Monday, May 02, 2011

Prayer quilt thoughts

Okay... I have been thinking about prayer quilts. Last week I made one and my friend Kaoru-san bound it and on Sunday the church members prayed over it and tied the strings. This week the pastor will deliver the quilt to the recipient.

According to the rules of the Prayer and Square organization (to which I am a member), I asked the quilt recipient if I could make a prayer quilt for her. Also according to the rules, I involved the church members in the tying and praying. We have made enough quilts that most everyone understands that each knot represents a prayer. And the third rule of the organization is that no payment may be taken for the quilt. Which seems obvious but more often than not the Japanese custom of returning a gift when given one prevails and inevitably the person or the family will bring in a box of sweets later on to say thank you for the quilt. I can't get that custom to stop.

I can hardly count the number of prayer quilts I have made, but only one has been for a non-Christian. The year before last I made one for Yumetaro-san who passed away last autumn. Of course I asked him if he would accept one and he was pleased that I would pray for him. I didn't get more people involved though. Only Tetsu and I prayed and tied the quilt (but a couple of you blog friends asked me to include your prayers too.)

Despite the fact that we always ask (we, meaning my pastor and I), I have known one person who was upset to get a prayer quilt. In that case, though the husband was ill, the wife was approached and she was grateful to hear that the church would like to present her husband (also a church member) with a prayer quilt. But when he received it he was upset at the church and his wife because he took it to mean that we thought he was a lost case. He has never gotten over that and has not returned to our church. Sigh.

And NOW I hear that the prayer quilt I made last June for Marcy (my sister-in-law), has gotten lost in the shuffle of things and Marcy is upset.

Actually I made the quilt for Marcy's mother, Maxine, after asking Marcy if she would like one. But before it was completed Maxine passed away and I was left with a quilt top... So I decided to give it to Marcy and she was thrilled to get it. But it was still left un-tied (un-prayed over except for the prayers I'd made while making the top). Marcy and I decided to ask the church where they are members, to say prayers over it for Marcy and her family.

That's where I messed up. I mean, I took the quilt to the pastor's office. I talked with the pastor and explained what a prayer quilt was. She (woman pastor) thought this was a wonderful idea and accepted the quilt and said she would ask the elders to pray over it and tie it for me. This conversation took place as we were making preparations for Marcy's mother's funeral. We all prayed together and a few ties were put into the quilt. There was a label on the back (rats, I didn't take a picture of that so I don't remember what I wrote... Something about prayers for Maxine's family.)

And that's where I left it. I came back to Japan. Summer vacation came along. Marcy didn't get back to church to ask about the quilt. I've wondered if it ever got back to the family but found that it hadn't. And finally, when Marcy went for the quilt she found that it was gone! Someone else named Maxine had died so someone in the church thought it was for THAT family (see how prayed over that was... no one knows who they are praying for!) so the quilt was given to them. And when someone realized that it was the wrong family and went to retrieve the quilt, they found that it had been SOLD somewhere and was gone. So I guess prayers for whoever the other Maxine had been weren't too valued either. Or at least not the quilt.

Marcy is upset, mostly at the church. But I shouldn't have passed the quilt on to others to explain and make sure prayers were made and then get the quilt returned. It was MY responsibility. Prayers and Squares is a great ministry but it can get boggled if the person responsible doesn't follow through. And I didn't.

I will make Marcy another prayer quilt. In memory of Maxine. In love for Marcy. And I will pray over it.

Marcy. Don't be mad at the church.

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