Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jeremiah 18 The Potter and the Clay by Pastor Rebecca

My mother still has bowls in her house that I made in the high school pottery class, I took my senior year. I loved the concept of being a potter, loved working with the clay and loved creating something beautiful and functional from a lump of dirt.

While we learned many styles of pottery, my absolute favorite was working with the potter's wheel. The most important step in starting a pot on the wheel is throwing it on the wheel and getting it centered each time. I was never very good at this part. I was great at pulling it and shaping it, but never had the upper body strength that it took to get it perfectly centered on the wheel.

I will never forget calling over my art teacher, a burly man with huge strong hands, to ask him to center my pot. I know it was not the case, but he did it with such ease that it seemed as though the clay saw him comming and moved itself into the center in anticipation of his touch. I spent so much time pushing and pressing on it without sucess and my teacher could just gently press into the pot to the perfect spot.

I understood that he was stronger than me and had thrown hundreds more pots than I had ever done, and so it was a moment of grace for me that he was always willing to give me help when I needed it.

This image of the Potter and the Clay in Jeremiah is an ancient yet timeless one for God's ability to shape and center the world which God has made. I always like to remember my art teacher when I read this passage from Jeremiah and I consider a God who with the slightest effort can right the world, can center the pot. The world moves in anticipation of the movement of the spirit, just as the clay seemed in move in anticipation of my art teacher.

As we do this work of discernment and transformation, we should remember that the work of centering the clay, of focusing our ministry is not ours alone. We are encouraged to call the spirit over to help us out, knowing that it is the effortless work of God that will guide us. We will push and pull, shape and create, but it is God who will center our creation.

1 comment:

  1. I love that one of the questions asked in this particular study is: "Are God's plans set in wet clay or concrete?" What an amazing image! I had always taken these verses to mean that God the potter had formed me as I was intended. A permanent and predestined vessel. Concrete all the way, baby! But that is not so! I am still being shaped and still being formed for whatever is to come. That makes me excited and hopeful. The truth is, I often feel that I need a do-over. How often do I ask for a chance to start over or try again? Whether it is as a parent, a wife, a friend, a neighbor, a student, a teacher, an artist, a daughter, or any number of things I categorize myself as, God is the one shaping me. Not as a pot for display, but as an ever-changing vessel that holds our true souls and our true selves. Changing for the needs of now! Changing for what God needs us to carry. Wow!


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