The Clay Pot Boy (A Russian Parable)
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for[g] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
53 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day. 55 For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57 The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This, then, is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread that your ancestors ate, but then later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.”
Once there was an old couple who were childless. They had longed for a child for many years. One day it came to them to stop waiting and to shape a child for themselves out of what was available to them.
The old woman looked around their house. The first thing she spied was a clay pot. That gave her an idea!
Quickly she went to the riverbed and found the best clay in all the area. She brought it home. That night she and her husband loving fashioned a boy in the shape of a clay pot. They left it to dry overnight. Then it was fired in the oven the next day. And lo and behold, out of the oven came a delightful little boy!
Like any newborn, the little clay pot boy was very hungry. He ate and ate and ate and ate. When the old woman and the old man had fed him all the food in the house, he began to eat their possessions.
He ate the old woman’s weaving loom and the old man’s axe. Finally, he even swallowed up his parents, the old woman and the old man! Then he headed out into the world.
And there his eating grew even larger. First, he met the neighbors. “I’m hungry!” cried the clay pot boy! The neighbors quickly offered him bread and milk. They had heard how he had literally eaten his parents our of house and home. He drank down ten tubs of milk and ate five baskets of bread. He met a bull in the next field and ate it horns and all.
At the next farm he didn’t even ask politely. He swallowed the farmer and his plough, the farmer’s wife and her hoe, their rooster and their hens sitting on their eggs. Finally, he swallowed the whole barn!
Then he headed toward the billy-goat with curly horns who was grazing in the next field over. When he reached the billy goat with the curly horns, the clay pot boy cried, “I’m hungry!”
The billy goat saw all that the clay pot boy had eaten and he decided to the boy needed a lesson! When the clay pot boy headed toward the billy goat with his mouth open wide to eat him, the billy goat put down his head with the curly horns and charged. Bang! Boom! Smash!
The billy goat hit the clay pot boy smack in the middle and he burst into many, many pieces! Out tumbled the old woman and the old man and all their possessions. Out tumbled ten tubs of milk and five baskets of bread. Out tumbled the bull, horns and all. Out tumbled the farmer and his plough, the farmer’s wife and her hoe, the rooster and the hens and their eggs. And even the farmer’s barn!
And…that was the end of the clay pot boy. The old woman and the old man never made a clay pot boy again. And the billy goat with the curly horns was always much beloved by all.
The clay pot boy story is a story that speaks to our time specifically of consumerism, but to any time and to much larger issues when nations, cultures, empires, groups, or individuals consume others.
The Me Too movement is a backlash against men, sometimes powerful men who have consumed women… taken what was not theirs. The growth of the Western World, or the First World and Capitalism was growth often at the expense of poorer countries who were exploited.
We can tell of the terrible consumption of the Holocaust, or Residential Schools, or the Inquisition, or of war, or of Colonialism, or other events where larger powers ate up smaller powers.
And we have to look at our own lives and think about where we are more interested in taking, having, gaining and/or consuming. Things like goods, emotional leverage, position, perks, money, favours, sex, food, or other things we want.
I saw recently a sign on a restaurant: “Eat or be eaten,”
Eat or be eaten. That is a slogan for our times.
But Jesus offers a different narrative. Instead of consuming. Jesus is consumed.
Instead of eating you, Jesus is eaten. Take eat this is my body broken for you.
Instead of consuming you, Jesus feeds you.
And what Jesus feeds you, is himself, and everything he is.
He is grace, so he feeds you grace.
He is love so he feeds you love.
He is forgiveness, so he feeds you forgiveness.
Instead of taking from others, Jesus offers himself to others. He is food to a person’s soul. To those who hunger for justice, to those who thirst for love and acceptance, to those who want the bread of equality and the wine of peace, Jesus offers himself.
To those who want to taste inner healing, Jesus is a soothing balm. To those who are starving for forgiveness and reconciliation, Jesus says from the cross: “Father forgive them.”
So, the question we can ask ourselves?
Instead of consuming others, how can we be food to others and to their souls.