Sunday, November 02, 2014

God the Knitter

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
November 2, 2014

Year A: All Saints’ Sunday
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

God the Knitter
            For a few days last week I was away at our annual diocesan clergy conference in Pennsylvania.
            At this year’s conference our guest speaker invited us to reflect on biblical images of God that we may have forgotten or never even recognized.
            We tend to use just a couple of images for God, don’t we?
            I’d say the most common images of God we use are Father, Lord, Shepherd, and King.
            And these are all perfectly fine and certainly biblical, though in the modern world we might have some trouble relating to a lord, a shepherd or a king. And, of course, for many of us the image of father creates difficulties as well.
            But, in the Bible there are lots of other images of God, too.
            One she pointed out to us was one I had never really thought of: God the knitter.
            As a matter of fact, God the knitter appeared in our opening prayer, our collect, this morning.
            “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord…”
            And, God the knitter is found in Psalm 139 when the psalmist celebrates God’s creation of his body, writing:
            For you created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
            God the knitter.
            It’s an unusual, beautiful image isn’t it?
            Imagine for a minute God the knitter knitting our bodies together, knitting together all our parts, knitting together every one of our cells, creating the beautiful garment that is the human body – the beautiful garment that is every body – the magnificent garment that is the earth and the sun and stars and the incomprehensibly vast universe beyond.
            God the knitter.
            At this point, I’m guessing I’ve at least got the attention of all the knitters in the room – all the regulars in our Monday evening Craft Guild.
            Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, I don’t know much about knitting. I can’t do it. Wouldn’t know where to begin.  
            But, of course, I’ve seen plenty of people knit.
            So, I do know it takes a lot of work and often takes a great deal of time.
            And, I also know that knitters don’t usually knit for themselves.
            Instead, they knit their beautiful, colorful hats, scarves and blankets and give away these beautiful creations to those they love.
            And that’s exactly what God the knitter does, too.
            God creates us - creates all of this - not for God’s Self, but for us. God knits all of this and hands it over to us – to all of us – to the living, the dead, and the yet to be born.
            “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord…”
            So, I’m going to push this metaphor just a little further.
            God the knitter invites us to be part of the divine knitting circle – God invites us to knit right along side God – knitting God’s kingdom into reality.
            And the saints are those who answer God’s invitation to knit, to fashion God’s kingdom into reality.
            The saints are those who knit into reality Jesus’ vision of a kingdom where the poor in spirit and the mourners and the meek and the hungry and the thirsty and the merciful and the pure in heart and the peacemakers and the persecuted are truly blessed.
            The saints are those – past, present and, future – who have answered, who answer, who will answer - God’s invitation to knit God’s dream, to knit God’s kingdom, into reality.
            Mary joined God’s knitting circle when she said yes to God’s invitation to carry God into the world, allowing God to knit Jesus in her womb. Mary joined God’s knitting circle when she raised Jesus along with Joseph, and when she suffered in agony, watching her son complete his mission on the cross.
            Peter joined God’s knitting circle when he recognized the depth of his shame in abandoning Jesus in his greatest moment of need and suffering. Peter joined the knitting circle when he repented and spent the rest of his life sharing the Good News about Jesus.
            Francis joined God’s knitting circle when he gave away his possessions and reminded the Church that it is called to simplicity and holy poverty and an overflowing joy and a profound love of creation.
            Closer to our own day, Martin Luther King joined God’s knitting circle when he used the power of his example and his preaching to remind us all about the dignity of every human being. Dr. King joined the knitting circle when he shared his dream - when he shared God’s dream - with us all.
            Today, in the water of baptism, in a very real and rather wet way, God is inviting little Nylah and not so little Sanai to join God’s knitting circle, to be a saint knitting God’s kingdom – knitting God’s dream – into reality.
            And, today God reminds us that we have a standing invitation – a longstanding invitation - to join God’s knitting circle.
            We accept God’s invitation each time we support each other as we try to live our lives as Christians.
            We join God’s knitting circle each time we gather here to pray, to sing, to ask and receive forgiveness, to extend a hand of peace and friendship, and to break bread together.
            We knit alongside God when we share with others through our example and our words the Good News of Jesus.
            We become saints each time we seek and serve Christ in the people around us – each time we reach out to those who are hurting, each time we visit someone in the hospital or shut in at home, each time we drop an item or two into the food bin, each time we ask why there are so many poor people in a land blessed with such great wealth.
            From before the beginning, God the knitter has been hard at work, knitting together our bodies, knitting together the whole universe.
            God the knitter invites us to join the divine knitting circle, to be part of the great work of knitting God’s kingdom of love into reality – knitting God’s dream into the most beautiful garment ever.
            Through the ages the saints have answered God’s invitation.
            Now, it’s Nylah’s turn and Sanai’s turn – now it’s our turn – to answer God’s invitation.
            Let’s get started on our holy knitting.
            With God’s help, let’s be saints.