Tuesday, April 25, 2017
A cursory reading of the Old Testament will easily lead you to believe the faith life is all about precepts, rules, laws and commandments. Perhaps even about winning by force and violence, about keeping the enemy at bay. A cursory reading of Jesus’ teaching is that the faith life is all about telling stories! Stories of love, compassion, the underdog, forgiveness, the lowly, and inclusivity. About forgiving the enemy. The contrast between the two is staggering! What both do have in common is this: The greatest of all commandments is to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbour as yourself. But what I want to focus on today is story-telling. How more passive, warm hearted and loving could you be than telling stories? How amazing that Jesus should convey who God is by telling stories. Anyone can listen to a story, from the youngest to the oldest, and anyone can respond to God’s love though a story. All you have to do is listen. Listen to God and know God though the telling of stories. This God is easy to fall in love with. You don’t fall in love with rules and laws; you fall in love with a storyteller! However telling stories goes further than listening to stories about God. Each and every one of us also has a story to tell. And here’s the nub, your story matters more than the precepts, rules, laws and commandments you have failed to keep. Really? Yes, really, your story matters more than your moral failure. Read the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, or the rejected outcast enemy of the Jews woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well. How about the failed prodigal, the Good Samaritan, the invitation to the feast of the kingdom to all those ‘out there’ somewhere. Their stories mattered to Jesus far more than their moral failure, or religious standing. God and human beings intersect at stories – real stories, painful stories, sad stories; and happy stories – stories. Whatever you do, tell your story. Tell it to God, tell it to others, tell it, as it is, warts and all, just please tell your story. Don’t change it, don’t embellish it, don’t leave parts of it out to please or impress others, just tell your story as it is. People often ask me why I am totally, without reservation, inclusive of lesbian and gay people in my life, and in God’s family? Many years ago a young man in my congregation died by suicide. No one in his family knew why, till eventually it came out he was gay; unbeknown to his family having lived with his partner for a few years, until the pressure of a living a lie got too much and he ended his life. His story changed my heart. That’s what stories do. That’s who God is. God stories in the scriptures are far more persuasive and inclusive than any laws and rules. Isn’t that why Jesus said everything is summed up, both old and new, in the two commandments. It really is all about love. Stories tell us this.