Much of what Jesus taught us was done through parables - stories which are easy to remember and which challenge us to think about life. Instructions apply only to specific situations, and as circumstances change they often become irrelevant; stories illuminate all sorts of new situations.
Here's an interesting modern parable I came across not very long ago. A teacher gave each child in a class a large glass jar (it must have been a long time ago, or Health and Safety would have forbidden it!) and a collection of pebbles, gravel chips and sand, and asked them to get as much as they could into their jar. Those who filled the jar with sand first of all discovered they couldn't get anything else in. Those who tried the gravel found they could get a little bit of sand in if they poured it very carefully, but nothing else. Those who started off with the pebbles found they could get quite a lot of gravel chips into the spaces between the pebbles, and then quite a lot of sand into the remaining spaces.
Then came the message. "Now", teacher said, "I want you to think of the jar as your life. The rocks are the really important things like faith and care for others, and love and honesty and goodness. The gravel chips are the ordinary things of everyday life - work and domestic chores and learning and all the things like that. The sand is our pleasures and all the things we indulge ourselves with. What does the jar teach us? If we try to fill our lives with pleasures and self-indulgence, there is very soon no room for anything else. If our concerns are almost exclusively for work and home duties then we'll find a bit of room to enjoy ourselves, but not much. If we start with the rocks of faith and love and care for others and all the other really important things, then we'll find there's plenty of room in our lives for work and duties and for enjoying ourselves as well." And that is probably just about the reverse of how many people see things, isn't it?
How do you fill up your life? Think about it as you lie on the beach or sit in your garden this summer, and see what this simple little story is saying to you.
May God bless you all.
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About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.