Father of Creation,
Painter of sunrise and sunset,
we surrender to you and your purposes for this day.
May our lives today bring you even the tiniest fraction
of the glory of your sunrise this morning.
In Jesus we pray.
O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever!
Amen. Romans 11: 33-36
I'm at my desk. Commentaries, Bible versions, and other resources are open around me. Two computer screens and three pair of glasses are necessary -- red computer glasses, tortoise shell readers, and the black bifocals. For comfort, a red rose from my garden sends its sweet scent across the pages.
I'm reading and re-reading the scriptures and the rabbit trails of related texts that inevitably emerge and I'm loving and learning from what smart people have written about the Parables of Jesus. It's a new study that I've committed to preparing and teaching this academic year. In preparation for the first class in a couple days, I'm trying mightily to soak it in and distill it down.
As I sit here, I feel the familiar panic. This is too much. Beyond me. What was I thinking? So, I ask myself, "How do you eat an elephant?" Obvious answer: one lesson at a time!
Last Spring, I organized myself and my students with a four-fold way to engage a text.
╬ Knowledge: What can I learn from this text and this lesson? What information fills gaps in my knowledge and increases my curiosity for more?
╬ Understanding: What are the implications of this lesson for my life? Is God the Spirit inviting me to something new here? How would my life be changed if I let this sink into my heart and soul, my past and my wounds, my relationships, and my attitudes and behaviors?
╬ Wisdom: Christ himself is the "wisdom of God" (1Cor 1:24). What does Christ−the Wisdom of God−want me to do? Is there a response of obedience and righteousness that I should not, dare not, ignore?
╬ Mystery: Is there Mystery here that requires my surrender to faith and greater trust in God?
I'm using this four-fold model again for this new study of Jesus' Parables. The Knowledge -- what I don't know -- is very great!
The Understanding of the implications of Jesus' intent in his stories exposes the disciple's continual need for repentance and increasing humility.
The Wisdom of his truth requires response and action. No resting on perceived maturity; we are invited to enact righteousness daily.
The Mystery already revealed in Jesus and yet-to-be-revealed in the culmination asks for faith and trust in the God of mercy, of love, and of holiness.
"Whoever has ears, let them hear" (Mt 13:9; Mk 4:23; Lk 8:18).
"In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of
gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. . . ." (Isaiah 29:18)
Father, I may have three pair of glasses to help me see, but it is by your enabling grace that the eyes of all hearts and minds are enlightened to receive your truth. Speak Lord, your servants are listening.