Pastor's Pen
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May 22, 2017, 1:16 PM

More Than One


 

More Than One

 

   Bill Strickland, the editor of Bicycling Magazine, in this month’s issue shared some of the stuff he has learned from a lifetime of riding bicycles (page 12). Here are a few of the things he has learned that resonate with me: 1. I can make any bike go as fast as I can go. The ones that could go faster aren’t gonna do it under me no matter what. 2. A draft given is sweeter than one taken, unless you really, really, really, really want to hang on. 3. Ain’t no secret, ain’t no shortcut, but if you ride enough you’ll become the rider you want to be (That’s on my bucket-list in retirement).

   And the quote that I really like is this: “There’s always more than one ride going on in the ride. Even when you’re alone!” Those of us who ride bikes know how true that is … whether you are riding into the wind, or up a steep hill, or spinning on a flat road, there is more than one ride going on!

   I would suggest that something like that happens in church when we are studying, say, the parables of Jesus, or listening to a sermon. In each case the interpretation of a parable or a sermon, there are at least three stories. For parables, there is the story of the parable itself; then the larger story told by the Bible itself in which the parable is found; and the story of the listeners (both the original listeners and you and me today). And I would suggest that the task of parable interpretation is to place the story of the parable alongside both of the other two stories.

   Maybe one of the most memorable parables told by Jesus is found in  Luke 15:3-32, the parable of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost boy. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is, I believe, the greatest story ever told! It reveals humankind in all of its needs. It is a story that lays bare the heart of God. And I would suggest that if you really want to know what God is like, look closely at the father in this parable.

   The three parables show us that God is able to find us regardless of how complicated our lostness is. And, they show that God is not worried about how contagious we might be. The parables also have three things in common: lostness; seeking; and finding (with much partying). So, let me ask … How would you, today, “celebrate?” Or, what would be the “partying” if your Prodigal came home?

05.21.2017

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com


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