When my children were small I had more time to devote to craft projects – cross-stitch, sewing little things like Halloween costumes, party dresses for my daughter, and gifts for others. I enjoyed going to the fabric store and digging through the bins of remnant fabrics, little bundles of remaining cloth from a once full bolt that could no longer be sold full price. Most of the time the remnants were tiny pieces of crazy stuff that seemed useless – pieces of neon polyester or gaudy wool plaid. Other times you could find a gem – enough of a wonderfully tiny-patterned piece of cotton that would come in handy, especially if the price was right.
As time went on, I continued to collect more remnants than I had time or projects in which to use them. Let alone finish the ones I has started. I have an old family trunk that holds many of my unfinished and yet-to-be-born projects. I supposed it is my remnant trunk, a container from the past that is holding bits and scraps from years gone by. I always think, “Someday I will use these things. They are worth something.”
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:14-15
Today, I feel like a remnant. The bolts have been taken off the shelf and a few remaining pieces have been chosen to stay, to be bundled in new ways with new labels and tossed into a new bin to await a new life at the hands of a different creator. It’s like the last one standing when all others have fallen or gone away. Not a scrap of fabric that is being stored away for some future purpose like my treasures at home. But certainly a piece that has been left behind to serve a purpose – I’m not sure what yet, but repurposed from the original bolt of fabric that was made of a multitude of threads.
In that day the Lord of hosts will be a garland of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people; and a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28:5-6
This week I have had a brush with – no – was slammed by – an event that has occurred all over our country, including our churches for the past 2 years. Layoffs; the casting aside of employees that a budget can no longer support. I am a remnant of four remaining people of what was once an office of 10 people a month ago. In the bigger picture, I am one of eighteen remaining of what was once close to 40 people three years ago when the economy was booming.
. . . therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. Isaiah 37:4d
The Hebrew Scriptures speak of the “faithful remnant” – those who continue to find favor with God as they follow God’s ways, whether it be in captivity or in the diaspora. Today, even those who are being left behind from a job they gave their loyalty to are part of the faithful. Those who continue on can also feel like the left behind. All are remnants, torn from the fabric of what was once one seamless cloth. And all grieve, for what once was and for the hope that was unfulfilled. The future is uncertain for those seeking a new path and for those remaining behind.
So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Roman 11:5-6
I need to resurrect those fabric scraps and cast aside projects. I need to make something new.
But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the Lord our God, who has left us a remnant, and given us a stake in his holy place, in order that he may brighten our eyes and grant us a little sustenance in our slavery. For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to give us new life to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem. Ezra 9:8-9
- Take Courage — A Lectionary Meditation (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)