May 12 – Praise for the Potter’s Projects

    But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand. – Isaiah 64:7

Becky and I are celebrating graduations this month.  On Saturday our son Christopher will receive his Master of Divinity degree from Gordon Conwell Seminary near Boston, and then on Monday our daughter Katharine’s Master of Fine Arts thesis project will receive final review at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. As a distant learner, she will not walk in a commencement ceremony, but by the end of the month the two masters will be done with academics and beginning next legs of their journeys.  For Christopher that means a pastoral internship at a large Evangelical Presbyterian Church in the Midwest – can’t say exactly where quite yet.  For Katharine it means continuing as an adjunct professor at Hillsdale College, but with new possibilities to explore with the MFA in hand.

We are proud parents, and absolutely proud of Katharine’s and Christopher’s accomplishments.  We’re so thankful for Katharine’s husband Ryan’s and Christopher’s wife Katie’s amazing love and support as Katharine and Christopher hacked their ways through some pretty dense academic and work load thickets.

The painting of the potter in the header of this post is part of Katharine’s thesis project. According to the prophet Isaiah, Katharine and Christopher are among our Potter’s projects. Maybe I should ask Christopher for a Hebrew exegesis of the passage – a joint project of the masters in service of the Master.

Proud parents, we celebrate our children’s accomplishments. Thankful parents, we celebrate an incredibly supportive husband and wife.  Hopeful parents, we watch and wait as the Potter continues to mold the clay into a work of art, a thing of beauty, a vessel for his love and grace.

The reminder that a commencement marks a beginning and not an end is a graduation season cliché.  And it is true.  The Master of Fine Arts and Master of Divinities degrees we celebrate this spring do not come with employment guarantees or a GPS app marking every turn on the long journey to retirement. They are tools to put in a knapsack – brushes to place a painter’s kit – to be used along the way.

By Isaiah’s image, in this spring of 2017, we are able to see a little more detail in the potter’s project, but there is much more yet to see as the vessels keep on taking shape, handles attached, spouts added.  And yes, in time, firing to bring strength and beauty.

Master’s degree in hand, Katharine and Christopher, must allow the potter his time and his plan as they become the artist and the pastor, the wife and the husband, the mother and the father, the daughter and the son, the sister and the brother, the friends and the colleagues, he intends them to be.

What joy to watch the Potter work. Beyond the parents’ pride, we rest with a deep gratitude that God has been, is, and will be molding the works of his hands into objects that reflect the potter’s love of beauty and of grace.