These past few weeks I’ve been looking at the idea of stories, specifically, the Power of a Story. In Part 1, I discussed how stories, in general, are important and powerful. Part 2 (last week), moved from the general to a specific story, the story of God found in the Bible. We can see God’s story in the written records of the people of God as they grapple with their experiences with their God.
There are different theological traditions when it comes to tracing the narrative and interpreting the specific meaning of God’s story. However, it is common throughout the different Christian traditions to see God’s story as a story of God’s love. This narrative continues beyond the text of the Bible to our lives today. My life and your life, my story and your story, are a part of God’s continuing story.
The Bible is a collection of stories, of the experiences of many people across time and place. Similarly, each of our lives is a series of experiences in different times and places. Throughout, there can be different casts of characters in my narrative, but the main character is always the same: me. My life is my story.
So, to know my stories—to know my story—is to know me. How can you get to know me? You can listen to the stories I tell. Even more so, you can share in my stories, become a character in my narrative. We tend to spend the most time (and be the most open) with our families and friends. They are common characters in our stories, and not only do they share our stories, but they can also get to know what my experiences mean to me. They can learn the themes and meanings I see in my life.
My Story, God’s Story
As Christians, we confess that, whether I know it or not, God is a part of my story. When we have a central, trusting relationship with God (i.e. faith), then we are conscious of this fact. And, just as we become part of their stories when others are a part of our own, we become a part of God’s story. When we start telling our story within the greater story of God, the major themes of God’s story become major themes in ours. Themes like:
- God’s immeasurable love for me, my neighbor, and the entire world.
- God’ call and expectation that we love our neighbors, our world, and ourselves, and the forgiveness God offers to us when we fail.
- The promise that God is transforming this world into God’s kingdom through our work, empowered by the Holy Spirit and trusting that God will establish the kingdom and perfectly fulfill this promise in the end.
Clearly, just as I have a story, so do you. Just as God is a part of my story, God is also a part of your story. While we might be a part of the same story, we have different experiences from different points of view, and therefore, our individual stories are different. So, when I truly listen to the stories you share, I am getting to know you, and I am learning from your experiences.
In terms of sharing God’s story with you, I am not bringing God into the story of your life, I am merely pointing out the God who is already a part of your story. I am sharing my story (stories) about my experiences with God.
When we share experiences with others, with our family, friends, or other groups, then we are not only adding to our personal stories, but we are creating a story of that particular “us.” It is the stories that we share with others that bind us together. Here “share” includes three different meanings: what we tell others, what we experience together, and the common narrative we claim as our own. In a local congregation, our community is formed, and based upon, the story of God that we claim together. However, this is not enough to be a healthy, life-giving community. We must also tell each other our stories and (most importantly) listen to the stories of others. Finally, we must share experiences together, writing a story of “us.” Critical to all of this is the stories we share (in all three meanings) across generational lines.
So, our work is to:
- Learn and tell the stories of Scripture and therefore the story of God.
- Tell our stories and listen to the stories of others.
- Experience things together, building on the story of us.
The Story Lectionary
The Narrative Lectionary is designed to teach people the overarching story of God by teaching and sharing many of the important stories in Scripture. In our Living the Word series, we produce faith formation resources that follow the Narrative Lectionary. We have a total of nine different products that cover all ages:
- Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd) – For lower elementary students.
- Living the Word: Kids (3rd-6th) – For upper elementary students.
- Living the Word: Singing God’s Story (PK-6th) – Original children’s music following the Narrative Lectionary.
- Living the Word: Youth – For confirmation or youth groups.
- Living the Word: Small Groups – For small group discussions.
- Living the Word: Contexts & Connections – Bible background notes for faith formation leaders.
- Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship – For creating interactive, intergenerational worship experiences.
- Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education – For leading interactive, intergenerational learning experiences in a classroom setting.
- Living the Word: Sharing God’s Story @ Home – Bulletin insert bringing faith formation home with a weekly devotional tool.
God’s blessings on you as you are preparing for the new program year!
Gregory Rawn, Publisher
High-quality tools make faith formation easier! Check out our resources for all ages on the Narrative Lectionary, as well as elementary-age worship education, cross+generational confirmation, and even special orders.