“Like clay in the hand of the potter” [Jeremiah 18:6]
At morning prayer this morning, the text was Jeremiah 18:1-6: the Lord sends Jeremiah down to the house of the potter. While Jeremiah is watching the potter work a piece of clay on the wheel. The pot he was working came apart in his hands, but he simply pressed it down and began again, more gently this time. And the Lord says to Jeremiah, “like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” It’s such a beautiful image of the way God works in our hearts. Think of a potter turning a piece of clay: it is such an intimate process between the potter and the clay. The potter has all his attention focused on the clay; and the clay in turn has its own character, it’s own strong parts and its own weak parts. The potter must know that piece of clay intimately in order to make of it something useful and beautiful. And if things go wrong, the potter merely perseveres, taking into account what he has just learned about that piece of clay.
Unlike clay, God values each of us as we are – yet God continues to shape us all the time. Like the potter, God’s hands are upon our lives, shaping, guiding and coaxing us along our journey of faith. And God knows us deeply, studies us intimately, and takes into account everything about us that makes us unique: all our strong parts, and all our not-so-strong parts. As we look back over our journeys of faith, we can see the soft grooves of God’s hands in the shape we are becoming.
This summer is, for me, a time for this kind of reflection. In going back to the camp where I became a Christian 20 years ago, and in going again to Taize where so much of my spiritual growth has happened, I am reminded of the journey I’ve traveled, by God’s guidance and God’s grace. This journey could have led to many different places – to many dangerous and dark places. It often did lead there. And no doubt God had to start again with me on more than one occasion. And yet God was not discouraged. God persevered. What joy it is for me to look back over all those years, and to see that path leading here, to St. George’s. I feel so grateful and so blessed to be here with you, and to be doing this work together. It is a good thing God is doing among all of us here together.
I will enjoy my time away; but I will look forward to being back – I know I will! I look forward to seeing many of you at the camping weekend on September 7-9. And if you can’t camp overnight, come for the day! Saturday will be a fun day and Sunday we’ll have our worship service (with Holy Communion) outdoors, come rain or shine. Pray for shine!
God bless for these next few weeks, friends.