For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:5-9 (NIV)
My sister collects Blue Ridge pottery. She started her set with some of my grandmothers. From a collector’s website, I took this description:
Formed in Erwin, Tennessee around 1917, Southern Potteries, Inc. manufactured a line of dinnerware using local materials bearing the Blue Ridge name. The company produced limited amounts of dinnerware during the early years but in 1920, a new owner took over production and brought in a unique method for hand painting patterns underneath the glaze. This process created brightly colored pieces that gained instant popularity. Local men worked in a hot and sticky factory to mold the clay and hand form delicate details. Lines of women and young girls spent hours sitting at a table using free hand painting methods to create the designs. This labor intensive process created desirable Depression era jobs in the rural southern U.S. Production peaked during World War II then fell off in the 1950’s causing the plant to close in 1957.
My sister has certain designs that she likes. While there are geometric patterns, flowers and fruits, my sister prefers the plates with wildflowers. Whenever I go to an antique store, I always look for her favorites. I have gotten quite good at scanning the cases and picking out what is Blue Ridge even in the midst of hundreds of other types of china. It is easier to find Blue Ridge pottery in the mountains of Tennessee, North Georgia and North Carolina than it is Florida so I always pay careful attention when we travel. I usually give her one or two pieces for her birthday each year which is in March. She has them hanging in her dining room and they are quite bright and pretty there. They also remind me of my grandmother. On Saturday, some friends from church were having a garage sale to benefit the Brazil mission team. I took some things over there and helped them get set up. As I walked through their garage which was packed with sale items, my Blue Ridge pottery radar went off. There, almost hidden by other boxes was a box loaded with Blue Ridge pottery that someone had donated. They were destined for the table where all the kitchenware was a nickel a piece! I told my friends that they were worth a lot more than that and ended up bringing them home to research and price. We will try to sell them in an antique shop or on line where they will bring a higher value. Unless I can convince my sister to buy them first! Finding such a treasure in the midst of garage sale offerings made me think of the verses above. While some of the Blue Ridge dishes I found are chipped, their beauty is still visible despite their scars. So it is with those who believe in God and hold fast to their faith despite hardships and difficulties. In fact, like the pottery, we are more beautiful and attractive because Christ shines through us.