The Potter and the Clay
(Posted September 26, 2019)
So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. --- Jeremiah 18:3-10
Church Services on Sunday
All are welcome to worship with us. Service begins at 10 a.m.
There’s a saying so old that we even have it in Latin: “Don’t shoot the messenger.” A very human reaction when someone brings us truthful but bad news is to be angry at the person who brings us painful truth about ourselves. These “messengers” go by many names. Sometimes they are called prophets, like Jeremiah was. At other times they can be called “snitch,” “whistleblower,” or just plain “enemy.” It’s a dangerous role to play, being a messenger, mainly because the truth the messenger has to say is exactly what we don’t want to hear. In the quote from Jeremiah above, he is led by God to visit the potter’s house, where the potter is taking misshapen pots and reworking them into beautiful, usable pottery. On seeing the fruits of this effort, Jeremiah hears the voice of God, who as the Creator of all things including ourselves, is the Artist that straightens the misshapen, whether that is a nation or the soul of a single person.
Now, Jeremiah was very good at being a prophet. But he was a lousy “PR Person.” He was blunt and very much to the point. He didn’t sugarcoat the Word of God. When he told the people of Israel that they had become misshapen with greed and blind to their role in helping the less fortunate, and if they didn’t straighten up God would smash and re-shape them, they hated Jeremiah. So they grabbed Jeremiah and threw him in a cistern -- a deep well-- from which he couldn’t escape, and hopefully he would drown there. Fortunately for Jeremiah, there had been a drought, the cistern was dry, and he was rescued.
Time may march on, but “times never change.” In this day and age we know very well that ours can be a greedy, conniving culture, a place where money and power prevails over logic and kindness all too often. But we also know that we are the Clay to the will of God. However much we may be misshapen, even broken, when placed in the hands of the Potter we can become beautiful vessels that can carry the “sweet wine” of holy care for one another. This Sunday, as our Church School youth experiment with building out of clay their own pots, we’ll be considering this scripture, and also Jesus’ Gospel parable that tells us how good people are honored by God, and the fate that awaits the self-centered and uncaring. --- Pastor Pat Kriss