Today's Gospel in Art: No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak

Come unto Me, Patchwork quilt by Tracey Emin 2008 © Tracey Emin, all rights reserved

Come unto Me, Patchwork quilt by Tracey Emin 2008 © Tracey Emin, all rights reserved

Gospel of 4th September 2020 - Luke 5:33-39

The Pharisees and the scribes said to Jesus: 'John's disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but your's go on eating and drinking.' Jesus replied, 'Surely you cannot make the bridegroom's attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.'

He also told them this parable, 'No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

'And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. "The old is good" he says.'

Reflection on the Patchwork Quilt

Our Gospel reading contains no less than three short parables. The parables of Jesus can be difficult to understand at times and need quiet contemplation to try and grasp some of the depth and meaning. Therein lies the beauty of Jesus' parables: they have the power to talk to us in a very different way each time we (re-)read them. Even the disciples at the time often had trouble understanding what Jesus meant by His parables. So in today's reading we have three parables, three images, that make the same point. The coming of Jesus was a new start. It wasn't breaking with the old, but bringing the story of Israel into a new chapter. So the parables refer to the 'old' (the old clothes and old wineskins), and how the 'new' has now arrived with Jesus: the bridegroom, the new wineskins, the new clothes… the new teachings of Jesus.

Our artwork, by Tracey Emin, uses 'old' textile, stitched onto 'new' cloth. Her patchwork works of art use colourful textiles. Textiles rarely get used in art nowadays. However to me, textile is an interesting medium. It sits on the edge of the divide between crafts and art. As patchwork is mainly seen as a craft rather than art, it has maintained an air of innocence, which is unique to this medium. Whilst Emin's patch works can be controversial, at first glance they do carry this air of innocence, accessibility and domestic cosiness. Sometimes we try to 'patch up' our own spiritual lives with half efforts or quick fixes, but Jesus is telling us in today's reading to aim for a deeper change… by following His new teachings.


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Tracey Emin

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