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Jeremiah 18:1-4

The Potter and the Clay

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 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.

My wife, Lisa and I worked at Koinonia, a Lutheran camp in the foothills of the Catskills for a year before we headed to seminary.

That was some 35 years ago. But I still remember a message shared by one of our co-workers. He was an artist, a gifted potter. The pots and plates and pitchers and cups he made were absolutely beautiful. I admired his work and his gift. Have you ever tried to throw a pot on a potter’s wheel?

The message he shared was his faith journey. And as he told his story, he placed a lump of clay onto the potter’s wheel before him. He spoke of how God formed him in his mother’s womb. He talked about his life growing up and the directions he was given by his parents and his community and his church. As he talked the clay began to grow in height, and it took the shape of a tall chalice.

He then shared about the things in his life that threw him off center. Outside influences and bad decisions. When he spoke these words, the clay in his hands began to wobble. He hit the clay and dented it. Soon the beautiful piece of pottery was marred and “spoiled” as the scripture lesson says.

But then he talked about his faith journey once again, and how God was able to rework this one, firm in the hands of the creator, into another vessel, different in shape, but still a beautiful creation.

I love this passage.

First of all, we are all broken. It happens. We get off center. We wobble. We stumble. We are broken. But even broken, we are never out of touch of the one who created us, who formed us in our mother’s womb, who has named us beloved. Forgiveness is given as a gift. The Potter is always ready to bring us back to center and work us once again in a loving embrace and creative touch.

Second, it’s okay to make mistakes. I shared these words in a conformation sermon many years ago:

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We’ve all make them and most of us have survived. God still holds on to us, even when we fail, and we learn valuable things even if our parents really didn’t want us to learn that way. Don’t worry about the past – it’s in God’s hands. Don’t worry about whether you have the capacity to do something – the only way to find out is by trying, again and again. Don’t worry about how things will turn out – that’s all in God’s hands anyway. Just keep your eyes on the person God has made you to be – and if you’re not sure what that looks like, look at Jesus. And remember that you are, as you have always been, held in God’s love.

Finally, I appreciate that the potter doesn’t throw the clay away. No. Instead the clay is reworked into something new. Writing these devotions over the past few months has been a lesson in that for me. Writing has never been a strong suit of mine. If you would have told me a few years ago that I would be writing a daily devotion every single day, I would have told you that’s crazy. But there has been a reworking in how God can use me to do God’s work at this time.

Let us pray.

Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me Melt me mold me Fill me use me Spirit of the Living God Fall fresh on me.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

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