Thoughts for Thursday 21st January 2021

Psalm 62:5-12; Jeremiah 19:1-15; Revelation 18:11-20

Our reading from Jeremiah is full of dire and dreadful predictions of destruction and disaster. The place has already been filled with the blood of innocent people. Altars have been built on which children have been sacrificed. And now there’s going to be a siege, towards the end of which there’ll be the cannibalism, even of children.

If I can leave all this unpleasantness to one side, though, what jumps out at me today is the way Jeremiah didn’t just use words to get his message across, but did so also by his use of a visual aid. And so, here in chapter 19, we have Jeremiah leading people through a gate that’s presumably been named for the potsherds dumped there at the entrance to Jerusalem, intent to add more of his own.

I wonder if part of the appeal, and the reason why Jeremiah managed to get so many people to follow him out of the city, was that they thought Jeremiah’s pot contained something of interest; some sort of treasure – a legal document possibly. But no, there’s nothing at all inside. It is just a pot. But it’s a brand new pot, it possibly cost a deal of money, and when he breaks it, it must have been a memorably shocking moment. When no-one, whatever their age, intellect or the language they spoke, would have misunderstood what he was saying to them.

In the previous chapter at Jeremiah 18:1-6, we read that Jeremiah has gone into the Potter’s House, and presumably this is when he buys the pot. And while he’s there, he also uses what everyone can see is being done to make another memorable point. And this one is that, just as a potter is equally able to build up as to then spoil a pot that’s being thrown on a wheel, so too are we just like clay in God’s hands as well.

All this using pots to make a point reminds me of a passage from Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Quasimodo is compared to Captain Phoebus in two ways. First, Phoebus is likened to a very beautiful and very brilliant crystal vase, but one which unfortunately has a crack in it so that the water has escaped from it, and the flowers inside have become dry and withered. Second, though, Quasimodo himself is likened to a coarse and common earthenware pot, but one which has managed to retain its water, the flowers inside it remaining fresh and full of colour instead.

Let us pray (using part of Amanda Gorman’s poem, The Hill we Climb):

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures,
colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us . . .


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Page last updated: 21st January 2021 11:28 AM