My mother taught me the basic stitches of embroidery when I was young, and I have continued doing this needlework all my life. It is an enjoyable and rewarding hobby, and I glory in the colourful threads and canvas, slowly revealing its beautiful pattern. In case you think of embroidery as being merely a “feminine pursuit”, the Royal School of Needlework used the craft as therapy for injured WW I soldiers recuperating in hospitals across Britain. The men, many suffering mental distress and anguish after witnessing terrible battle fatalities and atrocities, were helped in rehabilitation with the intricate, careful work of embroidery. The embroidered panels of 133 servicemen from many allied countries, including our own, contributed to an elaborate altar cloth now belonging to St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Embroidery was employed in the decoration of the Tabernacle. “And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.” (Exodus 36:2 ESV) The embroiderers decorated the great inner curtain which surrounded the Holy of Holies, accessible only by the priests, which contained the Ark and its cherubim, on which God’s glory rested. “He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twisted linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it.” (Exodus 36:35 ESV) These beautiful curtains showed the angels worshipping, just as the priests did before the Lord, and were the handiwork of skilled people who loved God and used the talents and abilities He gave them in a finished artwork of love and worship.
This was the same temple veil torn apart after Jesus’ crucifixion. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh…..since we have a great high priest over the house of God.” (Hebrews 10:19-21 ESV) Once only the domain of a hereditary priesthood, access to God is available to everyone, as Jesus became the end of the law and its rituals. By His death and sacrifice, all social and spiritual distinctions were removed; with His resurrection, privilege of access and blessing are ours by faith.
Perhaps handiwork is not your skill and gift, but you have some gifts nonetheless which you can employ to serve God today. He will stir up your heart to come to do the work of His church, if you let Him. Thank Him for the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus, who gave up everything so we could gain access to God.