The Quiltmaker’s Gift
The Quiltmaker’s Gift and our Gospel Story have a lot in common:
Both feature men who have many possessions;
In both stories the men are invited to divest of what own
because it stands between them and happiness
Both have a quixotic figure who issues the invitation.
But I paired this Gospel with The Quiltmaker’s Gift for what they do not have in common—
That’s the ending.
The Quiltmaker’s Gift concludes with the King in worn out clothing, radiant with joy.
The Gospel story ends with the man leaving in sad dejection, because he couldn’t give up the things he had for the Jesus that he wanted.
I am interested in the Gospel character, this man.
He seems to be very sincere in his request to what he must do to have Life, Eternal Life.
He kneels at Jesus’ feet, a posture of prayer and respect.
He keeps all the commandments, he has since his youth.
But he feels something is missing.
And he believes that this Teacher Jesus can tell him what it is.
Perhaps we should be surprised that he doesn’t take Jesus up on his invitation
to leave his possessions behind and follow him.
After all, Peter and Andrew left their nets and boats to follow Jesus,
James and John left their father-in-law, and Levi left his job and income as a tax collector. The disciples exchanged their livelihood, their possessions, and their daily life with family To be with Jesus, with no questions asked.
If we are honest with ourselves, we readers of Mark silently identify with this man more than the disciples. Most of us are more likely to go away grieving than to gladly leave what we have to follow Jesus.
At the Pastor’s Bible study this week we wrestled with Jesus’ extreme words:
“Sell what you own,” seemed completely unreasonable.
What are we supposed to do? Mooch off of someone else?
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich
to enter the kingdom of God,” – how judgmental is that?
But then someone said, “I think the key to this passage is the words, “Jesus looking at the man, loved him.”” And gradually it came into focus: Jesus’ words to this man were not an impossible task or a test he failed But rather an invitation to the very Life that this man was asking for. Jesus loved this man—Jesus is said to love someone only twice in this Gospel— Jesus loved this man, and therefore wanted what was best for him.
It was the man who could not sense this, could not trust this truth that was beyond his experience.
That’s why I love The Quiltmaker’s Gift.
Because the king so desires the one thing that he lacks,
that he begins to follow the quiltmaker’s instructions to give away what he owns.
He starts feebly—with one marble—
But the action grows and becomes easier, and even enjoyable!
In following the invitation of the quiltmaker, he finds the joy he so long sought.
We don’t know what happened to the man in our Gospel lesson.
We know he left Jesus at this day, but I wonder if his desire for what Jesus offered pulled him back.
Perhaps there was more to his story than simply leaving with a sad heart.
Perhaps, like the king, he tried giving something away, and found it not a dreary sacrifice, but exactly what he was longing for. Or perhaps, this man’s story finds its ending in us. We who know what it is like to cling the security of our familiar possessions and patterns We nonetheless seek Jesus and kneel at his feet because
We desire the freedom he offers We long to be near him, to experience the joy of Life with him.
And so when we hear Jesus invitation “sell what you own, and give your money to the poor, Then come, follow me,” We can continue this man’s story with our actions. It starts with one marble. It begins with one gift. And it grows until it becomes natural to give,
a joy to see what our resources can do for someone else.
Today I invite you to consider your own sharing of time, talent, money, and possessions.
It is pledge time in our congregation, and we have high goals and a heartfelt mission to share. But I invite you to consider your giving for a deeper reason: that we are all the king We are all the man in this Gospel lesson
We all have a spiritual need to give.
So I ask you:
How generous are you?
IS there some place Jesus is inviting you to let go?
Take a marble from the bowl and pray with it in the next few weeks.
See what God may be calling you to share.
It may be just what your heart is longing for.