Easter: A Pointless Parable

Easter: A Pointless Parable

Sun 10 Apr

This parable was adapted from one by Dan Erlander

In the beginning God evolved up not one or two but a whole bunch of us.  Lots of us.  Because God knows we like to play.

So we played – all night and all day.  We splashed in rivers.  We rolled down hillsides.  We ran with the wind.

Until the day the snake came.  At least they told us it was a snake.  It might not have been a snake.  It might have been someone in a suit with a cell phone.  Or it could have been a theologian with a very fat book.  But what they told us was that it was a snake.

And the snake came to us, to all of us who were playing on the hillside and splashing in the water, rolling and playing and tumbling, and said, “This is foolish!  You are wasting time.  None of this makes any sense unless you learn to keep score.”

We had no idea what the snake meant.  But then the snake said something really interesting.  The snake said, “Whoever gets the most points will get this apple!”  But we had no idea what points were.  So the snake said, “I will teach you…”

The snake taught us how to keep points with our running and jumping and our climbing, so that whoever climbed highest got points, and whoever ran fastest got points, and whoever could roll down the hill fastest got points.  Some things however, like frolicking, were too hard to score.  So we gave them up all together.

Soon we were keeping score for everything we did.  We chalked up the points for everything.  We kept track so that we would know who had the most points because, surely, all of us wanted to get the apple.

Soon we were spending so much time keeping score that we didn’t have time to play.

Then God came into the garden.  And God was peeved.  God was very, very peeved.  And God told us that we would have to leave the garden.

Well, it didn’t matter to me.  It’s God who didn’t understand things.  My cumulative lifetime score is now 12,263.  By the time I die, it will probably be even more!  We were like God’s slaves in the garden.  We had to do everything that God told us to do.  It was the snake who taught us to keep score, and now I’m teaching the children to keep score.  I think they could reach 15,000; maybe 20,000.  Now we are free to make as many points as we can, to keep making points ‘til the day we die, and to teach our children and grandchildren how to make points.

I’m really grateful to that snake…

God kept trying to find us and to slow us down.  God kept saying things like “Remember; remember the strangers.  Remember the widows and orphans.  Remember why you cut your fields to leave some grain at the edges, to leave some food for the sojourner in your land.”  That was no way to get ahead!

And so we perfected our score-keeping with a vengeance.  God told us there were only two things we really needed to remember.  God said, “Love me and love your neighbour.”  But we said, who on earth can play a game with only two rules?  So we wrote pages and pages and pages of rules, and created lawyers and bureaucrats to write pages and pages and pages of interpreting the rules!

“Remember the Sabbath,” God said.  We didn’t have time to rest.  We had to keep score.  We had to keep racking up the points.  I want our children to get far better than my cumulative lifetime score of 12,263.  God didn’t understand that kind of game at all.

God gave us such tiny little words.  “A shoot will form from the stump of Jesse.”  What sort of word is that – a ‘shoot’?  “A little child shall lead them,” God said.  Is that any help?

And then an ordinary fellow appeared from Nazareth – we said to ourselves, did any winner ever come from Nazareth?  Nope, only losers – and this guy was a loser with a capital ‘L’. 

You know why?

Well, he went up to people like fisher-folk and whispered in their ears, “You don’t need points!”  And he sat down beside a Samaritan woman at the well and told her everything about her loser sort of life and said, “You don’t need points!”  Then he sat with Nicodemus, a teacher of the Law, and said to him, “You don’t need points, Nicodemus.”  To Mary and Martha, to Joanna who was married to a high official, to Susannah, Mary Magdalene, to all of them he said, “You don’t need points!”

And those who gathered around him, listening to what he said about the kingdom of God being in the midst of them, soon looked at each other and him and said, “This kingdom is pointless!”

Well, he didn’t say a thing except to smile.  They had pointless banquets where the guest lists were thrown away.  They had pointless picnics on the hillside where everyone got plenty to eat, and there was still some left over.  They even had a pointless parade into the city with children leading the way and people waving palms instead of swords.  How pointless can you get!

But the snake, or the one in the suit, or the theologian with the weighty tone – I can’t remember who it was, but it was someone with friends in high places – said, “This will never do.  This will never do.”

And so shortly after that parade, they put him on trial.  And they stopped him good as dead.

And they sealed the tomb where they laid him to rest with a huge stone so that not even a whisper could escape that would ever say to anybody, “You don’t need points.”  And that was that.

Except the other morning…. this is strange.  The other morning some women came running to us, breathless, yet somehow full of breath.  And they said to us, “You don’t need points!”

It was enough to make us think that loser from Nazareth had never died.  But we said, “You’ve got to be crazy!”  And we sent them away.  And as they left, they were frolicking.  I am not kidding – they were frolicking!

Did you see where they went?