When Barb and got married 25 years ago, my parents gave us a quilt as a gift. The top was made by my great grandmother in the late 1800’s. The squares are tiny and sewn by hand. It hangs in our family room next to a quilt Barb's grandmother made. On another wall in our family room hang pictures...family pictures. Barb and I are in the middle with our parents on either side and then grandparents next to them. It is a comfortable room, full of the things that make up our lives. I often look at the pictures as I walk through the family room, but it is the quilt that always catches my eye. The fabric squares belonged to people I am connected to. The colors are not bright because in the late 1800’s I don't think too many folks wore bright colors. And I would guess the fabric is from their fancy go-to-meetin' clothes.
These folks came from the old country to make a new life here. They worked hard. They learned new customs without leaving the old too far behind. And they were faithful. They passed all that down to my favorite grandmother who passed it down to me. But it is the quilt that I always go back to. The quilt is the fabric of their lives. Each square is part of what made them the people they were.
Our lives are like quilts too. When you look back over your life, think about all the things and people who have shaped your life. Perhaps some of the fabric is brightly colored in your quilt, an indication of happy family times. Or a vacation you had looked forward to for a long time. Maybe there is fabric that is dark and scratchy. That is for the times when you struggled. Someone you loved was hurt or they died. School was a challenge, and you were bullied. Perhaps you were harmed in some way. Maybe the dark fabric came when you were young. Maybe that is the fabric of your life right now. Our quilts have fabric for graduations, confirmations, weddings, baptisms, holidays and more. Each square reminds us of something that shaped us.
If I was to pick a color for my favorite grandmother, it would be green...any shade. That was her favorite color. I would choose red for the times I had the privilege of sitting in memorial stadium watching the Cornhuskers play football. And blue for the times Barb and I have been on the water cruising. There would be brown and red and black and white, red and grey brindle and fawn colors for the dogs that have come into our lives and then crossed the rainbow bridge, taking pieces of our hearts with them. There would be the brightest white or yellow fabric I could find to remind me of the times I have seen God's hand at work in my life. Being a pastor in a church tradition that is liturgical, I would include the colors...purple for lent and advent, red for the day of Pentecost and reformation, white for Christmas and Easter and green for the season of Pentecost. There would be fabric of Norwegian, Scotch-Irish, and German design to honor ancestors. And there would be dark and scratchy fabric for the times that have taken me to the end of myself. There would be a splash of purple to remind me of the day Barb and I got married, and something that reminds me of desert sunsets.
You get the idea. Each of our quilts would look different because each of us has lived a different life and had different people and experiences that shaped us. But I think the material on the back of all our quilts would be the same. Because we are all connected to one another in Jesus Christ. We are created in His image and we are His beloved sons and daughters. He has named us and claimed us as His very own. We have been bought with His blood and redeemed. Paul writes in Romans 12:5,” In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”
Can you imagine the riot of color and fabric there would be if each of us laid our quilts out, one next to another? But then...we actually do. Each time we gather as a body of Christ, each time we gather with family or friends...who we are and that which has shaped us is on display. All the pieces of the fabric of our lives makes us who we are. When I look around at family gatherings, I know many of the stories. There are reasons each of us acts and reacts the way we do. There is a riot of color when the family gathers because all of us have had different experiences, and a few that have been shared. When I stand at the front of the church, I see a riot of colors, textures and fabrics. Some have known much heartache and struggle. Others have had relatively challenge free lives. And just like family, we have had some shared experiences.
When you think about the quilt of your life, what colors, textures and fabrics do you see? Who and what has influenced you the most?
In His grip
Pastor Matt W