Miriam went on, "We have to tell people. We have to tell Fern. We can't let this go on. It's a fraud. We can't keep this up."

We called Fern on the phone and asked her to come to the meetinghouse, which she did. We told her about Miriam spilling coffee on the quilt.

Fern took it better than we thought. She cried a little, then she sniffed and said, "It's still a beautiful quilt."

"It is that," I told her. "It's pure magnificence. And you can leave it up as long as you wish."

She said, "Just until the Chicken Noodle Dinner. Then we'll raffle it off. It'll buy a lot of shoes." Then she left.

I called Bob Miles Jr. and told him it wasn't Jesus, it was Maxwell House. He ran the correction that very week. The lines dwindled. Dale Hinshaw dismissed the guards, though he still swore he'd been cured of a head cold. Things got back to normal.

The Monday before Easter, I woke up early and went and sat in the fifth row and looked up at the quilt. A small part of me wished it had been Him. I found a certain joy in watching people step carefully into the meetinghouse, their hands clasped, seeking out the divine. Witnessing such raw hope, such sure belief, was a quiet thrill.

But in my more thoughtful moments, I'm glad it wasn't Jesus. It troubled me that folks would drive three hundred miles to see Christ in a quilt, but wouldn't walk next door to see Him in their neighbor.

I don't think we ought to look for Christ in a quilt. I think we ought to look for Christ in the poor, in the common, in the lady who rings up our groceries, in the man who mops the grocery floor, in the kid who delivers our pizza.

I talked about it in my Easter message. I told how we always look for Christ amid magnificence. But that Christ has a history of showing up amid the unlovely. Born in a dirty stall. Crowned with thorns. Died gasping on a shameful cross atop a jagged rise.

We don't need to be beautiful for Christ to take us in. He is equally at home when we're broken-down and dirty. It's like George Herbert wrote:

And here in dust and dirt, O here,
The lilies of God's love appear.
We think magnificence is in short supply, that dust and dirt choke out the lilies. But that's not true and never was. Lilies may root in dirt, but they reach for heaven-and in the reaching, reveal their magnificence.