A few folks were asking me to share the poem from my sermon on November 4, 2018 where we celebrated 5 years of partnership with Deer Park United and where I shared a message on God’s Extra-Ordinary Quilt made of the scattered, torn, frayed, and still beautiful pieces of our lives and life together in community.

In our quilt, there are many shapes and colours, new and old, different textures, patterns and colours- each one essential to the beauty of the whole. In the quilt patch that we are, as individuals and as congregations, there are lots of mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities to rip out, re-cut, reshape. The flaws are there in every quilt, but most people never see them because of the beauty of the finished product

When we think of a quilt there are 4 parts:

1. The top- this is the piece the world sees, but it takes work to get there. You have to cut the pieces “just so”, then iron them, pin them together, sew them by hand or by machine, then iron them again. There’s a lot of measuring involved, and a lot of checking numbers. The attention to detail is impressive. Think of our 5 years together. What is our top? The work that we’ve done together, the beauty we’ve created in sharing ministry together. It may have taken time, some work in ironing things out, we may have had to replace a few pieces, but in 5 years we’ve created a beautiful relationship, and one that keeps growing, the pattern keeps evolving. A beautiful top piece.

2. The batting- the stuff that goes in the middle. Although it’s not visible to the human eye, we can’t underestimate the importance of inner stuff. It’s what makes the quilt warm and comfortable. Just because it isn’t visible to the human eye doesn’t mean we can use the cheap stuff. What’s in our middle? The stuff that no one sees but is important to our ministry together? Maybe its the paperwork, the meetings, the conversations of working together, the communication, the prayer for one another. Maybe it’s the tough stuff. The moments of figuring it out or the moments of God’s grace.

3. The backing- the piece that is on the other side of your quilt, the “plain” side. Except that it’s never really plain, is it? It takes on the patterns and designs that are quilted onto it, and sometimes those “plain” sides turn out to be a better work of art than the top! Its full beauty is never known until the project is finished, when we can turn it over and have a good look. As you quilt out the pattern on the top, it is translated into this beautiful hidden design on the back. Those hidden patterns are, to me, like the good things we do anonymously or without expect of return. They represent the times we’ve supported one another individually, the times we’ve attended fundraisers hosted by the opposite congregation, the times we’ve shared a deep conversation of faith in a local coffee shop. It may be the dreaming. It may be the living of our Christian faith. The backing, even if it’s a very simple one, is also essential. It keeps the stuffing in, gives shape and sturdiness to your quilt, and holds the actual quilted stitches tight.

4. Quilting- the actual act of stitching the three layers together. All the other parts are just parts. Without the stitches, made with the right thread and the right needle, your masterpiece will just be bits of fabric. Quilt stitches are pretty plain… up and down, up and down. But that quilt stitch, poking through all the layers of the quilt itself, is what holds it together. If you made a quilt and didn’t quilt it, the first time you washed it all the filling would ball up in one corner and it would be useless from that point on. What are our quilt stitches? What holds us together as congregations in collaborative ministry? It may be pretty plain and simple. It may be tedious. But what holds us together? The type of patterns don’t really matter – the quilt doesn’t care if you stitch leaves or crosses or circles or stars onto it. What matters is that the things you stitch are close enough together to hold the three pieces firmly together, keeping the inside batting from shifting, and turning the top, batting and backing into a new thing: a quilt.

This too is like our ministry together, the workings for the ministry and mission of Christ. It doesn’t matter the pattern of which we work together, what matters is that we are close enough together to be firm in our faith, to celebrate the risen Christ, to share in our sorrows and to rejoice in our celebrations.

Quilting is a step-by-step process, each important and essential to the final product. Each unique and special. So too has our 5 years of ministry together and the many more years to come.

Its been a process, some figuring out, but each step is important and essential to our partnership. We celebrate the various colours and shapes and sizes and scraps. We know that there is space in our quilt for everyone. The normal, the weird, the standard and the unusual, the passionate ones and the ones who need to just attend and absorb.

We embrace wherever the Spirit leads us, and we trust that each year the quilt will become larger and more vibrant as we continue to sew our fabrics together and create a beautiful Masterpiece.

Thanks be to God!!

And here is the poem that sparked the inspiration:

I Think God Is A Quilter
Author Unknown

I think God is a quilter
Who takes needle and thread
To piece our world from nothingness
And give it form, instead.

I think God is a quilter
And everything I see
Are pieces from God’s careful hand
From tree to bumblebee.

I think we see God’s stitches
God’s texture everywhere;
The velvet moss, the grainy sand,
The silky strands of hair.

I think God is a quilter;
Stitching tight and tiny rows,
Adding to my scraps and pieces,
Seaming everything God knows.

I think God cuts the patterns
From what I’d throw away.
God shows me how to use each scrap
In God’s redeeming way.

I think God quilts a pattern
From everything I live;
But God can only stitch the quilt
From what I choose to give.

I think God is a quilter
Stitching strength where I am weak.
Showing me that life God touches
Embraces everything I seek.

I think God is a quilter
From the patience in each thread;
Proving length of time no barrier;
Treating time a gift, instead.

I think quilts are lessons
God uses just to teach
That our pieces and our remnants
Have kaleidoscopic reach.

So, in the life I’m living
With pieces everywhere
I’ll give them to the Quilter
To stitch with loving care.

I’ll give them to the Quilter
Unwanted though they be
And with God’s work of quilting
God will make a quilt of me.

More Photos from the Five Year Anniversary Worship HERE