This week I was introduced to a series called “Little America” showing on Apple TV+. Each episode is 30 minutes long and tells the story of a real person. The people are not famous, but their stories reveal how fascinating and diverse is the human experience. How delightful, sad, joyful, hopeful our human lives are. The stories are about immigrants, but are not about politics. The little films offer stories of real people, who in their particular lives shed light on our common humanity in all its richness. Two of the stories that particularly stuck with me: :
Zahir, a young asylum seeker from Afghanistan learns to play the piano on a paper drawing of a keyboard his father made for him because the Taliban had banned music and musical instruments. Now in the US he studies music and is a composer.
Marisol, a teenager who struggles with schoolwork, learns to play squash and with the encouragement of her coach, embraces her “inner jaguar,” finding her strength and resilience as an athlete.
Watching these short films encouraged me to think about how each one of us has a story; something true about who we are and how we came to be this way. Often, these stories are kept close to our hearts, perhaps shared only with close friends or within our family. Maybe we don’t think our story is interesting enough, or that anyone might want to listen? But when we tell our stories, share our vulnerable places, our doubts and our faith, we join more fully into what it means to be human together; what it means to be church together!
In the first session of our Lent Forum series “Weeds to Palms” some of us shared stories about gardens that delight us, or carry memories and meaning. Others shared about why they come to church. No big revelations, just personal stories about who we are; where we seek and find meaning. The stories we tell today may be different than the stories we told before. New stories are being written each day as we live our lives, face challenges and embrace joys.
How might you find ways to share your stories with others and to listen with delight and compassion to their stories? These forums, continuing through April 2, are one way; but I imagine there are other opportunities too? Perhaps ask someone at Coffee Hour to tell you why they come to church? Ask a young person in your life about something they are learning that is exciting them? Share with your adult child what it was like to grow up in your hometown. You get the idea…any interaction is an opportunity to hear a story, to tell a story. And we might discern carefully about how we tell our stories, so that they are true and authentic….true to our experience. This is not a chance to offer opinions about something, but a chance to say something true about who you are, your experience as a fellow human being beloved by God.
The photo above is from our first “All In” Sunday on March 5. I invited the young people to stand with me behind the altar in hopes that they might see what we do at Holy Communion from a new perspective. I prayed they might hear the story we tell in a new way. That they might experience something sacred as they heard the words, touched the bread and the wine, and said the prayers together.
We tell the same story every Sunday - the story of our Salvation through Jesus Christ. It is a familiar story, or I hope it is! We tell the story as we speak it aloud to God and listen together to the words: “Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all. He (Jesus) stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 362)
This is the story we live in all the time, but is lifted up in the season of Lent, as we anticipate the events of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. May you hear the story of Jesus’ life and death and resurrection this Lent in new and fresh ways. May the Holy Spirit so fill your heart with God’s love and mercy and truth, that it becomes part of your story–transforming your lives in this season.
Your sister on the journey,