The reading from Jeremiah this week is the source of a favorite church camp song about God being the potter and us being the clay. It’s not quite so comfortable in context. However, it is not the threat from Jeremiah that I see as significant today as it is the nature of the relationship the metaphor sets up. God is the potter, we are the clay. Too often we get it the other way round. In “The River of God” Gregory of Riley describes the many and varied sources of our image of God. Early on he make sit clear he is describing the process of the development of our image, which says nothing about the person of God. Part of our journey to spiritual maturity is to move away from efforts to manipulate God, through prayer and good works, to discerning God’s call.
In Philemon we have an example of such a change. Paul is encouraging Philemon to change his relationship with Onesimus from master – slave to brother in Christ. To undertake such a change is to allow ones self (including secular values and world views) to be reshaped by divine values, to be reshaped by the loving hands of the divine potter. There is nothing to imply such changes are easy, nor safe. Which I rather suspect is what Jesus is on about in this week’s ‘hard sayings.’