For it is the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars… -2 Corinthians 4: 6-7a
The church I grew up in was a little church, once bigger, but reduced somewhat from its glory days in the 70s. There had been change and conflict and just everyday transitions, and by 2000, it was a good Sunday when there were 50 people in worship. When I was in middle school, there were sometimes Sundays when my brother and I were the only kids in worship.
When the time came for the children’s Christmas Program, however, kids and grandkids of the congregation would come out of the woodwork, eager to dress in a costume and participate in the tradition. (It is possible that it was their parents who were eager about the pageant in some cases, but we won’t judge.)
One November, as the adults were wondering about what program to use, my friend Bobbi and I piped up. We were in a creative writing unit in school, and we were pretty sure we could write a Christmas program.
The adults looked at each other, decided they didn’t have any other ideas, then said yes.
Bless their hearts.
Bobbi and I proceeded to embark on a theatrical adventure, inventing a couple of angels who couldn’t see what in Heaven or on Earth God was thinking, going to be a human and live with those ordinary people who couldn’t fly or anything. As the story unfolded, the angels learned that God loved those ordinary people. Apparently love was a good enough reason to give up perfection.
What I remember most about that program was the number of adults who threw themselves into helping with the program to support the script Bobbi and I created. The quilters sewed a backdrop, and the property committee built a scaffolding for the sanctuary steps so the angels could look down at Mary and Joseph and all the rest of humanity. Others helped tweak the script to fit the actors. The choir director helped the kids learn some simple carols.
To be honest, I have no idea if that script was any good. I’m pretty sure it was no masterpiece or work of genius. What it certainly was, though, was a way I learned what church is. Church is a whole bunch of unremarkable clay jars, gathered together, who shine out God’s light when we work together in love. The thing is, that light rarely shines perfectly. We have the treasure in clay jars, after all. It doesn’t always look like much. The light that God has shined into us sometimes comes out fractured or hidden altogether. We’re ordinary people.
God loves ordinary people. God loves ordinary people so much that God felt being with us was worth giving up perfection. That little church full of clay jar people taught me that.
All of us, kids or adults, are clay jar people. All of us have light to shine and treasure to share. Together, in love, we shine God’s bright light. It won't be perfect, but loving each other is a good enough reason to give up perfection and just let the light shine.