As part of the final thread, we asked Thomas McConaghie, former threads co-ordinator to share his thoughts and reflections around the journey we’ve been on together. We’re incredibly grateful for the vision and hard graft of all of the threads team from over the years, who continue to inspire us in their new areas of influence.
Meaningless, meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
My church has started into a series on the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the three books part of the Bible’s wisdom literature. It’s the first time I’ve spent any meaningful time in the book and am thoroughly enjoying it so far. It’s so peculiar, so different, so jarring. The things the writer is coming out with seemingly sound at odds with things from the rest of the Bible. Seemingly, but not really. What it is at odds with is the sentimental, coffee cup, bumper sticker Christianity that can sometimes feel all pervading.
I mention it by way of introduction as I wish I’d have engaged with this book earlier in my life because it feels like this is the heartbeat of threads.
The book paints a beautiful, sceptical, if not downright nihilistic picture of life. It puts words to our lived experience. It captures the ways in which we find frustration in our jobs, our relationships, our sex, our finances, our possessions, and even to the core of our faith. It articulates what life just feels like.
When I reflect on threads and the space it occupied, in hindsight, it was our paraphrasing of this book. It was a group of Christians who’d typically grown up in faith but in the transition to adulthood, have felt the onslaught of questions come close to overwhelming. It was a space where we had room to doubt while still clinging to faith by our fingernails.
Personally, my favourite moments came from reading reactions to articles which discussed mental health struggles. Essays of staggering openness and vulnerability that elicited stunning responses of support. I think of Katharine Welby-Roberts calling the Church to make space with those whose suffering doesn’t seem to cease. I think of church leaders like Dave Magill taking the plunge by bravely letting us hit ‘publish’ to admit their struggles. I think of Rachael Newham sharing her story of the hope she found in Jesus and the voice she has used to encourage those who are hurting.
Meaningless? Perhaps. A chasing after the wind? Probably. Ecclesiastes, in the middle of it all, gives space for moments of optimism. In the bleakest moments in his monologue, the teacher enjoys simple good things in life.
Friendship, family, a good meal or a sunny day. There is beauty in the chaos. There is hope.
As this endeavour wraps up, I hope and pray that there’s something we’ve published over the last 6 years that has given you cause to find something of God’s peace in the seemingly chaotic.