This specific theme has now come up so many times, in so many sermons and conversations, as to be ridiculous. Hilarious, even. At the very least an obvious invitation to pay attention.
I had already written about it in my journal Sunday morning. Before church. Before two church services, actually, since we’d decided to go to early church at the new one in our new community, and a second service at our previous home. Making up for lost Sundays, I guess, having been away these past weeks for a wedding and travel.
It was Baptism Sunday at Constance, and I’d been invited by two high school gals to celebrate with them. We arrived in time to stop by the between-service cake reception to deliver cards and greetings, but in order to cover the distance between parking lot and upstairs classroom, I had to put my head down to avoid eye contact with an atrium filled with old friends. Goodness. I should have expected. Our church for twenty-three years, and of course it is full of friends.
And so. Here I am, listening to my second sermon on a Sunday morning, when Pastor Greg starts his message with this verse from Ephesians, and I nearly laugh out loud.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Because here’s what I’d written in my journal, sun rising, hummingbirds competing for the feeder nearby, pre-church on this very same Sunday morning:
WE are your masterpiece
your work of art
WE not ME
WE were chosen
before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless
WE are the bride of Christ
without stain or blemish
WE are the NEW CREATION
WE not ME
Each of these images,
transforming my way of thinking
shaping my new identity in Christ
And now. I am learning. Again.
How you see
Not just ME. But
It was Pastor Greg, actually, who’d first taught me about the word poiema, years ago. This handiwork/masterpiece/workmanship—depending on which Bible translation you’re using. Poiema-poetry. Work of art.
And I said I’d get a tattoo, maybe, if I was younger. And it would be this one word in a simple font:
God’s poem. Except. Back then, I’d imagined this masterpiece, work of art, poetry
was me. Not we.
Now realizing. Paul’s meaning, really and truly, without a doubt, is for the “we” to mean WE.
It was my final talk for the kids at camp, too. Earlier this summer at Shamineau, and again last week for Renovation students. I’d recycled this one, tweaking it for Elemenary/Middle/High School. Thinking it was a relevant conversation, across the ages. And now, relevant enough for back-to-back sermons on a Sunday morning. (Because, of course, it had been the theme at New Hope, too.)
And also last week. When I stopped by Hand In Hand Christian Montessori, where I’ll be teaching this fall. My friend, Michelle, Director of Schools, shows me to my classroom, points out a Bible verse, posted on the wall, and tells me about our theme for the year…
We are God’s jigsaw-masterpiece. His work of art. Each of us a single piece of a completed puzzle. Members of the body of Christ. Romans 12:4-5—
For just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function,
so in Christ we, though many, form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others.
I look at Michelle. Incredulous. And I tell her. Just last week, when I spoke at camp, I mixed these metaphors, too.
A jigsaw puzzle. A human body. A masterpiece-poiema, work of art.
I think He wants me to pay attention.
We are God’s image. We—his humans—showing the world what God is like. We—in Christ—distinct members of one functioning body. We—together—completing God’s breathtaking work of art.
We—dearest friends from our old congregation.
We—new faces at a brand-new church.
We—students at camps and a Montessori classroom.
We—former neighbors gathered for a funeral on a Tuesday.
We—online readers of a weekly blog.
We—spanning this globe, united in Jesus.
We are His Masterpiece. WE—not me.