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Luke

Parables of Grace

Parables of Grace

Our lives are a collection of stories. The ones we find ourselves in. The ones we watch and read and listen to. The ones we invent and create.

And what’s curious is how Jesus’ life and ministry were shaped by these same contours. His lived experience...the Hebrew Scriptures and traditions he learned...and, of course, the stories he told.

In our walk through Lent this year, we turn our attention to a particular set of tales Jesus gave his followers. Parables of lost sheep, midnight visitors, and trees that don’t grow fruit.

In the end, we come back to the words of Jesus each year to understand the Divine story and its connection to the meaning of our own. And we hope too that, whether we ‘get’ the parables or not, we begin to see them as “first and foremost God’s way of getting to us.” –Robert Farrar Capon


Lent

Ash Wednesday is the traditional beginning of Lent, the six week season which precedes Easter. For generations now, Christians have sought to deepen their connection to Christ’s death and resurrection by journeying through a season of preparation. We give something up–we create space and lack–in order to participate fully in the moment of resurrection.


On Lost Sheep

We talk about extravagant love that leaves the ninety-nine to look for the lost one, and how when it touches our hearts we want to at least try living in the way of Jesus; to love in the way that does not make sense.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

Part 1: Jesus has this remarkable ability to spot the Divine everywhere. We could certainly learn a lesson from his creativity.
Part 2: Grace calls us to live toward a world we can’t quite grasp yet.


The Good Samaritan

This week we are looking at the story of the Good Samaritan and how grace invites us to transcend our categories and see ourselves in the person across from us right now.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

Sunday was the parable of the Good Samaritan and one of the really intriguing elements of this story is the question that precedes it: Who is my neighbour?


The Unmerciful Servant

This week were are talking about how our experience of grace allows us to extend it to others.

Discussion notes

Bonus Materials

The parables aren't designed to give you black and white answers, they are meant to help learn how to think theologically.


The Unhelpful Friend

Today we are looking at one more story that explores the dynamics of grace in our lives and shows what prayer is about.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

There are a couple clues that push toward my reading of this parable.


Mustard Seeds

This week we are looking at the mustard seeds and how Jesus challenges the assumptions of the religious establishment of what the kingdom of God is like.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

I think René Girard can add a new layer to our understanding of the mustard seed parable.


Friendship

Friendship

Best friends. Old friends. New friends. Kind friends. Weird friends. Hilarious friends. Sad friends. Forgotten friends. Facebook friends. Forever friends.

Let’s really think about our friendships across a lifetime. Who was your best friend growing up? How did your friendships shape you in your twenties and thirties? What do you hope your friendships will look like in your forties, fifties, and beyond?

The terrain of friendship is well- travelled by some, and less familiar to others. There are days when you just know you wouldn’t make it without your friends. But other days you find the rules of friendship shift right under your feet.

We’re asking what the Creator’s intention is for friendship. How did Jesus extend radical welcome and still hold his best friends to a high standard of love and loyalty? Why do we need friends to find the Spirit at work in our lives? Bring all your experiences to the conversation on friendship and be reminded why this work of love matters so much in the end.


Why Friends? - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we look at the place friendship occupies in our social world and the role it played in the life of Jesus.

Bonus Material

Sometimes the Gospels invite us to read between the pages in order to encounter the fullness of Jesus.

We’ve also created a page with links to some of the research cited in the sermon.


Vulnerability - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes
Today we are talking about vulnerability and how it shapes both us and our friendships.

Bonus Material

The fact that Jesus has to learn who he is, speaks to the fact that your journey of self-discovery is holy and sacred as well.


Forgiveness - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes
Today we are talking about what to do when you are sorry and why it matters.


Unfriending - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes
Last week we talked about Peter’s denial, today we will see Peter’s transformation and talk about new chapters in friendship and the option to unfriend. 

Bonus Material

Forgiveness is what we do for our own health. Holding on to bitterness and anger eventually becomes toxic. Reconciliation though, requires both people to come to the table and when the other person isn’t willing to do that you need to remember that you can’t control that.

Ashes

Ashes

Forgiveness

In the Hebrew Scriptures ashes were used as a sign of grief or mourning. There are many forms of grief that we experience in our lives. Confusion or despair, lament or pain, loss or even death come crashing into our lives. Yet, one of the deepest experiences of grief we can have is the act of forgiveness.

It’s not easy to forgive. It’s not light to let go. In fact, it means taking that pain that has been inflicted upon us and holding it so tightly that we refuse to let it lash out at anyone else. In this series we return to the topic of grief, and in particular the experience of forgiveness. How can Jesus lead us to let go of hurt?


