On a visit to the local fair, as a young child, I recall watching a potter at his wheel. I watched this intimate relationship between the potter’s hands and what began as a lump of clay, as he gently moulded and shaped it, applying pressure from the inside, sometimes from the outside, sometimes upward, bending it backward, frequently dipping his hands in water, to guide and shape the clay. Kneading out with his fingertips the various imperfections on the surface and slowly but surely defining the outline of what he had in mind. His hands never left his handiwork, as if to reassure the clay that he was right there, and that he would brook no untoward monstrosity instead of what he had already planned in his mind. I don’t quite know what he made in the end because my parents dragged me away to see the next exhibit. But I remember walking away with this sense of awe and mystery, one that I retain to this day. What I am certain of is that on that day he created some exquisite Objet d’art, out of an act of love, an enterprise that he poured his entire heart and soul into.
On this Holy Night of Easter, as I meditate on the readings that span Salvation History, I am reminded of Isaiah 64:7 (“we are the clay and you our potter”). Like that potter I saw at the fair, God created us, his exquisite Objet d’art, Creatio Ex Nihilo, in an act of love (1 John 4:8). It is His breath of life (Gen 2:7) that brought us into being, out of the dust of the earth. But, somewhere along the way, we chose to get broken. Instead of discarding the shards, our Heavenly Potter didn’t give up on the broken pieces. Thus, began the grand plan of salvation for man. The Old Testament Patriarchs, Prophets and Kings must have wondered about this plan. Christ attested their yearning, “I tell you many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it” (Luke 10:24). But, I am sure they had that same sense of awe and mystery that I did, watching the heavenly potter at work on his wheel, realizing the momentousness of the salvation plan unfolding before them, comforted by the certainty of a covenant promise.
The times these days feel like the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A tale of two cities. On the one hand I feel we are blessed to be living in these, the best of times. Unlike our forefathers, we get to look back at the events of salvation history, and can see the outline and promise of the plan of salvation that has been revealed (Matthew 27:51, “And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom“). On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that we also live in the worst of times and I grow impatient, tired and become weary of the waiting. The pots can’t wait to be made. But, the Potter will accept nothing less than the perfect (Matthew 5:48). At such times I take comfort in the mystery and awe of observing my heavenly potter at His wheel as I learn to let Him gently break down my resistance, to remove my hardened impurities, grateful for living in my today, without worrying about tomorrow (Luke 6:34). In like fashion, I have to trust Him as I watch Him at work on the world around me. Like at that fair, I may not be around to see His grand finished product in my lifetime, but unlike at that fair, it is my hope and prayer that He will bring me back to see it in the established time and season (Acts 1:7). Amen.
[Readings: Genesis 1:1—2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15—15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4; Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28; Romans 6:3-11; Mark 16:1-7]