Jeremiah responds to the Lord and goes to the potter’s house. There he witnesses the work of the potter as he shapes and molds the clay. As is often the case, the clay sometimes doesn’t take shape as intended, so the potter begins again. He fashions the clay and works with it until the vessel he intends emerges.
We do not always see ourselves as malleable clay. We want to control matters for ourselves, be in charge of our own destiny. We desire to manipulate and plan our agendas in a way that best suits our own needs. If, however, we see ourselves as clay, it means that we consciously decide to allow another to shape who we are. This decision, though difficult, ultimately leads to a life that is fashioned according to God’s way and will. This choice also has implications for the future. Refusing God’s way can lead to destructive outcomes. Turning away from evil and toward God can bring about the emergence of a new beginning. The Potter’s hands hold authority over all of life. Will we decide to place ourselves in these hands?
My mother patiently pitched the baseball to me as I tried to learn to hit. I found the bat heavy and unmanageable. She would pitch. I would miss. My father, home early from work, watched this and then moved behind me. He put his hands over mine, and we held the bat together. The ball came, and with new strength and accuracy the bat moved toward the ball. I was on target for the first time. If I had known the difference my father’s hands could make, I would have asked for his help much sooner.
In the hands of the Potter, our lives can take shape in ways we never thought possible. The realities of life may leave us scarred or marred, but the Potter does not give up on us. The Potter creates a new beginning and molds us into new vessels for use for a great purpose.
Gracious God, I place myself in your hands today. Make and mold my life for your use. Amen.
The Gospel lesson stresses the cost of disci- pleship. One of the costs involves family, but the implication is that there are compensations as well as costs. Belonging to God affects the way in which one belongs to others. Traditional pat- terns, kinship and otherwise, are transformed. This insight lies at the heart of Paul’s letter to Philemon concerning Philemon’s slave, Onesimus. Without directly requesting that Philemon set Onesimus free, Paul clearly suggests that the ties that bind per- sons as brothers and sisters in Christ transform traditional social patterns, including slavery. Both Jeremiah 18 and Psalm 139 af rm our belongingness to God, individually and corporately.
• Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. How has the “word of the Lord” come to you? What obstacles prevent you from placing your- self entirely in God’s hands?
• Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. How does your life evidence God’s handiwork?
• Read Philemon 1-21. What person or group needs your advocacy in the name of Christ?
• Read Luke 14:25-33. How have you counted the cost of fol- lowing Jesus?
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