July 24th Newsletter
In our adult formation class this summer, we’ve been reading the parables of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It’s been fascinating to sit with these stories, to walk around in them together, to learn what the kingdom of God is like from Jesus.
We talked about how Jesus’s parables function as short stories in which Jesus uses the stuff of everyday first-century Jewish life—poor farmers and rich landowners, fathers and sons, Pharisees and tax collectors, widows and judges, banquets and guest lists, seeds and soil—to shape the imaginations of his hearers around the kingdom that he had come to inaugurate.
We’re surrounded by so many stories. We’re in a golden age of television, Hollywood continues to churn out billion-dollar movies, the internet has made the proliferation and sharing of philosophies and theologies and political stances as easy as the click of a button. This is what the great baptist (he preferred the lower-case “b”, so I’ll give him that) theologian James McClendon called a “tournament of narratives.” Every story has its angle, its worldview, its way of shaping its hearers.
As followers on the Jesus Way, we are to be discerning listeners, always listening for the voice of Jesus in whatever story is in front of us, whether it is a political hearing or an episode of The Good Place or the narrative being played out in our children’s argument at the dinner table. I pray you have the ability this week to hear the voice of Jesus in the midst of the tournament. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Luke 8:8)
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