Knit Together By Water and The Holy Spirit
Think of someone you know knitting. Sitting in a comfortable chair, needles in hand, a skein of yarn on the floor, skillfully taking a single strand of yarn or thread and transforming it into a pair of socks, a sweater, a comforter, a scarf, a cap – generally speaking things that keep us warm and snug. This person knitting is usually a woman. I remember my Grandma Cooper knitting me a sweater when I went away to college in New England!
Our collect for today, and a number of places in Scripture, says that God is like this: “Almighty God, you have knit together your elect into one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ….” Psalm 139 says, “…you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Paul in Colossians chapter 2 writes, “…that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ…” And again Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 4, “…from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.”
God is doing a lot of knitting! Sitting there, needles going full tilt, knitting us. Knitting us together into her community, her fellowship, the mystical body of God’s own son, upbuilding us with love, encouraging our hearts, filling us with the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ!
What I hear in this metaphor of God as cosmic knitter is that in creating us and creating the community of God’s own people in Christ, there is one strand, on thread if you will, connecting us all one to another and all to God in Christ. It is the Holy Spirit, God’s spirit, God’s breath, God’s wind that is the common thread. One common thread knit into the very fabric of God’s kingdom on earth.
We inspire – literally breathe in - this Spirit with each breath we take! By the inspiration of this Holy Spirit the thoughts of our hearts are cleansed! And we are made One Body, One Spirit committed in our hearts to One Lord of All – not some, not most, not many, but One Lord of All.
God in Christ, however, uses water instead of knitting needles to do much of his knitting us together into one communion and fellowship. Water. It is the water of creation over which the Spirit/Breath/Wind of God hovered in Creation. It is the water of the Red Sea which God’s Sprit/Breath/Wind drove aside so the Hebrew children could scamper their way from slavery to freedom. It is the water of the Jordan River in which Jesus received the baptism of John and was visited by the Holy Spirit and a voice proclaiming, “You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” God says these very words to each of us when we are baptized. “You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
It is the very same water in which All the Saints we remember this day were baptized. This water shaped their lives in such a way that they did astonishing deeds to further establish God’s kingdom in our midst. On pages 19-30 in the Book of Common Prayer you can find some of their names. Since 1979 we have added about two or three names every three years so that the list has grown.
We need to remember, not one of them ever set out to be saints. It has only been in retrospect that we call them that. As we sing, they were baptized just like you and me. Some, like James Hannington and his companions, gave their lives attempting to bring the love of Christ to others. Some were amazing teachers, some abandoned a life of riches and nursed the sick and tended to the poor. They have names like Lawrence, Hilda, Margaret, and Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky! They all bathed in the water of Baptism, God’s Holy Water, and so were knit together into the fabric of the life of God’s kingdom on earth.
Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, I baptized a little girl named Eleanor. She was about four or five years old. After her baptism we were back at her family’s home having brunch when I felt a tug on my pants leg. It was Eleanor. I asked, “What is it, Eleanor?” “Can you still see the cross on my forehead?” she asked. Meaning, of course, the cross traced with oil blessed by our bishop, sealing her as Christ’s own forever. Also a sign of the promises she made to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to strive for justice and peace for all people. Not most people, some people, or a lot of people, but all people. And I said, “Yes, Eleanor, I can still see the cross on your forehead.”
This morning, on a mountain top near the Sea of Galilee Jesus says, “You are blessed.” We are blessed if we are hungry, if we are poor, if we weep, and are excluded and defamed on account of the Son of Man. We are to love our enemies. We are to do to others as we would have them do to us. By water and the Holy Spirit, we have been knit together with all those who have gone before us, and all who will come after us into the mystical body of those people who are peacemakers in the name of Jesus Christ. There is one thread holding us all together and it is the thread of water and the Holy Spirit that makes us all one people in Christ. It is the thread of the Holy Spirit that says, “You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Paul prays for the struggling, little church in Ephesus: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.”
May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened! May we know what is the hope to which we are now being called! May we be bathed in the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe!
In a moment we will all promise that with God’s help all that we say and all that we do will proclaim the Good News that God is at work in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself as he knits away day after day, night after night, knitting us together into one communion and fellowship! When we put on the garment God is knitting for us, people will see the cross on our foreheads and know who we are and whose we are.
A world that is hungering for righteousness, a world that mourns, a world that seeks comfort and love and care, a world that seeks mercy shall obtain mercy and shall be satisfied because the things we do this day makes us blessed. The blessing we are given is a blessing that is meant for the whole world and everyone therein – it is meant to usher in a world of justice and peace for all people – not some people, not lots of people, but all people. Let us be glad and thank God for making us his Beloved children, Now!