Saturday, September 06, 2014

The power of story

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 12:29-51

TO CHEW ON: "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'" Exodus 12:26-27

In our home it was Mom who told the stories and we would beg — Tell us about the time you dyed the wedding gloves. Tell us about being a nurse in Winnipeg. Tell us about when you and Daddy met.

These stories gave us kids a sense of who we were and where we had come from. In a small way they located us in history and gave us a context for some of our own tendencies.

Moses encouraged—no commanded— the Israelites to tell their children the story of the death angel passing over their homes. They were to retell it every time they ate the Passover meal. In this way God's working to preserve them would be engrained on their psyches individually and as a nation.

When times were good, the story would remind them of how God had brought them out of something very bad. When times were bad, it would remind them to call on God with a faith bolstered by how He had come through for them in the past. Of course since Jesus' death the Passover meal and story takes on additional meaning for believers who celebrate it.

Luci Shaw in her book Breath for the Bones says,

"Story has the power to grasp bits of the past and carry them into the imaginative present, rescuing us from the pitfalls of abstraction. It is not insignificant that much of the Bible ... is narrative in form and that the characters and plots revealed on the sacred pages are not so different from those that surround and involve us today" Breath for the Bones, Kindle Location 966.

We need to carry on that tradition of telling stories to our children. We should tell them the embarrassing, humorous, triumphant, and love stories of our lives. We must tell them the stories of our spiritual journeys. Above all, they should hear from us the Bible stories which are, after all, the stories of our spiritual great-great-great-great.... grandparents.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the rich stories of the Bible that help colour the mundanities of life with spiritual meaning and significance. Help me to faithfully pass on this history to my descendants. Amen.

MORE: The power of story
"Story isn't imposed on our lives; it invites us into its life. As we enter and imaginatively participate, we find ourselves in a more spacious, freer, and more coherent world. We didn't know all this was going on! We had never noticed all this significance... Story brings us into more reality, not less, expands horizons, sharpens both sight and insight. Story is the primary means we have for learning what the world is, and what it means to be a human being in it. No wonder that from the time we acquire the rudiments of language, we demand stories" - Eugene Peterson (from Leap Over a Wall), quoted by Luci Shaw in Breath for the Bones, Kindle Location 967.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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