Patched but Neat and Clean

Patched, but Neat and Clean

Psalm 51: 7: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to follow a dress code, whether for a school or a business or organization. I’ve had plenty of experience with these, starting with elementary school and continuing through high school. The college I went to didn’t care what we wore as long as we were decent, and I don’t want to describe some of the outlandish outfits my fellow students wore. One fellow from Wyoming dressed as Davy Crockett. I don’t know why, but he went on to start a million-dollar internet business. I tended to favor sweat suits, with occasional lapses for a shirt and tie for special occasions.

My high school probably had the toughest code. The boys were forbidden to have “beards, mustaches and other eccentricities,” the last being the elastic provision of the code to take care of every continency. The girls couldn’t wear slacks, and their skirts or dresses had to be knee-length. Violators would be sent home to change, and they couldn’t come back until they did. We had a boy move from the West Coast my junior year, and he was a die-hard surfer dude who dressed the part even though we don’t have waves like the left coast. He wore “surfer shirts,” which looked a lot like tee shirts to me. The rules required that shirts have collars, so when Mike showed up wearing his surfer attire, he was sent home. He was happy to be there, and stayed until the school threatened him with suspension, which made little sense since he was home already. Anyhow, he came back, wearing another surfer shirt. Lather, rinse, repeat. I think he went through this about four times before his parents gave up and put him into a private school without a dress code. I assumed he continued to hang ten there, and lost track of him. He wasn’t stupid or willful: he was trying to live his dream, and the school stood in the way.

Another code provision that I remember was one from my elementary days. The code for our working-class school read, “Clothes may be patched, but should be neat and clean.” My mom took care of this, so I was always neat and clean and sometimes patched. That was all right with me.

I got to thinking that, spiritually, we present ourselves of God torn and broken by our sin. Through His grace, he patches us so we can remain in his presence, and we become neat and clean. The hymn goes, “Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,” and that describes us in our state of grace. Thank God for healing, for sanctification and for our hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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