Tell me the story.
Tell it to me again and again. Tell it to me time after time, week after week.
Tell me the story that I first heard in my youth, the one that gave me happiness and excitement.
Tell me the story that I carried in my chest as my heart learned to break, as I began to grow old and stole my way into the cool kids.
Tell me the story that I remembered when I became a man, the one that made me believe I could change the world.
Tell me the story that I nearly gave up on when life began to be all too real, when heartache became the hallmark of my days.
Tell me the story that has begun to sing to me again, to call me home, to grow my heart young again.
Tell me the story.
It can be repetitive to ask to be told the story again and again, but we need it. I need it. And I need it often. The story of the gospel, of grace and love and bloody redemption, is the story of the Christian life. It is our heartbeat, or lifeline, our very breath. It is in the story that we first encounter the living Jesus, the Christ. The story is something for more than just children. It is for us to receive again and again.
But I fear we are losing the art of telling the story to each other. Take a look at our music before the sermon. We have a good arrangement of songs, going from high energy and dynamic down to more introspective and devotional. We are good at moving people’s emotions, but where are we moving them to? Where do we want people to end up? By our practice, I would say that we want people to be ready to hear a sermon, which is usually about what we need to do to be a more pious people. We aren’t telling the story in our church gatherings. We are telling people at best about Jesus and at worst a moralistic doctrine.
Telling the story doesn’t have to be hard, but I think it has to be focused on a point, on a place where the story intersects with our lives. Too often, when we do tell the story, we tell it as if it is far from us, removed from our daily lives, our work days, our gym trips, our grocery shopping. The story is not far from our hearts, for it is there that the Spirit has made their home, yet we treat it as if it is away from us, foreign, alien. But the incarnation speaks against us telling the story as a once upon a time thing. In the incarnation, God intersected the story of redemption with our stardust and blood and guts. God interjected his story into our dust and grime and day in and day out lives.
When we tell the story to each other, we should be going towards that point of incarnation, the place where the story intersects with our here and now. The story should take us to the body and blood of Christ, who is our hope. Telling the story should lead us toward the table where we break bread and share wine.
It’s at the table that we remember the story.
It’s at the table that we proclaim the story.
It’s at the table that we anticipate the culmination of the story.
Welcoming each other at the table should be the result of telling the story. Whether it is on Sunday mornings or Tuesday afternoons, telling each other the story should lead us to the body and blood of Jesus broken and spilled for us.
I miss telling the story.
I’m good at talking about Jesus, about theology, about the Bible. However, I don’t tell the story of the good news very often these days. I don’t tell it to my kids, to my wife, to my friends, to myself. I don’t tell the story. I used to. I used to tell it every week in music and worship. Every week I would lead the congregation to the table where we would ingest Christ and remember, proclaim, and anticipate grace. Telling the story every Sunday had a profound impact on how I told the story in the rest of the week. I began to hear, see, and tell the story in the rhythms of my life. Not forcing the gospel into every conversation, but naturally falling into rhythms of prayer for myself and for others. I began to hear the echoes of the story in movies, books, songs. I began to see Jesus more and more because every week I would preach to myself and the congregation in song the story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and promise to return.
I became more gospel fluent.
I need to tell myself the story over and over, and I need my brothers and sisters in the faith to tell me the story over and over. I want to get back to seeing how the story really touches the every day, how it is woven through the here and how and how it gives us hope for today.
Let’s tell the each other the story.
God has reconciled all things to Godself in Jesus the Christ who was put to death for the forgiveness of our sins, raised to life for our justification, and will return with our salvation.