The wonder of story-telling
It’s National Storytelling Week (January 27th – February 3rd) so what better time to shine a light on the greatest story of them all.
It’s said that everyone has a novel inside them waiting to be written. That’s a tall order – novels are hard to write. But stories are what we’re all made of. Layers upon layers of them, built up over time from the life adventures we’ve had.
Some of our stories are short, barely a page, and others could be serialised and fill a book-case. Some we keep hidden and others we share. Sharing is good and so is listening, making time for each other’s stories can be the best gift we give. Each story helps us to discover who we are but doesn’t necessarily define us. But as Christians, we look for our identity in the greatest story ever.
A simple story and a good read
At its heart, it’s a simple story – God loved us so much that He gave us His son, Jesus, who loved us with the same passion as His Father. But we rejected Him. He wept for us, He took on our pain and we killed Him. But because He loved us so much, with all our own stories, He suffered horribly but conquered death and showed us all that there are wonderful stories just waiting to be written if we accept Him for who He is and know how much we are loved.
It’s a story found in the Bible but lived out, every day, through acts of love, kindness and compassion to each other. Yet the Bible doesn’t seem like a simple story at all. It’s so big for a start, with a huge cast of characters with unpronounceable names, improbable life spans and outrageously dramatic plots – and that’s just the first hundred pages or so of the Old Testament!
Of course, the story of Jesus is found in the New Testament and all newcomers to this epic adventure are encouraged to ignore the traditional way of reading a book and start towards the end. In fact, it’s probably best to start with the book of John, given the opening words are, “In the beginning …” which is always helpful.
It’s great advice as it really helps to make sense of everything that comes before. But the Old Testament is also a rich tapestry of stories, interweaved not just with the promise of Jesus, but a map to show and tell us what would happen. In Isaiah, we read about Jesus’ birth – a child who was born to a virgin and called Immanuel, meaning God with us, and His death. Not just how He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, how He suffered and took on our sin so that we might find peace, but the specifics too – like being pierced in his side.
It really is a good read. It just takes a little time and is undoubtedly best done with prayer, asking the other star of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, to help out and explain some of the trickier bits.
Open the Book
A great example of doing it with prayer comes from the Open the Book initiative. When the team at St Kea started to do this at Kea School a good few years back, one elderly prayer-warrior in the congregation felt that she was too old to be part of the team. But she believed in the idea of sharing this great story with children so much that she asked to be driven to the school car park, while the team were inside, so that she could pray for them all.
As Bishop Chris says, “We all have different stories: some beautifully, wonderfully made and others sad, confused and frustrating, all of them unique to ourselves. Yet there isn’t one word, line or page that isn’t known to God. If you have a story that you think will help others with theirs, why not share it during National Storytelling Week?”