Monday, 4 July 2016

The Knitted Bible at Birkdale URC for two weeks

I was invited to open the Knitted Bible Exhibition at Birkdake URC on Sunday afternoon at the suggestion of Brenda Porter. The exhibition has its origins in Hartlepool and is now touring the country, this is its first visit to our borough. A full explanation can be found on the website of St George's  church .

I must admit that ever since I received the invitation have been intrigued and every time I am asked what I do a Mayor I have told them about the knitted bible. I was intrigued and almost everyone I spoke was equally curious.

My invitation had asked me to open the exhibition and I must admit I had imagined myself cutting a ribbon or drawing back a curtain. It was clear that was not the case and I was going to be called upon to say something. As we were singing the hymn prior to opening and the minister, Janet Calderley, calling me up I was hurriedly collecting my thoughts. As I looked around the knitted figures it struck me how often through history the stories they were telling gave hope to people in times of deep despair. If I'd have time I would have looked up some examples: the spiritual songs sung by slaves of African American origin like Deep River with its longing and promise of a better land.  All I could drag to mind was a scrap of poetry from Wordsworth beloved by the great champion of non conformity, Isaac Foot:

.....his pure song, which did not shrink from hope
In the worst moment of these evil days;
From hope, the paramount 'duty' that Heaven lays,
For its own honour, on man's suffering heart.
But I couldn't remember the context or be certain of the words so I just went wit the sentiment.
After the opening I was shown round by the Moderator Rev Janet Embrey . I was much taken with David
and Goliath, not least because the giant looked like Hagrid. But it was the Last Supper and the nativity which stole the show.
We then went off for an excellent Afternoon Tea with masses of home baking. I popped into the kitchen afterwards to thank
the helpers and was delighted to see so many men taking their turn.
Finally it was back to the exhibition for some photographs. John Pugh and I posed behind the last supper and discussed which
of the knitted disciples was Judus. Traditionally he sits two away from Christ's right hand. There is some
dispute whether the disciple next to Christ is John or Mary Magdalene, but in the case of the knitted bible it certainly isn't Mary
The exhibition is on for two weeks and I would recommend that you let your curiosity get the better of you and go along.

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