Dear President Trump:
In today’s Daily Lectionary readings, God tells Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house, where Jeremiah observes that “The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.” God then instructs Jeremiah to tell the people, “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand… I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.” (Jeremiah 18:4-10)
This reading offers as a humbling reminder that so called “sovereign nations” – no matter how powerful — are subject to being reworked and reshaped in God’s hands.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus represents the kind of worthy vessel God desires. “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will,” says Jesus, “but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
From God’s perspective, good vessels are those that are pliable, willingly shaped as containers for acting justly, loving kindness and walking humbly. Good vessels are those who love neighbor as self, even laying down their lives for others.
Yesterday, our campus community at Eastern Mennonite University received the sad news that the body of one of our alumni, Michael J. Sharp, had been found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sharp, who worked for the United Nations, was kidnapped, March 12, during a dangerous mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses attributed to the Congolese army and local militia groups.
What kind of vessel will you be, Mr. President? What kind of vessel with this nation be? I fear that your “America First” agenda is moving us toward a bunker mentality, while inside the bunker things are falling apart.
Yesterday the Associated Press reported that, “The White House is calling for immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community development grants to help pay for the border wall…”
The late civil rights leader Coretta Scott King once reflected, “It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.”
Use your power for positive change, Mr. President. Be a good vessel.
J. Daryl Byler