Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Isaiah 25:1-9:

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

I had recently been browsing on when I saw this pot. It immediately caught my attention because it was made and decorated with broken glass shards. We don't know what the glass originally represented. By themselves, the glass shards are sharp, jagged, and capable of cutting the person holding it with careless handling. Yet when embedded into a new clay pot, with a little planning and consideration thrown in on the side, instead of being something capable of wounding the user, they become something that holds, nurtures, and allows growth.

So it is with our own lives and our own transformations. Sometimes, I think about our temporal lives being glass houses--panes and panes of glass representing people, places, things, and situations in our day to day lives. We forget how fragile these panes can be. Because of our imperfect humanity, some of these panes are bound to be broken, whether by accident or through our own stubbornness and willfulness. We might get shoved into a pane and break it, or in a fit of pique throw a rock into one. But breakage will happen. Not just in our lives but in the lives of people we know--even people we love and care about.

We can get cut even trying to sweep up the mess.

Evidence of the cuts can show up later--embedded tiny bits of glass that, over time, fester and rise to the surface, along with their accompanying pus-pockets.

But for God, this stuff is just raw material for transformation. Our prayers, our spiritual practices, the prayers of others, and the unifying power of the Holy Spirit through the Eucharist can take the pointed wounding power of these broken shards of our lives and transform them into the beautiful pattern of a new vessel, the color in a stained glass window, or a tile in a complex mosaic design. It's amazing, actually.

The problem, of course, is we are notorious for remembering where the broken glass came from, rather than marveling at the beauty of the new work of art. Other people might see the new transformed pot of "us," and have no clue where the broken glass came from or how sharply it can wound. They might just see the beautiful pot. We so often shoot ourselves in the foot on that one. We might be paid a compliment about the pot, and our first response will be, "Oh, no. That's just old broken glass from one of my lamps." Transformation happens, and when it's real, people will see it. Yet we refuse to share their awe. Instead we sit around and think about the broken glass shards.

Conversely, there are going to always be people in our lives that no matter how wonderful a pot we are working on, are always going to point out YOUR broken glass in it. It might have been glass that we had used to wound that person. It might simply be that the other person is feeling the pain from his or her own jagged glass fragments. But that sort of stuff will always be with us.

It's why I like to think about that newborn baby Jesus as the gold standard of transformational ability. It's part of the magic of the twelve days of Christmas for me. The sorting and preparation of Lent isn't upon us yet, nor is the heaviness of Holy Week. Christmas is twelve days of wonderment for how all the broken glass shards of a weary world can be transformed into the vessel of a tiny, innocent baby. It's a baby who will grow, walk, talk, and learn to feed himself. It's a baby where we will see his first smile and swear that it is not gas, that he really smiled upon us. Not only that, as babies are prone to do, that baby will get us to temporarily stop fretting about our own jagged glass edges of our own broken-ness.

Christmas is the season in which we can dream and plan the pattern of our own new vessels--A time to invoke the creative forces of God rather than going to him in embarrassment and humility. A time to rejoice in God's creative powers and our own, in concert.

So take some time this season to simply sit with the pieces of ourselves and rearrange them by color and pattern. What can be made of this? What can we do with this, with God's help? The results of your daydreaming might astound you!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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