Summary: This was the 3rd Sunday in Advent. The people in Jerusalem were looking for a way back...but what God gives them instead of a way back is a way forward, a way on.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Three In One who brings us the way of His holiness.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
There was once a water carrier in India whose job it was to bring water from the river to his master’s house. Day after day, he would take two pots on a long pole down to the river, fill them up, and bring them back to his master’s house.
One fateful day, the water carrier stumbled and fell. When he fell, one of his water pots cracked a little.
The water carrier resumed his vocation, going down to the water, filling up his two pots and going back to his master’s house. The difference now, was that one of the pots – the cracked pot, only took back half of the water that it had been endowed with at the river.
One morning, before the water carrier went down to the river, the water pot spoke to the water carrier. It said, “I am ashamed of myself.” The water carrier asked “why?” The pot explained that it had felt bad ever since they day that they had fell. Ever since that day, the water pot had only been able to bring back half of the water it had been entrusted with.
“I long to go back to the days when I could bring back the full contents of what you had filled me with. Since I cannot go back to those days, I ask that you simply break me on a rock and throw me on the rubbish pile.”
The water carrier, seeing that the pot was distressed, said “I see that you are feeling bad. I tell you what. Today I will not fill you up with any water. Relax, take it easy. Today all I want you to do is to enjoy the ride to the river and back and to watch for the flowers along the way.”
Sure enough, the water pot watched all the flowers go by, but all the while it was fuming. “Watch the flowers? You have to be kidding me! You want me to watch the flowers and be even more ineffective than what I have been before? Now I can’t bring ANY water. I just have to wait and watch these stupid flowers.”
At the end of the day, the water pot again spoke to the water carrier. It said the same thing, “I feel ashamed of myself. I want you to stop using me. Just break me and leave me on the rubbish pile.”
The water carrier smiled a little and asked the pot, “Did you notice the flowers?”
The water pot shot back, “Of course I noticed the stupid flowers, but that has nothing to do with me.”
“Ahhh,” said the water carrier, “but it does.” “You see, two weeks after I had fallen I noticed that I was leaving a trail of water behind me. That day I took some wildflower seeds and I spread them along that side of the path. You have watered those seeds, which have become flowers, which I pick every day now when I am coming back. Now I do not only grace my master’s table with water, but with beautiful flowers as well.”
Now the obvious moral to this story is easy. It is simple. Quit your complaining about the fact that you are a broken vessel and let Jesus use you in the way that He will. Start appreciating that Jesus is using you to water the faith lives of the flowers along your way.
And like many obvious and simple morals, this one is true. Jesus does use you. But also like many obvious and simple morals, this understanding is only a shallow picture of the Gospel. The real Gospel is found just under the surface of this moral.
The Gospel is partially that God uses weakened vessels like you and I to do His work amongst people. But the Gospel underneath that is far more compelling. The Gospel underneath that is that God has not thrown us on a rock. He has not broken us. He has not left us on the rubbish pile.
That was the good news for the nation of Israel and that is the good news for us. In our Old Testament reading from Isaiah the nation of Israel had been beaten up. It had been enslaved. It had been occupied. And now it looked like this would never end. There was a feeling amongst those people of desperate brokenness. Many were probably crying out, “Just break me on a rock and throw us on a rubbish pile so that we don’t have to continue to think of what we were before.”