Jeremiah 18:6b “...Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
Intro There are several images of God in the Old Testament that we hold to dearly. God is the Father who loves us, or God is the Shepherd who leads us in the right way. Jeremiah gives another picture of the divine presence in Jer. 18:11b: “Thus says the Lord; 'Look, I am a potter...” It brings to my mind a chorus one of my assistants used to sing with his guitar, “Father, you are the potter, We are the clay, The work of your hands!” God the Potter points to Design. God not only made the world, but has plans for us who live in it.
“You are the Potter!” As we receive comfort knowing that Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph the Carpenter, so now we follow Jeremiah into the potter's house and see God in the guise of a workman, a craftsman, a designer of pots!
In the ordinary work a day world, there is a divine message. Whilst we praise and glorify the Lord of all creation, yet this image brings the divine presence closer to us. A potter makes pots, some ordinary and mundane, like water pots or plant pot, etc., but some more exotic and more decorative.
A friend of mine was a Vicar in the Potteries in the U.K. He persuaded the potters to make him a chalice from clay. It was put on display, but was considered too fragile for weekly church use. Think then of God making us – some for useful purposes and some for display! The real point is that God like a potter can make many things, even things that don't work out as planned and a change of mind is in order. Yet we believe God wants to design the best. Surely the Lord plans for us to be perfect vessels of holiness.
“We are the clay!” Think of Adam and the stuff we are made of. Clay is very messy, yet used in the right hands, can be extremely useful. Yet clay has its drawbacks. So too, people, like clay, do not always conform to the design God had in mind.
As we think of our present situation, it is not difficult to feel that potentially we could be more useful but often, like the clay itself, we are sloppy, muddy and downright unmanageable! There is a down side to clay, even when it is fired properly. It is fragile! So are we. People break very easily too.
“The work of your hands!” Jer. 18:6 says: “Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? Says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” In these dark days and perhaps in our weakest moments, let us believe that God has a plan for our lives and for our Church! God is the divine designer who wants to make us holy and acceptable in every way. Like the potter, God creates different things – some lowly but essential, others beautiful but often not durable. God made us and we should believe and acknowledge the stamp of his presence within us. Yes we are fragile, and yes we have clay-like tendencies at times, but we have been touched by the divine.
Conclusion Let us then continue to believe in the God who made us in His own image. The designer still has plans for us. There is a plan of salvation given to us by the birth of Jesus, whom we accept as our Lord and Saviour – a vessel worthy of our praise.