Palimpsest: Formed by God

Jeremiah 18:1-6

The author (Adelaide Pollard, 1902) of Have Thine Own Way, Lord, a religious activist chronically frail and ill in mind and body, wrote this hymn during the distressful aftermath of an unsuccessful campaign to raise funds for a missionary trip to Africa. Following a prayer meeting she felt peace and a renewed relationship to God through her complete abandonment to do Gods will. She expressed that new relationship in the potter-clay imagery from Jeremiah. -- Carlton R. Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal

The renewal of the creation and the creatures through the renewal in humanity of the image of God is what Wesley identifies as the very heart of Christianity. Ye know that the great end of religion is to renew our hearts in the image of God. The last centurys foremost Wesley scholar, Albert Outler, calls this renewal of the image the axial theme of Wesleys doctrine of salvation. God will thus renew us in the spirit of our mind, and create us anew in the image of God, wherein we were at first created,’” says Wesley, quoting Ephesians 4:23 and Colossians 3:10. -- Theodore Runyon, The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today

This is a most unusual picture: God the knitter! I have a mother-in–aw, who has knit Norwegian sweaters…”You knit me together” says this psalm. It is complicated to knit a Norwegian sweater. But it is much more complicated toknit a Norwegian! Or an African, or an American.—James Limburg, Psalms for Sojourners

The workshop was situated in a lower area of Jerusalem, with easy access to a water supply. Jeremiah briefly describes the potter at work. He evidently stayed quite a a while, waiting for the oracle and meantime admiring the dexterity with which the potter handled the clay, the adroit way he could cope with any mishap by reshaping as necessary. The “wheel” is literally a pair of stone disks, which would revolve, one pivoted by a vertical shaft above the other, with a heavier lower disk that, periodically kick-started or shoved by the left hand, gave steady, freewheeling momentum. The prophet clarifies the divine interpretation in v. 6, supplying eyewitness information that fills out the demonstrative interjection rendered “Look.”  - Leslie C. Allen, Jeremiah

But thou art fire, sacred and hallow’d fire;
And I but earth and clay: should I presume
To wear thy habit, the severe attire
My slender compositions might consume.
I am both foul and brittle; much unfit
                       To deal in holy Writ.
Yet have I often seen, by cunning hand
And force of fire, what curious things are made
Of wretched earth. Where once I scorn’d to stand,
That earth is fitted by the fire and trade
Of skilfull artists, for the boards of those
                       Who make the bravest shows.
- George Herbert, from “The Priesthood”

Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.—Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit


· What helps you remember that you were formed by God?
· How has God reshaped you through your life?
· What habits help or hinder God’s shaping of you?
· How is God shaping Centenary UMC?

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