Friday, February 1, 2013

the story in the Story

There is such power in story.  Whether we read books, watch movies, or just talk with friends, we are drawn in by drama, conflict, and shared experiences.  In a workshop today, we discussed how there are only three major storylines: the journey (like Odysseus), romance (like Romeo and Juliet), and redemption (like God's story), yet each retelling seems fresh with new truths.  We connect in our shared experiences and relive the emotion of our own memories through the journey of others, whether real or fictional.  As a minister, I think about our individual stories in connection to the larger Story of God's redemptive work in the world.  The creator God made us in God's image, as co-creators, and our creative acts add a new layer to the ongoing work of God's kingdom.  As I write my own story, I can't help but see how it is just a small chapter in God's larger book that is ever-expanding.  Thanks be to God that the story is not finished (and yet we already have foreshadowing of the happy ending).

My heart and mind are full as I end three days of a conference on creativity in ministry, where we explored the wonders of Disney for inspiration.  There is so much to process and so little time to reflect.  I want to make the most of what I've experienced and learned without making the mistake of immediately implementing all the ideas in my head and making a mess of it.  I fear, too, that I will get stuck by the overwhelming thought of all the changes I would like to make and instead do nothing.

In a somewhat jesting way (particularly as I just preached on signs a couple weeks ago), I prayed that God would give me a sign that I would be prepared for the journey ahead, empowered to do what needs to be done, and inspired with the actions to take.  I asked God to show me that I am called and capable, particularly when I feel so ineffective at times.  As soon as I finished the prayer, the worship leader switched to the next song and I smiled when I recognized my ordination song, "Here I Am, Lord".  While it's pretty common for ordination services, I've never heard it sung as a praise song in a service.  Got that message loud and clear, God, thanks!

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.  There is conflict and resolution.  But resolution doesn't always mean a happy ending, and it doesn't even mean completion.  The story goes on and on, taking us to places expected and surprising.  The way is sometimes unclear, but because of my faith in God's greater story, I have hope.  As Gungor shares in their song, "Beautiful Things":

All around

Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

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