Lenten Devotion: Unexpected Riddles
Thursday, March 8, 2018
“Why do you teach in parables?” the disciples ask. “Why?” is the perennial question of children trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe.
“Because parables reveal the secrets of heaven to those who hear,” Jesus says.
The disciples’ response isn’t recorded. They listen quietly as Jesus explains the parable of the sower, and as he tells parables about weeds and mustard and yeast.
Then the disciples speak again. “Can you go back to that one before, about the sower?” they ask, wanting more clarification. The kingdom secrets are still sketchy.
Parables are riddles, says preaching professor Tom Long. Riddles keep us guessing at the meaning. They tip us a wee bit off balance as we wonder if we’ve heard right. They prod us to get us involved in working out the puzzle together.
Matthew says that Jesus taught nothing without parables. In this text, Jesus seems to say that discerning riddles is the key to the kingdom of heaven, for those who hear.
Recently, I had several tons of gravel delivered to my house. The truck and its load proved too heavy for the vintage concrete bridge across the stormwater ditch between the road and my house, and the truck ended up with its front end in my driveway and its back end…up a creek. My husband and I, two gravel company employees, a neighbor, a couple of tow-truck guys, and a construction supplier found ourselves with several riddles on our hands: how to get a truck full of gravel out of a creek, how to get the gravel out of the damaged truck, how to get the truck back across the ditch without a bridge. We huddled in a drizzling rain tossing around ideas, offering harebrained schemes, settling on a plan. The truck got out. The gravel got dumped. The remains of the bridge still lie crumpled in the ditch.
I kept looking for meaning. A sign of providence. A silver lining. A “why.”
Mostly, the whole thing was a hassle.
But a ragtag group of people who otherwise might never have encountered each other talked together for hours in my muddy driveway, keenly aware that our lives had been intertwined by unexpected riddles.
Rev. Aimee Moiso
SFTS MDiv 2006