II am something of a vagabond, and a few years ago I had recently moved to a new parish and was delighted to see what a great event they had made of their holiday craft faire. Holiday boutiques are ubiquitous, and they are sometimes brushed aside as old-fashioned or boring or filled with things 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.
This parish was not like that at all. Their boutique was something special. It wasn’t 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 was two full days of festival, and I mean all day, from early in the morning until sunset. People there were happy. They greeted one another with smiles and warmth. Children were well loved and seemed to be very at home in parish life. All sights and sounds to make a newcomer 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 smooths 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 do we reflect? There I saw the 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.
Then, 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?