The Story for the
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
July 26, 2020
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52
Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”
And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Something to Do
Get ready to share some parables!
This Sunday, come to church with a parable or two of your own creation. Sign up if you want to help set the stage by sharing with the whole congregation or save them for sharing in break out groups.
Be ready to see the kingdom through one another’s eyes!
Stories in need of illustration – by kids and by adults
These parables paint such vivid pictures they cry out to be illustrated. What does the mighty mustard tree full of birds look like? What does the woman, up to her elbows in bread dough, look like? Or the pearl or the face of the man with the field or the net filled with every kind of fish?
Tell the story in art.
Something to Wonder
Seeds and Yeast and Treasures and Fish
Every parable reveals something about the kingdom but no parable reveals the whole of the kingdom. Reading them together can help us see certain things and then focusing on them individually can help us see certain things.
What do these parables have in common? Are there characteristics of the things or people or situations that are the same, themes you can draw out? What does that tell you about the Kingdom?
What are the differences in these parables? Which one are you most drawn to and why? Which one do you like the least and why? What do these differences tell you about the Kingdom?
Consider the mustard seed and the pearl, for instance. How are they the same? How are they different? Which image do you prefer? Why?
The stories that shape us
One reason Jesus used parables for teaching is that stories are powerful. They can influence how we think and what we think about, almost without our even noticing.
What are the stories, Biblical or otherwise, that shape the way you see the world? Where did you learn them? What impact have they had on you?Who have you passed them on to and/or who will you pass them on to?
Are there stories you need to seek out in order to submit yourself to their shaping? Stories told by people who are more different from you? Stories told by people who are more like you? Stories that will soothe you or stories that will disturb you?
How could you be more deliberate in choosing the stories that shape you?
Something to Learn
Thoughts from Great Storytellers
Two of the storytellers who have shaped me are J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis and two storytellers who are helping to re-shape me are Thomas King and N.K. Jemisin. Like many great storytellers, these four have thought deeply about stories.
I may have shared J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay On Fairy-Stories before. It’s worth reading and re-reading and re-reading.
C.S. Lewis‘ literary essays are rather harder going. Instead, The Surprising Imagination of C.S.Lewis, published by the C.S. Lewis Institute discusses his ideas about the imagination and its role in understanding and faith.
Thomas King delivered the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative. Listen to the lectures here. They have also been published as a book that is well worth your time.
N.K. Jemisin’s collection of short stories, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?, begins with an introductory essay that I desperately want to share with you but can’t find online. You’ll just have to buy or borrow the whole book. In the meantime, read the essay that inspired the book title: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? The Toxins of Speculative Fiction, and the Antidote that is Janelle Monae.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.