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Sew the Button

Sew the Button

You probably know that there are jokes about different Christian communities — Baptist jokes, Catholic jokes, Episcopalian jokes and so on. There are even Presbyterian jokes.

More often than not, they’re told by members of the church body in question to other members. For example—well, let’s not focus on any specific church body, but think of one that’s known for being quite traditional in its ways of doing things. Ok let’s just say it—Presbyterian.

So, “How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?”

The punchline, as you may know, is “Change?”

Change is hard. Yet that is so often what the people of God are called to do—to change. In fact, every prophet brought a call for folks to change.

In fact, not once did God send a prophet with a message to keep doing what you are doing. Instead it is a call to do better—to change.

And this call to change is a sign of God’s love and grace. It may not seem like it or feel like it when we are reminded that we can and should do better in the things we say and do towards one another, but it is true.

Let me explain if I can.

When I was in middle school, everyone had to take Home Economics. It was a six-week required course. We learned a lot in a short period of time. I remember my favorite part was the baking. I can Betty Crocker a cake mix with the best of them. However, another required element was sewing. We had to do both a small cross-stitch piece and sew on a button. I was terrible at both. Nothing would line up…just getting the thread through the eye of the needle caused me to question the idea of a loving God. At the end of the course my cross-stitch was a mess and I had not successfully gotten a button to stay on anything.

I dreaded the report card. Yet when I got it, I was shocked. I had received an A in the class! There was no way my cakes made up for my uncoordinated sewing fingers. I decided it must have just been grace.

Looking back on it now it wasn’t grace at all. It was simply the apathy of a teacher who knew if I failed, she might have a parent conference or something and I might not like her, so she gave me an A. Looking back now I imagine she gave the same A to everyone in her class.

She didn’t pronounce judgement on my sewing, which it deserved. As a society we confuse judgement to be the opposite of grace, when it is really apathy. Grace says you messed up, and I love you anyway…so now let’s work together to get better. Apathy says take your A or even an A+; it matters not to me…I just don’t care that much about you.

If the prophet’s continuous cries throughout the Bible for the people to change teach us anything, it is that God is not apathetic. God loves us so much that God cannot let us go. God cares for us so deeply that God pushes us to do better—to learn how to “sew the button.”

We are now called to change how we do mission and ministry and worship in this new era. God could have let us go, but instead God is faithful. God is calling us to change—stepping out in faith to live and act in new and scary ways.

“Faith,” according to the writer of the book of Hebrews, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Living by faith is an adventure throughout all of life, and living that way means we will often be called to change to do things with new approaches.

Do you remember Corrie ten Boom? She gained international recognition after writing her 1971 book, The Hiding Place, which was made into a movie.

In her book, she tells about how she and her family, living in the Netherlands when the Nazis invaded, hid Jewish neighbors to save them. The family became active in the Dutch underground, hiding refugees as well. She and her family were eventually arrested, and her sister died in captivity.

My favorite statement from Corrie ten Boom is this: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

God loves us so much that God pushes us to grow and change. The good news is that God walks with us through this change very step of the way.

Thanks be to God.

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