April 2024 Message From Pastor Stephanie “Woven Threads”

The sleeve of my favorite black sweater got a tiny rip where the cuff meets the sleeve, so the other day I got out a needle and thread to fix it. As I carefully recalled childhood memories of how my mother taught me to hide those tiny stitches, I also noticed this drip of coffee on the outside of the cup on the table and suddenly I felt this strange moment of beauty for the imperfect things around me.

I don’t know about you, but I love filling my home with things that mean something. In every room I try to have items with a story, and those stories are connected to memories or people in my life. In my living room sits an enormous stuffed teddy bear, about 3 feet high, that my brother gave me when I was in the hospital 4 years ago. It reminds me of his playfulness and his compassion. In my office at the church is a framed group of sticky notes, written by two friends and placed all over my office the night of my ordination in the Covenant. And in my bedroom is a photo of Forest Park in St. Louis that my friend Jenny took, in a frame made from a tree hit by lightning, which was lovingly made by a couple in my small group. It was given to me by my church after I graduated seminary, and always reminds me of them when I see it. Each room in my life has multiple items with stories like these – all from my past. Not all of them are traditionally beautiful, but all have a story that has become part of my larger story as a person.
A.W. Tozer writes in his book, “The Pursuit of God,”

“. . . to rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life, hoping ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified.”

Our lives are made up of complicated and messy woven threads of people we like and dislike. Of people we trust and don’t trust. Of those that hurt us and those we hurt. People that healed us and people we healed. What are we to do with these woven threads? Threads that have the good colors and the ugly colors, colors that fit neatly in our color scheme and those that don’t? I know, deep down, that the people and situations we dislike are part of our story and what matters is what we do with their part in our story. But my inner child wants to have a temper tantrum because those big ol’ mean people JUST DON’T DESERVE IT! harrumph stomp fist clenched
My adult side will simply say that my sense of justice hates that the negative stuff has altered me. I should be stronger than that, right?
I wish the negative stuff didn’t matter. I wish that, when I was a child in music class, the one class where I excelled, it weren’t a
painful moment to not be chosen when we partnered up in the
6th grade for the spring concert to play ukuleles. And since our
class had an uneven number, I was by myself and it was
immortalized on film and in a photo album. (And in my brain,
too, I guess.) I have a lot of stories like these. I hate that they
still sting. I hate that they still matter.
What I’m realizing, with all these messy and mismatched
woven threads of my life, is that they still matter not just
because they are part of my story, but because they have, in
fact, shaped me into the person I am, no matter how my inner
child throws a tantrum because she doesn’t like it. But I cannot
see the big picture of my life, so it is always hard when the
messiness of life happens and we struggle to understand the
good in it. In the same way that we cannot see every tiny stitch
in a large woven tapestry, we cannot always see what God is
doing in us with each small moment.
Roman 8:27-28 comes to mind as I write about mending and stories.

“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in
accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all
things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
I pray we remember we are part of God’s big story, with all its highs and lows and bumps in the road, and are grateful for the ways God uses each moment to weave together the grand story of our life.
In Christ, Pastor Stephanie

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