Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. Dean Snyder, Senior Minister




 “Watch This Potter”

Sunday, October 14, 2007



Jeremiah 18: 1-6

Dean Snyder

Rev. Dean Snyder


Before he became a bishop, Bishop Will Willimon was for many years the chaplain to Duke University. Willimon says he got a phone call once from a father who was very upset.  The man was mad because his daughter had gone on a mission trip to Haiti.


The father blamed Willimon for influencing his daughter who had attended chapel at Duke while she was a student there. I think the father wanted his tuition money back. He said, “She’s got a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University and now you’ve got her all excited about digging ditches in Haiti!  She’s talking about becoming a missionary!  She’s talking about doing this sort of thing for the rest of her life!  I hold you personally responsible for this ridiculous idea!”


As the conversation went on, Willimon discovered that the girl’s parents had been life-long Presbyterians.  They had made sure that their daughter was baptized when she was a baby. They had raised her in the church.  They had read her stories from the Bible when she was a little girl and they had taken her to worship and Sunday school and sent her to youth group. 


Willimon finally lost his patience and said to the father, “You’re the ones who introduced her to Jesus, not me!  What did you expect?  What did you expect would happen when you took your daughter to church for all those years? 


After a moment of silence the father replied, “Man, we just wanted her to be a normal old Presbyterian.  We didn’t want it to change her life or anything!”


I have a confession to make. The potters these past Sundays have been mostly for me. I hoped you’d get something out of watching them, but they have mostly been here for me.


Sometimes I get discouraged with the church. This last summer was a discouraging time. Our B-WARM resolution to annual conference lost. We tried to get the conference to support taking some of the homophobic language out of the Book of Discipline and we lost the vote. Bummer.


Then I was afraid we’d lose our choir. I am so grateful to the choir members who have continued through a difficult time of change to minister to us through music. Thank you.


And there were other things going on that I don’t have to get into.

So, as much as anything, the potters these last Sundays have been for me – a reminder to me that God for some reason, continues to work, faulty as we are, through the church. God continues to shape lives here. God continues to shape communities. God continues to shape the world. God continues to turn our clay into vessels both useful and beautiful.


So I’m ready to move on. I’m ready again to trust the Potter…to let the Potter shape and mold us in ways beyond our own capacity to see it or control it.


Our work is to be normal old Reconciling United Methodists. I’m ready for us to keep doing our work of being a reconciling congregation, our work of worshipping and singing God’s praise, our work of nurturing our children, our work of studying Scripture, our work of engaging in mission and social justice.


Our job is to be the church of Jesus Christ as faithfully as we know how. We are the clay. It is God’s work to take the offering of our lives and to shape us in ways beyond our own control and understanding.

This morning we are asking you to take a survey about music. If you haven’t been to a house meeting, we hope you’ll get to one. Dee and I and our staff are still listening.


Next Sunday Barbara Cambridge, our Lay Leader, is going to preach for Laity Sunday. On Sunday November 4th the choir is going to sing an All Saints Sunday Requiem. On Sunday November 11 I’m going to share my annual State of the Church sermon. On Tuesday November 13 we are going to meet with the Washington Interfaith Network with the mayor to hear his plan for supportive housing for the homeless of our city.


Tuesday evenings our ESL teachers will teach day laborers and restaurant workers English. Our Sunday School teachers will continue to teach our children the faith. We will keep witnessing to God’s vision of a welcoming and inclusive church and a just society.


And in the midst of it, in the midst of us being normal old Methodists, normal old Christians, the transcendent Potter will be quietly at work, shaping lives, shaping community, shaping a world, shaping our tomorrows.