When reflecting on the readings for this Sunday suddenly a bowl I made a couple of months ago came to mind. A paper mache bowl. I wonder if any of you children have ever done paper mache? Perhaps you have. Basically what you do is glue together pieces of paper to make a whole. It may be a doll you make, or a face, or it may be a bowl, like I did.
When we read the 23rd psalm the image is one of abundance, of a cup running over, of a bowl holding everything good that life has to give. It is about safety and places of peace, of guidance as to where to go and how to live, it is about protection, even where death is near, it is about good food, tasty wine and a 5 star spa treatment from the Lord.
Thats where the image of the bowl connected to the readings I think. The image of a bowl filled with all the good things of life, all the things we need to make life positive and full of the riches of Gods giving. Filled to the brim and ready to be tipped over into our lives to feed us, nourish us and refresh us with its flow.
That was one connection. The other I made through the other reading: a passage from Acts 2 that was on the lectionary, the roster of readings we follow, for today as well.
The reading from Acts paints a picture of the Church just after the Holy Spirit came down. It is a frighteningly perfect picture. All who believed were together it says, they shared everything, they spend much time together in the temple and at home they break bread together and eat their food with glad and generous hearts praising God and having the goodwill of all.
It is a dream of a Church, full of the goodness that we would all want the Church to possess. A place running over with good, constructive, active and fruitful faith.
They are what Psalm 23 sings about: a place where people find healing, refreshment, care and direction and where the goodness and mercy of God flow out into the world.
I got a real taste for paper mache-ing after that first bowl, and I decided to make a new bowl for this Sunday. What I tore up this time was the Church roll. All the names of those who want to be part of this community, this congregation, went into it. I thought that a rather exciting idea. All of us, worked into a big bowl, about the size of the baptismal font.
You see, if we talk about the good Shepherd, the green pastures, the still waters, if we talk about being guided along the right pathways and being comfort when in the valley of death, if we talk real nourishment about 5 star spiritual spa treatment when we need it, this Church, this community is a place, a bowl, called to be running over with that just like those first Christians were two thousand years ago.
All of us, each in our own way, called to be part of that cup, that holding and loving from which the healing and helping power of God can be poured out into the world. A cup to come to when we need to be nourished and refreshed and cared for ourselves. A place to gather around and celebrate the abundance of Gods grace. Amen.