“It takes a village to raise a child.” I doubt then First Lady, Hillary Clinton, was the first person to coin this phrase as the title of her 1996 book on the status of children in America, but she certainly has brought it into our common vernacular. Things like this don’t just happen, even if put forward by famous people. Instead, they have to make some sense. Anyone who has raised a child knows that you can’t do it in isolation. It requires the support of educators, doctors, neighbors, family, friends, and hopefully a community of faith, do do the hard work of raising a child. Of course, as with many idiomatic phrases, this one has grown beyond its original context.
It takes a village is a reality for many of life’s challenges. It takes a village to run a church. It takes a village to operate a successful school system. On a smaller scale, yesterday, I was reminded that it takes a village to write a sermon. Whether it is my go-to preaching resources from WorkingPreacher.org, SAMUEL Sermon Seeds, Dear Partner in Preaching, or any number of the other great resources at TextWeek.com, without input from outside sources, my village of mentors, my preaching would be much less fruitful. The same is true for you, Dear Reader.
Yesterday, I admitted that the struggle was real as I prepared for Sunday’s sermon on the Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids. My usual village was letting me down; contradicting each other at every turn. “It is a metaphor for the delayed eschaton.” “Some think it is only a metaphor, but is a much larger allegory.” “Foolish readers would see this through the lens of allegory.” AHHHHHHH! So I turned to you, and asked for your insights. Several of you responding, for which I am exceedingly grateful. It really does take a village.
What I learned in yesterday’s real life parable is that while I can’t rewrite Jesus’ parable, I can certainly name that it is not the fullness of what God has in mind for his kingdom. The village of people of who read this blog had oil to share, and they did. They didn’t hoard it for themselves, hoping to preach a better sermon than me, but they invited me to share in their insights, and to experience their joy. That is, I think, what God actually has in mind for us. It isn’t that we should keep the oil of our salvation to ourselves, but that we should freely share it, confident that in the Kingdom of God, there is more than enough to go around.
In our parable for Sunday, there are 10 bridesmaids. Five of them are foolish. Five of them are wise. None of them are able to fully grasp the abundant grace that God is offering in the Kingdom Jesus came to announce. If I were into allegories, I might think that the five foolish bridesmaids were the Pharisees and the five wise ones were the Disciples, and I would be quick to note that throughout the Gospels, all of them fail to fully grasp what Jesus is trying to do in his ministry.
Thanks for being a part of a real life parable this week, Dear Reader. Thanks for letting me be a part of your village, and thank you for being a part of mine.