I have always loved the motif of God as Potter, moulding and creating, restoring and renewing, until the clay becomes closer to His Image. I suspect that most of that is because as a Teenager and young adult, pottery was my default art expression. In my final year of school, it was my main medium for my art portfolio, and when I was stressed at University during my first undergraduate course I would indulge myself in community pottery classes.
I loved the preparation of the clay, the pounding, pushing, extracting the air bubbles so it’s time in the kiln would not destroy my vision. It was a therapeutic form of aggression, a legitimate outlet that hurt no-one and gave rise to something beautiful. I could also rework the shape until I was happy with the shape, texture, etc., there was never any wastage everything that was purchased was used and I would work at it until I was happy with it.
Children use playdoh from quiet an early age, I remember trying different recipes when my children were young until I found the one I was happiest with, and marvelling at all the colours and tools attached to the commercial play doh range. Children understand today’s Jeremiah reading, because they know what it is to work on a playdoh piece and continue working on it until it represents what they want. Flame blogger knows this too, and she has many prayers and worksheets that involve the use of play doh for example http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2012/01/play-dough-prayers.html and http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/p/play-ough.html Metaphor comes from what we can see around us, and children are on the first steps of understanding because they are learning from the world around them.
This faith understanding of Jeremiah, came from his interaction with the world around him. It is the same for children, who learn from their interaction with the world around them, this is the basis of Montessori method https://montessori.org.au. Children can learn about God and of God from what is around them, from the everyday. Thus, the integration of faith by the family unit beyond the walls of the Church is important. How else can we value God in the everyday if our eyes aren’t opened to it. For example, let me tell you about a great nephew of mine, all of 3 years old who went to his mother about the fires racing through Queensland and NSW, in Australia and asked if they could pray for those affected. He didn’t wait till Sunday, if you ask him he will tell you that Sunday is for Church, he knew he could do this in the everyday. Anytime. Church is for Sunday but God is everywhere, he understands that lesson.
Working with clay is intimate, you and the medium collide, perhaps that’s why my other preferred medium is conte, you should touch it, stroke it to get the best out of it. They are both intimate mediums. We are reminded that we are an intimate medium for God, in today’s Psalm. Keeping the metaphor going, and using another intimate everyday image, that of knitting. Yes, you got it, another favourite of mine, each fibre is touched by the maker as it passes through your hand. God, touches us, our very existence, our very being, we are intimately made, intimately known, age is irrelevant,
For many in Child and Family Ministry these verses are cherished as they speak of God’s intimate connection with us, be it from conception as in the Psalm or through Life as attested to by one who was chosen as a child. These are what Jerome Berryman refers to as high images of Children in the Bible. Let the children worship with you, you are all known and shaped by the Maker.
For Further reading read Chapter 4 in Jerome W. Berryman’s Becoming like a Child (2017, Church Publishing, NY)