Beginning next Monday, I get to do a job I look forward to each summer; I am the official Vacation Bible School “storyteller.” There is a Biblical story for each day around which everything else revolves – lessons, crafts, snacks and sometimes even recreation. My job is figuring out how to tell these Biblical stories in ways that will connect with kids anywhere from 3 years to about 11 years old.
Knowing the stories of our faith is one of the primary ways we know who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is where we find our identity, purpose, and mission. It is a reminder that just as God has been active in the past God continues to act in the present. The more we learn about how God has acted in the Biblical story, the more likely we are to recognize when God is acting now.
The other night, our Elders met for their annual dinner. One of the activities of the evening was an assignment from our Christian Education ministry. They requested the elders list stories from the Old and New Testaments which we felt were pivotal in nurturing our children and youth in faith.
As I mulled over the assignment and began to list specific stories – I realized quickly how difficult it is to cherry pick the “best” ones. I could make a case for almost any of them – even those that often don’t find their way into typical Sunday school curriculum.
Although I finished my list like everyone else, as I thought about it later, I realized one of the weaknesses of the way we often teach the stories of scripture: we pluck them out of context and turn them into morality tales instead of helping young people (and adults, too!) understand how these stories fit into the bigger story. Indeed, it is the bigger story – the story of God’s relationship to creation and humankind and God’s revelation of himself, most fully through Jesus Christ, that is the story into which all the others connect. As I have said many times, if you read a text in scripture that seems at odds with the bigger story of God’s reconciling love, then go back and read it again. Chances are you are only getting a part of the story.
I enjoy helping people understand the arc of God’s love and grace as it is revealed in the Bible – from the incredible beginning to the apocalyptic, but ultimately beautiful ending. Even more importantly, there is nothing I love more than helping people understand how their stories connect with the unending story of God’s love. After all, it turns out we are not so unlike Abraham or Sarah or Moses or Deborah or David or Mary. They were ordinary people through whom God did extraordinary things.
Come join us in worship this Sunday as we continue to see how God’s story unfolds in your life and in the life of our
church. It truly is “the greatest story ever told.”