Sermons at our church have been based around parables for the past couple of weeks. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and the parable of the Talents. And the sermons have been good on the whole.
But I’m sure that our familiarity with the parables robs them of their impact. We know in advance who is wearing the black and white hats, what the morals of the story are (if indeed more than one is “allowed”) and how they will be linked into our world. That’s why I find it challenging and refreshing to read articles like the following one. It makes me reassess where we stand in light of the parables, of what sort of conversation we might have with the text, and what our presuppositions are.
THE PARABLES OF JESUS IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS represent the very oldest traditions in the New Testament. Despite this (or perhaps because of it), our churches often handle these stories timidly, if they handle them at all. Perhaps we intuit that there is something so wild and subversive about these tales that they are better kept safely at the margins of our consciousness.
We also have a sense today that the meaning of the parable should be clear to everyone (it is our right) when it certainly wasn’t to the all the original hearers.