The cross is made with palms from Palm Sunday. One arm has been burned to create ashes for Ash Wednesday.
The clay is a representation of one’s faith journey. When we begin as new Christians we like a blob of clay, unformed and perhaps with small pebbles and impurities but God has plans for use to be used in his kingdom. The hands of the potter will work gently to prepare the clay for use. With massage and kneading the potter will remove the small stones and air bubbles that would create a flawed end product and other impurities are blended into the clay to make it unique (certain minerals can give clay a unique color in the end product.
The oil and the rosemary are just good visuals.
Last week, the clay became a simple plate. The potter created a “snake” and then coiled it to create a basic plate. We, in our faith journey, have to start with the basics. Using water, a constant in the Bible to indicate life, the potter smooths out the plate to make it more useful. If you turn the plate over you can see the original product (the coil) but on the top if you look carefully you can see the fingerprint of the potter. I, as the potter, have a covenant with the clay that I will work with it lovingly to create a product that will be useful in my kingdom. In that process I will re-name it. Perhaps a bowl, perhaps a cup. The clay will have to deny it’s natural self, and submit itself to my will to become useful. (teh renaming of Abram and Sarai, and deny yourslef, take up your cross and follow me.)
This Sunday (third Sunday of Lent, March 11) the clay will become a simple bowl. It will again be smoothed using water but the technique to make the bowl will be more intensive. As we develop in our faith journey we must move into a more intensive study to continue to develop. (At this point we would normally use a potter’s wheel but don’t have one) The thumbs are inserted into the clay to create a bowl and then the clay is carefully stretched to become its final bowl shape. Too much pressure too fast will cause the bowl to fail and the potter will have to begin again.