Summary: Each one of us needs the gifts of the others in the body for our own wholeness, as well as for the health and optimal functioning of the whole church. And all of these gifts are to be used in love.
How many of you can remember building things when you were little? At my house we had Lincoln logs and tinker toys and cedar blocks, and I could spend all day building houses. I always envied the kids who had Meccano sets, you know, the metal strips with holes in them that you could put together with nuts and bolts. And another big treat was spending the day with my dad in his workshop, building doll furniture or putting together model cars. I didn’t care two hoots about cars, you understand, I just liked putting all the pieces together.
Some of the stuff they have nowadays puts all those things to shame. Lego’s are a positive addiction. I know adults who still play with them. I didn’t think you could beat Lego’s until my godson Ted got a set of K’nex for Christmas. I don’t know what you’d call them, they’re not blocks - all kinds of parts that fit together - have you ever seen those? We had a project to build a tower taller than I am, about five and a half feet, and it had moving parts, pulleys and balances and so on, so that if you dropped a ball in at one end it would run through various chutes and set other things in motion; one of the things it did was make a little man on a ladder climb up the tower. Well, Ted’s grown out of it now, more’s the pity, because I haven’t.
I still like making things, but without the god-kids to inspire me I stick more to needlework., the smaller and pickier the better. Not everyone gets as much fun as I do out of putting things together. Maybe some of you would rather tinker with an engine or build a collection or plan a dinner party. Maybe your creativity is invested in building a family or a business, designing a database, coaching a team or arranging a song. But it seems to me that there is in every one of us a deep-seated desire to create, to build or make something new, something that has our very own stamp on it. That’s what’s behind the incredible popularity of craft stores. It just astonishes me, every time I go up to Michael’s to buy yarn or beads how many different kinds of crafts people are into nowadays.
Some of you may not have had the chance really to explore your creativity, but I do believe that it’s an important part of every one of us.
Anyway, whatever it is that gets your creative juices flowing, there’s a process involved. There’s a plan, there are parts, there’s a beginning and an end. And I don’t just mean an end as in "It’s finished, I can stop now." No, I mean an end as in purpose, that is, what is it for? To what end am I investing all this time and effort? What is it supposed to be or do? And once you have that answer in mind, there are a whole lot of other questions that come scrambling along in its wake. What size should it be? What parts do I need? How much room will it take, how much time, is there a blueprint? It can get to be a pretty complicated process, trying to put all these parts together. But of course that’s what makes it interesting.
Well, in case you’ve ever wondered where that creative impulse comes from, wonder no more. That fundamental urge is one of the ways in which we are most like God. Dorothy Sayers, the famous theologian who was also the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels, wrote a book called The Mind of the Maker, about the creativity of God, in which she points out that the only thing that is said in context about the original of which we are the image is "God created." She therefore concludes that "the characteristic common to God and mankind is apparently... the desire and ability to make things."
As soon as we stop to think about it, it becomes obvious, doesn’t it. God is the Master Builder, the Architect of the Universe, the maker of heaven and earth as Christians in every age have said from the very beginning, in our earliest creeds. He is eternally creating and recreating us, and all things, new every day. And when we take up our tools and start putting things together, we are close to being our most God-like. (Not the closest - the closest, I believe, has to involve relationship - but close.) God chose to make us in his image, and to be creative is to be like God. And Jesus echoed that theme of building in Matthew 16:18 when he said to Peter, "...on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." [Mt 16:18] That’s pretty exciting, when you stop to think about it. We are the raw materials, the ingredients, out of which Jesus is building his master project. We were designed by God to be used as "living stones [to] be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, [in order] to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." [1 Pet 2:5] How does that happen?