Great Mothers of Jesus Quilt - Matthew 1:1-17
This quilt is a visual representation of the genealogy of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew. Five women--Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary--are included in this genealogy linking Abraham to Jesus, breaking the pattern of the 42 generations of men. Each of the men is represented by a dark rectangle, and the women's names are spelled out giving them visual and theological significance. I chose to spell out Bathsheba's name in pale letters to signify that she is not explicitly named in Matthew's genealogy, but described instead as the wife of Uriah.
Too often these women have often been dismissed as prostitutes, called sexually deviant, or marginalized as outsiders. The writer of Matthew clearly wanted to signify to his first century readers that these women had a place in the story of the patriarchs and their faithfulness to God.
What these women have in common are some obvious facts: they are all mothers of sons, although none of them appear to be mothers before their stories appear in the Old Testament accounts, and they use ordinary objects like clothing or a red cord to advance their situations.
Matthew includes them in his genealogy to present a message of God working in unlikely circumstances and unusual characters to achieve God's purpose, setting the stage for a young women like Mary to become the mother of Jesus.
I made this quilt for an assignment in a master's level course in the Old Testament I took at University of Winnipeg. It has been on display at the University of Winnipeg, Providence College, the offices of the Canadian Council of Churches in Toronto and at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Vancouver in 2012, as well as in my home church in Winnipeg.
***Brenda Suderman is a journalist and quiltmaker currently completing a Masters of Arts degree in theology at the University of Winnipeg. She writes for the faith page of the Winnipeg Free Press and is a member of Home Street Mennonite Church. You might want to check out her blog HERE.