Today would have my mother’s 81st birthday. She passed away in June 2011 and it's hard to grasp that it’s been ten years without her. He legacy has been handicrafts – all manner of decorative items hand knit, hand crocheted, embroidered, cross-stitched, beaded, embellished with paper, clay, tiles, stamps and oh, so much more. I’m more of a pen or paintbrush kind of a crafter, so knitting, crocheting, tatting and weaving have always seemed a little magical to me. How do you take a single yarn or thread and turn it into a sweater, a scarf, lace or a rug? Humans have been doing it for centuries. On a recent trip to a Native American museum, they had a display showing the most primitive kind of loom which turned out all kinds of woven textiles made of natural yarns and fibers. My Iranian husband grew up around the carpet trade, from tribal rugs to elaborate silk carpets. The amazing colors and patterns and pictures, not to mention the advanced planning and meticulous attention to detail make all of these handmade textiles true works of art.
We too, are a hand-crafted work of art. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” And like that intricate Aran knit sweater with cable stitches, seed stitches, garter stitches and more, as Christians our lives are twisted together as strands and knitted together into masterpieces of love. And like those wool sweaters and carpets, when we are knitted and woven together, we can withstand anything that life throws at us. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “…a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
It’s important to stay together. There is undervalued power in relationships and community. Perhaps that is part of what God decided to teach us during this pandemic. I found this passage in Colossians to be particularly relevant to us right now:
2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
What does Pastor and Apostle, Paul, want for us? Encouragement. Strong ties of love. Confidence in God’s mysterious salvation through Jesus. Hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you need any of that today? I do! And why does Pastor Paul want that for us? So no one will deceive us with logical sounding lies! Have you heard any of those in the last year? Daily we see the truth called a lie and a lie called the truth. But here is what I heard God speaking to us, his church, right now, and what we as a church need to communicate to each member: “For though I am far away from you, I am with you in spirit. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.”
I pray with my whole heart that as we slowly start to come out of our homes and resume some semblance of ‘life before,’ that we will reunite as a church, still knit together in love, still encouraged and encouraging one another, still confident in God, His power and our salvation. This past year has been filled with every kind of crisis, from weather related disasters to pandemic viruses to social upheaval and unrest, to political dissent to financial downturn to drastic changes in employment and education to forced isolation. All of our society’s institutions have been scrutinized, criticized and called into question. It will be a miracle if God’s people have been able to withstand this onslaught of skepticism and emerge firm in their faith. But our God is the God of Miracles. Who can withstand His mighty power?
If you’re feeling a little ‘unraveled’ by all we’ve been dealing with, if relationships have become strained or community has been lacking, be encouraged that the church is ready and waiting for you. Your brothers and sisters stand waiting to welcome you back and reunite, whether in person, by Zoom, by phone, internet or some other means. We are with you in spirit. Our hearts are with you. We are knit together in love into one beautiful, eternally comforting blanket and we are ready to wrap you up in it!