From your pastor… 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.
(Jeremiah 18: 1-4, NRSV)
On our recent venture to Massachusetts, we had the opportunity to visit Meden Parker’s pottery workshop and showroom. It was fascinating. We asked him where the clay came from, and his answer was surprising to me. Much of it came from the U.S., but some of it came from Australia and Ireland and other countries. It came in bags that looked like sawdust. It had to be mixed and set, and different types of pottery required different types of clay. But the potter had to mix the clay to a certain consistency before it could be thrown. Once the potter decided on a shape, there were several firings, painting, drying out periods, and glazing that took place. They had a giant kiln made of bricks that looked like a small smokehouse for meats. It could reach temperatures of 2400 degrees. From the beginning to its final creation was a long, tedious process.
In the showroom were beautiful pieces of pottery in all shapes, colors, and sizes. There were some to be used for outdoor purposes like fountains and bird feeders, and others could be used for baking and cooking, or just for decorative purposes. There also were some pieces that had been cracked and repaired. They were usually sold at a special sale called the “second sale.” The price was reduced, but unless you looked carefully with a critical eye, most people would not even notice it had been cracked and repaired.
Collecting pottery pieces has been a passion of mine for about twenty years. While there, I saw a small circular, flat piece with the tree of life painted on it. It was simple, but it kept calling out to me: “bring me home with you.” I passed it by several times, and I had to go back and get it. In Revelation, there is a vision of heaven with all the peoples of the earth gathered together and the tree of life is on either side of the Living water flowing from the throne of God. It is a symbol to me of the way that God wants us to live together in peace. We are all shapes, colors, and sizes, but we have been made by the Master Potter’s hand. I think God looks at all of us, and declares, “how beautiful is my creation! Yes, some of them have been cracked and worn and messed up, but I have taken them and remolded them and given them second chances. I have never thrown them away and given up on them.”
As we think back over our lives, yes, we all have been broken into pieces at times. The Scripture in Revelation says that the leaves on the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations. The good news is that God can heal us, make us whole again, bring us hope for a new dawn and a second chance. The songwriter expresses it so well in that old hymn by Adelaide A. Pollard and George C. Stebbins, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way! Thou art the potter and I am the clay. Mold me and make me, after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”
Grace and peace, Rev. Becky