You know, given how wonderful the world is and how good most of us have it, it’s surprisingly popular to say that in the end our lives are basically meaningless (or even worthless!) You hear it especially in the jokes people make, and I guess people find some bitter comfort in saying “vanity, vanity; all is vanity” (as is written in the book of Ecclesiastes.) If nothing means anything, why, that really takes the pressure off!
In this week’s passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul indulges in a little bit of this kind of thinking. He sees pretty plainly that humans are flawed and temporary things; he compares himself (and us) to clay jars, the cheap, disposable equivalent of our modern-day paper cups. Even the bodies of the saints are little more than earth, pressed into shape for a time.
But! Although we may be easily cracked, although we will break down and return to the mud in time, the water of life that we carry inside us is eternal, neither coming from us nor dying with us but flowing from place to place, bringing life to the world. From out of our cheap paper cups shines the light of God, a goodness we cannot claim as our own property. This is what it means to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord!
So if you sometimes feel like sipping black coffee and smiling bitterly about the absurdity of it all, that’s OK. Paul is right there with you. But never forget the love we carry, the water in our paper cups, that fills our short little existences with light and life, with joy and overabundance for ourselves and others, with meaning and hope far beyond the small silliness of our own understanding. Maybe we don’t feel that love or see that light every moment of every day, but we know it’s there, above, beneath, and behind all things.
May God’s light be seen by us and in us, even (or especially) when we are feeling a bit low.
Grace and peace,