A meditation using an art quilt based on Mark 8: 27-38
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
This Bible passage is sometimes called “Peter’s Confession” because Peter is the first one to say aloud that Jesus is the Messiah. The disciples, walking along, have been responding to Jesus’ question, first, about who people are saying Jesus is. Then, just when the disciples are lulled into a kind of complacency chatting about what others are saying, Jesus makes it personal: “But who do YOU say that I am?”
Finally, confession is always personal, always individual. Who do you say that Jesus is?
Peter states that he believes Jesus is the Messiah, but Peter’s definition of “Messiah” differs markedly from Jesus’ definition. Jesus describes a future for himself that includes suffering, rejection, death and “rising again” and so Peter takes Jesus aside to “rebuke” him. Peter is correcting Jesus’ wrong thinking! But Jesus turns the rebuke back on Peter and clearly claims for himselfthe future suffering that he’s described. Jesus then includes the crowd in his next teaching: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Following. It’s all about following Jesus, wherever it is that he leads….
Meditation on the Art Quilt
The meditation quilt below is titled “Follow” and invites us into a thoughtful and labyrinthine walk with Jesus. A labyrinth is not at all like a maze. In a maze, there are wrong turns and dead ends. There’s the panic of being lost, of not knowing one’s way, of ending up trapped and alone. But in a labyrinth, once you are on the path, you won’t get lost. There is only one path, and though it may seem circuitous at times – and seem to lead you away at times from your goal – it will get you there.
Christ’s path will get you there. Enter now a time of meditative thought as you ponder the labyrinth on the quilt:
See the entrance to the path before you. Three blue stones – the color of water and baptism – mark the entrance. A glimmer of hope in the green shimmering thread – the color of new life - shines at your feet. You enter and begin to walk.
The path is marked by brown wool and beads of earthy colors. Each bead might be a step, or a prayer. The beads might represent struggles or suffering or stones in your life’s path. What do the beads represent for you in today’s meditation? What does encountering these beads teach you? How do you keep walking Christ’s path through times of suffering and difficulties?
You see – at a distance – a glimmer of gold. There is some promise ahead. But this is not the time for fulfillment … yet. The path veers away again, and you keep walking.
You come to the center of the labyrinth; you come to your goal. The cross at the center is gold, representing something of great moral, ethical and salvific value. What is the value of Christ’s cross for you today? Contemplate how the whole structure of the labyrinth is built upon the central figure of the cross. How is the path of your life structured and built upon Christ’s cross?
The cross is topped with a crown, representing the mockery of the “crown of thorns” that the Romans made for Jesus since he was a “king.” Hear their derision and laughter. How do you absorb times of feeling mocked, made the fool, made the laughingstock? Where in your life have you felt humiliated? Offer these times to God in prayer, and focus on the crown of thorns as an image for your life at times like these….
The pearl at the center represents “the pearl of great value” (Matthew 13: 45-46:“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”) A person would exchange all they own for acquiring this one pearl.
What is of such great value in your spiritual or physical life that you would exchange all else for this one thing? Peace of mind? Sobriety? A healed relationship? A healed body? An intimate relationship with God? Living in trust and faith each day? Ponder what the pearl is for you today. Ponder how the pearl is like the Kingdom of Heaven.
Your meditation at the center cross comes to a close. You turn and begin the walk outward again, out into your daily life. Strengthened by what you have found in this meditative walk following Jesus, you are ready for following him in whatever this day may bring.