50 Parables

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Imagine a hero coming to our aid, not with all the power in the world, but with all the friendship, kindness and peace; imagine that hero not with all the weapons, but with all the understanding, all the courage, all the humility. Smaller than we imagined, more gentle, weaker. And in so being, the hero who knows best how to reach us, and lift us up. How to help us take another step.
Zechariah 9:9-10, Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 4:15, Zechariah 3:1-10

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
We gather together, to sing and tell our stories, to encourage and listen, to dip into the Great Story – the life-shaping narrative. Reminding each other of the One who can help, the One who calls us to keep growing, to keep following. Each bringing our own small glimpses of Truth and Love, of another Dimension so great we never reach the end.
Acts 2 vv 41-47, John 15 vv 5-17

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Like a silver sliver of the moon, bright against the curtain of the first sky of dawn. We see its light and colour, shape and beauty. We marvel and hold it in our gaze. Yet it’s only a glimpse, a partial snapshot of something much greater. A fraction of the whole, incomplete, a taster of another world.
1 Corinthians 13 vv 12-13

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Spark
It flies so swiftly, lands sometimes silently, doesn’t take responsibility for the ensuing carnage. Like a word, or a put down, or a jibe, or a comment.  A tiny dart finding its invisible target. Best not to strike those negative flints we hold, best not to set that fire free.
James 3 vv 2-5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
A window of light in the night, a square of yellow broadcasting to the world. The promise of day, not yet dawned. The night still rules, but light is on the way, and though it may sometimes be small, it will shine. Drawing us to it, inviting us to reflect it, like cracked, dusty mirrors; the Light reflected and bouncing off each unique, mottled surface, in a sometimes gloomy world.
John 8 v 12, 2 Corinthians 4 v 7

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
He didn’t leave us a bumper sticker, or a uniform, a badge or merchandise. Instead he offered that most basic of things – the staple of life – food and drink. Bread and wine. Eat and drink together, he said, nourish yourselves, receive me and remember me, all I am and all I have done. Food, drink and the Son. Eternal nourishment.
John 6 53-58, Matthew 26 vv 26-28

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Coming Home
Two people, one far away the other close to home. One strong the other weak. Both limping. Both had much, one lost it. Before long one will trudge, battered and torn, up the long road to freedom, the other will hang back in the shadows, anger festering like a wound refusing to heal. Both need a new start. Only one knows it. Their father leaves his home to welcome both of them…
Luke 15

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Unseen Fuel
Grace, that unseen fuel, often silent, invisible, coursing through the veins of life, energising, inspiring one to help another. Nudging a smile onto one face for the sake of another. Coaxing a hand to reach and help another. Never set by trend or fashion, smaller and greater, stronger and weaker, than those transient things. Forever working its gentle, powerful, profound way through life’s dough.
2 Corinthians 13 v 13, Matthew 13 v 33

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Knowing Truth
Some days they want to be strong, to be the best, to be acceptable, to be cool, to be part of the crowd. So they craft their disguises, their look, their presentation. To blend in. Other options feel too dangerous, too vulnerable, too weak, too unacceptable. And yet at times, when the mask slips, they discover reality, freedom, and others who long to break free from life’s constraints.
John 8 v 32, John 16 v 13

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
We may start well, or struggle to get going. Yesterday may have been a triumph or a shambles. But when we stumble and fall and crash yet again, down there in the dust we encounter someone else who has fallen, someone struggling in the gutter. A man collapsed under the weight of a cross. A burden he has chosen to carry, so that we may stand again, place one flawed foot in front of another, and take the next step.
Isaiah 53 vv 4-6

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
A Beginning
Once a woman was crossing a field when she spotted something glinting in the dark earth. She dug around and began to unearth a piece of beautiful treasure. However as she pulled the piece out she discovered that a large part of the gem was dull and needed work. So she took it away and resolved to work at it, to see what the full diamond really looked like, and discover what was hidden underneath the layers…
Isaiah 45 v 3, Matthew 13 v 44

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Once and Future King
Two leaders ride into a city. One crowned with armour, splendour, violence and a history of bloodshed. The other with friendship, kindness, courage and humility. One set high on a stallion, the other low on a donkey. One commanding attention and order, the other drawing smiles, cheers, coats and handwaving. One will be gone with the ticking of time, the other will last forever.
John 12 vv 12-16, Mark 15 vv 1-15

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The raging never seems to let up at times, the boats of our being hurled like litter in the wind. We clutch at anything that resembles solid, and we hope and pray for the water-walker to bring us some peace.
Mark 14 vv 22-33

