Heard any good parables lately? You know, the stories Jesus used to tell about people and events so his followers would understand what he was trying to teach them.
A parable is most often defined as “A short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or religious principle”. Like the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) (love your neighbor) or the parable of the rich young man (Luke 18:18-30) (be willing to share what you have). The Gospels are full of them.
But that was 2000 + years ago. How about in 2018?
Well, something pretty amazing happened on Shrove Tuesday at Little Fork Church in Rixeyville. Our building is the oldest church in Culpeper County, having been competed in 1775. Many amazing things have happened there. But what happened during our Shrove Tuesday pancake supper and talent show this year was quite remarkable.
When I was trying to recruit acts to fill the program, I asked my wife, partner and best friend Molly if she would like to sing, dance, tell jokes?
“No, that’s not my thing,” said she. “But how about a quilt?” She’s been a talented quilter for years, won ribbons at the fair, taught others, who didn’t think they could, the joys of quilt making.
“I’ll draw up some felt grid blocks; cut some fabric squares and triangles out of a bunch of bright colors and let everybody who comes to the show design their own blocks. Then we’ll join them together and make a quilt,” she further explained.
I was skeptical. I would never admit it to anyone but I had little faith anybody would be interested. I was convinced it would bomb.
So I put Molly and the Quilt Project 3rd on the program behind Frank Lambeer’s harmonica solos and the Dodd twins hilarious He Said She Said comedy sketch.
She stepped to the microphone, showed some of the quilts she had done;s then explained what the felt blocks and brightly colored shapes on the
tables were for, then invited everybody to try THEIR hand, show THEIR talents , design THEIR own square.
I held my breath. Not very long. Because, almost to a person, the audience energetically participated. Squares and rectangles became bowties and sailing ships and crosses and kalidescopic patterns. Folks who didn’t think they had a talent to share, did. Even more blocks were made during social hour, following Sunday services, by folks who hadn’t been at the talent show.
So where’s the parable?
I invite you to look at each individual block. That’s one expression, one talent. But then look at the whole quilt. That’s many expressions, many talents creating beauty and community and something worthwhile.
E. Pluribus Unum—Out Of Many ONE.
And I firmly believe that’s what the Jesus of 2000 years ago was trying to teach us and what the Jesus in each of us is trying to get us to understand today. God has given us each a talent. And Matthew wrote that Jesus taught that we should be grateful to God, obey God’s commandments and --above all--love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40)
Don’t think you have a talent? YOU DO! Don’t think what you think matters, IT DOES. Just think about the world we could make if we each bring our own designs to the table and governed by love an respect, not ignorance and fear, stitch these talents together in a spectacular quilt of community, a quilt of many talents, colors, points of view.
May God bless you and inspire you to make your block, use your God given talent to make a difference in the quilt of our community and our human condition. Amen