Perhaps you remember this one. The kingdom of heaven is like this…“There was an archer, the best in the land, who had become dissatisfied because too often the wind had begun to play with the arrows and they struck just off center. He resolved to find a place beyond the wind, where every arrow would hit its mark. Finally, he passed through a village and came upon a barn on the side of which were painted twelve targets with an arrow precisely in the center of each. Precisely. And the ground was clearly marked where the archer must have stood off — a great distance away. ‘This is a greater archer than I am,’ the famous archer thought. ‘I have to find him.’ So he inquired in the village. Each person told him he was not looking for an archer. He was looking for a fool. ‘Perhaps a fool,’ the archer said, ‘but a great archer nonetheless.’
‘You don’t understand,’ they told him. ‘He shoots the arrows first, and then he goes up and paints a circle around wherever they hit.’”
A parable? A joke? Maybe both. Of course the temptation is to simply leave it at that. What does it mean? Or does it need to mean anything?
That’s the thing about parables and jokes, they often leave us with a chuckle, or maybe a curious image, and we move on. If it was a good one, if it got a good laugh or caught us by surprise, we’ll try to remember it and pass it along at work or with a friend. But then maybe, after many tellings, something about the thing will suddenly strike us personally. “Why is it I seem to be having so much trouble hitting the mark lately?” Or “What I wouldn’t do to find a calm space somewhere, where I could be get away from all the stress or worry and distractions and focus on what’s important.” Or maybe it suddenly hits you “How is the kingdom of heaven like THAT?”
Now the joke is trying to become a story, your story. That’s the way it is with jokes and parables — images and words resonate with us in some way.
Jesus told his listeners, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” And everyone within earshot is laughing and scoffing, “Who would want a mustard seed in their field if it’s gonna take over everything?” Precisely. And his listeners start to hear their own story.
And we begin to hear ours. What is it about how we “see” things affects how choose to live? How we respond to the “winds of life”? What overwhelms us? Maybe it’s more a matter of learning how to paint than trying to avoid the wind.
This Sunday, we continue with our series This is HOW: Big Mind Help for Small Minded Times. We’ll look at some of Jesus’ parables and think about How We Do Anything is really How We Do Everything.
I hope to see you then!
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven