God, the artist of the eARTh

IMG_0125for Sunday, September 8, 2013
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
16th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 18
Year C
lectionary focus: Jeremiah 18:1-11
prop: If you are able and if you are very brave, have a small ball of clay for each child (and adult!). Be sure to have water or hand-wipes for hand-washing. And if you do this, prepare for this sermon to take a bit longer…

Good morning!

We are each artists! Yes, we are artists because each of us creates beautiful things for the world. Some of us are painters. Some of us writers, or drawers, or singers, or dancers, or actors, or builders, or even sports artists or math artists. Art is making something beautiful that also makes us think and feel. And when we do our art, we use many different tools. Painters uses brushes and canvases and paint and water. Singers use their voices and music and words and instruments. Quarterbacks uses footballs and pads and fields. And scientists use computers and beakers and Bunsen burners.

In our Bible story today, the prophet Jeremiah describes God as an artist, in particular, a potter. A potter is an artist who works with clay to make bowls and cups and plates. No, God doesn’t directly make bowls and cups and plates, but yes, God is an artist because He creates beautiful things for the world. God creates the mountains and trees and flowers…and us. God uses many tools for his art: rocks and dirt and leaves and smiles and love. God guides us to be beautiful! Each of us is a unique, artistic creation by God.

To help you remember the story of Jeremiah describing God as an artist, I have for you each a small ball of clay. My helpers will hand one to you. Take it and roll it in your hand. Feel how smooth it is. It is slightly sticky and moist. Now take it and pull it with your fingers. Stretch it out kind of flat and then cup it around your elbow. And get the clay to make a little bowl…an elbowl. (Add instructions as needed.) And remember that when an artist makes a mistake…wait…artists don’t make mistakes! I know, I know, sometimes your art doesn’t look or sound or feel like what you think it should. But when that happens, the artist in you pushes that hiccup and guides your creation back to where it will be beautiful. And the artist in you will smile at that little twist in your work that makes your work unique. And when you smile, remember that God, too, smiles at the beautiful creation that you are.

You can keep this clay and your elbowl. When you have it set, leave it for a few days and it will dry. Then you can use it to hold little things like marbles or rings or dreams or prayers.

Will you say a prayer with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
You are a great artist!
Thank You
for creating me.
Help me to be
Your beautiful creation
that makes You smile.

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.


9 responses to “God, the artist of the eARTh

  1. You could call these prayers bowls. I was given one and told that it is called that because it “can hold only those things too heavy for our hearts and too light for our hands”. Mine is one of my most sacred possessions.

  2. Fran, I wonder if you remember the hymn in the Episcopal hymnal (#412) “Earth and all stars”? I couldn’t help but hum it while I was reading this post. I tried to pick out one verse to put here and couldn’t decide. I gave up and I’m going to quote two:

    4. Engines and steel, loud pounding hammers,
    sing to the Lord a new song!
    Limestone and beams, loud building workers,
    sing to the Lord a new song!

    He has done marvelous things.
    I, too, will praise him with a new song!

    5. Classrooms and labs, loud boiling test tubes,
    sing to the Lord a new song!
    Athlete and band, loud cheering people,
    sing to the Lord a new song! Refrain

    (I wonder if this hymn was in your old hymnal and/or will be in your new Presbyterian hymnal?)

    • Oh, I do remember the kids (and a few adult scientists) really getting loud on the boiling test tubes! Thanks for reminding me of this one. I don’t believe that it is in the old Presbyterian hymnal; need to check the new one…

  3. This sounds fantastic! We are doing “Church in the Park” this Sunday — the UCCs have invited the UMCs to join us! What we had planned fell through (inviting a potter to bring their wheel). Do you mind if I “steal” it? There will be credit given in the bulletin.

    • Please use this! There is no “stealing”…That is why it is here! But thank you for giving me credit. The Park is a perfect setting to show God (and us) as Artists. Blessings on your service.

  4. Well, I’m giving it a try with the children and adults, as there are usually about 15-20 people at worship at this church of 6 members. The clay was purchased from a local potter for $3 for a good-sized chunk which I cut up using an old violin string. Hand wipes and papers towels are on ready. Thanks for the idea.

    • Now using an old violin string to cut it IS really being an artist! Hope everyone, including you, has fun. Thanks for sharing.

      • Elaine Anderson

        It went over well. From the Facebook page: A terrific day at First Presbyterian Church! Elaine Anderson(Minister) always makes the hour interesting and unpredictable, as it was today. The congregation played with clay-dough and then Elaine and her husband Ed, did a “skit”, all in support of the topic of the sermon…which was very very good… We all enjoyed the luncheon after the service , and coming together I find, always satisfying. (by one of the elders)

        Thanks again for sharing the idea. No kids today but the children of God loved it.

      • Thanks for sharing! Glad to hear such a positive response. Sounds like you are doing good things. Keep it up!

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