Anyone Found A Pez Dispenser?

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 – The 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, July 27, 2014

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid…” (Matthew 13:44)

In early July 2014, Mr. Jason Buzi continued his Hidden Cash social media “experiment” by hiding envelopes with money in Fresno’s Woodward Park. According to the Fresno Bee . . .

Thousands of people descended on Woodward Park in north Fresno—triggering a traffic jam at the park entrances—after hints began flowing on Twitter and Facebook shortly before 5:30 p.m. Some people were sniffing around in the sprawling park on instinct, however, even before the first tweeted hints.

Nearly $1,900 was hidden in various locations in the park, tucked away in envelopes and Pez candy dispensers.

Buzi, who apparently uses his own money, placed silver dollars in some envelopes and as much as $75 in currency in others. He stuffed $125 in the Pez dispensers. But Fresno was not unique. Either Mr. Buzi or one of his friends has unleashed the Hidden Cash treasure hunt from the San Francisco area to Southern California. There are plans for London, Paris, Madrid, and more! Stay alert! There may be euros and pounds joining dollars in this search for . . .

Search for what? Treasure?

Jesus’s briefest of parables (Matthew 13:44) described a different treasure hunt:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Is the kingdom of heaven like a traffic jam as people crowd into a park, probe bushes with sticks, peer under park benches and elbow and curse (and cheer) each other as they pursue a repurposed Pez dispenser? Continue reading →

Ms. Good Soil

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 – The 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, July 13, 2014

“Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty…” (Matthew 13:8)

20110724Hear one of Jesus’ parables!

Is it for me?

Just for you. Are you listening?

I’m listening. (Mostly.)

A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

*      *      *

Early in seminary, I learned that Biblical scholars had long disagreed, and continued to disagree, about which parables were Jesus’ “real” words. It was possible the writer of a Gospel, not Jesus, created a particular story. It was possible some familiar stories, already shared and known in the first-century world, were incorporated into the Gospels. In either case, the maybe-not-by-Jesus stories were tweaked to bolster the message of Jesus’ ministry. Think of it as pre-modern copying and pasting. Or harmless proto-plagiarism.

If you take the Bible literally, you’ve probably already shaken your fist at me and left the room. (Hey, Larry, you dolt, if a Gospel said this is what Jesus said, then that is that.) Continue reading →

I Can Blame Capitalism!

Romans 7:15-25 – The 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, July 6, 2014

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:19)

800px-Probably_Valentin_de_Boulogne_-_Saint_Paul_Writing_His_Epistles_-_Google_Art_ProjectThere are few verses in the Bible more vulnerable than Paul’s confession in Romans 7:19:

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

Poor Paul!

Blunt Paul!

Honest Paul!

The crass side of modern me wanted Paul to spill detailed dirt about the evil that he did.

Did Paul click a first-century mouse once too often for some easy-access pornography? Was he leering at little boys? Would he be referring to lustful thoughts—even lustful actions—related to his neighbor’s wife? Can we read a tad more about how much of his tent-maker’s paycheck was lost to the horses or poker? When he broke bread with Jesus’ followers, what happened to the leftover wine? The guy had harsh words about certain people in other letters to other communities; what if his criticism and sarcasm in person made his writing feel tame? Did Paul gossip? Did he “lighten” the offering plates? What was his drug of choice? Was he gay or a gay-basher? Was he disabled or belittle those that were? Did he stutter or . . . Continue reading →