The parable of the sewing machine
Ryan Summerlin November 6, 2013
Dorothy was proud of her sewing machine. She sewed just about all of the clothes her family wore on her little Singer. She had to. It was the middle the Great Depression. If Dorothy didn’t sew, her family would have gone naked.
Years later, Dorothy gave her little Singer sewing machine to her daughter, Linda. Times had changed. Money wasn’t so tight anymore. In fact, Linda’s family could afford to buy all their clothes from the store. But having grown up during the Depression, Linda felt a little guilty about dressing her family in store-bought clothes, so she would get out the old sewing machine from time to time and sew a dress for her daughter or a jacket for her son.
When Linda’s daughter, Karen, started her own family, she gave her the old sewing machine. While Karen wasn’t as skilled a seamstress as her mother, and certainly not her grandmother, she was able to do a bit of sewing. But it wasn’t a sense of obligation that caused her to get out the Singer. Instead, it was nostalgia. So once a year or so, usually around Christmas, she would sew a piece of clothing for her husband or one of the children.
The old sewing machine continued its journey through the generations. Eventually it was Karen’s daughter, Sarah, who had it. But it just sat in Sarah’s attic, unused. You see, Sarah didn’t know how to sew. In fact, she had no desire to learn. Her great-grandmother sewed out of necessity. Her grandmother sewed out of a sense of guilt. Her mother sewed out of nostalgia. But Sarah saw no reason to sew. And so the old Singer remained in the attic, never again to be used.
How often isn’t the Christian faith treated like that old sewing machine?
How often isn’t the Christian faith treated like that old sewing machine? A few generations ago, our ancestors recognized how necessary faith in Christ was, not just to their eternal destiny, but for their daily lives. So they practiced their faith by praying daily, worshiping weekly, and teaching Bible truths to their children. But as the years went by, it seems that each passing generation felt less and less of a need for Christianity, or for that matter, Christ. Some went through the motions of faith out of a sense guilt. Others occasionally attended church out of nostalgia, usually during the holidays. Today, many families whose ancestors lived their Christian faith openly and consistently, now have only a vague knowledge of it. Like the old sewing machine in the attic, it’s treated as a relic of the past that has no value today.
How sad! You see, the Christian faith is necessary. Without it, we have no hope beyond this life, no purpose beyond acquiring wealth and objects, and no confidence in standing before God. Faith in Christ, however, gives us all those things: Hope in heaven; the noble purpose of serving our God and each other through our vocations; and the confidence that we are God’s dearly-loved children.
Don’t treat the Christian faith like a sewing machine.
Brent Merten is pastor of Mountain Valley Lutheran Church, 802 Brush Creek Terrace, Eagle.