February 2024

How do we make sense of Jesus’s challenging parables?

Jesus’s challenging parables are never against people themselves – Jesus doesn’t overturn the tables because he dislikes the tax collectors, or tell parables against the temple authorities because he opposes them as people. Rather, Jesus opposes the practices and systemic ways of life that aren’t actually aligned with the idea of abundant life for all.

A passage at the beginning of Mark illustrates this idea beautifully, and foreshadows Jesus’s final days in Jerusalem:

Again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They were watching Jesus to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then Jesus said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. Jesus looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. – Mark 3:1-6

Although the Sabbath is supposed to be a life-giving observance, following the rule had become more important than saving and restoring life. Jesus reorients us, with anger and challenge. But key to understanding Jesus’s challenging parables is God’s love and the life that flows from God’s love; Jesus challenges the practices and systems that are against God’s love and abundant life. – Vicar Aaron Musser

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What are some ways to welcome different people in my life? (from a 6th grade student)

It starts by seeing different people.  I know this sounds overly simple, but it is an essential step.  Take just a few moments at some point in your day to notice the people around you.  Especially for a student at school, you may notice a certain group of people or your crush or the teachers first.  At work, you may be aware of where the boss is or a co-worker who often makes request of you.  Pay attention to this and then see if you can notice someone different.  Maybe you’ll notice a student or coworker or person at the grocery store who might need some help.  Noticing is the first part of welcoming! 

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How can I inherit the Kingdom of God?

How can I inherit the Kingdom of God?   The young man asks for actions to guarantee an inheritance.  Inheritance doesn’t work like that, though!   It is a gift passed in families.   In baptism, we have been welcomed into the family that is the Body of Christ.   The inheritance is secured by Jesus.  Our work is to live in response to this certainty. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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