The Potter’s House

Written by Blaine Oliver Thomas, Pastor, Bethany United Methodist Church in Weyers Cave, VA

Trees with light coming through. A Voice in the Wilderness

Jeremiah 18:1-11

He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:6

I often remember my parents consistently telling me as a young boy that I was “impressionable,” as they encouraged me to find good friends who made good choices. At the time, the word impressionable did not mean much, but as I grew up, it was a word I heard less and less as I developed into a young man. I assume that as I grew into becoming a pastor, that my parents were less concerned with who I might become and who was around me. But is being impressionable only something that we as people of God ought to be concerned about at an early age?

As a child, the only thing I remember from elementary school art class was making clay sculptures. I remember the room that housed the school kiln in it and only Mrs. McBride, our teacher, was able to go into that room. I spent many classes playing and getting clay everywhere before I finally configured an exotic barn-like structure. Safe to say, it would not have won any awards. But to this day I remember just how that clay was so impressionable and able to change, while it was still in its original form. The potter’s hands therefore are always working, changing, altering, and perfecting the clay. It is not until after it has been placed in the kiln that it is no longer able to be changed or morphed into something else.

Jeremiah is urging the people of Judah to turn away from their sins and shortcomings, and redirect their focus to the living, breathing God. Judah had produced the likes of King David and King Solomon, and yet, the people of God had forgotten how faithful God had been to them in the past and turned away from the promise and future that God had promised to them. If they choose to continue to follow in their own ways, God will uproot them and punish them. The text reminds me of the words from Bishop Will Willimon, when he says, “God is going to get what God wants.” God is trying to chase down the people of God and bring them back into the fold. Luckily for the people of Judah, they haven’t been placed in the burning kiln yet, so there is still time for transformation and returning to the will of God. They have an opportunity to hear the words of Jeremiah and choose their path.

And just like the people of Judah, we too have been offered a warning to return to the faithful ways of our loving parent. God, like the potter in his house, is still in the business of transforming and making us new and impressionable. Our sins and failures do not define us, for we are continually being shaped and molded into God’s own children. My hope and prayer for us during this season of Lent is that we may turn our hearts toward God, we may be leaving an imprint on others whom we meet along the journey, and we let the Holy Spirit continue to shape us into being God’s own kindred. May God continue to create in you a new and vibrant piece of work.

A Voice in the Wilderness: Lent 2024

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