At different times in my life, it has hung on a wall in my home as a piece of art, full of color, design, and beauty. It is made of hundreds of different pieces of various sizes and shapes. It was stitched together by hand. It speaks volumes, and it tells countless stories.
It is what is called a “crazy quilt,” made by my great-grandmother from nothing but left-over scraps of fabric that could just as well have gone to the burn barrel. The colors and design of each tiny piece often times do not match the colors and designs of the surrounding pieces, and if one looks for a specific pattern of any kind, one cannot find it. It certainly would not win any awards in the quilting contests of intricacy and detail that are so popular today, and for many it would not be a thing of value at all.
But with these pieced-together-fragments, from nothing but what many would consider garbage, a new creation of worth and significance was formed. And for me, it is treasure. It speaks not only to the character of my great-grandmother, but it also has been for me over the years a visual, tangible metaphor of what God does with the fragmented, broken pieces of our hearts and lives.
Grandma’s crazy quilt came to mind once again in the past weeks as I have been reflecting upon’ Jesus question to the man by the pool in Beth-zatha, recorded in chapter 5 of the Gospel of John: do you want to be made whole?
The man is blind, lame, and paralyzed and has no one to help him into the healing waters of the pool. Jesus, upon discovering his predicament, invites him to stand, pick up his mat, and walk. Out of the brokenness of his life, the man is made whole.
Reading this story of healing, I saw in my mind’s eye, my grandmother’s crazy quilt, and I heard in my heart this word: broken people matter to God.
Over the years of my pastoral ministry, I have found that often times when we as human beings are broken and our lives lay in fragmented pieces all around us, we come to believe that there is nothing left worth keeping. After all, when the glass shatters on the kitchen floor, what do we do with it? Do we painstakingly glue the pieces back together or do we sweep up the splintered shards and throw them in the trash? More often than not, it’s the trash. But Jesus asks, “do you want to be made whole?”
With these words God tells you that the broken pieces of your life matter to God. God tells you that broken people matter to God. The promise of the cross is that God will gather up the broken pieces of your life, and from those shattered shards, God will fashion something beautiful in and through you. God will gather up the broken pieces of your life, and God, through the cross of Jesus and a never failing love, will make you whole.
Rest in this promise today, tomorrow and always.
Oct. 23, 2012
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.