Today’s Bible readings can be found here: Psalm 93:1-5 and Mark 2:15-28.

Mark 2:21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.” (NIV)

            When I was a teenager, patchwork denims were the latest fashion trend. Most of my peers had them, but my family was going through some rough financial times, so my parents couldn’t afford them. Undaunted by this, I decided to make my own. I cut up some really old denims and made some square patches. I then spent a couple of days sewing them on to a new pair of work jeans. By the time I was finished, my fingertips were bruised because of constantly having to push the needle through two layers of denim. However, I thought my patchwork denims looked great, so it was worth all of the bleeding and pain.

            I wore them for a couple of days and then it started raining. When the thread got wet, the stitching became tighter and eventually, the patches started to break away. In due course, my pair of patchwork jeans turned into ragged remnants and I realized that I had ruined them. As a teenager struggling to keep up with his peers, it was a hard and embarrassing lesson to learn; however, as a life lesson, it has proved invaluable to me. Patching up things may work for a while, but eventually things will fall apart and be beyond repair.

            I think this is also what Jesus meant when He talked about sewing patches on old garments. They ultimately become undone, no matter how good the initial intent to fix things was. Jesus saw this among His own people, who constantly broke their covenant with God and then tried to vainly repair the damage with sacrifices. It was never enough and all that they achieved was a glossing over of the real problem – their self-centered ways – and the temporary concealment of their personal sins. It would take a brand-new sacrifice to cover their sinfulness  – the crucifixion of Christ – instead of a patchwork of prayers or an ineffective system of rituals.

            Perhaps you presently feel broken, disconnected, or even ragged. Maybe you’ve been patching up things for years in order to conceal the real problems of your life. If you keep doing this, it will tear away at your mind, grieve your heart, and contaminate your soul. Seek help from a reputable counselor to enable you to unravel the mess. At the same time, ask Christ to allow His Spirit to comfort and support you, as well as to repair and renew you. It won’t happen overnight, but it can be accomplished over time.

Point to ponder:  What things am I constantly patching up that cannot be repaired? Am I willing to let Christ help me to recover?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know everything about us and are aware of our personal fears and failures. Help us to come to You for guidance and direction, to show us the way ahead and to lead us toward recovery. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s new Advent drawings. If you would like to see a larger version, please click here.