Summary: I used this sermon as one of several in a series on Clay Pots (Earthen Vessels). This was the one I used on Father’s Day during that series.
I recently came across a Chinese parable that eludes to our thoughts for today’s text. It’s a tale about a water-bearer and his two pots of clay.
An elderly peasant had two large clay pots. One of the pots had a crack down its side to a point about half way. The other pot, perfect! Each had been securely attached on opposite ends of a pole made up of several thick pieces of bamboo that had been bound together. In the middle of this pole he wrapped numerous layers of muslin and wool to create an area of padding. He then laboriously carried this apparatus across the back of his neck.
At the end of the lengthy hike from a mountain, freshwater spring to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half filled. The intact pot delivered its contents of fresh water chocked-full in volume. For several years this went on day after day; the water-bearer only delivering one and a half pots of the precious fluid to his home.
Of course, the perfect pot was swollen with pride in achieving its fullest potential. But, the poor cracked pot was outright embarrassed of its imperfection, feeling miserable that it was only able to accomplish one half of its intended task.
After these years of despondence, it finally speaks to the water-bearer one day as they nearing the mountain spring. “I am ashamed of myself! This horrendous crack in my side allows me to leak a portion of my contents all the way back to your house.”
The water-bearer responded, “But haven’t you noticed all the beautiful flowers on your side of the path? And were you not aware that on the opposite side of the path there is nothing but wild grass, briars, and weeds? That’s because I have always been aware of your so called ‘flaw.’ For this reason, I took time to plant and cultivate those lovely flowers as to allow the water that leaked from you to water them each day. This makes our trip so pleasant and charming. And for all these years I have been able to return to the path time and time again to gather a bouquet of vibrant, aromatic flowers to brighten up and fragrance the gloominess and foulness of our home.”
So, what’s the moral of this little Chinese parable? The main point is that each of us here this morning has our own fractures and flaws. They often make our lives interesting as we work side by side. Yet, there are those times that we also discover, by the grace of God, some unique rewards as well.
All we need to do is start to be aware of each other’s imperfections and through God’s empowerment learn ways to encourage one another spite our weaknesses to find our true strengths. With this we then must begin to notice, just like the water-bearer in this little story, that many times our so called “flaws” are actually blessings in disguise. Or, better yet, turn our imperfections into mighty works for the good of others and God’s glory.
Actually, as far as I am concerned, the story I just shared with you and its meaning is a sermon within itself. But I know that you are expecting much more from me this morning than that short anecdote; so, on to the rest of the message.
Today being Father’s Day I must also attempt to allocate some of my thoughts for you toward that subject matter as well. So, to get that covered, here is that attempt: Even as fathers, men in particular, we are great idealist when it comes to our own limitations. We do all we are enabled to do to cover up our imperfections and sense of helplessness. We cannot see ourselves, as the male species, being vulnerable and fragile. We tend to think that we are invincible and unshakable. Our indelible thought of being able to handle every situation thrown before us keeps us impulsive and often calloused. In all matters of the heart, such as romance and interpersonal relationships, keep us abbey from demonstrating our genuine lovable character. Why do we feel this way? We believe we are unable to embody any type of weakness and are to macho to admit we are no different than the opposite gender that we, too, have our weaknesses.
When will we finally learn that all of humanity is weak, fragile, vulnerable and imperfect? Gender rolls has nothing to do with such thoughts. Male and female alike are susceptible to all of these so called “flaws.” Somewhere along the line each one of our lives has been or will be fractured and broken. So ladies, don’t get too puffed up about my previous thoughts about we of the male gender, for you, too, are not much different than most of us. We all have our times of inadequacies and feebleness.