As we begin this summer, a time of vacations and fun, of bike riding and hiking, swimming and outside projects, I must admit that I do so with slightly less enthusiasm than summers past. It’s not just that I had another birthday recently or that I’m beginning my 30th year of ministry. No, not those. I have healed up and recovered well from my surgery to remove the benign tumor (known as an acoustic neuroma) in November but I’m not one hundred percent. I’m still a little wobbly and unsteady in certain walking situations, hesitant to go on any long bike rides (but thankful I can ride a bike!) and unable to hear in my right ear which sometimes makes it odd clarifying certain sounds and therefore discerning my being in a given space, for example, a noisy restaurant or crowded auditorium.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m doing well and very thankful! If I were a professional athlete I might say, “I’m still competitive, just a half-step behind.” But such is life and the second lesson for this week speaks to this. St. Paul writes, “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.” (2 Cor. 4:5-12) Do you ever feel like a clay jar? Useful and full of purpose for a time, but knowing that the jar won’t last forever? NEVERTHELESS, WE HAVE A TREASURE…THE LIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST WHO CONQUERED DEATH AND HAS GIVEN US ETERNAL LIFE! This is what lasts and this is why we gather to worship Almighty God on Sunday morning (the day of resurrection!). Jesus has the words of eternal life! Jesus’ body and blood are poured out and given as food and drink for the soul to those who are here to receive! Forgiveness and absolution are proclaimed, Good News is announced and God reconciles us to Godself! That’s good stuff! Yes, we are afflicted (by life) but not crushed, not driven to despair, not forsaken, not destroyed. God loves us and is with us always…what a TREASURE!