“Tell me the old old story of Jesus and his love..........”
I was reminded of that hymn recently, which I (like many) first learned at Sunday school. The art of storytelling – telling stories - is a universal skill, spanning all cultures, which most of us first experience in childhood, and continue to enjoy as we grow older. We love to be told stories, don’t we, whatever age we are? And personal stories are the most interesting & often the most moving.
Last summer we celebrated the confirmation of 6 new members of our church, & welcomed 3 other members into our fellowship and it was a special privilege to hear them tell their personal stories of what God had been doing in their lives, and what their faith meant to them.
In Holy Week this year students from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics came to share their stories & to encourage us to share our stories of how we became Christians and what difference our relationship with God in Jesus & the Holy Spirit makes in our day to day lives.
In my work I often have the privilege of sharing stories with other people – hearing their stories & sometimes sharing part of my own story and it’s always a humbling & moving experience. Recently I’ve conducted several funerals which has caused me to reflect that often we only get to hear the full story of someone’s life at their funeral, and have missed the opportunity to hear them tell us their story.
I’m a great fan of happy endings, which probably has something to do with my optimistic personality. But I think it’s also to do with the truth that, as Christians, we know that everybody’s story can have a happy ending, because of Jesus – because of his sacrifice on the cross for us, his defeat of death & the power of evil in our lives, and his resurrection and the promise of eternal life when we invite him into our hearts and lives as our Saviour.
We live in a society where the fashion seems to be to sell your story, especially if it involves some kind of celebrity figure. What a contrast with our calling, as Jesus’ followers, to tell our story, for free – because our story involves the most important person who ever lived!
And we have lots of opportunities to share stories with each other:
· most of our morning worship services include an opportunity to share what God’s been doing in our lives, however small, and it’s uplifting to hear others’ stories testifying to God’s goodness & faithfulness.
· the theme for our August services will be sharing the story of a favourite bible character & why they mean so much to us.
· We’re creating a book of testimonies – stories of our own faith journey with Jesus - so why not write your story & send it to the church office, so that we can share our stories with each other & be inspired?
· The Canals Mission Weekend in Vines Park on 8th & 9th June is a great chance to come & hear the stories of Christian canal-boaters, and maybe share our own stories with those who want to find out about who Jesus is? We’re planning to run an ecumenical Alpha course this summer, to encourage and nurture those who are seeking faith, so let me know if you’re interested in helping/joining us.
Sometimes we assume that our story isn't important or interesting enough to be told - but God has given each of us our own story to tell so that we can testify to His love and grace at work in our lives. Jesus sent his disciples out to share the good news of his saving love and he needs us to do the same. So find your tongue – or your pen – and TELL YOUR STORY OF JESUS AND HIS LOVE! – because no one else can do that for you!