This Sunday I am preaching from the rich scripture passage from Jeremiah 18 about the potter and the clay. It is such a timely Scripture passage as our church also begins to spend the month unfolding a draft for our new Vision and Core Values here at Centenary United Methodist Church. This is a very exciting time in the life of the church. This is a time where I most resonate with this passage that talks about us as a people being like clay in God, the Master Potter’s hands. How will God shape and mold us?
That part of the story is yet to unfold and certainly will be part of my sermon in a few days. Today, this passage actually has me thinking more about the state of our country more so than the state of our church. After all, Jeremiah is a prophet so of course he gives words of warning. And he usually delivers with a punch.
Jeremiah speaks about how God is like a potter and can and will shape and reshape us as a people. He is speaking specifically to Israel, his chosen people and nation. He warns that God has the prerogative to tear down those kingdoms that turn away from God and are driven by evil rather than that which is right and good and faithful. Even if God has promised great things. If behavior reveals a faithlessness in God over and over than God warns that God may hesitate to bless. If a kingdom listens to God’s voice than great plans can unfold.
Then I noticed in the margins of my Bible (The Spiritual Formation Bible p. 1017) a recommended exercise with this scripture passage. It invites you to take some clay or any malleable substance and hold it in your fingers. Pause and think about our nation at its worst. What shape or symbol represents that painful moment and shape the clay as you reflect. Place that shape before God and ask God to show mercy on your nation.
Then it invites you to smash that clay symbol! Destroy it. Now reflect for a minute about a symbol or image for how you desire your nation to be. A sign of hope of what could be. Shape the clay into that symbol. Let it harden and place it somewhere to prompt you to pray for our country and the forces that shape and mold it.
We have much to be in prayer over within our nation. If you can find some clay or play doh or something malleable, I invite you to give this a try. You might find it therapeutic! But it is also is a powerful reminder to pray for the forces and entities that do shape what is happening in our nation. Because that is who and what we need to hold in our prayers during these difficult days politically, socially and relationally as a nation. It’s also a reminder that God can reshape and remold that which is blemished, misshaped and lopsided. Let’s strive to be a nation that is guided by what is good and right, moral and faithful. And then maybe we can see and recognize God’s blessings appearing in the little and big things throughout our communities and nation.
Grace and Peace,