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God’s Architecture

February 23, 2014
Psalm 119:41-48
I Corinthians 3:10-11; 16-23
“God’s Architecture”
Rev. Lauren J. McFeaters

Some of you may have been fortunate enough to see the exhibit called The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. This is a traveling exhibition of quilts stitched by the women of one town Gee’s Bend – a small, rural, African-American community, in the hills of Alabama.

Over the last century this community has created hundreds of quilts. The stitch at church, they stitch at home, they stitch in the morning, they stich in the evening. And they have singlehandedly carried on a deeply-rooted tradition of quilt-making for household and family; sometimes sewn by three and four generations of women of the same family:  Bennetts and McDaniels, Pettaways and Witherspoons. All, who over the years in the face of slavery and servitude, poverty and hunger, have created something exquisite – a sublime beauty: quilts that bear witness to faith, and grace, and resilience.

And the building blocks of those quilts:  scraps. The quilts are composed of scraps –

  • scraps of work clothes,
  • scraps of feed bags,
  • worn dresses and pants,
  • discarded remnants that hold no value in the world.

The people of Gee’s Bend take these scraps and transform the fabric of their lives into an art that strengthens and warms and binds a community.

 

“For each builder

must choose with care how to build on it.

No one can lay any foundation

other than the one that has been laid;

and that foundation is Jesus Christ.”

 

Today Paul finds himself with a church that has forgotten the building blocks of their faith and they’re now coming apart at the seams. They’ve forgotten how to pick up their scraps, those things tested and seasoned, and to build a church that strengthens and warms and binds a community. Their edges are fraying, stitches unraveling, the batting’s unhinged.

You see the Corinthians are a church more focused on the sources of division, than God as the source of unity; more aligned with disaccord than to harmony; more devoted to old quarrels, than to the new life they have in the risen Lord. The world’s wisdom and knowledge have become their religion.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple

and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

 

“If anyone destroys God’s temple,

God will destroy that person:

For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

 

It’s easy to hear these verses as a nod to the individual; that is,

 

Do you not know that “you” are God’s temple

and that God’s Spirit dwells in “you”?

But that’s not what Paul says. “You” in both verses is plural, not singular, so what we should hear is:

 

“You – together – all of us – are God’s temple.”

“God’s Spirit dwells in you – all of us, everyone – together.”

 

Paul’s focus is collective because God, the architect, builds the church out of people, not stone.

 

I wonder what God sees when God looks at our church. Bear with me here because I’d like to do a little architectural redesign. I look up at our sanctuary ceiling and I see buttons. In those large round lights, I see buttons. I wonder what would happen if we unbutton the ceiling, Then I wonder if we were to unzip the ceiling, pull back the rooftop, and God were to look in from above – What does God see? What pattern, what design, what shape takes place? Who are the threads, the stitches? Who serves as the batting?

You know the batting is part of the trinitarian architecture of a quilt. First comes the quilt top, then the batting that is the stabilizing core, the stuffing that provides the warmth. Then the quilt bottom, sewn together to make a whole. Who serves as the batting?

Who makes up the edging, the border that keeps us from fraying? Who does the repair work, the mending; the patching? And what about appliques, the color; so many colors that they reverberate with sound.

What God sees is the sum of our parts.

 

God is the architect of this quilt and God sees our scraps:

  • the scraps of our sorrow, our guilt, our hurt;
  • the scraps of our delight, our joy, our forgiveness;
  • the scraps of our falling down and getting up;
  • failing one day and starting over the next;
  • our discarded remnants that hold no value in the world,
  • and yet God takes these scraps and transforms the fabric of our life together into strength and warmth, freed to welcome, serve, and care.
  • Because together we are builders and:

“Each builder

must choose with care how to build on it.

No one can lay any foundation

other than the one that has been laid;

and that foundation is Jesus Christ.”

The building block that was rejected.

The scrap that became the cornerstone

of the whole world.

Thanks be to God.

 

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