Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

God Telling Stories

Friday, February 15th, 2019

And yet the scandal of the gospel is that one day the God of our theology books and religious debates showed up — as a person, in flesh and blood. And while God indeed delivered a few sermons and entertained a couple of theological discussions, it is notable that according to the Gospels, when God was wrapped in flesh and walking among us, the single most occupying activity of the Creator of the universe, the Ultimate Reality, the Alpha and Omega and the great I AM of ages past and ages to come, was to tell stories.

Lots and lots and lots of stories.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 158

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 24, 2016

Tell Me a Story

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

So when someone asks, “What is the gospel?” the best response is, “Let me tell you a story.” You might start with Abraham, Isaiah, or Luke. You might start with the Samaritan woman at the well. You might start with a story about your grandmother or a rural church camp or a dining room table surrounded by Woody’s chairs. At some point, you will get to Jesus, and Jesus will change everything.

There’s a story in Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels about a woman who anoints Jesus with a jar of costly perfume in prophetic anticipation of his impending arrest and crucifixion. When the disciples harass her for what they see as a waste of resources, Jesus defends the woman, declaring, “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). His response suggests that preaching the gospel means telling stories about the life of Jesus, not simply his death and resurrection.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 151-152

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 7, 2019

Good News

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Indeed, in Scripture, no two people encounter Jesus in exactly the same way. Not once does anyone pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” or ask Jesus into their heart. The good news is good for the whole world, certainly, but what makes it good varies from person to person and community to community. Liberation from sin looks different for the rich young ruler than it does for the woman caught in adultery. The good news that Jesus is the Messiah has a different impact on John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, than it does the Ethiopian eunuch, a Gentile and outsider. Salvation means one thing for Mary Magdalene, first to witness the resurrection, and another to the thief who died next to Jesus on a cross. The gospel is like a mosaic of stories, each one part of a larger story, yet beautiful and truthful on its own. There’s no formula, no blueprint.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 151

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 12, 2018

Consider the Possibilities

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

In other words, Bible stories don’t have to mean just one thing. Despite what you may have heard from a pastor or Sunday school teacher along the way, faithful engagement with Scripture isn’t about uncovering a singular, moralistic point to every text and then sticking to it. Rather, the very nature of the biblical text invites us to consider the possibilities.

“Turn it and turn it,” the ancient rabbis said of Scripture, comparing it to a precious gem, “for everything is in it.”

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 40

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 1, 2018

Relational Sacred Text

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Midrash, with its imaginative engagement of the Bible’s stories, reminds us that biblical interpretation need not be reduced to a zero-sum game, but rather inspires endless insights and challenges, the way a good story does each time it is told and retold. Our relational God has given us a relational sacred text, one that, should we surrender to it, reminds us that being people of faith isn’t as much about being right as it is about being part of a community in restored and restorative relationship with God. This is how Paul engaged Scripture, after all, and Jesus — both of whom were Jews.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 25

Photo: Sunrise, South Riding, Virginia, September 7, 2018

Stories and Community

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Her story reveals how the biblical text comes alive in the context of community, its endless shades and contours revealed in the presence of a diversity of readers — young and old, learned and unlearned, rich and poor, historic and contemporary, living and dead. This style of engagement not only brings us closer to Scripture’s many truths, but closer to one another. The sacred text becomes a crucial point of contact, a great dining room table, erected by God and set by God’s people, where those who hunger for nourishment and companionship can gather together and be filled.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 24

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 9, 2014

God Stoops.

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

God stoops. From walking with Adam and Eve through the garden of Eden, to traveling with the liberated Hebrew slaves in a pillar of cloud and fire, to slipping into flesh and eating, laughing, suffering, healing, weeping, and dying among us as part of humanity, the God of Scripture stoops and stoops and stoops and stoops. At the heart of the gospel message is the story of a God who stoops to the point of death on a cross. Dignified or not, believable or not, ours is a God perpetually on bended knee, doing everything it takes to convince stubborn and petulant children that they are seen and loved. It is no more beneath God to speak to us using poetry, proverb, letters, and legend than it is for a mother to read storybooks to her daughter at bedtime. This is who God is. This is what God does.

Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 11-12

[Photo: Waterside Inn, Chincoteague, Virginia, November 11, 2017]

Why We Tell Stories

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

[Photo: Oregon Coast, August 6, 2014]

The Power of Story

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

But it’s the stories that have always drawn me. When I was a child (as now) there were stories I found difficult, such as that of the workers in the vineyard, where those who had worked only an hour were paid as much as those who had worked all day in the heat of the sun. It wasn’t fair! Like most children, I wanted things to be fair, even though life had already taught me that unfairness abounds. I think many of us still feel like the child stamping and crying out, “It’s not fair!” Those who have worked all day long should certainly be paid more than those who came in at the last minute! But Jesus is constantly trying to make us understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s love is far less selective and far greater than ours. “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” God asks in Matthew’s Gospel after he has finished paying all the workers the same wage. When God blesses those we deem unworthy, does our jealousy make our eye become evil? Are we, like the elder brother, like Jonah, upset at God’s forgiveness? Daily I need a deep and penitent awareness of how much greater God’s love is than my own.

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher, p. 128, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 133

[Photo: Burnside Gardens, Virginia, April 22, 2016]

Story First

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

So it was a theological as well as a literary enterprise for me, but as a storyteller I had to make the story come first. I sat down and typed out “It was a dark and stormy night.” The theology is down deep. It’s not there unless you look for it. And that’s where I think it should be in stories. It should not hang below your skirt like a slip.

— Madeleine L’Engle, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase