Today's Lectionary Text
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 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.
Anytime I read one of the passages that uses an analogy of a potter and/or clay, I can’t help but think about a friend of mine from my high school days, Raymond. We met at church camp (I had a crush on him in those days). I later officiated at his wedding – it was one of my first times to officiate and considerable percentage of the congregation were Jesuit priests (he and his spouse teach at a Jesuit high school)!
The main reason, however, I think about Raymond when I read one of the potter/clay passages is that Raymond is a potter. I have and cherish several of his pieces.
In this particular potter/clay passage, there is an invitation to Jeremiah to go the potter’s house. The potter is in the act of throwing/creating when Jeremiah arrives. Jeremiah witnesses the potter destroying and reworking a spoiled creation into one that is “good” in the potter’s eyes.
The lesson in this, according to the word spoken to Jeremiah, is that, like the potter, God is able take what is spoiled and make it new. Destruction is part of the potter’s process of reformation/renewal. It is not possible to keep what is spoiled in the spoiled state if renewal/re-formation is desired.
This is difficult for me to hear. I tend to hang on to what is known and familiar – even if the familiar is “spoiled” and I want (and need) re-formation. It’s one thing to crush the malformed pot when the clay is still fresh on the wheel (I wonder if the clay would have a different perspective if clay had thoughts and feelings?). It is something else entirely if I need to put away a destructive (or even just unhelpful) habit, practice or thought in order to be re-formed/transformed. With this in mind, I offer a prayer:
Lord, open me to the possibilities of re-formation. Stay with me through the often painful and reluctant process of letting go, giving up, being destroyed in the process of re-formation. Help me to reach for the good that you create in and through me, for you are the potter and I am the clay. Amen.
--Rev. Karen Jeffcoat
Registrar, Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry
Prayer for Reflection
We would love to hear your story! Sign up to contribute to our daily devotion.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color