The first time I heard this parable was as a small child attending vacation Bible school at Pond Fork Baptist Church, where my great-grandparents, great-aunts and grandparents all worshiped. I remember the end of the little curtained balcony where our class was held, sunlight coming into our room rejoicing through a dusty window, the buzzing of insects in the July fields outside, a flannel board with figures stuck on it, and best of all, the anticipation of a story, followed by Kool-Aid and cookies.
And so I listened. There were two grown-ups who went to the temple to pray. One of them was rich and successful, while the other, whom nobody liked, was a tax collector. The rich man, a Pharisee, prayed first, and thanked God that he wasn’t a sinner like the tax collector standing next to him, and then he bragged about all the good stuff he had done.