Prodigal Mercy

Caryne Eskridge  


Luke 15:1-3,11-32 

Before I began to discern a call to ordained ministry and before I went to seminary, I studied and interpreted art and decorative arts for the public. I was trained to observe closely and to learn how to ask the right questions of an object. It turns out that this was great training for reading and interpreting parables. The parables in the Bible are all about subversion and misdirection. The characters who seem to be at the center of the parable are not often the characters to whom we should really be paying attention. To interpret the parables we must excavate the layers of meaning, look in places we would not otherwise, and ask the right questions. Scholar John Dominic Crossan writes that a parable is “a story that never happened, but always does.” In other words, a parable doesn’t refer to one specific event or time, but resonates across time and space. The meaning of a parable shifts depending on where we locate ourselves in the story. It is our task this morning to resist over-allegorizing, to pause before we assign roles and tidy up the story too much. (Read entire sermon at

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