13 April, 2023

If Your Life Were A Quilt...

...what would it look like?  Think about that for a second. Would it be bright all over or would it contain dark areas? Would it have mistakes, inconsistent stitches, small rips and tears that may have been mended (or not), star points missing here and there or would it be perfect? Would each block be similar or would there be variety? What would your life-as-a-quilt reveal?  I recently attended a memorial service for a friend's mother; her name was Zelma. My friend, Carla, is a fellow church member, the service was held in our church. Carla's Mom was a quilter, at age 97 she still stitched every single day, right up until she was hospitalized earlier this year. Carla told me that her Mom would rise in the morning and go straight away to her sewing machine, (like it was her job!) she'd piece quilt tops all day long. She donated countless quilt tops to charitable causes throughout her lifetime and, to this day, has left over 100 quilt tops stacked neatly in a cupboard outside of her bedroom. Our Pastor's memorial sermon has stayed with me. I share those words below, with his permission. It should be noted that this Memorial Service was held on National Quilting Day, I am sure that Zelma was smiling from her Heavenly home with that knowledge. 

Memorial Sermon

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful
and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat
and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

There’s a particular love that one knows when they receive a
handmade quilt from someone. Chances are, somewhere in our
homes tucked away in a closet, we all have a quilt we received a
long time ago from someone who made it for us out of love. And if
this quilt is handmade, we know it isn’t just something to keep us
warm, but it’s a treasured item, one that carries
memories-stitched together out of care for us.

Those who knew Zelma Rohde in her life with us know how much
she loved to quilt, a gift she has undoubtedly passed down to her
daughter Carla. And in this love of quilting, there’s so much we
can learn about Zelma’s life and the kind of person she is. To quilt
for someone is to labor in love and express....in precise,
hand-stitched detail...what that person means to you.

If the life of Zelma was sewn into a quilt and spread out before us,
what would we see? I imagine we would see something
resembling our first reading in Ecclesiastes: For everything there
is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Zelma’s life quilt would undoubtedly be large and thick, because
Zelma lived a long and full life with us. And now, as we look back
on this full life of Zelma, we can see all the times and seasons of
her life as one, beautiful, stitched-together masterpiece.

Zelma’s quilt begins with fabric of her time to be born, and today
we remember it has received its final stitch in her time to die.
But between the first and last stitch of a quilt, there is so much
that happens in between. In Zelma’s life, she had times to plant,
and times to pluck up what was planted.

It’s my understanding that along with quilting, Zelma was an avid
gardener. And I’ve learned that gardening can teach anyone who
puts effort into it important virtues...primarily patience. And from
this we know Zelma knew patience, when to reap the rewards of
her labor, and when to have just a little more patience to see her
projects through.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time
to build up.

If this life quilt of Zelma were honest, it wouldn’t shy away from
stitching together the difficult times and seasons. Seasons in
Zelma’s life when things were dark, when she needed her own
healing. But we would also see a rich tapestry of the seasons
when she was there to build someone up in love and

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time
to dance.

When we remember the life of Zelma, it’s only natural to
remember both the times of joy and the times of hardship.
Memories of laughing with her, and maybe even weeping with her.

But like a quilt of many colors, those dark times bring out a
boldness in the bright colors of her laughter and joy. Because it is
in these times when we see the love of her Lord, Jesus Christ
most perfected in her.

A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to
cast away; A time to tear, and a time to sew.

The memory of Zelma full life, and the lives of all our faithfully
departed, cause us to reflect on our own, incomplete lives. Today,
we observe the life quilt of Zelma after receiving its final stitch, but
each of us have our own life quilts that are still being sewn and
stitched together. And one day, just like today for Zelma, those
closest to us will look back on all the stitches and fabrics of our

At first, this might make us nervous to think about...every stitch?
What about the bad stitches in my life? What if there are fabrics in
my past that I’ve completely ruined?

Let us remember how Zelma sought to fix her stitches - through
the correcting, love of Jesus Christ, who has labored in love for us
and expressed....in precise, hand-stitched detail...what we mean
to Him upon the cross.

Zelma trusted Jesus to tear away the ruined fabric from her quilt
and sew back the perfect cloth of His righteousness. And now, by
faith in Him, Zelma lives on in His Resurrection from the dead.

In the same way, we can trust in Jesus to stitch His mercy in us in
those places we may need it most.

As we remember the life of Zelma, let us see her life as a quilt
God has stitched together out of love for us. Her life is one that
will always keep us warm in times of hardship, and it will always
carry memories stitched together by the grace of her maker and
Savior: Jesus Christ, her Lord, Amen.

- Reverend Matt Knuppel
Grace Lutheran Church
18 March 2023

And so, if YOUR life is arrayed to the world as a quilt, what will it reveal about you? I pray that my life's quilt will display rich, happy colors. I hope it will show that I gave good effort and always tried to do my best, that my life was one lived in faith; and, also, like Zelma, that I might rise and contentedly stitch for as long as I am physically able! 
What a precious, tangible, legacy that would be!

Life is Good!


Janet O. said...

This is a beautiful message. Thanks for sharing it with us.
I am not sure what quilt my life would be, but I know it would NOT be a Drunkard's Path. ;)

Quilting Babcia said...

What a beautiful tribute and sermon! I'd like to make a copy for our quilt ministry ladies. Thank you for sharing.

Lindah said...

Lovely post. Thought provoking. Thank you for sharing it. With your permission, I would like a copy for my personal use. It bears re-reading from time to time.

cityquilter grace said...

Wiping away tears....so soothing during these my own challenging days...

Buffy said...

What a thoughtful and kind way to remember and celebrate all of Zelma's life. Thank you to you and your minister for sharing this reflection.

Kyle said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely message. Food for thought.

Just Ducky said...

One of the most beautiful tributes I have ever heard. Thank you for sharing it.
MAry Lines

Quiltdivajulie said...

I've read variations on that theme but this is perhaps the best version to date. Thanks for sharing it. Time to ponder now.

Sheila said...

What a beautiful, thought provoking post and wonderful tribute to Zelma. Thank you for sharing.

jude's page said...

Wonderful post, challenging thought to think about how my life would look. Thanks for posting.