Sunday, March 28, 2010

On the Centrality of Story

A third time [Pilate] said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." 23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. (Luke 23:22-25 NRSV)

I borrowed an idea from a friend, and read the passion narrative from a chair (couldn't find a rocking chair, so an overstuffed armchair had to do). The ensuing conversation (ie, sermon) then revolved around the role and power of story in our lives, and the centrality of the passion narrative for defining who we are as God's people today.

The image of a family reunion came to mind. Gathered together around meal and story, sharing the stories which bring us together and define who we are as a family. I asked them to think about how the early believers gathered together and shared their stories and experiences of Jesus. I asked them to imagine Peter with people gathered around his feet telling about how he was willing to follow Jesus, even to death, but ended up denying he ever knew Jesus and running away in cowardice and shame. And then how Jesus forgave him and restored him to the community. I asked to imagine the emphases and the pathos of the man, Peter, as he told the story and how that would effect how the story was heard and received. And then I asked them to imagine how easy it was to identify with the man Peter and his story, and to see ourselves reflected in the telling. The disciples' story, Peter's story, the story of the early believers, the story of Christ's passionate suffering love for us: it is our story.

Today, Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday, we hear that story again. And we reflect on how that story is our story; how it intersects our own life story; and how we are called to listen to one another's stories and to find those points of intersection -- those places where our conversations can begin.

I am the Unlikely Pastor. welcome to my world.

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