9 Woe to you who strive with your Maker,
earthen vessels with the potter!*
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to anyone who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Will you question me* about my children,
or command me concerning the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth,
and created humankind upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
13 I have aroused Cyrus* in righteousness,
and I will make all his paths straight;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,
says the Lord of hosts.
The inauguration is tomorrow. Many in this country – indeed more than half the country’s voting population – are ‘striving with the potter’, still stunned not as much that their candidate did not win, but incredulous that the one who did win is who he is.
And while I am hard pressed to think that our Maker selected Trump, as a Christian I am to trust that God knows – knew – that Trump would be our 45th president. That Trump is purposed by God to do xyz as Cyrus was? Harder for me to get there. Here’s a Wikipedia summary of who Cyrus was for those unfamiliar:
Cyrus the Great (c. 600 or 576 – 530 BC) figures in the Hebrew Bible as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. He is mentioned 23 times by name and alluded to several times more. From these statements it appears that Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the Babylonian captivity ended, for according to the Bible, in the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to make a decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose. Moreover, he showed his interest in the project by sending back with them the sacred vessels which had been taken from the First Temple and a considerable sum of money with which to buy building materials.
The Isaiah passage pauses those of us who voted in the presidential election for a political leader but who believe at the same time that our Maker is who he says he is, that…
…there is no other;
besides me there is no god.
I arm you, though you do not know me,
6 so that they may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is no one besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe;
I the Lord do all these things…
…pauses us to consider that our next president is purposed by the Lord for good. And in pausing to consider – to allow that this might be so – the Spirit has me, at least, reviewing what I have thought about our previous president – presidents, for that matter. Was Obama likewise purposed by God to lead the country?
When I look over our American history, I see that we have survived – our democracy has survived – many questionably qualified, morally compromised, politically inexperienced, psychologically dysfunctional, presidents. Not just survived, but too, made stronger and better under their leadership – or lack therefore, of. Teddy Roosevelt comes to mind. An imperialist for all intents and purposes, but who at the same time, established the National Park system and was known as the ‘conservationist president.’ Or Richard Nixon whose deeply suspicious character undermined his presidency leading to his resignation, yet created the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
I trust that we – this country, this world – are in God’s hands, that he is the potter and we the vessels. It is a trust that created in me a peace which passed understanding through the past election cycle. I just didn’t get too worked up about the outcome.
But now that this country is only a day away from being lead by Mr. Trump I find myself – a mere and lowly vessel – asking the potter, say what? What are you making? Who? Why?
I have been unsettled by way the president-elect has chosen to go around rather than through the transition to the Oval Office. He goes around the press to communicate, around established foreign channels for communication with allies, he traveled around the country on a thank-you tour that landed him in geographic regions where he was supported, rather than through the United States.
But the Spirit is whispering to me today – and maybe to all of us who trust the potter but are wondering what is up with this vessel – that we need not be unsettled. That we pause today and tomorrow not to praise and laud our new president, but our Maker. Let’s remember from whose hands we all come and in whom’s hands we rest.
We have life, doctor, because of our Lord, God – our Maker. In God, we trust.
And this is the lens through which I will watch the inauguration tomorrow, praying for our country and new president and giving thanks to God for whatever plans he has for both.
Thursday Daily Office Readings: AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Isa. 45:5-17; Eph. 5:15-33; Mark 4:21-34