Threads of Love

Matthew 3:13-17

[Watch sermon here.]

Poet Jean Valentine writes:

My words to you are the stitches in a scarf
I don’t want to finish
maybe it will come to be a blanket
or a net to hold you here

love not gone anywhere.


I am drawn in by Valentine’s first lines:
My words to you are the stitches in a scarf
I don’t want to finish.

With these words,
I hear a longing to linger by a beloved,
who thinks,
I just want to keep talking to you.
I am going to keep
knitting words together for you,
over and over again,
until you know that you are held
by a steadfast love.
Love not gone anywhere.

My words to you are the stitches in a scarf
I don’t want to finish.
I just want to linger here with you,
talking, delighting in your company
losing all track of time,
losing track of all
but the love that flows between us.

My words to you ….

I can’t help but think
that God’s words to us
are stitches in a scarf
that God does not want to finish.

In the beginning,
God created all the earth,
the insects that fly;
the toads that hop;
the dogs that run;
the water that flows;
the people who live.
God saw all of it was beloved;
God declared that it was good.

When people thought they had it all figured,
and tried to tell God and others:
I have no need of you;
God was still there, sitting in the corner,
stitching her scarf,
making it into a net or blanket
so that we would be held.

When the Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrew people,
forcing them to work without a day off,
demanding that they create more, more, more,
because the ego of the Pharoah
could not be satiated,
because the Pharaoh had sold themself
to greed and celebrity.
God said, this is not right!
God saw the harm the Pharaoh did
to the fiber of the people,
the way the Pharaoh tore at the twist of yarn.
Thus, God sent Moses,
who said, I object!
who said, maybe I do not speak well
but I will show up
until every last person is freed.

God kept knitting and purling: you, beloved, you, beloved,
until every last person was freed.

Moses, and his siblings Miriam and Aaron,
were knitting needles in the hands of a loving God,
stitching a world of dignity.

Then, there came a time
when the business people became corrupt,
and all they cared about was their profits.
They forgot about the hungry children and the homeless elders,
the immigrants and the strangers, entrusted to their care.

Profits over people.
Profits over people.

You would think that God would get tired of fibers by now.
After all, wasn’t the scarf long enough?
Didn’t the people yet understand?
How could they keep forgetting?

But God loved the softness of the yarn in her fingers,
she loved to watch the pattern unfolding,
the mocha browns,
the caramel overtones,
the golds and whites
the brilliant splotches of blue and turquoise.
Enamored by the task, she kept going.
God added new colors to the sequence,
sending prophets,
one by one,
who said to the people:
Have a change of heart!
Reconsider how you are living!
Act with justice and love!

Throughout all of it,
the prophets kept knitting and purling:
you, beloved, you, beloved;
the hungry children, the homeless elders,
the shy kids, the gender queer adults,
they are beloved and revered,
adding brilliant hues to the tapestry.

For a time,
the people would remember.
All the while,
God kept on stitching,
because she loved the people so much;
she delighted in textures,
and each strand brought her joy.

Sometimes the yarn would become tangled
in a seemingly useless heap,
but, even then,
God still admired the fibers,
grateful for their richness,
and so she would sit there
– sometimes for hours or weeks –
slowing working the strands in her hands,
untangling them
bit by bit,
not wasting anything.
Then she would knit on,
using every last yarn,
until at last people knew what was true:
that they were held
by Love Not Gone Anywhere.

Then, one day,
the people felt like were becoming unstitched.
Things felt so hard,
and it felt like they would never get better.
Have you ever faced a moment like that?
When the drudgery of a day turns into years?

God turned the yarn in her hand.

What would God do now?
How could she help them see their splendor?
A love poem? A song? More fabulous scarves?

God had tried it all,
but now she had an idea:
God would send them
a Word they could touch,
Love made real.
God would send the Word in the form of Jesus.
Jesus would be their net and their blanket.
They would not be alone.

And so,
Jesus came into the world.
Jesus had this uncanny way of lingering with each person,
talking, delighting in their company
losing all track of time,
losing track of all
but the love that flowed between them.

People would come up to Jesus and say,
I don’t know if I belong.
I look different. I think different.
I am wearied by the ways
people keep walking by me,
and never actually seeing me.


Jesus remained with them,
enthralled by a splendor
that they did not always see,
listening to the whole story,
stitching all the while.
Jesus would reply,
I know you have been called many things,
but this is your name now: beloved.

This is the name the Great Love gave you at your birth,
with a steadfastness and insistence that cannot be shaken.

Even at Jesus’ baptism,
the heavens could not contain this holy care;
the skies spilled open,
pouring out grace,
as God stitched the Word into our hearts:
You are my beloved with whom I am well-pleased.

The words are spoken not just to Jesus,
but to all of us,
in the places where
our threads are tattered and torn,
tangled and knotted.

Sometimes we forget our name.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel true.

Depression weighs us down.
Anxiety unravels us. We call ourselves other names.
Stupid. Idiot. Embarrassment. Coward.

Jesus still looks at us and says, “My beloved.”
Our presence, Jesus aches for.

We think we are a bother;
We think that we waste the time of God,
because who are we to spend time with the Holy?

Yet, God wants to waste time with us,
to spend time with us,
with no rhyme or reason,
with no purpose or plan.

God makes up reasons to spend times with us.
She only meant to make a scarf!
But to spend time with us, she makes a shawl and then a blanket,
then a net, to keep use safe and rooted next to the one we love.
She doesn’t want to finish. She keeps on going.

Knit, purl, knit, purl:
You, beloved, you, beloved.
God keeps on stitchin’ through eternity,
‘till at last we see
we are wrapped
forever
by love not gone anywhere.


A note on the featured image:

“knit chevron scarf” by anna banana is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

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