Recently I was telling a pastoral colleague that I have no idea how people become preachers without having first been stand-up comics. In the early 1990s when I was getting clean and sober, I worked for a few years as a stand-up comic; getting paid to be caustic on stage was cheaper than paying for therapy and had much the same result.
and teachers are really missing those summer days when we got to preach on
wonderful parables about mustard seeds and loaves of yeast bread. Now it's
judgment-parable season, and many of us wish we were on vacation.
Most books on the parables of Jesus seem to slice away at the biblical text. They parse sentences until a parable's plot crumbles into fragments, or they so domesticate the narratives that they become little more than helpful hints for daily living. If a writer isn't careful, even the best biblical exegesis can render a parable lifeless.
One of the strengths of my Anabaptist tradition is that it takes the Bible and biblical authority seriously but also expects believers, particularly younger people, to argue and raise questions about the text. The parable of the shifty steward in Luke 16 was a delight to my friends and me in our coming-of-age years.
As the focal point of our lives, mealtimes reflect the nature of our shared lives. They are a central space for expressions of love, caring and affirmation through both the provision of nourishment and the conversation that surrounds a meal from preparation to clean-up.
The first time I heard the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was as a small child attending vacation Bible school at Pond Fork Baptist Church. 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.
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