As I began to prepare for this sermon, I was struggling with the scripture.
The ‘Parable of the Sower/Soil’ is not the most infamous scripture or parable, but it is well known and of importance as it is included in all of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
The struggle was because as a preacher, it is my responsibility to explore the scriptures and interpret how it might apply to our current time and place. Yet, it seemed the interpretation was done and provided on a silver platter.
Since our lectionary is a three-year cycle, I returned to the first time I preached this parable six years ago and I began it sharing that it was the first parable I preached and the process taught me that I hate preaching on parables. Why? The Gospel authors always include the interpretation of the parable on a silver platter saying “and here is what this means”. Thus, as the preacher, I am left asking ‘what else am I to say about it’.
Then, I read this quote on a colleague’s Facebook page providing a little motivation and inspiration.
Jesus’ parable did not deliver prepackaged meaning but challenged the hearer to respond. Parables are open-ended narrative metaphors that generate new meaning in new situations. While a parable cannot mean simply anything (it is not a Rorschach ink blot), it “teases the mind into active thought” in such a way that the hearer himself or herself must actively participate in deciding what the parable means, i.e., how the hearer should respond to it. Parables thus often function by beginning in the familiar world of the hearer but then presenting a different vision of the world that challenges the everyday expectations of the hearer.
So, how do we hear a familiar parable paired with an interpretation handed to us on a silver platter in a ‘new’ light that relates to our time and lives? Read the rest of this entry »