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
We wander through our deserts, coming across the crowds, gathered at the mirages of their own making. And, as we move on and the bustle fades, we may find a dusty prince waiting for us, away from the numbers, offering us a kind smile.
Hosea 2 vv 14-15

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
I’d like to keep him in the best room, the tidiest, the poshest, the brightest, the one that looks right. But he keeps on ducking down hallways and into other places. Chaotic offices, messy bedrooms, untidy kitchens piled high with grimy plates. And, in my worry and exasperation I get a hunch… maybe this is the very reason he has come.
John 8 v 32

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Like an early morning flight, cutting a single white trail through a vast dawn sky, he blazed a way… clear, consistent, strong, unique. His life cutting against the grain of anger, mistrust, greed and self-serving. Knew where he’d come from and where he was going. Knew the power at his disposal. Knew when to put all that aside and kneel with water and a towel, before lifting a cross.
John 13 vv 1-4

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Far Side of the Sky
He walks from town to town, lifting the eyes of the poor and the lost, telling his stories of the far side of the sky. A place he brings so close they can almost touch it. They had thought themselves too poor, too lost, too inappropriate… but not in his company.
Matthew 5 vv 1-10

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Going On
The mountains were tough, the storms whipped at their weather-leathered faces, the wind hammered at their bodies like an invisible battering ram. They came close to giving up. But here they are, still going on…
2 Corinthians 4 vv 8-9

The Puzzle
The largest jigsaw, every piece vital, the picture incomplete without us. No piece forming the full picture, no piece controlling the whole. But every piece original, unique, different, precious, valued. Forming a view beyond ourselves, a puzzle we are a part of, a vision of something more, something bigger.
12 Corinthians 12 vv 1-22

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
People get tired, get weary, get cynical, get lost, get angry; people give up, people start again, put each other down, pick each other up, smile, snarl, splutter, stumble, snort, sneer,  steel themselves, and carry on. People put  hope in others, in things, in careers, in money, in the future, in fame, in God. People look up, look down, look to a cross. Question, wonder, dream and believe.

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Maze
I so often wander around life’s maze, trying to get to its centre, forgetting that meaning is not so much found in solving the problem, but in the friend and guide who walks these convoluted pathways with me.
John 14 v 6

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
He’s the king who downsized. Swapped his regal outfit for regular clothes, put on the garb and sawdust and sweat of a labourer, moved into an oppressed neighbourhood, encountered friendship and opposition, told stories that brought light and love, ate humble food, slept on roadsides and borrowed beds, and carried change in the scarred and battered palms of his hands.
Philippians 2 vv 5-11

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Friends
He takes a moment to survey them. Feels so much for them. They might look like workers, but he sees friends. Dear friends. He looks at the generous payment in his hands. He knows some will be upset, but this is a different thing. He won’t treat some as lesser people. They are all as valuable, all as vital to him.  Each one different. All precious.
Matthew 20 vv 1-15, John 15 v 15

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Party (part 1)
A king threw a party in his castle and invited everyone to come. However though some came, many folks thought they did not have the right clothes, or backgrounds, or education, or attitudes, so they stayed away. So, saddened, the king thought again, came out of his castle and threw the party in the streets instead.
Mark 1 v 33, Mark 2 vv 1-4, Mark 12 v 37

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Party (part 2)
I went to the king’s street party, I counted myself as a regular party animal there, yet… I found myself constantly struggling with some of the other partygoers. I wanted to be the doorkeeper. To monitor the other party-goers. I wondered if the king was really aware of just who he was letting in.
Matthew 7 vv 1-5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
I longed to be a better human being, so I looked to the powerful, and to copy them. But time and again I found myself crashing to earth over my own shoelaces. And it was there, in the dust and reality of my failings, that I got a glimpse of true humanity.
1 Corinthians 1 vv 25-27

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Like electricity, like the internet, like the invisible breeze. We see the effects, the products, the impact of these things. The web pages, the click-switch lighting, the trees and the grass bending this way and that. But the source is invisible, the power unboxable, the wind moving where it will. We sense the Presence because of the outworking, we trust the Reality in spite of not being able to hold it in our hands.
John 3 v 8, Colossians 1 vv 15-17

The Radio
This ancient radio might not seem up to much, especially with so many new shiny gadgets on the market. But it tunes into a station like no other. A broadcast full of hope and promise. Music that crackles with life, yet also calms and soothes. Stories and interviews rich with life and colour, meaning and reality, challenge and purpose.
2 Timothy 3 v 16, Isaiah 35, Matthew 11 vv 4-5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Prince
A prince travelled here from another kingdom, one very different from this earth. Its ways, its values, its colours and opportunities. However, the prince was wise and rather than startle a world set in its ways, he told stories, invited feedback and waited for the conversations to start.
Proverbs 1 vv 5-6, Matthew 13 vv 34-35

