I Love to Tell the Story
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NRSV)
I am just recently back from a conference and retreat on the biblical story, types of biblical storytelling, and relating our own stories to those and with those in the Bible. I experienced some great storytelling and heard some of the stories of the Bible presented in new and different ways (for me anyway). And this seemed like a good time to remind folks of the direction we have taken over the past couple of years in presenting the Bible within our community. This program year (September through June) we are following a set of readings known as the Narrative Lectionary. This set of weekly readings is meant to present the overall story of God and humans from the Creation in Genesis, through the history of God's people Israel, through the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and then on into the early church - in the nine or ten months of Sunday worship. That is a lot to accomplish in a short time and not every story can fit in. So this Narrative Lectionary follows a four year cycle in which each year features some different aspects of the various Old Testament and early church stories. The four years also allows us to hear and reflect on a single telling of the gospel each year (this year's is Mark).
At my conference, we discussed how we reacted and reflected on the certain stories of our life/in our life in relation to some specific Bible stories that were shared. As most of us were pastors, we used topics around the notion of and stories of call to God's ministry. But we also worked extensively on one of the Jesus stories (The Ten Lepers, FYI). This all has got me thinking: "Are pastors/ministers the only people who, when they hear Bible stories, also recall aspects of their own story of life and faith?" I don't think I'm out on a limb to suggest that we are not unique among our fellow Christians in that way.
And so I come to the point of my writing to you today. Later this month, the words above and the story that goes with them will be a part of worship time together. These words of the Lord to the Israelites were meant to keep the story of God and God's people in the present-day lives of those people and their children down through the ages. I share them with you today to remind us all that we all have a story and that our faith and life of faith are important parts of that story. Perhaps you sometimes reflect on the Bible stories we share on Sundays; perhaps you are a Bible reader on your own and take time to reflect on parts of God's story. Perhaps being in this place and interacting within this faith community calls to mind parts of your own story with God, Jesus, salvation, blessing, God's people, and etc. Remember, my friends, take time to remember who you are and who you have been on your faith journey. Find a friend with whom you can share these reflections from time to time. Don't forget to reflect with God in your prayer time as well. And try always to be thankful to the Lord in whose story YOU are an important and valuable character.