Part 1 - What Forgiveness Isn't

Forgiveness is not a moment. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not for them. In order to understand forgiveness in our lives sometimes we need to start with what it isn't.

Discussion Notes (part 1)


Part 2 - Forgive Yourself

Sometimes our more abstract. high-minded concepts can make it hard for us to access forgiveness in our lives. The Scriptures actually speak in very concrete images of forgiveness. Perhaps this can help us.

Discussion Notes (Part 2)


Part 3 - Revenge and Why it Never Works

Revenge is when we try to take our pain and recreate it inside someone else. This never works and leads to more despair. How can we defuse this instinct in order to work towards wholeness?

Discussion Notes (Part 3)


Part 4 - Boundaries

Don't confuse forgiveness with giving someone unfettered access to your life. For a whole host of reasons we sometimes need to create and maintain healthy boundaries even as we forgive those who may have injured us in the past.

Discussion Notes (Part 4)


Supplemental Content

The response to this series was very encouraging. It was amazing to see people in the community and online interact with the material and share stories of struggle and forgiveness in their lives. Out of those stories a number of questions emerged and so we've decided to put together some additional content to address ideas that weren't touched on fully in the series.

A. It's a Skill to Develop

B. You Can't Forgive an Organization

C. Steps to Start a Reconciliation Conversation

The Very Hardest Parables

The Very Hardest Parables

Jesus on Judgement: The Very Hardest Parables

Jesus taught primarily in parables. Short pithy stories that surprise us with Jesus unique perspective on life. These parables centre around three main concepts. Kingdom, Grace and, wait for it… Judgement. In this series we intend to face into the hardest parables, those that give us Jesus’ unique perspective on judgement.

As Klyne Snodgrass explains:

Discourse we tolerate; to story we attend. Story entertains, informs, involves, motivates, authenticates, and mirrors existence. By creating a narrative world, stories establish an unreal, controlled universe. The author abducts us and—almost god-like—tells us what reality exists in this narrative World, what happens, and why.

And as we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ narrative world—we hope to be transformed by the experience.


Wicked Tenants: Luke 20:9-19 - Jeremy Duncan

This is a pretty simply parable. The owner of the vineyard is God. The son whom he sends is Jesus. The messengers sent before are the prophets. So the big idea is that religion has gotten in the way and God intends to reboot the system. Things get interesting though when Jesus closes the parable. I think he is suggesting that this re-boot is going to be ear5h shaking for everyone. We can either have our world broken to pieces and put back together in a new way, or we can hang on to what we know, refuse to change and be crushed by the coming kingdom. 

Discussion Notes – extras


Unprepared Guests: Matthew 22:1-14 - Jeremy Duncan

There are a number of ways to interpret this parable and they are all helpful. 1. Perhaps the guest refused to accept the robes the King offered him? 2. Perhaps the guests were expected to go home and change and prepare themselves for the party? 3. Perhaps the man’s non-answer shows that he still doesn’t understand that he is there only because of the graciousness of the King. 

Discussion Notes – extras


Bad Servants: Luke 12:35-48 - Joel Braun

Often we read moralism (doing the right thing leads to God) into the gospels, and it prevents us from living as grace-givers and caretakers of others. The judgement in this parable comes from abusing our personal position over anyone. 

Discussion Notes


Foolish Guests: Matthew 25:1-13 - Jeremy Duncan

The foolish virgins are actually the ones who seem to plan appropriately. The wise virgins are the ones who plan to not know when the bridegroom will arrive. And yet in the story everyone falls asleep and misses the bridegrooms arrival.

This is the key to Jesus parable. You can’t figure God out. You can’t plan to time his arrival. You can’t prepare appropriately enough for him. All you can do is trust that he is coming and plan for your own inability to understand. Once you do that, it is, somehow, enough. 

Discussion Notes – extras


A Hard Man: Matthew 25:14-30 - Jeremy Duncan

There are two ways to interpret this parable. If it’s a parable about the kingdom then it is about the responsibility we have to contribute. That lines up with what Jesus says in Luke 12:48.

At the same time however, if you read Luke’s version of the parable in Luke 19 it could also be a very direct challenge to Zaccheaus about what will happen if he follows through on his promise. 

Both interpretations may have something important to say to us. 

Discussion Notes – extras


Sheep and Goats: Matthew 25:31-46 - Jeremy Duncan

This is a story about identifying God in our world and our ability to become so in tune with him that we live and act and move unconsciously in ways that serve him. The goal isn’t to earn is love, it is to be transformed into his likeness. 

Discussion Notes – extras