President, Community of Christ Canada West Mission Centre
Black Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Lives of People of Colour Matter
Stories. “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” So says Thomas King, an Indigenous author and broadcaster in his book, aptly named, The Truth about Stories. The book is a collection of his “Massey Lecture Series” given across Canada in 2003. The lectures deal with the power of stories to shape lives and to shape culture – in this case from an Indigenous perspective. (I recommend the book or the CBC podcasts of the lectures.)
What are the stories that have shaped or helped define you? Are there family heritage stories passed down through your generations that retain and reinforce some sense of identity? Are there stories from literature that have challenged you personally and helped make you what you are today? Are there, perhaps, some stories or passages from scripture that have helped define you?
The “Revised Common Lectionary” is a tool that is used by Community of Christ to help plan and structure our worship services each week. The current two weeks (July 12 and July 19) focus on the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13 in which Jesus is recorded as telling no fewer than seven parables – stories that teach a lesson. Many readers will be able to name a parable, perhaps several, which they know well and have heard, or have read or have been taught often. Perhaps one of Jesus’ parables is one of those stories that has been influential in your life.
In our Virtual Visiting Fellowship meetings this week (yes – we are still going! See the announcement elsewhere in the Weekly Wire and consider joining us if you can.) I asked our participants to share their favourite parable and why it was meaningful to them. As of this writing our Thursday evening group has yet to “have a go” at this exercise, but the sharing on Tuesday morning was really quite remarkable. Many people shared many different parables (and some shared the same parable). Some people chose to share a “parable” from their own experience from which they had learned some lasting life lesson. I felt that in the space of a half hour we heard about a dozen two-minute sermons that were as effective and meaningful as our traditional twenty-to-thirty-minute sermons on Sunday morning.
Many of Jesus’ parables are “arch-types” in our culture and part of the daily lexicon. For example, “The Prodigal Son,” and “The Good Samaritan.” I fear slightly for our culture as the general population turns more and more away from organized religion. The words may remain, but the understanding of their origins and the significance of their lessons may be lost.
I encourage you to think about “what is your story?” What does it mean to you? What might it mean to others if or when it is shared? What stories (parables, other scripture stories, or stories from other literature) have helped form who you are today? What new stories might you be encountering that are affecting your life and perspective now?
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of guidance, understanding, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
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