I come from a family of “makers”—printers, knitters, woodworkers, calligraphers, photographers—some amateurs, some who have found ways to turn their pursuits into professions. But what many of us have twisted into our DNA is an inclination “to think with our hands. “ We communicate with the things we make and share.
Which may be why we have always been big on DIY kits. For decades, they have been the go-to presents for the children in our lives. Over the years my sister (whose background is in the sciences) must have bought and bestowed half a dozen Smithsonian Crystal Growing Kits. My favorite gifts to give were always fiber related—knitting spools, weaving looms, felting kits. A few weeks ago I made stop at nearby Harrisville Designs and it was all I could do to restrain myself from buying a potholder loom and a bag of loops for my niece Mia. She is, of course, remarkably precocious, but at 6 months old, this is a gift that will have to wait.
In a sermon a few weeks ago, I talked about the ultimate DIY kit. The text was the story of the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary, when he delivers the message that she will bear a son. Bucking long-held expectations about Israel’s Messiah, Gabriel makes the surprising announcement that help will arrive as a baby. A baby whom Mary will need to carry, nurture, feed and protect for a good number of years before he is ready to start teaching and healing. Jesus comes to us as a DIY kit. The materials God provides are the finest and the instructions foolproof, but Mary must partner with God and do some of the work herself.
And so must we. Faith and the actions born of faith require some assembly. We are all meant to be building a better world. Some will do it with words, some with song, some with neighborliness, some with political activism. Some will perform the task quietly, in out-of-the way places amongst the forgotten. Others will build boldly, carrying out the work in the public sphere. But the Gospel is always in the process of being made and remade—it is the ultimate DIY project. Our calling is to be “makers” one and all—makers of a planet ruled by peace and goodwill.
Merry Christmas, fellow makers!