Planning for this Series
Week 2: Jeremiah 18:1-11
This is the second week of the series; the principal image from the Jeremiah passage is God, the potter. In terms of visuals, this is an excellent time to highlight the work of potters who may be in your congregation. If there are no potters in your congregation, consider purchasing pottery from local artisans to support your community.
Jeremiah’s chief concern here is the power and agency of God. Like a potter, God may decide that the clay is not cooperating with the plan and/or design, and the potter may choose to start over again. The scripture thus functions as a prophetic warning to all who might forsake the potter.
How often do we forget our connection to God, the potter? Sometimes we need a reminder that we are intimately linked to God’s creative work in the world. Psalm 139:14 offers a powerful declaration of our indebtedness to the potter: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Consider highlighting this affirmation as a response to the Word.
Invite the members of your congregation into an intentional moment of affirming one another’s existence as the potter’s workmanship. This ritual act will work best if you have a substance that resembles clay (could be actual red clay or dirt mixed with oil). Similar to how churches impose ashes for Ash Wednesday, your church could have an imposition of “clay.” Depending on the size of your congregation, you may choose to have people come forward to receive the clay, or they could go to various stations and offer the clay to one another. Using the clay, one person would make the sign of the cross on the other’s hand, while saying “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Folks could then return to their seats to sit, sing, reflect, pray.
Songs such as “Change My Heart, O God” (The Faith We Sing, 2152) or “Spirit of the Living God” (The United Methodist Hymnal, 393), would be thematically suitable to sing during or immediately following this ritual moment.
Written by guest writer, Nelson Cowan, Ph.D. Liturgical Studies: Boston University School of Theology.