Daily Worship

The clay cries out

James Cathcart December 04, 2023 3 4
Image credit: Unsplash
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Isaiah 64: 1-9 (NRSVA)

1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!

As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake before you!

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
    who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
    you were angry.
    How then can we be saved?

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

No one calls on your name
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
    and have given us over to[b] our sins.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
    do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all your people.

Did you know that the origin of the word ‘potholes’, those frustrating divots we find in the road, comes from pottery? Not because the holes are somehow pot shaped, but because some irresponsible potters in olden times got a bad rep for leaving great big holes behind them as they worked! In their search for clay they would dig up the ground and leave open gouges behind them in the way of unsuspecting hooves, cartwheels and ankles.

Clay — a miraculous earthy substance that brings beauty and practicality to everyday life — is turned into something that leaves in its wake craters of imminent disaster. In the hands of an irresponsible potter in search of a quick profit — clay becomes something that literally fractures a community, rather than binding it together.

And this is where we join Isaiah today, with the clay itself crying out. It’s fallen into the hands of greedy and reckless potters that have left behind them ruin and destruction. The clay wants to be remoulded anew, by a potter who takes pride in their craftsmanship. A potter who will temper the clay, strengthening it. A potter that won’t leave callous wounds in the earth, but will restore the ground, rebuilding ruins and making streets fit to live on!

When we are left clutching at straws our God with the tenderness and care of an expert potter lifts us and turns us and holds us to the light and tells us that clay can be restored. It can be tempered to help bind it, to forestall shrinking and cracking. What seems beyond repair can be restored. The human spirit — the clay waiting to be remoulded is an awesome and powerful thing. The human spirit with a little care and grace can rise and rise — reforged, not unbroken, but beautiful and alive.




Potter God,

tend to the human spirit

longing to be restored within us.