Sermon preached at the Sermon on the Steps: St Paul’s Cathedral during Occupy 2011

God’s Fabulous Farmyard


A Parable for Children




Insight into the Parable



How does one explain the message of the Occupy movement to children? Perhaps the children know the difference between right and wrong better than adults, but this parable tells the story – old as humanity itself – of what constitutes right thinking, right living, right effort and right concentration (to paraphrase the Buddha).


The characters in the parable are self explanatory; the donkeys represent the rulers, the doggies represent the police, the piggies are moneylenders, and the mice are the ‘ordinary’ people of the world. The snake is interesting: his name is “Archie” from the Greek Archontes – the hierarchy that governs the domination system. The domination system (cf. Walter Wink) pretends to be good, but is maintained through violence. It cannot abide the truth lest it be exposed as unjust. When the mice operate through faith, hope and love, when they sing songs of freedom without fear, favour or violence, the system is exposed and changed. The system and its representatives (donkeys, pigs and dogs) are redeemed by grace. Love leads to a deconstructing of the old system with its oppressive structures, and to the reconstructing of a more just system based upon truly humane values. It is imperative that non-violent resistance does not become violent, for violence is never NEVER compatible the nature of God (Cf. Luther King/Gandhi) or the higher reaches of the unfolding universe (cf. Ken Wilber).



I think it is important that the toys used in the story are given away to the children after the story. This act turns the usual practice of the church collection on its head. This act symbolises the fact that the true basis of any truly humane economy is generous self-sacrifice, not acquisition.




Hello Children! This is the story of God’s Fabulous Farmyard. I brought some friends with me to help tell the story


2x donkeys called Tina and Davey (any contextually relevant politician)


2x doggies called Bernie and Boris (in this case the head of the Metro police and the mayor)


2x piggies called Lloyd and Barklay (any bank)


1x snake called Archie


and lots of little mice (with names from all over the world e.g. Francesca, Ananda, Mustapha, Bongani etc.)



Once upon a time, God created a fabulous Farmyard with lots of food for all the little animals. The animals loved to live and play together on the Farm. They felt deeply loved and cared for by God.



One day, God called everyone together into a big meeting.


“Gather round, gather round,” said God. “I am going away for a while, and I am leaving you to look after the Farmyard on your own.”


“Why are you going away?” squeaked Francesca, a little grey mouse. “Don’t you love us anymore?”


God looked at her with a smile. “It is because I love you so much that I must go. It’s time for you to grow up and learn how to take care of yourselves, each other and the Farmyard.”


“Will we ever see you again?” asked Bongani, a little black mouse.


“I will be closer to you than your very next breath. And when you learn to do 3 things, you will see me again:



1)   love one another deeply


2)   do not be afraid


3)   celebrate and sing songs of liberation (get kids to repeat 1,2&3)



Many years passed and the animals elected donkeys as leaders, Tina and Davey. They elected the doggies to guard them at night, Bernie and Boris (woof! I like bicycles!)



But the piggies began to love food more than they loved God. They wanted more and more and more. So they put together a sneaky plan, and spoke to the donkeys.


“Oh No! We have terrible news! The Farmyard is going to run out of food! You have to do something!”


“What? That’s awful! What are we going to do?” said the donkeys with dismay.


“We have a plan,” said the piggies. “Let us pigs build bigger barns for ourselves. Get the other animals to put their food into our barns, and we will make sure everyone gets enough.”


“That’s a good idea,’ said Tina. “There is No Alternative.”



Very soon, the pigs were getting fatter and fatter, and all the other animals were getting thinner and thinner. But the mice were not happy. No one took much notice of them because they were so small.



So the mice got together and remembered what God had told them. Do you remember?


1)   Love one another deeply


2)   Do not be afraid


3)   Celebrate and sing songs of liberation




They made every effort to LOVE the doggies and the donkeys and the piggies (give hugs). And they began to celebrate and sing songs of liberation. The piggies were very frightened by all of this happiness. They tried to get the doggies to bark at the mice, but the doggies were too busy enjoying being tickled by mouse whiskers. The pigs told Archie the snake to eat up all the mice, but the mice were unafraid and sang even louder. Those liberation songs made the snake’s eyes go all funny and all that love made his long body all wobbly.



Eventually even the piggies were joining in the songs. They were tired of being afraid also wanted to be loved. So they threw open the barn doors and that very night invited everyone to a great big party.



And in the flicker of the firelight, God gently appeared with a beaming smile and said, “I no longer call you children, I call you friends, for you have learned the most important lessons of the Farmyard.



What are they?


1)   Love one another deeply


2)   Do not be afraid


3)   Celebrate and sing songs of liberation”




And everyone lived happily ever after.