Fractured Parables — Lenten Post 5

My Lenten devotion this year is to dwell with the parables …  Lent with the parables … and I have pushed and pinched and pursued and prayed them. I have turned them on their heads and on their hearts. You may find heresy here or hope. These are daily prayers, not theological treatises and, even as I take them “slant” they touch me more and more.

Praying the parables – March 31,2014
Matthew 25: 31-33 … the sheep and the goats

God, be praised for this season
of the kidding of goats –
my new friend’s Nigerian dwarf kid,
my cousin’s
Tennessee fainting goats —
the vulnerable joy
in newborn sweet slickness,
the more-than-a-metaphor
tender freshening of does.

God, make us careful in our
glib recitation of parables –
for you taught love,
not division
not how to judge ourselves or others —

least of all the breech-born kid,
just saved,
bloody, wet and eyes wide open
in your loving hands.
Amen

Praying the parables – April 1, 2014
Matthew 25: 34-46 … the great “division”

God,
I was hungry and someone gave me —
cheerios or barbecue,
a Christmas cookie on a plate in fellowship hall,
the first jell-o out of intensive care,
burger after an AA meeting.

I was thirsty and someone poured me –
water after a race,
hot chocolate after shedding,
a first beer or first communion,
a cup of coffee
after I buried someone I love.

I was a stranger and someone
welcomed me –
new school, job, barracks,
new dormitory, neighborhood, gender.

Someone tried to speak my language
or asked me to church.

I was naked and someone gave me —
a hand-me-down prom dress,
a mortar board,
an Easter shirt and tie for my son
from the consignment shop,
a smile
at weight watchers.

I was naked with failure and someone
didn’t pretend, didn’t patronize, and didn’t care.
I was naked — just like you
and someone said – no dice.

I was sick and someone
visited me –
at the hospital, rehab, mental health wing.
I got silly cards,
a fruit basket I gave to the nurses,
somebody’s Locks of Love.

I didn’t get better and I whined,
and was really angry at perky people –
but someone kept coming
and just sat.

I was in jail and someone visited me.
Anyway.
Innocent or guilty,
in spite of pat down or lock down,
bars in the window or bars
of anxiety or memory or addiction in my head.

God, I can surely remember
feeling – least,
and someone treating me
like I was Jesus Christ.

I can do that. Amen

Praying the parables – April 2, 2014
Luke 18: 2-7 … the “unjust” judge and the persistent widow

God, they’ve got a verdict for me –
unjust judge.

All I saw in my court
was a widow – poor and needy,
and an exploiter — wealthy, shrewd,

and within his legal rights.

A judge takes an oath not to be swayed
by bible or bribe,
and the brief for compassion
is often inadequate, even if persistent,

but you and I always take a recess
hoping for reasonable doubt.
Amen.

Praying the Parables, April 3, 2014
Luke 14: 15-24 … the great banquet

O great and stubborn Host,

“I just got married” – is not an excuse,
neither is –
I am trying to live with cancer,
care for my aging father,
put food on my children’s table.

“I bought a little land” is not an excuse,
neither is –
I got a new job
and they don’t know me,
I’m moving Mom to assisted living,
marching for immigrants’ rights,
volunteering at the SPCA,
driving my step-son to college.

Granted — “I bought a new car
and I need to try it out” —
that is an excuse,
but trying to sign up for health care …

These are not just excuses,
they are my life,
and sometimes I’m too tired to party.

Open your doors to the streets and lanes.
Please accept my deepest
regrets.

You do? Amen.

Praying the Parables, April 4, 2014
Mark 13:28-32 … the budding fig tree

God, when I see …
earth warming, sea level rising,
glaciers shrinking,
heat waves, cold snaps, violent storms,
drought and flood and typhoon,
the dying of whole species …

when I see these things,
each as clear as a fig tree in bud—
but not so beautiful —
then I know a summer is coming
a summer made by us.

All around us —
such great and terrible budding,
but we refuse to see.
Amen

Praying the Parables, April 5, 2014
Matthew 21:28-31 — the two “sons”

I praise you, God, for the
other children –
the ones who are not in church –
but who grumble and deny their way
into the vineyard –

probation officers, court appointed lawyers,
hospice home health aides,
Narcotics Anonymous sponsors,
foster parents, bus drivers,

the movie theatre ticket taker who
lets the fifth grader stay
warm and safe for eight hours,

substitute teachers, bartenders,
CNA’s, TSA’s, EMT’s,
sex workers, state police
(not necessarily caring for grapes
along the same row)
janitorial staff in the hospital,

waitpersons, taxi drivers.

These care for the bleeding of vines,
grafting of new scions,
pruning of dangerous growth;

these are the unlikely volunteers
in the viticulture of love.
Amen.

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4 Responses to Fractured Parables — Lenten Post 5

  1. Sharon says:

    My colleague at Plymouth UCC, Rev. Dr. Mark Lee, raises goats. He was touched and uplifted by the March 31 parable-prayer. Thanks for offering so much that meets so many of us where we are.

    • Maren says:

      I am delighted, Sharon, that one of these had such particularity! It has been an interesting journey through these parables and I do realize that I have left myself some difficult ones for the next two weeks!

  2. Carol Lundgren says:

    Dear Maren: I am most always struck by the beauty of the writings you contribute or those of others that touch you. The fractured parable for April 1 resonates with me as FCC of Wakefield, under the guidance of Jan Fairchild and Rev. Mary James, has been meeting during Lent to explore LOFT – Lenten Opportunities for Transformation. We have been discussing feelings of being “least” and redemption. Thank you for the wisdom you share through your writing. Many blessings on your work, passions and joys. Carol

    • Maren says:

      Thank you, Carol, it was a revelation for me to think of being the recipient of the kindness in this parable rather than worrying whether I have been generous enough to “the least” who are of course someone else.

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