Year C Proper 6: stories

This Sunday, I will most likely preach not from the pulpit but from the steps, sitting on the floor, in the middle of our Sunday School’s end-of-year celebration. With that change of perspective comes the realization that I can’t say everything I think about this week’s scripture stories, and the news.

But there are ways of telling stories which find their way between the cracks, between generations, and genders, and things like that; we will see how I am able to navigate that path.

This story is not necessarily true. For example, we are not given the name of the woman in Simon’s house in the storytelling of Luke; but I think everyone deserves a name, so I’m going to call her Sarah.

We don’t know, either, how she ended up in Simon’s dining room, as though she belonged there, when he apparently thought so poorly of her.

So I’m thinking that maybe the story goes that Simon and Sarah grew up around one another. They were children together. In another time, they would have gone to the same school, where Sarah was shy, and wore clothes that were too small for her. Her homework was written on ratty pages torn from a notebook, and in pencil instead of pen. She never brought cupcakes to share with the class on her birthday. Sometimes, her long hair was greasy. Sometimes, people made fun of her for these things, and she cried. Then they called her a crybaby. They began to tell stories about her, and her hair, and her crying, and how she was always hungry, and what she would do for a sandwich.

Simon was always well turned out, and always brought cupcakes for the whole class on his birthday and any other special occasion he could think up. No one had ever seen Simon cry.

Simon and his friends, strangely enough, liked having Sarah around. When they were feeling magnanimous, they enjoyed feeling generous in including the less fortunate. When they were feeling mean, they liked to have someone they could be mean to without worrying. When they were feeling miserable, it helped them to consider how much more successful and popular and important they were than poor Sarah. In other words, they told stories about Sarah so that the stories they told about themselves sounded better.

So when Sarah came to Simon’s house that evening, it wasn’t unusual for her to be around at one of his large dinner parties. And everyone wanted to be there to get a look at this famous Jesus character.

Simon smirked, and his friends whispered and laughed behind their hands, making themselves feel big and important entertaining Jesus while Sarah sat at his feet. She knew what they were saying about her, and again, she cried.

But Jesus did not think that Sarah’s place was to be the butt of Simon’s jokes, or his friends’ stories. He was not impressed by their snickering. So Jesus gave Sarah her own story to tell.

He gave Sarah a story in which her tears were not pathetic but precious, and the scent of her grandmother’s perfumed lotion not old-fashioned but unusual, and her long hair beautiful, just because it was hers. He gave her a story in which her life was just as interesting and as important as Simon’s and his friends’; he told her a story in which Jesus loved her.

And that story – the one in which Jesus loved her – that was a true story.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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