I John 3:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
And so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.
The Sunday between Christmas and New Year is the Feast of the Holy Family. When Christmas is celebrated on a Sunday, this feast is not celebrated. There are choices for the readings. The reading from 1 John was proclaimed, what I heard, starting from the word Beloved, was I John 4: 7 & 8. I hear that as it is a song from my childhood. One of the neighbors had a record (vinyl, yes I’m that old) titled “Kids Praise” with Psalty telling the story of Jesus in some way. And so, throughout the rest of the readings that song is all I heard.
As I read this now there are all kinds of thoughts swirling through my head about growing closer to God, knowing myself more as the child of His that I am, trusting Him more. I think about the gift that faith is in my life, how there are times when I’ve squandered this gift (hence my love of the Prodigal), how at times faith has seemed so distant, yet knowing in that moment I’m probably closer to God than I realize.
(Here’s a slight turn for you) I think about how, when I hear someone diminishing themselves (more often women!) that the words that come out of my mouth are ones that are encouraging, that flip the script in that woman’s head to see how amazing she really is. I think of how I longed as a young 20 something to be a minister and realize with the word that I speak, reminding others of how they are children of God, that they are capable of being more, that they are smart and intelligent and that they can do this, I am that.
I have this conversation over, and over, and over again. I’m grateful for each opportunity to do so. One more woman has heard this. One more woman can start to see her beauty and worth. One more woman. One more person.
This is about “loving one another”; following Jesus’ command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This means treating our self with the same dignity, and respect that we would offer another person.
This flows over into quilting on so many levels. These conversations of encouragement I have are usually not in a faith context, they’re usually in a quilting context. The process of learning how to quilt is quite complex. Over and over again quilters diminish where they are, “I’m just a beginner” they say. “Yes, you are a beginner and isn’t that great!” So am I. Okay, I’m a beginner with 22 years of experience, that just means I understand where you are and I can help you. I will help you as much as you let me. This is your journey, your quilt, it’s not about what I think or feel or what I want you to do or become. For all I know you’ll be a really famous artist and I’ll be a moment along that journey. Remembered or forgotten it doesn’t matter.
Quilting helps us chart how we learn, leads us down paths we thought we’d never take. There are highs, lows and lots of time where it seems like not much is happening. Quilting teaches us to be patient, to accept mistakes for what they are, to correct them when we can and oh! so much more. And in the end we have a quilt to be loved and appreciated for the gift that it is, a hug, a piece of art, a word of encouragement, a memory.
Quilting is a community. A group of communities. Bound together with fabric, and thread, ideas, and styles, hopes and dreams. Each quilt we make, each quilter we meet, offers us the opportunity to build community, to Love one another, sharing in the experience of the greater community on a larger scale.
Beloved, let us love one another!