I am not a knitter. I don’t crochet. I did a macrame piece in art class once, but I’m not sure I even remember what that means anymore. Still, the leading image of the Collect for All Saints’ Day is not lost on me, even if I don’t know how to knit.
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Being an Episcopalian, even though I don’t knit, I’ve been around a lot of knitters. In seminary, folks would knit through class. I chose to take notes, but who’s to say who’s right or wrong. I’ve watched folks knit through meetings, through Bible Studies, and even in prayer. I’ve seen knitters work meticulously on a pattern, only to have to rip out a whole row for lack of a single purl.
I’ve witnessed, first hand, how difficult it can be to hold a pattern together, which I think is why I love the Collect for All Saints’ Day so much. Because the church is full of people, life in the church is not easy. It requires care and attention to hold all the competing forces together. Occasionally, it might require backing up a few steps because of a knit too many or, more often, a purl too few. In the long run, however, the hard and painstaking work of knitting together the beautiful afghan that is the church is so very much worth it.
On the Feast of All Saints, we celebrate the work that God has done throughout the generations to ensure that the Good News of Jesus Christ continues to be lived out. We remember fondly, sometimes, but not always, the saints who have devoted their lives to the witness of the Gospel. We recall the giants, Saints with a capital S, but also those who died as though they never existed (more on that tomorrow). We remember the clergy whose sermons inspired us; the Sunday School teachers whose felt board skills enthralled us; the kitchen helpers whose baked good energized us; and the servants of God of all ages and varieties who have worked behind the scenes to make the Good News of Jesus Christ known.
Like knitting, the church doesn’t just happen. It requires care, love, and a whole lot of passion to make it happen, and as we celebrate All Saints’ Day this week, I give thanks for the opportunity to be a stitch in the larger tapestry of the Kingdom of God.