Parable of The Bramble

If Jesus lived around my garden, he wouldn’t have preached about fig trees and mustard seeds.  Oh no. He’d have been plotting parables about brambles and nettles.

The possibilities are endless and not all negative although I was feeling pretty unkind to brambles and nettles today as I worked my way along the back fence.  I don’t like them at the best of times.  Regular readers will know I have fallen off my bike into a lovely mixed patch of them earlier in the summer.

So I could fairly easily envisage 
“Beware your adversary the bramble.  Just when you think you’ve beaten it, it tears your skin.”
“Sin is like a patch of nettles, we are the butterflies attracted to it.  Go and look for a buddleia instead.”

But how about “The Kingdom of God is like a bramble patch”?  Fanciful maybe.  But brambles produce beautiful white flowers.  The blackberries they bear are tasty to eat and easy to cook.  Brambles grow fast, they grow in unlikely places.  And they grow in spite of human intervention, rather then because of it.  (There’s nothing growing in my garden that requires any expert tender loving care at all.  That stuff all died the first year we were here.)  As images go, it could be worse. 

It has additional merit of being counter intuitive.  It struck me that “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed” must have been shocking to those who knew their way round the Temple in Jerusalem.  So big, magnificent, solid, secure.  Not like a tiny seed which could be blown away.  Gardeners in the churches I serve would, I think, be mildly affronted by the Bramble analogy.  It offends the sense of beauty and order offered by a well tended garden.  I quite like the idea that the Kingdom of God is like a bramble patch.  It isn’t going to make me love brambles though.  


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9 responses to “Parable of The Bramble

  1. The point about brambles is that they simply cannot be eradicated. You can pull them up, poison them, try to control them – but they are always there. I think Our Lord might have liked that analogy of the Kingdom.

  2. Love this parable and I suspect it will stay with me throughout the days ahead – thanks, Claire! I also get Ray's point as of course we can't be logical about parables – Jesus' ones never make sense if followed to their logical conclusion, but that's part of the intuitive joy of them :))

  3. you can now get prickleless brambles. But perhaps we as Christians need to be a bit prickly, in the sense of pricking consciences. Paul talks of his thorn in his side… And 'handling with care' would also tie in nicely psychologically. All analogies just need imagination. I like 'the Kingdom of God is like brambles'; but then I think a modern communion could be tea and biscuits, or beer and crisps. Much more 'culturally relevant' than wine.

  4. Many thanks, the impossibility of getting rid of brambles fits well with the parable – bodes less well for my garden and bodily comfort though!

  5. It's was quite fun to imagine what Jesus might have preached if he'd been born in England at the same time as me. (Not meant to be anti Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Cornish or Yorkshire, or indeed any other part of the world, just where I happen to be!)

  6. I wonder how tackling the Brambles wearing gloves (Clothing with the Spirit?) fits into your parable?

    Because avoiding the brambles and nasty scratches seems a good analogy for avoiding the devil and all of his works.

    I'm trying not to imagine 'Del Boy' reading your parable at Granddad's funeral. #onlyfoolsandhorses

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