Church of England Diocese of Manchester Kirklees Valley

Keeping fit - a reflection from Elizabeth Kay!

Are You Keeping Fit?

Or are you sitting knitting? You might be doing both! I was surprised to discover recently that the word “fit” is derived from the old Norse word “fitja,” which means ”to knit.”

We are all missing one another at the moment, but one of the activities that I am missing most is our time together at the arts and crafts group at St Francis house on Thursdays, where several of us enjoy knitting and crochet. The ideal woman is described in Proverbs 31 as one who, amongst other qualities, “selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” We have lots of these ideal women at All Saints and, of course, at St James as well.

But that’s not the only link between fitness and knitting. Paul, in Ephesians 2:21, describes the church as being built of living stones that are “fitly framed together” to form a holy temple. Running through Paul’s letters to the early Christians is this theme of the church as no longer being a physical building, but a spiritual dwelling place for God.

But the idea of a physical dwelling place for God had long been important for the Jewish people, first with the Tabernacle, which was used during the 40 year period in exile in the wilderness. Then that was replaced by Solomon’s temple, and then, after it was destroyed, by the second temple - which was the one that Jesus knew.

Each of these three temporary, physical dwelling places for God was where the high priests made sacrifices on behalf of the people to enable them to be reconciled to God. They all contained ornate fabrics; fine linen, patterned with coloured threads woven in from the loom. So they were knitted together in a particular way, just as we as living stones are built up together in a fitting manner.

With that in mind, Paul’s words to the Colossians in chapter 2 seem particularly appropriate. He reassured “all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love…for though I am absent in body, yet am I with you in spirit”

So, in this present wilderness experience, when we are not seeing each other face to face, and our church is not in a physical building, we remain knitted together. The pattern in the fabric of the Tabernacle was hidden under layers of animal skins and so could not be seen from the outside, but only by the High Priests. In the same way, we have built up connections in all of our shared activities and worship over the years, so there is an underlying pattern in the fabric that, in our isolation, we cannot see ourselves - but God can.

In the words of Hebrews 10:36, then, “patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will - then you will receive all that he has promised.” So we should look forward to a time when we can again sing together “Bind us together Lord” and it will mean even more to us than ever.

I hope that we can not only maintain connections with one another, but also be more aware of how connected we are with Christians all over the world and in all denominations. We are able to use the internet to do that in a way that we could not have done even just 20 years ago. I have shared online worship regularly over the past few weeks via Facebook with the Community at Mirfield and with a married couple of Methodist ministers who conduct services from their kitchen in Prestwich - I’ve also been invited to take part in silent Quaker worship via Zoom.

So, my conclusion is : stay connected, keep the church fit and get knitting!