Mell and I were once surprised with a beautiful hand-made quilt. The contributors, some experienced, others just wanting to help, each made squares and signed their name. The individual piece was then carefully sewn together to form a lively mixture of patterns and colors. The result was a quilt of lasting beauty, which will always remind me of a special church and the love they shared with our family.
Like my quilt, churches are a lively mixture of people-squares with varying degrees of challenges, joys and sorrows. The list below highlights some good and flawed examples of people-squares who have helped form a church-quilt of beauty and color, pleasing to God.
Seven children, with nervous giggles begin a Bible study. Their enthusiasm is contagious and questions are penetrating. Upon hearing the story of Abraham and the miracle birth of Isaac, which means “laughter,” there are visible reactions of snickers and joy.
Fifty-some folks hop into pick-up trucks after worship to drive through mud and debris to a near-by creek bank. Singing, “Shall we gather at the river,” they have come to witness the baptism of three dedicated men who have given their lives to God in the cold frigid waters near their home.
The church board debates whether to buy curtains or stained-glass windows with their $3000 surplus. One member asks for $300 to purchase Christmas gifts for several needy children. After a long silence, no surplus money is offered, but they do agree to take up an offering. The children receive bicycles and the church gets a new carpet.
A man in the local community has a heart attack and nearly dies. While in the hospital, he makes a commitment to serve God by attending a small-struggling church. Within a few months he is motivating and encouraging others through his enthusiastic witness.
One thirty-something member feels led to start a Sunday school class for younger adults. Another wants to reach single adults. Soon, with encouragement and prayer the two new groups combine and become one of the largest classes in the church.
A nurse asks a nearby church to build a handicap ramp for an elderly patient in the county. The men’s group sends a team of volunteers who spend their Saturday building the ramp and making a few minor repairs to the house as well.
A new member attending her first leadership meeting suggests the church occasionally sing more upbeat music, younger people can relate too. Another member stands and makes it clear she is not interested in learning new songs. The subject is dropped. The new member no longer attends.
A young man asks if he can play softball with the church team. Before the season is over, God touches his life. The team however, still finishes in last place.
On two warm spring evenings, 24 students of all ages gather to celebrate completing a demanding nine-month Bible study. During the worship service class members talk of receiving life-changing support from God and the group.
Just as squares are stitched together to form a colorful quilt, the church is made up of various individuals looking for an ongoing relationship with God. There are a few mistakes made and sins committed but there are also wonderful acts of love and courage. The result is a church-quilt of lasting beauty, which will always remind me of a special community and God’s gracious love.
Oops! I almost forgot. There is something missing. One square is deliberately blank and waiting for you because without you and the unique contribution and gifts God has given you, our quilt is incomplete. God’s church-quilt has plenty of space available for people-squares just like you and me. Come join us but don’t forget your needle and thread.