I’m a bit of a mixture. I’m an Irish woman who lived over half her life in Britain. I’m a qualified doctor but also an ordained minister. Although I was ordained in the Church of England and now associate myself with the Church of Ireland, I spend at least half my time working for or worshipping with the Methodist church. Although strongly extrovert by nature I really appreciate time on my own. I love words and things of the mind but am strongly creative, making virtually all my clothes. Clearly there’s a lot of variety and contradiction in my life but I hope I’m not like the man John Dryden wrote about:
A man so varied that he seemed to be Not one, but all mankind’s epitome. Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong; Was everything by starts, and nothing long.
When we moved back to Northern Ireland when I retired from full time ministry, one of our requirements was that any house we bought would have space for a room for each of us, aside from bedrooms, sitting room and so on.
My husband’s room is clearly a study but mine is perhaps less easy to define. Let’s call it a workroom. The most striking thing – apart from the mess! – is the two desks side by side in the room. One is clearly in use as a desk with computer, keyboard and so on. The other is home to my sewing machine, overlocker and the other accoutrements required by anyone who sews seriously. Just looking into my room gives a fair insight into my personality.
It could be very tempting to think that the ‘desk’ end of the room with the computer is the more important. After all, that’s where I plan worship and write sermons. Surely this is the ‘godly’ end of the room and the other end is more frivolous. Didn’t Jesus say:
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. Luke 12.27
As I’ve thought about this, I realise that both are equally important. We read in Genesis 1:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth:
and then, when God created humans:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”
If we are made in the true likeness of our Creator God, creativity in some form must be part of what makes us human. Being able to create something beautiful and bring brightness and light into the world is surely a godly activity. Maybe my two desks aren’t so far apart after all.
One of the things I loved in the English Anglican Church was the use of vestments. By no stretch of the imagination am I high church but I loved the brightness and colour they brought to our worship. Ideally, we should worship God with all our senses. In the Protestant church it often seems as if the only sense involved is that of hearing but worship should engage every part of our being. One of the things which gave me great joy was to make vestments. Doing so was an intensely spiritual activity where I was creating something of beauty to offer to God.
We don’t often sing the hymn ‘Teach me, my God and King’ but I believe that there is an important lesson in the words.
Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see, and what I do in anything to do it as for thee.
Everything we do, whether writing a sermon, making a dress, peeling potatoes or worshipping in church is all part of what God requires of us. All of our life should be lived in awareness of God. Many of us have found lockdown hard and I’m no exception. Gradually I’ve come to realise that simply living each day to the best of my ability, whatever I’m doing, is a true offering of worship. Making a coat mightn’t sound like worship but, thanks be to God, it can be.