Thursday 18 June 2015

Stories I need to hear

"Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear," says the old classic hymn.  I like that hymn.  It's a great message: tell me stories.

Jesus taught a lot with the stories he told, parables mostly, and the stories of Jesus' life teach us, too, as does the story of our own lives, when shared.  We live in story.

Yes, I like that old hymn, "Tell me the stories of Jesus."  It's just that next bit that makes me wonder, the "I love to hear" bit.  It makes me wonder: what about the stories I don't love to hear and don't want to hear, but might need to?  And what about the stories you might love to hear, but I have questions about?  And, equally, what about the stories I love that you don't or that you have questions about?

To me, those questions are all the more reason that we should share our stories and talk about them, respecting the unique interpretations that we might hold based on our own context, experience and wisdom.

Yes, I know that means entering the great quagmire that is difference of opinion and interpretation and fact and fiction and having to think about it and all that.  But if we are constantly seeking what is true in the story, if we listen and share with love and grace, then we will learn and grow and build relationships.  Just like Jesus' taught us we should.

This week's gospel story's in the hymn I mentioned.  It's the story from Mark about how the disciples were in a boat on the sea, with Jesus asleep in the back, when a storm comes up.  They're afraid and they wake up Jesus, wondering why he doesn't seem to care that they could die.  He commands the storm to end and asks them why they still don't have faith.  And they're amazed.

Of course they are, that was a pretty impressive miracle and reminds us to have faith in the presence of Jesus and the power of the Word to protect us in the storms of life.  I think there's more to the story, but that's the gist of the hymn.  Or was some of that in "Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?"

See, stories are complex and how they speak to us even more so.  And the thing about the story of Jesus calming the storm is that it occurs in the midst of a journey.

Jesus had been healing and teaching - he'd just told a bunch of stories (parables) himself - and now they were moving on, to the other side of the lake.  Who knows what's just ahead (we do, it's a man possessed by a demon) or further along (we do, the cross), but it will not be enough to just let this story be.  The disciples will need to pick up their awe of Jesus' power and their questionable faith and move forward with Jesus when they get to the other side.  When they get out of the boat, they will be different than when they got into it and they will be stepping out into a different place.  This has been one life-changing boat ride.  And now: forward into a new place.

Wonder, for a moment, at the many ways in which this story might be a parable for you.  

One example, I think, might be the recent closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa at the beginning of June.  While we might have a "closing" of the commission, telling this story - or, more appropriately, these stories - goes on into the work of reconciliation and relationship building.  These are stories we must hear, that must not be left behind.  We've come to a new part of the journey: the land of reconciliation will have challenges, "demons" to fight as well as apathy, stories to tell and a willingness and a struggle to listen.  The new shore must be a place of action.  Jesus goes with us, still.

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