: to let the light and truth of our Creator, in the love of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit – to let that be our defining reality…”
I like the way Paul comments on this truth in one of his letters to the Corinthian church: “We have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 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” – 2 Corinthians 4:7
Gideon’s army broke their clay jars and their torches blazed in the dark night, reigning down noise and confusion. We break open our clay jars and the world can see Jesus; Jesus, who’s reign is light, and love, and grace, and mercy, and justice, and promise.
This is our calling; this is our opportunity! – DEREK