The passage from Jeremiah notes how God regards the nations of the world, like a potter at the wheel. If the image being created becomes marred and corrupted, it can be cast down and re-shaped into a design more pleasing to the potter. This serves a cautionary notice to politicians who seem to ramping up notions of "exceptionalism" for our nation. When a nation believes itself to be exceptional, where the standard rules don't apply, when kingdom values that prioritize the needs of the poor, weak, and vulnerable are dismissed for [name your reason here]'s sake, then it should be no surprise that the Potter wants to do a makeover.
The passage from Mark is the familiar story of the rich man, a difficult one for us Westerners who enjoy the wealth of the world and its benefits. It is a unique passage in that Jesus doesn't set up this high expectation - go and sell all you have and give it to the poor - anywhere else. While the dismay of the disciples at this high expectation has its interesting points, we find in a close reading of the text that Jesus is focusing on the one thing that this fawning rich man possesses that blocks him from God's promise.
So, what will you bring to the potlatch?
Check out the whole sermon video below, and find the downloads below the video panel. Nice face, pastor!