Like my friend and colleague, Evan, I love Summer Parable Season. It helps fill the void between the end of Wimbledon and the start of Fantasy Football Season. Y’know that time when, unless it is a World Cup year, all we have to talk about his awful baseball is and how the season will never, ever end? As I opened the Lectionary Page this morning, my heart skipped a beat to see that this Sunday we move from the doldrums of Jesus’ expository preaching to the fertile fields (pun intended) of parabolic preaching.
Before we can dive into this week’s parable, however, I think it is wise to spend a few moments in a section of Matthew that the Lectionary skips. In Matthew 13:10-17, we hear, from the lips of Jesus himself, why he chooses to use these little gems, which I have likened to auditory hand grenades dropped by Jesus in our brains just waiting to explode with meaning. He does so because, well, his disciples don’t get it. “Why do you talk in parables?” They asked Jesus. “Because,” he says, with an obvious tie in to last week’s Gospel lesson, “I want the people to listen, to see, and to think.” (author’s paraphrase)
Jesus doesn’t just hand us a set of blue prints on how to build the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead, he invites us to use our God given ability to think and come up with ways in which we can be co-creators of the Kingdom with God. As I’ve said elsewhere, every Christian is a theologian. Too often, this particular role has been delegated to clergy who have in turn allowed the academy to do all the heavy lifting. This is to the great detriment of the Church. Instead, every member of the Body of Christ should be encouraged to work out, in community, their understanding of God and how God works in the world. Together, we grow in faith and develop deeper relationships with God and with each other as a result of the sometimes difficult work of imagining things that are beyond our comprehension. Jesus modeled this work for us in his use of parables to teach, and I encourage you, dear reader, to take some time over the next few weeks to read and prayerfully consider what these parables of Jesus mean for you.
Enjoy parable season! I know I will.