To be human is to be a storyteller.
For centuries we have been passing on our stories, our narratives, our experiences. It is how we learn, develop, and form our identity. We teach our children our history. We pass along our values. We remember to learn from our collective past mistakes. Stories shape how we live and love.
Once upon a time…
There once was a man…
A long time ago...
In the beginning...
The opening of a narrative sets the scene, introduces the themes, and clues us into what will happen. The beginning makes a promise for what is to come. Hope, love, success, victory. The beginning draws you in, makes you wonder what is to come.
The story unfolds and develops. The plot line thickens and the characters make decisions. Tension and mystery are created. Will the promise come true? Will goodness prevail? Will the tension be resolved? You are captivated with mystery.
The power of story is to cut past our thoughts, our mental blocks, that prevent us from leaning in. Stories move in deep, touching us at our hearts and souls. A narrative, not a listing of facts or definitions, is what moves us and our emotions.
Change in our mindsets rarely comes through plain information and debate. Experience and story shapes our decisions. I can know that colon cancer is dangerous and I should watch what I eat. But experiencing the pain and despair that came from watching my own father lose his life to colon cancer, that will forever linger and motivate.
It is primarily through stories that God, in great divine wisdom, engages us. The scripture is the unfolding narrative of who God is and what God is like. The scriptures are primarily narratives, not essays. The Bible is full of stories, not dissertations or explanations. It is through story that we learn, grow, and understand. Stories shape our soul.
Through this sermon series, we have read some of our sacred stories. Stories from our scripture of faith, loss, hope, and providence. All these stories are pointing us to Jesus, the coming hero, the better example, the promised savior.
Jesus...God who stepped into humanity. The creator of the universe arrives on the scene. He lives and loves, he helps and heals. The blind see, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news. Jesus lived in such a way that the powers tried to stop his revolution of love by crucifying him on a cross. But death could not hold him; the grave could not keep him. Jesus conquering all darkness, all depravity, all despair, but defeating death once and for all. And in his resurrection we have life. This is the greatest story ever told! This is the story that changed the world.
You have a story to tell. A story of hope, peace, love, and struggle. A story is being reshaped and remade by Jesus. A story the world desperately needs to hear. Go tell your story, it just might be exactly what someone needs to hear. Go in the same spirit of the countless storytellers that have gone before you. Listen to the stories of your neighbors. It’s hard to hate people when you know their story. This is how we change the world.