In the 1950s and ’60s there was a television game show called “What’s My Line?” A guest would come on and answer a series of questions posed by the panelists who were trying to guess the occupation of the guest. Each week, there was a mystery guest who was only asked “yes” or “no” questions by the blindfolded panelists (because, presumably, the mystery guest was famous enough to be recognized). One of the surprises of the show would be discovering something new or unknown about the guest.
It was a way of learning someone’s story. You asked a question. You listened. You learned. You became more aware of who someone is and what motivates or inspires them.
I’m not sure that we have done a very good job in the church in listening to one another’s stories. We can see how God is or has been at work in our lives and we assume that’s how God works for everyone. Learning to ask and to listen helps us to learn. Mostly, what we learn is the many ways that God is at work. When I listen to you, what I discover is God’s story narrated by you.
Conversely, we also seem reluctant to tell our own story. Fear of being misunderstood, anxiety that our version of the God story is not quite as dramatic as someone else’s, uncertainty that we have misread our own lives – all can paralyze us into silence. We need a safe place to rehearse the story so that we may with confidence tell it to others and fulfill our covenantal commitment to witness.
In the gospel of Luke, we read of Jesus exorcizing a man of his demons and restoring him to wholeness (Luke 8:26-39). At the end of the story, Jesus instructs him “Return to your home and tell what God has done for you.” Start sharing the good news at home. It becomes easier to tell. But be sure and tell it.
This Sunday as we reflect on “A Better Story” we’ll think about our stories and how, when, and where we tell them. We will hear stories from our ASP teams about the ways they have witnessed God at work and we will find encouragement to share our stories. And who knows? You may even discover something new or unknown about the preacher!
I hope to see you Sunday at the story-telling.
Grace and peace.