“I would like to tell you a story about a journey my friend and I went on,” he began. “But you need to know, this is my version of the story. My friend, I am sure, has his own remembering of the story.”
As I listened to him tell his tale, I also kept an eye on “the friend” he referred to, who was also my friend and just happened to be sitting right next to me. He, like the rest of us, laughed at parts, felt fairly emotional at other times, and in the end also appeared to enjoy our friend sharing their adventure. I waited just a brief moment and then leaned in close to my fellow listening friend and asked, “So, how different is your version of the story?” He just smiled and softy replied, “Quite.”
Brian McLaren, in his book We Make the Road by Walking, writes this about stories, specifically our Sacred Story: ”For ancient people in oral cultures, a story was like a hypothesis. A good and helpful story, like a tested hypothesis, would be repeated and improved and enhanced from place to place and generation to generation. Less helpful stories would be forgotten like a failed theory, or adjusted and revised until they became more helpful. Sometimes, competing stories would stand side by side like competing theories, awaiting a time when one would prevail—or both would fail, and a new story would arise with more explanatory power. In all these ways, storytelling was, like the scientific method, a way of seeking the truth, a way of grappling with profound questions, a way of passing on hard-won insights. As our ancestors deepened their understanding, their stories changed—just as our theories change.”
In a few short weeks, Bishop Michael Curry will become our 27th Presiding Bishop. One of the things Michael is known for is his storytelling ability. Yet, as importantly, Bishop Curry is a big encourager of others to tell their stories, especially their encounters of Jesus. Trust me, you will see much more of this as he gets into the groove of being our Presiding Bishop.
I could not agree more. Each of us who have chosen to follow in the Way of Jesus have our own stories to tell. It is important to remember that our stories are our stories and others will have their own. Each story, like each of us, is to be valued and respected. And like us, each of us reflect a unique part of the Body of Christ. This is why, in the end, it is so critical that we share our stories of experiencing Jesus AND invite others to do so as well. Each story will reveal more and more to us.