THE POWER OF STORY

Exclusive to this online edition

by Sylvia Maddox

When we think of family and friends, one of the first memories that come to mind are sharing stories around a table.  We smile remembering a grandmother telling the same story over and over, but also seeing the power of that story in her memory.   Some of the stories shared are ones that make us laugh, but there are other stories that make us cry and long to forget.   As children, the family stories become places of belonging and also longing.  They give an imprint of who we are and how we look at the world around us. As adults, we may have different perspectives of the stories, but there is no denial in how they have formed who we are.

If we look at our faith communities throughout all generations as family, then we begin to realize that we have an even wider circle of belonging.  We share the reality of human stories transformed by God’s Story.  Stories of exile and homecomings, receiving a vision of light and life.  To share our family biblical story is what we do every Sunday when we gather for worship. John Shea described this experience of the church in this way.  He says we,
“ Gather the People — Tell the Story — Break the Bread.”

Anglican hymn writer, nurse, and missionary Katherine Hankey would add to his words with a line from one of her hymns, “I love to tell the story, for those who know it best, are hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.”

Recently I took a group of college students into a chapel where all the different parts of the story of Jesus’ life were shown in the stained glass windows. From the Annunciation to the Ascension, one felt the personal life of Christ.  After pausing at each window, I asked them to return to the window of Jesus’ story that expressed their own personal story at this time of their life.   They later shared that they had never realized the intersection of their own story with the divine Story of God.

This is the reason we come to love the stories of our faith.  Our biblical family stories acknowledge all parts of our humanity, and yet give us a glimpse into the mystery of God’s love and how to live God’s love story in our own story.

Lyrics to “I Love to Tell the Story”

I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above
Of Jesus and his glory
Of Jesus and his love

I love to tell the story
Because I know ’tis true
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do

I love to tell the story
‘Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and his love

I love to tell the story
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest

And when in scenes of glory
I sing the new, new song
‘Twill be the old, old story
That I have loved so long

_____________________________________________

Sylvia Maddox is a
writer and educator.
She is a member of
Church of Reconciliation,
San Antonio TX.
Reach her at
sylmaddox@aol.com.

Return to Contents for the  Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Reflections magazine.

 

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From The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

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