Golden joinery

‘When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.’ Thus Barbara Bloom describes the Oriental craft of kintsugi which, my friend and colleague Goos Vedder discovered, literally means golden joinery.

He comments: ‘In this ancient Japanese art of repair the artist does not try to hide the history, rather the history is highlighted with veins of gold or silver, thus adding a new dimension to the vessel’s value and beauty.’ And he shrewdly observed: ‘God is the ultimate kintsugi artist.’

The marks of Jesus in my body

Out of his own rich history, Paul corroborates this in his second letter to the Corinthians (see Galatians 11:18 – 12:10). And he signed off his letter to the Galatians – just before his closing benediction (Galatians 6:17):

‘From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear in my body the marks of Jesus.’ 

We’re not thinking here of flaunting one’s titanium hip joints in disco dancing or of flashing one’s gold fillings at the television cameras! ‘Decorated history’ has more of the feel of medals being conferred on battle-wounded war heroes.

Feeling himself forced into defending his own campaign history against the vacuous claims of scar-free, false apostles, Paul records among his credentials:

      [] His history

And what a history! – a ‘servant … of Christ … with far greater labours’:

  • ‘on frequent journeys’
  • ‘in danger from rivers … danger from robbers … danger in the wilderness … danger at sea’

[] The cracks visible in his appearance

What cracks! – ‘a thorn … in the flesh’ (possibly the hardships that he records here) ‘to keep me from becoming conceited’:

  • ‘far more imprisonments’
  • ‘with countless beatings’ – ‘the forty lashes less one’, and ‘three times … beaten with rods’
  • ‘in toil and hardship’
  • ‘through many a sleepless night’
  • ‘in hunger and thirst’
  • ‘in cold and exposure’

[] His veins of kintsugi gold

What glorious achievements:

  • ‘caught up to the third heaven’ – ‘into paradise’ where
  • he ‘heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter’
  • ‘the surpassing greatness of … revelations’

* ‘Consider the outcome of [such a] way of life, and imitate [his] faith’ (Hebrews 13:7)

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