Ordinary Time: Proper 18

Vessel by George E. Ohr — glazed ceramic pottery, produced some time between 1895-1905. Photo by Rago Arts and Auction Center.

September 4, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C
Jeremiah 18:1-11 and Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 • Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Psalm 1 • Philemon 1:1-21 • Luke 14:25-33

View Lectionary
Image description: A footed ceramic clay vessel that leans slightly. The foot of the object appears to have been manually twisted as does the neck. The spherical belly of the vase features a cone shaped protrusion a slender ring of zigzag detailing. The top of the pot was perhaps twisted and then flattened into a wide shape with curled sides and a tiny opening. The glaze is a streaked warm brown on the body with green speckles while the top, neck, the cone protrusion and foot are a deeper dark brown. The entire vessel has a shimmery streaked lustre-glaze effect.

The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Eternal One: Go down to the potter’s shop in the city, and wait for My word.
So I went down to the potter’s shop and found him making something on his wheel. And as I watched, the clay vessel in his hands became flawed and unusable. So the potter started again with the same clay. He crushed and squeezed and shaped it into another vessel that was to his liking. In that moment, I heard again God’s word for His rebellious people.
Eternal One: O people of Israel, can I not do the same to you as this potter has done? You are like clay in My hands—I will mold you as I see fit. — Jeremiah 18:1-6

Ever since an antiques dealer found himself in an auto shop down in Biloxi, Mississippi staring at a wall of boxes at the back of the shop in the early 1970’s, the world has been waking up to the pottery of George E. Ohr, also know as “the mad potter of Biloxi.” The auto shop was owned by George’s sons, who had stashed their father’s some 10,000 “mud babies” (the term George gave his unique creations) in a mass of boxes and crates. When offered to take a look at “some of dad’s pottery”, the antiques dealer was captivated by the beauty of the pieces. He spent years negotiating with the Ohr family to buy the entire collection and eventually a deal was made. Taking the finds back to New York, the dealer began selling pieces. Artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns were among the first to snatch up these odd, imperfect, creative, brilliantly colored, yet skillful vessels.

Young Ohr fell in love with the potters wheel. He made a living cranking out common water pitchers and ceramic chimney flues, but in his spare time, Ohr experimented with the red clay he himself dug out of the river bank. He enjoyed creating incredibly delicate vessels and bowls with ornate handles or experimented with squishing and twisting the things he had spun on his wheel. Ohr considered each an every piece special. He placed outrageously high prices on his unusual creations saying they were “worth their weight in gold.” Very few were sold during his lifetime. Today, you can visit the special Smithsonian affiliated museum in Biloxi, Mississippi designed by architect Frank Gehry that solely houses Ohr’s pottery. He is hailed as a master potter for his unusual designs and secret techniques. Ohr is now considered an American artist of significance.

“God made no two souls alike, and I’ll make no two pots alike.” — George E. Ohr.

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s