Revelation paints this extraordinary picture of ‘bowls of wrath’ being poured out. I think I saw an image of that this week. One of the guys you would have to call ‘a core member’ of our community at Saint John community chaplaincy, died this week. While the autopsy results aren’t yet in we all know that his lifestyle contributed to this 42 year old man’s death significantly. The chapel was crowded this week with grieving people and as they physically and emotionally jostled with one another, they often poured out “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy…” (Galatians 5:19 the works of the flesh). In the most fragile of times when we experience brokenness it is what is inside that spills out and when we bump into others we spill it on them. This furor gave me an opportunity to spill out on others, as well! I had the opportunity to spill: love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. By myself, I know I am incapable of spilling such virtue, but the Good News is “Christ in me the hope of glory!” I am glad that I was not alone in this spilling of good. In the dark time we are passing through the stark difference between those who have hope in Jesus and those who are like sheep without a shepherd, could not be more evident.
The same day I was dealing with this death, I received a call telling me about another death. This was the death of the daughter of a friend of mine. She died suddenly and seemingly unfairly. My friend from chaplaincy knew the risks of his choices but here was a death that made no earthly sense. Her family are naturally devastated by this, but in the midst of this there has been a tidal wave of love and support, particularly from the Christian community.
Those who know me well know that I have extremely clumsy fingers. I resonate with the idea of spilling bowls. I think we are always spilling and that what we spill is what is inside us, for good or evil. I’m reminded of the story of a little boy who was explaining to his dad the inner struggles he felt. “I feel like I have two big dogs pulling me in either direction.” said the boy. “Which dog wins?” said the father. “The one I feed.” replied the boy.
What am I storing up in my bowl which I will inevitably spill? Or another way which dog am I feeding. God is either glorified or besmirched by my choice. I have a lot of friends who need the hope that comes from having Jesus. I can’t afford not to spill virtues that come from the Holy Spirit. There is a world to be told and a world to be shown. I’m glad I’m not in this alone.