Jars of Clay. The idea is breakable, not valuable, temporary. I heard that in India they make cups out of local mud that hardens. People can just toss them onto the side of the road. A paraphrase of the Bible is to find something that’s not literally in the Bible, but an equivalent. So I spared no expense in providing a souvenir for each of you… (hand out paper cups). I predict that at least one of you, before this message is over, will have crushed your cup…you won’t be able to stand it.
People can change! Most people believe people can change in a general sense, but then they have the certain people in their life (or themselves) and it seems impossible. The message today: Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. People can change. If you get in a fight with somebody, and nothing ever changes, reconciliation is hard, maybe even impossible. But when there are changes, the most amazing things happen. Never give up. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Freedom to be obedient to God, freedom to do that which is right, freedom to change, freedom to live as a redeemed person who lets God mold and transform them.
A week and a half ago I went for the day with Chaplain Phil Dufrene to the ships with Port of Hope ministries. Frazier-Surrey docks. Phil goes several times a week, ships that have given him permission to visit the crew, ships that keep returning. We went on two ships. The first ship was a Filipino crew, Phil re-acquainted himself with several of the crew: many good conversations took place, but particularly significant was when Phil and another chaplain listened to the concerns of one of the crewmembers, a “strong” Christian, and prayed for some concerns he had back home.
Nobody is immune from tension in relationships. I have a friend in a church that says a certain family in the church community does not and will not come to the church anymore because they had a disagreement with a family still in the church. Nobody remembers exactly what the fight was about, but it happened about 60 years ago now. Tension is too common among friends, within marriages and just about any relationship you can imagine.
Reconciliation with others begins with compassion: “praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” Compassion: “there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too” (Buechner).
Broke relationships are a huge problem: People not getting along with each other. The hurtful things that take place. Accusations among families and friends. A diminished relationship that is now something less than it once was.