She grew up in Texas as a cute, chubby girl with freckles.  In high school, however, her chubbiness turned into fat, and her face was covered with pimples.  She was rejected and ridiculed by her classmates.  She became obsessed by what she saw as her ugliness.  She tried to fit in by being the buffoon, the brunt of the jokes. But she was hiding the terrible pain of rejection.
And the harder she tried to fit in, the more her classmates ridiculed her.  They laughed at her and called her all kinds of names:  Oddball, Freak and Pig.  She would laugh back just to get along and be accepted, but then she would go home and cry.

After all the abuse she endured in high school, she left Texas and went to San Francisco.  She began to sing and eventually became a rock star.  Still, on the inside she felt nothing but emptiness and pain.  She felt rejected even though millions loved her music.  She began to drink heavily and tried drugs—LSD and then heroin.  She suffered from self-hatred and insecurity.  Her friends said that she could not spend a night without a partner.

Finally, she burned out.  To escape the endless cycle of pain, early one Sunday morning in October of 1970, Janis Joplin was found dead of a heroin overdose.  She was a star, but how did she see herself?  Did she see herself as made in God’s image?  No, she saw herself as unlovely and unlovable.  Did the ridicule of others cause her to see herself in that way?  Were some of those who ridiculed her Christians?  Most surely.

Some of you reading this column have a recording in your brain that says: “I am no good.  I have two left feet.  I mess up everything I try.  I am ugly.  I am worthless.   I am unlovable and unlovely.”  Hear the gospel.  Hear the good news, which is that you are loveable and lovely.  Jesus Christ doesn’t care about your family background, your IQ, the size of your bank account or whether you wear a Timex or a Rolex.  The Son of God came into this world to put a price tag on you with his very life.  “I believe in you.  You are worth the price of my life,” he says.  “For God so loved the world (insert your name) that he gave his only begotten son.”  You have incredible value to God.  I believe that, and I wish you could.

So what does it mean to be made in the image of God?  The Genesis 2 account of creation pictures God playing in the dirt and out of that dirt, God molds the clay into a human being.  From there, God breathes into this new creation, and it becomes a living soul (nephesh).  How cool is that?

There are lots of people in this community who also like to play in the dirt, sort of.  They are not trying to be God; they want to do God’s work. They like to play with clay and make pots, beautiful, useful pots.  And the pots they make are an act of love.  The act of love is the gift to the Empty Bowls fund raiser that benefits the Soup Kitchen.

Our community Soup Kitchen has been the hands and feet of Christ for several generations, staffed with volunteers armed with love.  They serve folk who are down on their luck, elderly, ill, or out of work.  Everyone who comes thru the line to get a hot meal is made in God’s image, and loved as much by God as you and me.

Please join me and hundreds of others on Sunday, February 25 from 11:00 to 2:30 at the Ag Center as we eat lunch in a bowl made by the hands of a local servant of God—one who played in the dirt and made a bowl just for you. By the way, you get to keep the bowl, and you help feed a hot meal to someone made in God’s image.  When you leave, your bowl is empty, your stomach is full, and more importantly, so is your heart.

~Pastor Steve

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