How many of you remember watching as your parents let a sibling get away with things they would never have permitted you, or seemed to treat them better, more lovingly than they treated you? How many of you parents have had the experience of loving one child just a little bit more than your other children? Or at work, watching as a co-worker received special, and undeserved treatment while you had to stay late, or failed to get the credit, or the promotion, you deserved? Continue reading
Many of you know that my wife and I are avid gardeners. . We took all of the grass out of our backyard some years ago and planted trees, shrubs, perennials. I made a rock path a few years ago. It’s beautiful but it takes a great deal of work and while I find the work relaxing, it can also be exhausting.
This year, between the wet spring, late Easter, and our vacation, we didn’t really get out into it to work until the end of June. Those of you who are gardeners can imagine the horrors we encountered. Overrun with weeds and mosquitoes, we’ve been spending all of our free time in it. I had eight yards of mulch delivered the Friday before the 4th and finally it looks like I’ll be done spreading it by next weekend. Continue reading
There are parables and there are parables. There are parables like the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan that grab us as stories and shape our experience of God and our life of faith. There are parables that are simple and seem obvious, like the Sower. There are parables that puzzle us and seem to elude any definitive interpretation, like the Laborers in the Vineyard, or the Dishonest Steward. And there are parables that seem either totally alien to our lives and experience, or so clear in their intent and purpose that we are inclined to pass over and ignore them. Continue reading
I’ve got a history with this parable that goes back thirty years. Back when I was in seminary, I took a class called Exegesis and Preaching. Exegesis is a fancy word for interpretation, by the way. It was team-taught by two people. One was Helmut Koester, Helmut is retired now but he was one of the most important New Testament scholars of the day, and Harvard was then clearly the center of New Testament scholarship in the world. The other professor was Peter Gomes. He died a couple of years ago but he was considered one of the best preachers in America. Continue reading