The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.4The 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.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6Can 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.7At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.11Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
Jeremiah 18:1-11 (NRSV)
Jeremiah was called to convey so many upsetting, unsettling messages God’s people. The world in turmoil, and eventually God’s people are overthrown and many are exiled from their land. In the midst of such turmoil, God offered some measure of hope. This same message speaks to God’s peoples in other times, even our own. There are consequences for wrong, even evil actions but there is a chance for redemption. This message of warning and reconciliation spoke to God’s people in one time of fear, violence, and persecution. What might this message have to say to us today, in our world which for many is filled with fear, violence, and persecution? For me, the message of hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation speaks out of the text.
And what a message of hope it is during this time of Lent! Just like this clay in the potter’s hand, we get a re-do, a new chance, the opportunity to start all over in our efforts! The clay remains the clay, with all the same qualities, but is re-shaped into something new.
Is this not what we are hoping for in Lent? We have entered Lent in a reflective head-space; a place where we long for justice and recognize our flaws, sins, and failures. Lent is a time where we work to reconnect with God and make important choices in how our relationship with God will affect our lives.
Here, in the words of God spoken through Jeremiah, we have all for which we have hoped. We are offered forgiveness; but more than that, we are offered the chance to be re-shaped into useful, purposeful parts of God’s work in the world. Right now, our world needs such a message of hope, forgiveness, usefulness, and purpose. May we have the courage to hear it and be changed by it.
Forgiving and constantly-loving God,
We thank you for your word to your people in all times of the chance for forgiveness and reconciliation with you. Help us to use this re-do, this new chance, to share your transformative work with the world. In your name we pray, Amen.
Final Level M. Div
Elizabeth’s passion is working with children and education in the church. She hopes to find a position where she is able to work with the Christian education in the church with children.