Author Topic: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable  (Read 467 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

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Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« on: April 05, 2018, 12:41:24 PM »
A PARABLE

Once upon a time there was a farmer who had a silage feeder.  All kinds of cattle would come to the feeder; happy little heifer calves; and big bad bulls alike .  The farmer only filled the feeder four times a year, but when he did, the cattle gathered around, little and big alike.  It didn’t take long until the feeder was empty; but it would stay empty until the right number of months had passed.

After some years the farmer noticed that the little heifers would scrounge around the feeder hungrily in between feedings, hopeful that a few grains remained.  So the farmer decided to fill the feeder at the beginning of every month.  The cattle herded around it, little and big alike.  The little heifers ate happily, but the big bad bulls began to stomp and snort and snort and stomp.  “We don’t need to be fed so often” they complained.   Since they were bigger--and thought that they were stronger--they felt they could fend for themselves between feedings.  So the big bad bulls didn’t feed quite as often as the little heifers; but it still didn’t take long until the feeder was empty.  The feeder would stay empty until the right number of weeks had passed.

The farmer noticed that still the little heifers would scrounge around the feeder hungrily in between feedings, hoping that a few grains remained.  So the farmer decided to fill the feeder twice each month.  The little heifers herded around and ate happily, but the big bad bulls stomped and snorted and snorted and stomped all the louder.“We don’t need to be fed so often” they complained, “and, what’s more, we don’t think that you need to be fed so often either”.  The little heifers were puzzled.  They were feeling better, and stronger, and healthier.  How could this feed be so bad for them?  And why were the big bad bulls becoming louder and more vicious?  They weren’t eating the feed that they snorted was bad any more frequently--in fact, some were eating less than before.  But the little heifers still fed well, and it didn’t take long until the feeder was empty.  The feeder would stay empty until exactly two  weeks had passed.

After some years the farmer noticed that the little heifers would scrounge around the feeder hungrily in between feedings, hopeful that a few grains remained.  So the farmer decided to fill the feeder at the beginning of every week.   The little heifers herded around and ate happily, but the big bad bulls were enraged and  stomped and snorted and snorted and stomped louder than ever before.“We don’t need to be fed so often” they complained, “and, what’s more, we don’t think that you need to be fed so often either.  What’s good enough for us should be good enough for you”.

The little heifers were afraid of the big bad bulls, but knew that the farmer would continue to provide for them.  But one day as the farmer was filling the feeder, the big bad bulls rushed at him and began butting their heads against him and jabbing their horns at him.  The little heifers watched, helplessly, and very confused.  They couldn’t understand what was going on.  The farmer had fed them well, and they were stronger and healthier than ever before.    Their feed was good.  The farmer was their friend, he was doing what was good for them.    Why were the big bad bulls so vicious? 

“We are content”  said one of the little heifers.  “We don’t have to fend for ourselves anymore between feedings.  Our needs are provided and we are healthier and happier than ever before.  We aren’t making the bulls eat the feed--nobody is forcing them.  Why do they want to take it away from us--and make us go hungry?    Maybe the bulls have been fending for themselves too much for too long.  Maybe they can’t accept being cared for by another.   Maybe that is why they are trying to be rid of the caregiving householder.  Maybe that’s what has made them big and bad”

“Maybe” said another, “they’ve stayed away from the manger too long”
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2018, 12:48:22 PM »
Today being Holy Thursday on the Orthodox calendar it seems fitting to share this parable which I wrote more than two decades ago, when the congregation I was serving was becoming resistant to setting aside the small handful of Sundays which did NOT include the Eucharist in order to begin weekly celebration.


« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 12:51:36 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

gan ainm

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2018, 01:00:20 PM »
Excellent! 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2018, 04:16:09 PM »
Perhaps also about preaching: preach to the little heifers. The bulls can bend down and still eat.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2018, 04:55:58 PM »
I am a long time out of Iowa, and never lived on a farm, but in the context of this parable, I am fairly certain that the word, “heifer,” is misused. They need not be “little,” and they are only female.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Interesting things on the new administration and religion in the 1/24 newspapers. Douthat column, e.g. Posted link here, but it was deleted.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2018, 05:07:12 PM »
So, the moral of the parable is that you’re not in favor of every week communion you're a mean old bull, shame on you.  If all else fails, shame them into agreeing, they deserve nothing better. 
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2018, 05:19:51 PM »
Dan, I did not really understand the Bull figures... all males, is that a point... and even the repetitive nature somewhat escaped me. 
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2018, 06:45:31 PM »
Dan, I did not really understand the Bull figures... all males, is that a point... and even the repetitive nature somewhat escaped me.


Could be worse. Could be steers - a particular type of male (who have no desire for heifers).
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2018, 09:54:04 PM »
I am a long time out of Iowa, and never lived on a farm, but in the context of this parable, I am fairly certain that the word, “heifer,” is misused. They need not be “little,” and they are only female.

Around the time I wrote the parable my then elementary-school aged son had developed an interest in dairy cattle.   We would help the farmer adjacent to the church with his evening feeding and milking almost every Friday evening.

After a couple of years we build a "calf hut" according to Penn State ag specs and had a "guest", two summers in a row.   She had to be fed twice a day and the pen mucked out every fortnight.   While definitely not a small as a household pet, a dairy heifer in the hut is certainly little when compared to one of breeding age.

(By the way, on that farm the bull was kept in the freezer)
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2018, 10:16:26 PM »
I just can’t resist.   Let’s cut the ... This is a pare-a-bull.  Back to the serious with hefty apologies.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Weekly Eucharist: A Parable
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2018, 10:24:03 PM »
I just can’t resist.   Let’s cut the ... This is a pare-a-bull.  Back to the serious with hefty apologies.

No apology needed....I just thought up a piggyback verse regarding the big, bad bulls:

"And on that farm the bull was froze, A.I.- A.I.- O."
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 10:31:00 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015