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Tapestry of Grace

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There was a little boy sitting at his mother's feet as she was sewing a tapestry. After a long while of him gazing up, he had this strange look on his face. His mother asked him, "Darling, What is the matter?"
His reply was, "Mommy, that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen!"
His reply was, "Mommy, that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen!"
When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.
His mother turned her tapestry over, and He was right! It was ugly. There were knots, and strings and threads and they were all crossed in various ways and it WAS ugly!
His mother turned her tapestry over, and He was right! It was ugly. There were knots, and strings and threads and they were all crossed in various ways and it WAS ugly!
His mother replied, "Oh sweetie, you are right, but you are looking at it all wrong!
His mother replied, "Oh sweetie, you are right, but you are looking at it all wrong!
The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job. What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine. 
You see, if you look at it from up here, it is beautiful!" With that she turned the tapestry over for him to see. It WAS beautiful. It was perfectly stitched. "The little boy replied with joy, "OH Mommy! It is PERFECT!" I couldn't see what you saw!
You see, if you look at it from up here, it is beautiful!" With that she turned the tapestry over for him to see. It WAS beautiful. It was perfectly stitched." The little boy replied with joy, "OH Mommy! It is PERFECT!" I couldn't see what you saw!
Today I want to talk with you and present to you an idea, a theme for us to live by for the year. I want this theme to be something that we take with us all year long and try to live out as people of faith and more specifically as the body of Christ here at Grace. I want us to live out this tapestry we have woven together here at Grace. I want us to be and embody the Tapestry of Grace
That is exactly how this life is for us. We see things from underneath; from our human perspective. The entire time, GOD is weaving the tapestry of our lives from up above, and He sees our lives from HIS perspective. He sees the right side of that tapestry.
This tapestry is an incredible tapestry. It helped to bring a married couple back together and it helped a church worship on Christmas Eve when it might have not been able to otherwise. All because of a piece of fabric that was created by the hands of one person 35 years earlier.
Today I want to talk with you and present to you an idea, a theme for us to live by for the year. I want this theme to be something that we take with us all year long and try to live out as people of faith and more specifically as the body of Christ here at Grace. I want us to live out our tapestry
The story we just heard isn’t a very long story but it does show exactly what I want to talk about today. Here at Grace we have three worship services, one of which is on a Saturday night. We don’t always get to see each other because of the different service times and days, but at the exact same time we are all worshipping at Grace, we are all connected to one another by our love of this place.
We also have various ministries here at the church. We have several Bible studies, we have a Women’s group, we have our church council, there is a visitation ministry, altar guild, a board of worship, youth ministry, our fellowship ministry who set up coffee and goodies each week, and there are so many more it would be difficult to list them all and I apologize if I didn’t list one you are a part of. There are so many different ways to become involved and connected to Grace. You could say that if we are a tapestry, our threads and strings are crossed in various ways, but we are still all a part of the same tapestry of Grace.
There are also plenty of ways to take an idea that you have and start something new. The unique part of this tapestry that we have here is that it is never finished, it will never be complete. There are so many new threads that can be added to it and tied to threads that already exist.
The other part about this tapestry is that if you look at all the different threads you will see that there are some that are old and some that are very new. We have new people worshipping with us, you have a fairly new pastor leading you. These are all new threads that have been added to this tapestry and they aren’t very long, but they are tied to some other part of the underside of it that are very old and those parts are tied to and woven between the other parts of the tapestry.
Not only do we have stories going back to the beginning of this congregation that started in 1949, but we also have stories that go back as far as 90 plus years. Because we are all connected to one another and because we are also connected to God you could also say that we have threads of our tapestry that go back as far as the time when God said, “let there be light”. Now as the little boy pointed out if you look at all those knots and woven strings and thread you might not be able to make much sense of it, but as the mom pointed out, if you flip it over you can see what a beautiful story it does tell.
This story needs to be told and shared and passed down. Our Old Testament lesson shares that very thought. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and keep these words, keep these threads of the story with you always in your heart and most importantly share them with your children no matter where you are. Write the stories down so they may always be remembered and shared with others.
Not all the stories we have are stories of happiness and joy. in fact there are many stories in the Bible that talk about times when it was difficult for people. We have today’s New Testament lesson sharing with us that there will be times when we might suffer various trials, but that in the end there will be indescribable joy. This is true for the tapestry of Grace as well. Not all stories are full of joy and good times, but those stories too, the ones we may not always want to remember are on this tapestry and they help us they shape us and they inevitably show us our inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, which is waiting for us in heaven.
I have been focused a lot on the threads that have made up the back of the tapestry of Grace, but I wonder what it looks like if we flip that tapestry over and see the beauty of it all. What do you see when you look at our story? What do you see when you flip over the tapestry and see what all of the lives, all of the ministries, all of who and what we are are tied together to create the image that you see in your minds eye?
This is our tapestry as we see it today. Just as it is important to see where we have been and where we are now, wonder with me what this tapestry will look like in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years from now. Of course like the disciples from our Gospel lesson we would love to know with certainty what it will be like at places and times that we have never been to or experienced yet, but Jesus has made the promise that he is waiting for us and willing to help us along our journey. So what does Grace look like as we move forward together in ministry? How do we move forward together living fully into the past of who we have been and how it has shaped us, but also who God is calling us to be in the future to continue to shape our stories and how our stories intersect the story of Grace? More specifically and to the point, where does your string and thread appear on this tapestry? How can you help shape the tapestry of Grace to help our story grow? Jesus tells us that the works that we do are done with God’s help and they even have the potential to even greater works than Jesus.
I don’t have answers for us today, but I do know that we have an incredible story as both Christians and as the family of Grace and if we can work together to share that story we can and will do incredible things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
I have another tapestry story for you today to show just how connected we are to one another and how what we do and how we involve ourselves in the story truly does have an incredible impact on this world.
The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities.
When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.
The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job. What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
This tapestry is an incredible tapestry. It helped to bring a married couple back together and it helped a church worship on Christmas Eve when it might have not been able to otherwise. All because of a piece of fabric that was created by the hands of one person 35 years earlier.
We are all connected in this tapestry of Grace. We all have a story to share and gifts with which to share them with. How do our individual threads connect and how do they help to share the story? I invite you to spend this year to ponder that question and find the answer to it. We have a beautiful tapestry of Grace, but there is more to add to it and there are more connections to be made.
At times we may only see the underside and wonder how anything beautiful can come from this, but God sees the tapestry we are weaving together and God sees both sides of the story. God sees the underside and sees how connected we are and how each thread adds to the whole picture. God also sees the front of the tapestry and can see what a beautiful image is shows and the full story it tells of us. Jesus promises to be there with us through each and every part of the story of our lives and the story, the tapestry of Grace. I can only imagine what we might be able to do when we all work together at Grace to tell the story of God and to weave our tapestry of Grace.
Amen.
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