Crazy Quilts

“To sing the blues is to embrace the cross of Christ and the cross He calls us to bear. In the process we realize that Jesus not only redeems us from our sin and sadness, he also actually redeems our sin and sadness.” - from Robert Gelinas, Jazz theologian, in Christianity Today, August 2010 Interesting quote. What does “redeem from our sin and sadness” mean? Redeem means to buy, purchase by paying the required price. Jesus did that for our sin on the Cross. It is relatively easy to figure out the meaning of that part. But “redeem.. our sadness.” Redeem the sadness? Redeem us “from” our sadness? Mmm???? Harder to think about. Tim Keller, in The Reason for God, says the same thing, that God will redeem our mistakes and losses in this fallen world and fit them into His glorious story.

I think it’s something like a crazy quilt. I have one, made for me as a gift when I was leaving a job I loved. The quilt is not large. There are pieces, in irregular shapes, of several different fabrics that have a variety of textures. The irregularity is what makes it a “crazy” quilt. The colors go together well – reds and black with touches of gold, beige and green. The pieces are stitched together by large visible stitches in yellow yarn. There are 9 large squares, then the whole is bordered by a rich red velvet. The quilt is actually small, like a wall hanging really. But the quilt lives over the back of my sofa and perfectly covers me for a little afternoon nap. Just a little beautiful protective cocoon.

All those irregular pieces of fabric came from somewhere. They are pieces of drapery, dresses, tablecloth, and other unknown sources. They are shaped in those shapes because they already had a function but that has been taken apart. The pieces have to be cut from what is left, cutting around holes and stains, according to what shape the previous function allowed. Then the seamstress lined up the various odd shapes to make 9 different unique squares that could be put together into a larger square, just the right size for my cocoon.

Really, this process is the quilter “redeeming” those bits of good cloth around the holes and stains which are the signs of the previous experience of that fabric. The quilter, the one with the vision for this old bit of cloth, repurposes it for a new usefulness. It’s an old fashioned form of recycling!

The Master quilter, who is an artist at what He does, works around my flaws too. I believe He also works around the experiences of life that hurt and harm us – like the death of your child. He will make something beautiful and useful from the bits of your life.

Music, fabric or life. Embrace the events Christ has allowed in your life, even your grief. He recycles and redeems. He repurposes it all into a wondrous design. His design.