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The One We Didn’t Expect
A woman had a dream. She met a crusty old man with a scowl and a long white beard. He had extraordinary power but didn’t like her. ‘You’re just as I expected you to be,’ she said. Then she felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see a gardener, one with laughter in his eyes. ‘Who are you?’ she said. ‘I’m the one you didn’t expect,’ he said with a smile.
Psalm 103 vv 8-13, John 1 v 14

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Heart to Heart
One night a man had a strange dream. Walking across a field he tripped and fell headlong. There was a heart-shaped box sticking out of the ground, so he opened it and found priceless treasure inside. Then, reaching into his bag he found a craggy heart-shaped rock, which he took out, and swapped for the priceless treasure.
Ezekiel 36 v 26

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Two Cars
Two cars, one in the garage, one forever on the drive outside. One a gleaming Aston Martin, power and luxury on wheels, the other an old Vauxhall, all dents and scrapes. Two ends of the spectrum, yet without fuel neither will go anywhere.
Philippians 3 v 9, John 15 v 5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
She may not be rich or eloquent, influential or powerful. She may not have friends in high places or millions of fans. Yet she can knock on this door and pour out her heart, bring all that she is and express it without fear. In the light or the night, good days and bad, she can say it all, sing it all, cry it all.
Luke 18 vv 1-8, Psalm 139 vv 1-7, Psalm 61

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Tree
What if life were a tree, all spreading limbs and hidden roots. What would it mean to scramble about in its branches, snagging clothes on the twigs, some of us exploring, climbing higher and higher, others finding a branch and leaning back quietly against the broad, experienced trunk. Some falling, some tiring, some pulling others up, some barely hanging on by their fingertips.
Luke 13 v 18

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Choose life. Choose caring over callous. Choose laughter over labelling. Choose humble over horrible. Choose thinking over thumping. Choose listening over lording it. Choose mercy over mocking. Choose grinning over growling. You’re an addict so be addicted. To Life. And its Author.
Micah 6 v 8, Revelation 1 v 8

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The King of All Kindness
He draws us out, softens our brittle places, inspires our courage, lights up our eyes, quickens our spirits, steels our resolve, warms our hearts, opens our ears, refuses to give up on us. Like no one else. This hero, this king, this lover, this leader, this servant, this foot-washer, this crud-remover, this truth-teller, this hopeful man, this kind warrior, sitting in the dirt with us, chatting in the gutters, strolling in the low places. This giving God, this extraordinary friend.
Song of Songs 5 vv 9-10, John 13 vv 3-4

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The King of Conversation
The storyteller stands on the hillside, animated, alive as he speaks. He wants to know what they think, tells his tales and then hopes for a relationship. Two sons, a father needing help. One agrees the other sneers. But which one actually helps? A twist in the tale. It’s Mr Sneer! What do you think? What’s he saying? He waits, listens…
Matthew 21 vv 28-31

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Good, Good Stranger
‘Your behaviour is appalling,’ he says. She nods, knowing that he’s right. ‘I can’t believe you think that it’s all right,’ he says. She nods again. He shakes his head and walks away, knowing he’s done the right thing… and unable to see that his behaviour is what he should be worrying about. She turns and bumps into a stranger, who looks straight at her, ‘I don’t condemn you,’ he says, ‘Iift up your head, begin again.’
Luke 18 vv 9-14, John 8 vv 1-11

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Battle
The battles rage on, in the diverse lands of our being. The pockets of resistance, the mountains and molehills, the potholes and precipices, the ambushes and minefields. The triumphs and trials, the fight backs and the fails. And though the news travels far and wide that the war is won, still we find ourselves fighting on.
Romans 7 vv 14-25

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Road Less Travelled?
There’s a narrow road that weaves an unusual way between the harsh places of rigidity and rules, and the quagmire of ‘whatever’ – a kind, colourful road, fraught with forgiveness, love and understanding. Muddlers and bumblers most welcome. The clumsy, the awkward, the mistake makers, the not-good-enough, the rebels, the strugglers, the stragglers, the stressed, the uncertain, sad and doubtful, the forgotten and unsuccessful, all so very welcome.
Matthew 9 v 10-13, Matthew 7 v 13-14

