Reflection by Patty Meyers, D. Min., Ed. D., president of CEF
The great artist Michelangelo believed that inside a piece of marble an angel waited to be let out for the world to see. In order to free it, the sculptor had to chip away any part of the marble that was not a necessary part of the sculpture.
Potters know that in each lump of clay is a potentially great piece of art. They also know that it is easy to “mess up’ a piece and that the piece they envision may not turn out the way that they intend. All kinds of things can affect the outcome.
One thing that potters can count on is interaction with the clay. The metaphor of the potter in Jeremiah 18 is a good example, but I want to focus on the partnership between the potter and the clay.
The clay cannot form itself into a beautiful pot. The potter must work with it. Potters get clay on their hands, under their fingernails, and long after washing, it can dry the skin and the scent of the clay may linger on the hands. Certainly the potter changes and shapes the clay but the clay changes the potter too. Pot and potter are interdependent with each other. Potters aren’t potters if they don’t work with some type of clay. Pots cannot come into being without potters.
In her seminal book, Fashion Me a People, Maria Harris asserted that as potters “fashion” clay, so Christian educators “fashion” people. God calls us to co-create the future, to make disciples, to mold the clay of human beings into the beautiful works of art that God intends each person to be. Christian educators work with the stuff of the earth – humans – to fashion people as God intends them to be.
How are you working to shape others in the image of the Divine? I believe that Christian education and faith formation is a holy calling and as much an art form as sculpture or pottery. I don’t think that anything more beautiful exists that a person whom God shapes, molds and changes into the full potential with the help of those who teach and learn.
As the pot changes the potter, so those with whom we work will change us. For better or worse, life will change both. Jeremiah 1:4 says that the potter formed a marred vessel into a new one, shaping it in the say that seemed best. As you work with God to fashion a people, may the Holy One and you create something beautiful.