by Rev. Erica Thompson
Each night before bed, my girls and I read books together. A few nights ago, we read the classic, Aesop‘s Fables. Aesop’s Fables have long been a tool for teaching children ethics and life lessons, and when we got to the end of each short tale, my girls were able to tell me, verbatim, what the moral of the story was. For example, when we got to the end of The Tortoise and the Hare, they both shouted, “Slow and steady wins the race!”
In Confirmation class, when we talk about Jesus’ life and ministry, we discuss the ways in which the rabbi taught: preaching, miracles, and parables. We read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we look at the many healing miracles Jesus performed, how he walked on water, or how he fed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes. When we talk about parables, we look at the vast collection of stories Jesus told, like the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son.
No matter how Jesus taught, whether it was preaching a sermon, performing a healing miracle, or speaking in parables, Jesus wanted his disciples, and us, to learn about a new way of being in relationship with one another, with the world, and with God.
The challenge, however, is when the ancient stories become so familiar that they lose their meaning. When our listening to scripture becomes a rote activity and we believe we have nothing more to learn. When we can shout, as adults: “Slow and steady wins the race!” yet have no real idea of what that actually means for the living of our lives.
So friends, this summer, we are going face that challenge head on. We are going to re-examine 12 of the well-known parables Jesus used – focusing on what the stories meant for those in Jesus’ time, and what we can learn from them, even today! We are going to look Jesus’ teachings with new eyes.
Our summer worship series will begin on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17, when we begin worshiping together for one service at 9:30am. As a way of enriching your journey, you may wish to read Amy-Jill Levine’s book, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. For the summer series, Erica Wimber Avena, John, and I will use some of the parables that Levine uses in her book, as well as some others.
So let us prepare to hear the Word anew as we are led through a Summer of Stories!