I was fortunate enough to attend a Zoom version of the Lyons Lecture series of First United Methodist Church in Madison, Wisconsin. David Galston, Executive Director of the Westar Institute (Jesus Seminar and more), included material about parables.

It is always good to be reminded that parables do not have a single or eternal meaning but come out of nowhere and leave unresolved, except how we complete them in our lives.

I posed a question, “What parable would people in the United States of America do well to attend to over the next four years?”

David pointed to Thomas 97:

Jesus said,
The [Father’s] imperial rule is like a woman who was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn’t know it; she hadn’t noticed a problem. When she reacher her house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was empty.

His reflection indicated that this would be applicable in Western cultures, generally. The U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have tragedies in their relationship with Indigenous people, and all capitalist-based countries have disasters caused by their economic model. These and other results of their preferences for their elites are as tragic as the loss of the woman’s meal that was sustenance for her and hers. Such life-threatening situations have no miraculous ending that can be expected (unlike the old story of Elijah and the Widow). They are tragedies, pure and simple. He also included the climate and xenophobia in the tragedies that must be faced and recovered from. Essentially, we are called to do the hard work of improvising our way through our tragedies without any expectation of a miracle escape.

I commend this parable to you for periodic reflection over these next years as the hidden costs of past failures finally, belatedly, tragically surface.

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