We can work with that

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. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 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. (Jeremiah 18:1-6)

When I was a boy, my dad tried with all his might to teach me how to be a carpenter like he was. It really wasn't his fault that I couldn't hit the same spot twice with a hammer, or that it didn't matter how many times I measured, the cut would be super wrong. We would be in the garage trying to work on building a bookshelf or a table or something, and I would inevitably make a huge mistake. I would step back and start to feel tears well up in my eyes, staring at what felt like a devastating failure. And then my patient father would step along side me, put his arm around my shoulders and say "You know, I think we can work with that." And then I would watch a master craftsman work around my mistake, sand down a little bit here, re-glue a little something there. Bit by little bit, the mistake would be folded in to a series of corrections until it was unnoticeable.

That to me always felt like grace. It's not like our sin and our errors don't matter or have consequences. They absolutely do. But I feel like God is constantly coming alongside me, putting an arm on my shoulder, and say "You know, I think we can work with that."

If you've been reading the lectionary, you'll know that we've been seeing that God is pretty upset with his people in Israel. He's been commanding the prophet to actually NOT pray for the people, he was so bent on destroying them. And yet, here he is today showing himself to be a patient potter, taking clay that has already spoiled, and turning it into something beautiful. If the people would just turn back and listen in, God could work with them. He makes it clear that there would not be a point at which they would be too far gone for His good work in their midst. No matter how spoiled the clay may get, a master potter can work with that.

It's important to notice our mistakes. It's how we learn not to make them. It's important for us as Christians to admit and confess our sins. It can take a lot of weight off our shoulders. And it is every bit as important for us to remember a kind potter, stooping down next to us as we stare at our mistakes and says "You know...I think we can work with that."

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