From my earliest remembrances, my life began taking shape around stories. I remember the stories played from the 45rpm records at bedtime in the room I shared with my sister and brother, stirring my imagination in the moments before sleep. I remember the Bible stories told in Sunday School with the aid of a flannel board and the stories we read in our school’s elementary readers. I can still picture the covers of story anthologies titled Singing Wheels, Down the River Road, Day in and Day Out, Engine Whistles, Through the Green Gate. Then, of course, there was the recreational reading about the Hardy Boys, books by Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson, or later the science fiction paperbacks that friends traded around like baseball cards. At family gatherings, a too rare but favorite moment was when grandpa, aunts and great-aunts, occasionally even mom and dad told stories about our family and their fond remembrances of relatives and events in Norway or of growing up.
Stories open up for us a world of imagination, knowledge, perspective and relationship. Stories invite us in and sometimes become a part of us, become a part of informing us, entertaining us, and shaping us. And the older I get, the more I am aware of the story that is us. The story that is uniquely me and the stories unique to others I meet. One of the most amazing, blessed and privileged things I get to do as pastor is hear people tell me their stories. Hearing couples about to be married telling how their two stories are becoming one; hearing families dealing with death reminisce with me about the one they have lost and loved; hearing people at a crossroads in life sharing how they got there and the choices they see ahead of them; hearing young people tell me of their passions, questions and insights.
Throughout this worship year, in a variety of ways, we are focusing in on the theme “God’s Story Written on the World.” It is an amazing, compelling, life-affirming and life-changing story written on the events in people’s lives, the pages of Scripture, illustrated on the canvas of creation and through images like the Cross and empty tomb. For us, the heart and soul of it is the story of Jesus. We love to tell that story and we love to learn it and learn from it. We love it when people share their stories of faith and life events and invite us in to the miracle that is unfolding in and around them.
So, here are the seasonal themes: Fall: We Love to Tell the Story, Advent and Christmas: Once Upon a Manger, Epiphany: Seeing Jesus in a World of Black and White (book study on Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White by Adam Hamilton, the author of our book study last January Half Truths), Lent: Life Is Not A Fairy Tale ,Easter: Turning the Page, and Summer: The Story that Is You.
Expect to hear the stories of Scripture and faith. Expect to hear about our Lutheran story and our Mount Calvary story. Expect opportunities to share your story or hear someone tell theirs. Expect that the story God has written and is writing on the world will guide and inspire you. And know that it matters deeply that you know and share the story God is writing on, with and through you. It’s why we’re here!