Fractured parables — Lenten post 6

During Lent I am playing and praying the parables, twisting them inside out to learn what they are telling me …

Praying the Parables, April 7, 2014
Matthew 22:11-14 — the wedding garment

I’m in my Old Navy
size sixteen black Rockstar jeans
and beaded backless top
from the Re-new
that shows off my tats —
the cross on my arm, butterfly
on my shoulder-blade.

I think I’m pretty hot,
but I am so out on my ass,

till the bridegroom
leans around the bouncer,
gives a wink
and nods out back,
where folks like me find
the after-party,
the one with gallons of miracle.

Praying the Parables, April 8, 2014
Mark 4: 3-9 — the four kinds of soil

I’ve got the thorny-soil blues –
too many things on my plate,
the thorny-soil blues –
the house and kids are just great.

Between job and my vacation
I’ve no time for contemplation …
got the thorny-soil blues —

I’ve got the rocky-soil blues –
my broken heart is rubble,
the rocky-soil blues –
I just can’t deal with trouble.

I love the prayers and praise songs,
but the justice stuff is too strong …
got the rocky-soil blues.

I’ve got the journey-soil blues –
grew up with too much churching
the journey-soil blues –
let’s say I’m always searching.

The bible’s just a trap-door;
give me sunset, birds and seashore …
got the journey-soil blues.

I’ve got the Gardener blues –
love every inch of my land,
the Gardener blues –
the mulchy and the quicksand.

My seeds are all for tossing
and my life is all for crossing …
I’ve got the Scarecrow blues.

Praying with the parables – April 9, 2014
Mark 4: 26-29 — the seed growing secretly

God, I am the scatter
of Rev. Wilbur,
Presbyterian pastor in Des Moines
who lost his job because
his daughter got a speeding ticket,

(those letters to Timothy
will have a lot to answer for)

but not before sowing
his wild 1956 enthusiasm
for women clergy.

I am the scatter of Daniel Berrigan,
who came to marry actor friends
from a demonstration
at Attica Prison.
He gave Fritz and Linda
his blessing,
in a garden in Brooklyn,

but not without blessing me
with my call —
the possible kissing
of justice and pastoral care.

I am the scatter of Jim Cone
Carole Carlson, Chuck Harper,
of Esther, who thought she was Jesus
at Westborough State Hospital,

of Phil, Joe, Valerie,
and of Donna who said —
shake that dust,
and gave me the courage to run.

God, we are all scatter
of those who slept and rose
night and day
while we sprouted and grew.
beyond their knowing.

Bless us with memory,
and with open fists, wild flinging
and walking away.

(This parable prayer is really only the final two stanzas — the rest are personal. If you want to pray this prayer, use these last two stanzas and then remember whose scatter you are.
You might use this with a retreat group or a class to consider whose “scatter” they are — not just honoring the obvious the saints and mentors like grandparents … but the ones who never saw the result of what they said or did. So begin with the scripture, community reflection during which each shares at least one unsuspecting sower in their lives, and finally the last two stanzas of the prayer.)

Praying with the parables – April 10, 2014
Matthew 18:23-35 — the two debtors

God, forgive me my debts
as I am trying to forgive my debtors —
the ones with remorse
so deep and genuine it is easy,
the ones who expect it,
casually, again and again and again,
even the ones who don’t care they hurt me,
or don’t remember,
or were a part of a system
that destroyed something precious.

God, forgive me my debts
as I am trying to forgive those
who twisted something in me when I was a child,
or hurt my children
or anybody’s children.
God, forgive me my debts,
as I am trying to spit the poison out.

God, forgive me my debts
as I am trying to forgive those
who did nothing to me –
just got a job I wanted or a love,
or are so healthy and happy it shines,
showing the dustballs of loss
in all my corners.

God, forgive me my debts
as I am trying to forgive the little debtors,
the ones with foolish
absolutely aggravating infractions —
the laundry left on the floor,
the inconsiderate late arrival,

privacy not given,
or gratitude or recognition,
or a birthday card,

the failure to listen to something
I said three times,
or to just-know something
I didn’t think I needed to say.

God forgive me
every hoarding, hurting time I risk
my own sweet and so precious forgiveness —
teeth lockjaw tight
in someone else’s life. Amen

Praying the parables – April 11, 2014
Mark 12: 1-9 — the “wicked” tenants”

God forgive the tenacious “tenant”
in my heart,

for “tenant” is not the Jews
or the Roman Catholics,
not the charismatics
or the hard-line fundamentalists,
or the emerging churchers —

it is whoever is in charge
right now, claiming –

my wine press and watchtower,
my creed, hymn, praise song,
my liturgy, blog, march, petition
resolution, covenant.

Whenever I try to own this church,
I end up killing Jesus.

Praying the parables – April 12, 2014
Matthew 25:14-29 — the talents

God, thank you for the serenity
that buries coins
and stands with the poorest
against the exploiters, the elite,
the traders who amass wealth
from those who have none,

for the serenity that remembers
Jesus never calls God
a harsh and unforgiving master,

for the courage that resists the —
five makes five, more will be given more,
mentality of the business world
educational world,
sports world, cultural world,
even the church world,

and for the interpretative wisdom
that reads this parable
only to recognize, love and follow
Jesus, the third servant,
who does what is honorable,
alone, undaunted, willing to face
the condemnation, the Calvary,
so soon to come. Amen

(for a full interpretation of the parable of the Talents counter to its more common understanding see Preaching Matthew by Mike Graves and David May, Chalice, 2007)

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2 Responses to Fractured parables — Lenten post 6

  1. rezrevres says:

    Hi Maren
    I’m away acting as the elder at a Youith Forum for our Conference when you’re “Fractured Parable” showed-up on my cell phone. Just the sort of inspiration for what I’m sharing with the teens today. Thanks. M.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

  2. Maren says:

    Wonderful — enjoy the youth. Any new things to share with me???

    How about getting your youth this weekend to write a prayer or a litany or a psalm together (or as individuals) that I could then publish on an international blog. Wouldn’t that be fun for them?

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