The Potter and the ClayJeremiah 18:1-6 (NRSV)
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.
Our services in Oldtown always open with the phrase, “Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.” Which is a phrase commonly used by our denomination, the United Church of Christ. But as I told you at the beginning of worship today, that is not just an empty phrase, it is something that we honestly believe in Oldtown. And whether we are meeting online or in person, we always strive to be a welcoming community. Where everyone is welcome, no matter what! Because as a church, it is not our job to judge anyone, it’s just our job to meet everyone where they are, and to love them!
Friends, as a community of faith, it is our job to show hospitality and welcome to all, but it is also our job to understand that God loves each one of us as we are. What that means is that God loves us even as broken and mix up as our lives might seem sometimes. But God also loves us too much to let us stay that way.
In our scripture reading today, we heard from the prophet Jeremiah. Do you remember the story that he told? Jeremiah tells of a trip that he took to the potter’s house. And while he was there, he watched the potter as he worked at his wheel.
Have you ever watched a potter spinning a pot? It is A very messy, yet delicate art. If the potter just lets the lump of clay spin on the wheel without touching it, it simply stays a lump of clay. The potter must gently mold it and shape it, adding pressure and pushing on the clay, but not too much. If the potter puts too much pressure on one side, the pot will be uneven or even collapse in on itself. It takes a lot of patience and love of the craft to be successful.
Now as Jeremiah told us, while he was at the potter’s house, “The vessel that the potter was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands. So, the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as it seemed best to him.” As Jeremiah watched this happen, the word of the LORD came to him saying, “Can I not do with you, as this potter does?” “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.”
Friends, that makes me wonder. Why do we go to church? Why do we attend worship, either online or in person? To take a break from the busy world around us? To learn more and maybe even to be inspired? To be a part of a loving and welcoming community? To be a part of something bigger than ourselves? Or because we were raised to think that you are a good person if you go to church on Sunday?
The truth is, we all come to worship with issues and problems and things that we are trying to work through in our lives. We all come with questions and a desire to be moved or enlightened or inspired. We come to be fed and nourished for the week ahead and for the journey before us. But isn’t it true that though we come to worship as we are, somehow deep inside we come knowing that we might not stay that way, but rather that we might be changed and transformed?
We look for God the Potter, to take our uneven, messy pots and change the things about us that make us collapse in on ourselves. That God might rework us and transform us and make us into a new creation.
As Psalm 139 reminded us a few weeks ago, God knew us before we were born. God formed us in our mother’s womb, and by grace, God continues to transform us into the best that we can be.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your week ahead, stay open to the movement of the Spirit in your life because God is always there helping to make you the best that you can be. Do not be afraid of the changes. Take hold of the transformation and let God fill you with inspiration and passion so that you can live out your faith and share the love of Christ, knowing that you are held safely and lovingly in the hands of the Potter!
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God. Amen!