A reading from Jeremiah 18 (CEB):
Jeremiah received the LORD’s word: Go down to the potter’s house, and I’ll give you instructions about what to do there. So I went down to the potter’s house; he was working on the potter’s wheel.But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him. Then the LORD’s word came to me: House of Israel, can’t I deal with you like this potter, declares the LORD? Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel! At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I’ll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it. At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom; but if that nation displeases and disobeys me, then I’ll relent and not carry out the good I intended for it. Now say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem: This is what the LORD says: I am a potter preparing a disaster for you; I’m working out a plan against you. So each one of you, turn from your evil ways; reform your ways and your actions. But they said, “What’s the use! We will follow our own plans and act according to our own willful, evil hearts.”
The nature of creativity involves making a lot of mistakes. The nature of art is knowing which ones to keep. This caveat has always been at the heart of my artistic endeavors. Whether unraveling the mysteries of a beautiful piece of music or rehearsing lines for a play, I keep trying different colors and nuances. Sometimes that “aha” moment comes quickly. But more frequently the detritus of my own rejections is overwhelming, and I have to leave the task before I go stark raving mad.
Once, on a trip to Kentucky during seminary, I met an artist named Rocky. A wizened old man with twinkling eyes and bulbous nose, he could have been the twin of Gandalf. He gave me a great piece of advice to ponder. The word “ART” can be dissected thus: A = artist, R = relationship, T = thing. The stronger the relationship with the artist, the more valuable the thing. The more the artist’s input, the more expression the thing offers.
God, in this scripture, is the potter, the Artist. He does not deal arbitrarily with us, his creations of clay. He can destroy or restore accordingly as we disobey or fulfill his plans. We are fortunate that his relationship to us is merciful, resolute and intimate; hence, our value is immeasurable.
Divine Creator who shaped us with your own hands, make us worthy to be fired in the kiln of your love. Amen