Parsonage Parables began as a way to connect with my siblings of my recollections about growing up in a pastor’s family. I would send some stories to my family and then began posting a few writings on Facebook. A couple people encouraged me to begin this blog.
My original idea was to post every week for one year. Fifty posts and call it good. It’s now been three years of stores, almost every Friday. I’ve also self-published a book of “greatest hits” from the blog and used the funds to support our ministry in Haiti. It’s been good for me to write, which I enjoy, and nice to have a place to capture some of my random ideas about life.
It’s not a viral blog. There are a handful of you who follow and read regularly. But what has surprised me is there were weeks where I thought I had a great idea and I would get little response. And weeks when I thought my writing was less than great were times when I had lots of feedback and comments. There were often times that what someone else took from my writing or found helpful was different than I intended or expected.
It made me realize that parables are different than stories. Amy-Jill Levine in her book, Short Stories by Jesus says this, “What makes parables mysterious, or difficult, is that they challenge us to look into the hidden aspects of our own values, our own lives. They bring to the surface unasked questions and they reveal answers we have always known, bur refuse to acknowledge.” She further points out that, “Different audiences inevitably hear different messages.”
In my current job, I have been writing stories of donors who give to support United Methodist scholarships and from the recipients on how these scholarships have impacted their journeys. It hit me that we needed to move beyond story to parable. That story is important. It captivates our attention and brings us into better understanding. But the parable challenges us to more. What did we learn from this person? What is God trying to teach us from this relationship? What may be our next steps?
So I am resolving to develop this idea over the next few months – Moving Beyond Story to Parable. It may be just another one of my ideas, but I think it has application to fundraising, to churches, to businesses, and potentially to other areas. That story is important – but what challenges us to look deeper into our own lives, our own values? What answers can God reveal when we allow the right questions to surface? How can we listen and hear and respond from our own simple lives? How can we move beyond our stories to parable?