The Potter’s Mug
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, it anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)
A man named Kevin put a little plate called a bat on the pottery wheel. He measured off a blob of clay and, with water drenched hands, plopped the wet clay onto the bat. He tapped a pedal on the floor and the wheel began to turn. Every good potter knows the right amount of moisture needed to move the clay, the right speed of turn that forms, yet doesn’t destroy.
Bat on wheel. Clay on bat. Water on hands. Hands on clay. Turn, turn, turn.
Cupping both hands around the clay, Kevin pressed his thumbs with equal, slow pressure into the center – down, down, down. The blob turned into a bowl.
Like the very miracle that all creation is, the blob of clay took shape. Still turning, still with wet hands, Kevin placed one hand on the inside of the vessel, one hand on the outside. Slowly, slowly, he drew the clay upward. Every good potter knows there must be pressure that is hidden and pressure that is visible to make just the right shape.
The bowl turned into a cup.
The man used a variety of tools. A sponge, a trimmer shaped like a stylus, a rib that reminded me of a guitar pick except all stretched out funny. It’s this, this rib, that smooths the surface somewhat.
After a careful time, Kevin tapped the pedal with his foot and the turning slowed to a stop. He popped the bat off the wheel and slid both bat and cup onto a shelf. Then, he began again. Bat on wheel. Clay on bat. Water on hands. Hands on clay. Turn, turn, turn.
In twelve hours Kevin will put more clay in an extruder attached to the wall. He will produce a long clay rope. He will cut the rope into six-inch pieces. He will separate the cups from the bats, scratch the cups in just the right places, and with a mixture of clay and water, attach the ropes to the scratched up parts. Instant handles.
When each cup has a handle, Kevin will move the pieces to a shelf where they will air dry for a week before their first firing in the kiln. Every good potter knows heat explodes the clay that hasn’t gone through a good dry season.
Then, into the fire: 1,800 degrees for twelve hours. After a cooling period, Kevin will apply a special glaze. Another round in the kiln: 2,400 degrees for five hours. Every good potter knows this is what makes the colors come alive.
All this time, material, work, and heat. For what?
A simple, potter’s mug.
As we watched and learned and marveled, the 2 Timothy 2:20-21 verses rolled around in my head. Take a second and read through them again.
Dear Lord, I am neither silver nor gold. Most days, I don’t even qualify as second-hand china, but I do want to be your every day dish. Your simple, sweet potter’s mug. Cleanse me. Set me apart as holy. Make me useful. And ready me for every good work. I trust you have a plan for cracked little cups like me, in this new year of 2023.