The Rev. Tim Darmour-Paul is from the Grantfork United Church of Christ.
In the spring, we transplanted a couple of vines growing in our compost pile into the garden. We thought they were cantaloupes. They took root and spread and flowered profusely. The green fruits they began to produce had markings that looked more like watermelons. When the rinds started turning yellow, however, we figured they must be some kind of winter squash. Then a couple of weeks ago, they began turning orange. We finally know for certain that we have a pumpkin patch.
Jesus often told parables with unexpected outcomes: tiny mustard seeds producing huge shrubs; hidden treasures found in ordinary fields; a supposedly-untrustworthy foreigner being more neighborly than supposedly-good religious folks; a party thrown for a son who had squandered his father’s wealth. Not all the surprises in the parables are happy — for example, one relates of disappointing weeds appearing in the middle of a wheat field. While each parable has a distinct message, altogether they share this element of surprise.
We devote a lot of energy to carefully managing and predicting the world in which we live. But I wonder if Jesus was inviting us to release some of our desire to be in control, so we might grow in our ability to welcome more surprises into our days. Through those surprises, God often attempts to playfully fill our hearts with amazement and wonder — not to mention filling our stomachs with pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin pie!
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