We gathered at the bandstand with the music (Nimrod (Enigma Variation 9) (Elgar 1889) playing.
Jesus being one of our values we have decided over the coming weeks to look more closely at his words.
Who was Jesus? – Two-thousand years ago, a carpenter left his home to preach in ancient Israel. His message changed the world and has shaped every corner of the globe.
Matthew 16:13-20 New International Version (NIV)
” 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” ”
Enigma why enigma?
I have always considered Jesus as a bit of an enigma, some of his teachings and parables are hard to understand, are a puzzle, a conundrum or a paradox.
Sometimes the traditional teaching of the church is a bit unsatisfactory and it leaves you thinking what did Jesus really mean by that. For example is God really like the unjust judge (Luke 18: 1-8) and does Jesus really endorse fraud in the parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 16: 1-13)
Now in my musings I came across Amy – Jill Levine and her book “The Enigmatic Parables of a controversial Rabbi”. One of the things Amy Levine said was that parables being a rabbinic tradition would mean that Jesus like other rabbis would use stories more than once in different locations, with different audiences, and with small changes to suit the context to challenge or convict his audience.
I want to tell you how a very familiar parable hit me between the eyes and really challenged me following the Brexit vote.
I was very upset and angry about the result of the referendum and on one of the Sunday morning services following the vote I listened to this parable and a sermon about it.
READING – Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37)
I had always taken this parable as a straight forward story encouraging us to make neighbours of those who society might reject and indeed the sermon preached on that Sunday morning was challenging peoples xenophobia and racism. At first I was thinking; “Yeah that’s right! We should always try to be accepting and not to be racist (and feeling a bit self righteous thinking that’s just what I try to do!)
It was then that I was struck, and I mean forcibly struck and deeply challenged about the anger and resentment I felt towards people who wanted out of Europe. I realised that they were my neighbours too and that whatever their reasons for voting out I had to accept that it was a majority vote. My response should be not be the anger or grief I was feeling but a willingness to work alongside all my neighbours to make the future work for us.
Allowing the parable to speak to me it changed it from a comfortable, well known story to one that challenged me to my very being and the change has lasted not just in my feelings towards those who thought differently about the referendum vote, but towards other people too.
It is hard to explain but just hearing the parable which I thought I understood anew and afresh had such a profound effect on my outlook and restored some of my commitment to follow Jesus with new determination.
This is what Jesus’ parables are meant to do and as we look at them in the coming weeks I hope they speak deeply to us and help us to become better disciples.
The word enigma brings to mind the Enigma Code Machine used at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
Can you crack this code?
c pgy eqoocpfogpv k ikxg vq aqw, vjcv aqw nqxg qpg cpqvjgt: lwuv cu k jcxg nqxgf aqw, aqw ctg cnuq vq nqxg qpg cpqvjgt. da vjku cnn rgqrng yknn mpqy vjcv aqw ctg oa fkuekrngu, kh aqw jcxg nqxg hqt qpg cpqvjgt.
There was a prize for the first one of us who managed it.