With autumn in the air I have already started to look forward to Advent. I know it seems a bit early but the parish I’m in has already put out the call for cookies to decorate the giving tree. That means that the craft boutique cannot be far behind.
Holiday boutiques are ubiquitous, and they are sometimes brushed aside as old-fashioned or boring or filled with thing you don’t really need but buy anyway because it’s just what we do this time of year. We can be in such a hurry that we take the fairs, and the hardworking, dedicated people who host them, for granted.
A few years ago I visited a parish that was not like that at all. Their boutique is something special. It’s not just an hour or so before or after Mass, with everyone shopping quickly for their favorite home-baked goodies or a cute little stocking stuffer. This is two full days of festival, and I mean all day, from early in the morning until sunset. People here are happy. They greet one another with smiles and warmth. Children are well loved and seem to be very at home in parish life. All sights and sounds to make a visitor want to join the fun.
As I walked about and browsed (my personal shopping rule is to see everything first, and then see it again. If I am continually drawn to one item, it’s something I or someone I know needs and would love) I felt particularly drawn by the lovely quilts. As I returned again and again to my favorite, it struck me how like these quilts our parishes are.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the sayings that the Church is a quilt and we’re all individual pieces of that quilt hand made by a loving Creator. It’s true. Some pieces may look a little ragged to us, a little broken, but, like all the seasoned quilters I know, the Master Quilter smooth’s those ragged edges and folds them into the whole, so they can fulfill their role in the larger picture. And if any piece is missing, the quilt is incomplete
So, if all of us are pieces of our parish quilt, what scene from Christ’s life to we reflect? Here I see my new parish as the Nativity, with loving parents and friends welcoming beloved children. Other parishes have other missions and may reflect Jesus cleansing the Temple as they fight together for social justice or of Jesus healing the leper reflected in their enthusiastic pastoral ministries.
Just as all these scenes make up the whole of Christ’s life on earth, so do all of our parishes join together to reflect that wholeness. No on parish can do it all, just as no one individual can be the whole and sum of his or her own parish quilt. But each person is part of a whole parish, and each parish is part of the whole Church, and together we reflect the entirety of Christ’s life on earth.
Right now, I seemed to be part of Nativity. What quilt are you a piece of, and how does that reflect an aspect of Christ’s life on earth? Rejoice and be glad, for the Master has a place for each of us.
©Carol Amm Chybowski, 2016