Parables

I believe that St. Alban’s has the coolest, most effective way of teaching our children about the Christian faith. Sure, we teach them in Sunday School, but 45 minutes on Sunday morning is just a start to the long road of discipleship. Our approach is to teach those who spend the most time with children: parents.

I teach the parents, and the parents teach their children. The benefits of this model are legion. First, parents are instructed in the faith. There is no assumption that once you’ve been confirmed, you know it all. Discipleship and formation are lifelong endeavors. Second, parents know how to teach their children best. They, not Sunday School teachers, are the ones most acquainted with their child’s needs, desires, and emotional intelligence. Plus, we see so many parents devoted to their child’s athletic or academic pursuits, why can’t parents do the same in matters of faith?

Our focus this spring is on the parables of Jesus. On Sunday, I taught a group of parents about the parables of Jesus. I have one word to describe the time we shared together: holy. For any parents out there who missed our session, or for those curious about what the heck I am teaching our parents, here’s a brief synopsis of what I taught on the parables.

Our worldviews are narrated by stories. Take the American story for example. The story of George Washington crossing the Delaware narrates the American traits of seizing initiative, daring, and courage. Our stories of worldview take an image that we know, describe the anticipated progression, and reach the expected conclusion.

Jesus uses images and stories that would have been familiar to his first century hearers. But in the parables, he twists them. Instead of using the anticipated progression, he makes a drastic change in the stories in order to arrive at an unexpected conclusion, and hence, a new worldview. Let’s take the parable of the wicked tenants for example.

First century Jewish hearers of this story knew the image of Isaiah 5 and believed themselves to be the guardians of God’s vineyard. But Jesus twists the story, and says that that yes, they are the guardians of God’s vineyard, but they have failed to produce the fruits of righteousness (that’s the drastic change). Then he says that the vineyard will be taken away from them and given to a new people that will produce those fruits (that’s the new worldview).

Cool. So this parable is just about the squabbles between Jesus and the first century Judeans, right? Wrong! This parable can also serve as a mirror for us and for the Church. Are we producing the fruits of righteousness? Or do we think that God loves us and we tend the vineyard just because?

Now I’ve taught you. It’s your turn to teach somebody else. Don’t be afraid. Remember that Jesus will be with us to the end of the age.

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