April 6, 2011 - Spirit & Clay
Jeremy D. Scott
Jeremiah 18:1-11, Romans 8:1-11
The thing about fresh clay is that it’s workable, malleable, and generally open to being shaped into something new. A finished piece of pottery is something that’s turned hard. It might good for one thing: to hold water, prop flowers, contain food, or a number of other meaningful uses. But the finished earthen vessel will have a difficult time being formed into something new.
The thing about “spirit” is that it’s of unpredictable formation. The biblical images are all things that are hard to contain: wind, fire, water. You might be able to control these things in small amounts, but in any kind of mass bigger than us, they become as wild as can be: forces of unstoppable mission. Whether it’s a tank-like tornado, a consuming conflagration, or a sweeping tsunami, one thing is for sure in the wake of this kind of Spirit-storm: things will not be like they were before. The Spirit is ever moving to do something new.
The fruitful infusion of these two - clay and spirit - will only come about in an environment of shifting, openness, and a vulnerable humility to something outside itself. This Lenten season is an opportunity to be re-membered as Christ would have us to be (that is, to be put back together again). The brokenness that follows repentance is fertile ground for the pieces of our lives to be washed and worked into a fresh clay. With the victory and power of resurrection looming on the other side, it may not be too early to ask the question: Is the Potter seeking to re-work your functionality?
We could ask it otherwise in this season:
Have the weedy plants of last season’s garden been raked up to make room for new growth?
Are there messy and choking cobwebs that need some cleaning out so fresh air might come into the house?
Do we need a month or two of spring training to be ready for the marathon that is the regular season?
For Lent and the soon-coming Good Friday, we might even ask:
Does something need to die?
There is no resurrection without death.
Indeed: “He who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.”
Lord, in this season, break me such that your crafting may make in me a vessel of usefulness, wherein your wonderful treasure can reside, move, and thrive.