I have a hole in my socks but no needle or thread to darn them!
I don’t know if I’ve worn through my socks because I’ve been doing a lot more walking here in Pittsburgh than I expected. It’s been said many times before by visitors to the United States but everything here just seems so big! The streets are wider, the houses are bigger and the buildings are taller. A few blocks seems like miles to walk.
But it’s not all bad. Flying into Pittsburgh I was struck by the huge number of trees I could see across the city. They were everywhere between the houses and other buildings making it a much greener place than I would have expected of an industrial city. At times it looked like the trees were fighting with the houses for space and more often than not the natural world was winning.
After a full day of presentations and discussions it was good to head downtown this evening to find food and fresh air. A walk along the river revealed more trees along the riverbank even right in the centre of the city, contrasting with the great steel bridges, one of which proudly sported an award for ‘Most Beautiful Bridge 1928’!
I am still processing all the things I am learning and discovering as I listen to the experiences of church leaders encouraging fresh pioneering models of church in Pittsburgh and other parts of America, as well as in South Africa and Europe. One of the most interesting definitions for mission that I have heard was quoted in a presentation this morning. It comes from Craig Nessan who writes that God’s mission through Christ and the Church is to ‘mend the torn fabric of creation.’
It’s a wonderful image to play with, an image of healing and reconciliation. The Church is called to engage with what God is doing in the world, to see where the fabric of creation is torn and to do what we can to mend it, to work in partnership with the ‘other’ whether that be the created world or other human beings from a different faith or background. I have also been struck today by painful stories of racial division and prejudice which continue to blight so many communities.
Sometimes taking on this mission might mean repairing breaches within the local congregation or community, sometimes it might mean being prepared to work with those who are different from us in creating something new that will allow us all to flourish.
In this disposable age, I suspect I will just throw my socks away and buy new ones but that’s not an option when it comes to creation. The tears in the fabric of our world need repairing and that requires both needle and thread, not to mention a whole lot of skill and patience.