Paul and Sarah Steinke
When we work with parables during Godly Play, we speak of them as a priceless gift given to each of us by Jesus before we were even born. And this gift is for all time… for you and me back then, now, and for our future. And parables are so precious and so valuable that “we need to be very careful when we come close to a parable. We need to be ready because we can break a parable if we aren’t ready.”
But even if we are ready, sometimes… sometimes when we try to open a parable we just can’t go inside. “But don’t be discouraged,” we’re told… ”keep coming back again and again. One day the parable will open up for us.”
And so it is today… when we try to open up this parable about the bridesmaids, we often get close to breaking it as we try to “figure out” who represents what? Who are the bridesmaids? Who is the bridegroom? And what does the oil represent anyway?
Treating the poetry of a parable as a vehicle to teach us all a moral lesson is one of the ways it breaks. For it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, not the scolding that, like another kind of oil from my past—cod liver oil—is difficult to get down but others guarantee will be “real good for us.”
It’s not a surprise then that some of us may be resistant to opening the gift of this parable today because we suspect there’s cod liver oil in there for us somewhere!
But these stories that Jesus tells in the Gospels are not primarily moral lessons or platitudes but gifts given to us long ago that continue to be alive and continue to transform our hearts and the way we see each other and the world. And that is good news.
So today, I wanna play a bit… and as I open the gift of today’s parable I ask, “Where is this parable alive in me—here and now? Where might this parable come alive in all of us – this community of Faith – today?”
And as I opened the parable this time around, I was struck at how the whole parable hinges on the phrase five of the bridegrooms say to the other five… a phrase I heard again for the very first time: “No, there is not enough for both us and you.”
That sentence stops me in my tracks… ”No, there is not enough for both us and you.”
I wonder how many times I’ve said that in one way or another to myself, to Sarah, my kids, or others. I wonder how many times that’s been said to me… ”No, there is not enough for both us and you.”
And I wonder where you’ve heard that sentence–in what circumstances, relationships, desires, and dreams has this phrase been present:“No, there is not enough for both us and you?”
I wonder where we’ve heard that sentence in our life together as the community of Faith?
Because of that story of scarcity–“there is not enough for both us and you”–each of the characters in today’s parable didn’t get to experience the extravagant feast of the kingdom of God. Some of them left the feast because they didn’t have enough. Some of them didn’t get to participate in the fullness of the feast because they didn’t want to lose what they had, and both responses led to a shut door.
And so I wonder if one of the meanings of this parable for us here today is that it points to our belief in the story of scarcity, which keeps us from experiencing the extravagant feast of Jesus’ kingdom, and which so often leads us as Christians to justify dominating or hiding from others or closing the door on others, or parts of ourselves, who are without, or who are hungry, thirsty, or in need.
As an act of Faith in Jesus’ extravagant abundance, where are we being called to imagine we are enough or have enough to participate in the feast? Where are we being called to share our giftedness, our homes, our resources, our voice, and our perspective? For this parable is for you and me and was given to each of us by Jesus before we were even born. You are invited to a feast, and in sharing this feast with others, you are to know and be known. . .Are you ready?
Last week we heard Connie and Jim share stories of Faith’s origins… how after deep heartbreak the community’s longing for home and belonging with each other and within the diocese, led them to offer the same to those broken-hearted within Kitsap.
Imagine if at some point in the process Jim and Connie and the other founders would have said, “No, there’s not enough for both us and you,” and shut the door on their desires, their hopes, the needs of others, and the possibility of a feast?
But that is not our legacy. And it is not the future we are creating with each other and the Spirit of God. In the midst of our panic that there isn’t enough–time, resources, capacity, love–our stories here at Faith offer us a different perspective. I believe God is telling a story through this community, a story of God’s with-ness and calling a people–calling you and me–into a life of deep extravagance that overflows into the world around us. This, dear friends, is “good news,” which is to say, Gospel.
Today we continue with stories from our community… I’ve asked Jeffrey and Yori and Sara if they would share what they and their families know of this deep extravagance within our community of Faith?
Question for the response card (ask them to put it in the offering place):
Where do you know God’s extravagance (perhaps in places of scarcity) in your life?