Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)
TITLE: Not a patch on the alternatives...
By Helen Paynter
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Stiff with self-importance, the Pharisees laid a cloth before him with haughty hands. It was a tablecloth, richly embroidered through centuries of tradition and custom. Its glowing colours dazzled; its intricacies bewildered.
‘Well?’ Their narrow eyes challenged him. ‘Show us where your teachings fit in.’ Smug in its self-evident perfection they dared him to point out an inconsistency, a flaw requiring repair.
‘I will not,’ he replied. ‘The kingdom of God is a new thing. It cannot be patched onto old cloth. It will tear away at the first wash and both will be ruined.’
Brimming with success, the scientists spread a collection of cloths before him. At once magnificent yet incomplete, each piece was joined to the next with minute stitches. And emerging from the scraps was a great, beautiful picture of the universe in all its complexity. But there were gaps, places where the puzzle was still incomplete.
‘See what we have discovered.’ Pride was written across their faces. ‘We would like to do you the honour of inviting you to fill in the gaps. We believe you have much to teach us in these areas of our ignorance.’
‘I will not,’ he replied. ‘I will not tack the truths of the Kingdom into your collage. When you have fresh knowledge, you will discard them like old cloth. But come, bring them to me and see how they fit into my Father’s great picture.’
Radiant with political correctness, the people bring before him a patchwork they have made together. Here is every shade, every shape, every tone; cobbled together into a glowing hotchpotch of diversity.
‘Add a piece,’ they urge him, bland goodwill in every expression. ‘Contribute your own distinctive teaching to this glorious melee.’
‘I will not,’ he replies. ‘I am not one truth among many. I will not present myself on a menu for selection or rejection. Bring these pieces to me. See how gladly my Father will receive them, and how they will adorn the fabric of heaven. For my Father’s kingdom is rich in diversity, and every tone, every shade, every shape is welcomed there.’
Complacent with their lot, the rich offer him their overcoats.
‘Something is lacking,’ they admit with unfamiliar guilt. ‘Patch your salvation on the sleeve here, so that we will be complete.’
‘I will not,’ he replies. ‘I will not be a band-aid for your lives. But remove your overcoats. Come to me in your nakedness, and see how I will clothe you.’
Broken, the humble show him their rags.
‘These are the threadbare remnants of our lives,’ they confess. ‘Can you do something to mend them?’
‘I will not,’ he replies. ‘Why would you want to keep these scraps? And what would they look like if I mended them? I will do something new in you. Come to me, lay these tatters aside, and see how I will clothe you. In finest white, in gowns that will never soil. I will dress you fit for the kingdom.’
Jesus is not in the business of make-do and mend.
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