Wednesday, March 6, 2013

knitting in the midst of Lent

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Over the noon hour I was privileged to offer the devotions at Heritage United Methodist Church's midweek Lenten lunch.  Nearly 100 people were gathered for great food and fellowship.  I'd say 99.9% of them were affiliated with a church in our community and most were older than I.  
As I thought about what I could say to these faithful sisters and brothers in Christ, many of whom are retired and approaching their twilight years, I was nudged by the Holy Spirit to speak about usefulness and how we continue to have a purpose to and for God and one another.  Here's the gist of our conversation - perhaps you need to hear these words today as well...

I have been a knitter since I was a little girl.  I know how to knit and purl, how to cast on and how to pick up stitches.  My specialty is fast one skein of yarn projects - such as scarves.  I have made a prayer shawl or two - but that takes two skeins at least.   About a year ago a friend encouraged me to try knitting a pair of socks.  I am now in the midst of knitting my third pair!  

Knitting socks isn't too complicated, once you get over the fact that you have to use four needles and you have to follow a pattern.  Problem is, I'm not too good about following instructions.  I began my first pair of socks with the intention of making tube socks, then this same friend insisted that I dive right in and make a heel.  Yikes!  To make socks with a heel says that you mean business.  

I went out and bought a book, the Big Book of Socks no less, and even with step by step instructions I was still in a panic about turning a heel.  So Jen typed out instructions talked me through it, promising  that the whole process would be fool proof.  And, she's right...if I follow the instructions the socks turn out perfect.  But, each time I have a sock on the needles I have to dig through my emails to review Jen's 'knitting for dummy's instructions'.  I'm in the middle of making my 6th sock and I am already double checking Jen's words of wisdom as I approach that magic moment when it's time to turn the heel.

God, through Moses, knew that we were/are stiff necked and willful people.  So, he taught them a prayer - a way to pray - that would remind them of who God is, and whose they were...the prayer is called the Shema and it goes like this:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Say this over and over again, God taught them.  Instruct your children in what it means to live into this prayer, when you are at home, when you are traveling, day and night I want you to remember these words... Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

And so, the Israelites did.  Each morning when they woke up and each evening before they went to bed they said the prayer - to remind themselves and their children what it means to love God fully.  This is much like I depend on Jen's instructions to turn a heel, or my children have depended on me to teach them how to drive...speaking of driving, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around my youngest having a learners permit!

God wants us to live into our blessedness, and here is where it gets interesting.  God has given us gifts so that we can be teachers like Him.  Some of us know how to knit, others how to cook or clean or wood work or play bridge.  The thing is, are we teaching others what we know or are we expecting someone else to do it?  The sad fact is that there are skills that are being lost because we aren't sharing what we know.  This applies to our faith journey as well as how to make the perfect cinnamon rolls!

So think of something that you are really good at.  Go ahead - think about it, write it down even - what you are good at...whether it's a craft, or baking or mopping the floor - whatever it is...what are you really good at?

Then I want you to ask God to use you to teach and walk alongside someone who needs or wants to learn this skill.  We have been given gifts to use them - so let's get outside our comfort zone and use our gifts already! There are so many ways that we can make new friends and build up the kingdom of God if we would just stop and think about how I can use what I can do really well to God's glory.

So, what say you?  How are you going to live into this prayer during this season of Lent?

in Christ, together,

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