And in those days, there was a shopping mall where Jesus and His disciples paused to address the multitudes.
Jesus spokes in parables, so that even the lowliest shopper would understand.
"The Kingdom of God," He said, "is like a shopping cart full of purchases that is let free on a sloping parking lot and dents the door of a BMW."
His disciples widened their eyes and nudged one another with their elbows, not understanding.
Jesus, sensing their thoughts, explained thusly: "The shopping cart is your faith -- rolling on shaky wheels. Its contents are your foolish ideas about hedging your faith with works. Overburdened with those ideas, the cart can only do damage to whatever it encounters, even those who are rich in faith."
"The Kingdom of God," He went on, "is like an after-Thanksgiving sale."
Again the disciples were mystified, so Jesus continued: "You find out about the sale at the last minute, get up early and stand in a long line only to be told when you reach the door that the last sale item is gone. And there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth."
"Teacher ... " began one disciple.
"Not now, I'm on a roll," Jesus replied.
"The Kingdom of man is like the waterfall in the middle of a large shopping mall."
Not waiting for the rolling eyes of His disciples this time, Jesus continued: "A waterfall SHOULD be the free outpouring of obedient service to God. But THIS waterfall is false. It is chlorinated, blue-tinted water recycled with electric pumps to give the APPEARANCE of an outflow when, in fact, it feeds only itself."
Jesus took a long drink from a styrofoam cup and straightened His shoulders to launch another parable. Only then, too late, did the disciples realize the cup was full of Mountain Dew.
"Behold, a merchant went out to advertise. He dropped some sales flyers by the road and others were taken by the wind and still others fell in the hands of wealthy shoppers. But an enemy put sales fliers from a competing store among them and it was a store selling leaven and lamps. So many virgins, hoping to build dowries, flocked to the second store. Some came in the morning and some in the afternoon and some in the evening, but the store owner gave each the same silver pattern. The silver they gladly sold in exchange for the gift certificate of great value they found hidden at the mall.
"The first merchant was displeased that no one came to his store and opened the doors to everyone, even those who were searching for lost sheep and coins. But when one shopper refused to put on the free T-shirt she acquired at the door, she was thrown out into the alley behind the store."
The disciples gently took Christ aside and explained the effects of too much caffeine to a jittery Jesus.
He nodded wisely, as if to say that, once again, they had underestimated Him.
"If anyone has ears to hear," He said, "let him hear."
Al Boyce is a former writer and reporter for The Associated Press. He lives in Raleigh, NC, where he now writes for God.