Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Cross Stitch Church - a pattern

Seasons greetings one and all. I had some hassle from a few people recently about the lack of update to my blog - hassle that has been justified i have to agree. Christmas is a crazy time for clergy - a strange breed of which i am a part- and i've just not made the time to write. Not though due to lack of desire! There is much in my little brain that i have wanted to express not least on the theme of the church as a piece of cross-stitch.

I mused last time that in my little metaphor the world in which we live is like the plain gauze waiting for the artist to weave His great and creative pattern upon and within it. Perhaps then the next stage is to think about what that pattern is and consists of. My suggestion is that the Church of Jesus Christ is the thread weaved by the hand of the artist upon the gauze. We are the thread. We are the church, people who are connected and committed to Jesus whom God is weaving into a beautiful and distinctive pattern that others might stand in amazement and wonder at. We are God's workmanship, God's design, the church Jesus died to bring about, the people He loves, a community being prepared like a bride for His return. And i believe it is the church that God longs to renew and restore to be an obvious sign of God's life and love in the world. I believe in the church. I don't think i believe in our western expression of it much (although i am still exploring it) but i do believe in a church that has values mirrored in the book of Acts. I believe in a church that is a gathering of people connected and committed to Jesus. I believe in a church with prayer and worship as its lifeblood. I believe in a church that loves the poor and includes the outcast. I believe in a church that believes in itself and believes that it can change the world from the inside out as Jesus did. That sort of church i believe in, not one defined by structures, committees, buildings, power, mindless ascent to tradition. But conversely maybe i can believe in an institutional model of church that reflects the values i mentioned above? Who knows. I don't as yet.

Whatever the pattern may eventually look like, whatever the artists design is going to be, the pattern in thread on the gauze is the church of Jesus Christ, the people of God. All of us who are a part of that community can find ourselves part of the pattern that God is weaving in the world, a pattern that people stop and stare at with amazement, a pattern that is attractive, a pattern that reflects the brightness of God, a pattern and design, God-conceived, God-made, and God-sewed. in my metaphor of the church as a cross stitch, the world is the blank piece of gauze waiting expectantly for a grand design, the thread that makes the pattern, and indeed the pattern itself is the church, the people of Jesus.

1 comment:

Keith said...

As my attempt to use actual thread would be this metaphor is getting more and more tangled, but I think I'm still following it ok!
The comments about "our church" are interesting - certainly "power & mindless ascent to tradition" are pretty much pointless, but from the membership classes I have just undertaken "structures, committees, buildings" seemed to figure pretty prominently in the Methodist Church. I don't see this as a bad thing for the well being of the church in the local area, nor any reason why these can't be used as a base to help us all achieve the kind of church Gareth describes - reflecting "God's life and love in the world".