I think most people like a good story -whether it’s a novel, a movie, or even just your average sitcom television show. When we here a good story we talk about it with others, we watch it again and again. The story begins to move from something seperate from us, to being a part of our own story. The stories that mean the most to us are the very stories that speak to our life and that we can relate too. There’s also a sense that we choose the stories that narrate our lives. Do we hold onto a story of tragedy or hope, despair or joy, hate or love. There are so many competing stories that we can use as a narrative for our own life. Who we are, where we live, what our income is, and how we are raised are just some of the factors that shape the story we see ourselves as being a part of.
Whether it be social media, the drive for success, wealth, sorrow and suffering, oppression (either oppressed by or oppressing), power or something else – we will find a larger story to enter in and use to help us define our view of the world and how we perceive others and ourselves.
So we may as well be intentional in choosing the story we use as a narrative for our lives. For me that narrative is experienced through the church year and scripture. I don’t look and scripture and say ‘tell me what to do’, instead I look and say ‘tell me a story’… and through scripture we see the struggles and joys of being people in a world that is sinful and broken, a world in which God is at work. Some will say there is no God, yet their ‘gods’ – the focus of their stories – have proven to be more fleeting and less real than the God that I believe in. When your story focusses on wealth, what is left when the world ecomony tanks? What about success – what happens with your success when a health crisis occurs? What about your independence when you are left alone? So I say tell me a story… not the story of other men and women trying to be everything on their own, but tell me a story that is bigger than me. Tell me a story that is bigger than us. Tell me the story about God.
As I’ve journeyed in life it is the story of God in the Bible that has proven to be more real, more true, and more relevant than any of the stories our culture wish I would subscribe too. it’s a story which acknowledges pain and suffering, heartache and sorrow. It’s a story which realizes injustice and evil are a present part of the world. It’s a story that recognizes we’re better together in community. We’re better together when our life is grounded not in money, power, success but in hope, faith, and love… especially love. It is that story which provides the promise of a solution. A promise that is born out of love, and endures in the grace of Christ. It is a story that recognizes love shows it’s deepest richness in sacrifice, and from that sacrifice comes an unimaginable newness of life.
Tell me the story and there I will find hope. It’s fitting that on the first Sunday of advent – the start of the church calendar that we begin with hope. Not only is advent the start of the church year – it’s when we begin to retell the story again. A story of people waiting for God to work. A story of people filled with expectation for God’s promises to be fulfilled. A story where Hope comes not as a concept but as a person – Immanuel – which means ‘God With Us’. Tell me the story of scripture – and you’ll know the story of my life – the story of my life intertwined with the God who is in our midst. That is a story of Hope.