The Real McCoy
Like a hose spraying sludge from mud encrusted boots, like a hoover sucking up the grimmest of cobwebbed dust, like a dazzling torch or the dimmest flame scattering the threat of life-sucking gloom… Love drives out fear and sends it running for cover, sprinkles hope where there was none. Strength for another step. Time after time, night after night, moment after moment.  Purpose amidst the storms.
Isaiah 26 v 3, 1 John 4 v 18

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Wood and the Trees…
The park was a mess so the kids piled in to clean up the rubbish and plant things. In the following months they watched with anticipation as the shoots broke free of the rich dark earth. However, as time went by it became clear that weeds were emerging alongside the flowers. That’s all some of the local folks could see, weeds… weeds… weeds. And complaints were never far from their lips. But others saw new life, and set their sights on the bright, beautiful flowers.
Matthew 13 vv 24-30

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Looking in the Mirror
‘Your behaviour is appalling,’ he says.
She nods, knowing that he’s right. ‘I can’t believe you think that it’s all right,’ he says. She nods again. He shakes his head and walks away, knowing he’s done the right thing… and unable to see that his behaviour is what he should be worrying about.
Luke 18 vv 9-14, Luke 6 vv 41-42

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
A Superhero of Another Kind
Superman has his flying cape and tights, Wonder Woman her superhuman speed and strength; Spiderman has his web-spinning suit, Elastigirl her stretchy limbs, Batman his mansion and his gadgets. But the son of man? He’s nothing like that. He packs a whole other punch, bringing humility, vulnerability, kindness and courage. His power will be wreathed in weakness. His life exploding from death.
Luke 9 vv 57-58

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Life’s What Happens While I’m Making Plans
I race through the desert making my plans. So much to do so much to get right. And one by one the bushes I pass explode into life, flaming with the God of I Am, the Lord of the present moment. But as I rush by, my head in the future, I sense something going on, but know I am way too busy to stop.
Exodus 3 v 14, Psalm 46 v 10

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Room With a View
Once there was an entire world, contained in a single room. It was an extraordinary place filled with all kinds of things. But the room was only a beginning, a footstep on the way to another place – a huge garden surrounding the room. There was a window in the room, and some looked and only saw reflections of themselves in the room, others looked and caught glimpses of a whole other world. Another way of life.
1 Corinthians 13 v 12

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The Furthest Journey
A man had two daughters, they both left home for the city. The older partied like crazy, relieved at having thrown off the shackles of home. The other worked like mad, wishing to prove herself in the world. Both got burnt out. So the man’s son came looking for them, he searched high and low, and when he found them, ill and broke, he paid off their debts and even though they were a long way from home, carried them gently back.
Luke 15 vv 1-32

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
The New Clothes
A man stands in the shadows, his clothes foul and lice ridden. He dare not step out where others can see him, he is embarrassed, ashamed, lost. And then a strange thing, his filthy outfit is taken from him, and brand new clean clothes are given to him in return. And his sense of shame is taken too, and he smiles in wonder as forgiveness washes over and through him.
Zechariah 3 vv 1-5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Keep Climbing
She walks away, giving up. She’s tried and tried and tried and tried and tried. Then a little voice nudges her inside, and a stranger passes her and gives her a nod and a smile. She stops. Reassesses. Returns to the judge’s overpowering front door and knocks again. And knocks again and knocks again and knocks again and knocks again…
Luke 18 vv 1-5

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
Heaven Opened
There’s a new ladder in town. Not one made of wood, but flesh and blood, skin and bone. A kind of portal to another world. Not a quick fix that magic’s folk away from the problems, laughter and perils of this life. A kind of reconnection, a fixing of an ancient fracture. A way back to the Source. Available, not to the privileged or powerful, clever or crafty. But to all. Freely. A ladder calling himself the son of man, a man of sorrows, the beginning and end.
John 1 vv 42-51

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
You Can Lead a Horse to Tea…
A tea shop discovered the recipe for an ancient life-enhancing drink, which they promptly brewed and put on their menu. Free for the first month. Some folks didn’t even notice it, in spite of the posters. Some took offence at having it pushed at them. Some ignored it because it was old and therefore outdated. Some tried it. Once. But others tried it and found it helpful. Of these some talked of switching permanently, but never got around to it. Others did.
Matthew 13 vv 1-9

50 Tales For Reading Between the Lines
I Am Now…
It’s quiet here, too quiet. Empty. Some might say desolate. Everything, for a moment anyway, has fallen away. And as they look around, there is a presence, beyond what they can see or touch, another view. Are they aware of this presence, because, at long last, they are present too? Not hurrying on. Not making plans. Suddenly aware of Life with a capital.
Hosea 2 v 14

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