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Tell Me a Story

Posted on 09 Jun 2024

June 9, 2024

John 1:1-5

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman


In the beginning; once upon a time….when we hear these words, our ears perk up because we know we are going to hear a story.  And no matter our age or stage in life, we all love a good story.

A good story does more than entertain.  As Katherine Paterson, the author of The Great Gilly Hopkins and Bridge to Terabithia, shares, a good story makes meaning for us.  It gives form to the chaos of our world.  (Cloud of Witnesses, Track 2, “Faith, Story, and the Young” 1:55)

Stories are powerful because they transport us and inspire us and because they enable us to see that we are not alone, not alone in this world, not alone in what we are going through.  As we hear stories about others, stories about people who are faithful and unfaithful, stories about people who are practically perfect in every way and flawed and imperfect in so many ways, as we hear stories about others, we can see ourselves in their stories.  We begin to see ourselves in new ways and with that awareness sometimes comes comfort, healing, and transformation.

As Christians, stories are powerful to us because our whole faith is a story.  As Katherine Paterson goes on to share, “It’s the story of the love of the Creator for that which the Creator has made.  Of course we spell it out in law and theology but those are secondary.  It’s the story that is primary.” (Cloud of Witnesses, Track 2, “Faith, Story, and the Young” 2:42)

Just like any good story, God’s stories, the story of our faith is powerful because these stories bring meaning to our lives.  They help us take the chaos of our world and make sense of it.  They show us that we are not alone in our struggles, and they give us perspective, they give us insight, which often brings forgiveness and healing to our lives and our world.

From the beginning of the world when God spoke all things into being, God has and continues to create through the word, through the words found in the stories of the Bible, through the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.

When we hear that in the beginning the earth was a formless void and God said, ‘Let there be light.  Let there be day.  Let there be night.’ and God saw that it was good.  God called it very good.  God calls us very good.  The Creator loves that which the Creator has made.  The Creator loves the birds and trees, plants and animals.  The Creator loves us.  The Creator loves you.  That is powerfully healing as it is also humbling and inspiring.

And when we hear the story of Ruth choosing Naomi as her mother and the story of Joseph choosing Jesus as his child, we see that families aren’t about biology.  They are about love.  God’s family isn’t about biology.  It is about love.

And when we think we aren’t up for the task, that we aren’t the right person, that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough, in the right body, we hear the story of Moses who didn’t think he was a very good public speaker and the story of Esther who was prized only for her beauty, and through their stories we learn that we don’t have to be a certain way, we don’t have to look a certain way for God to choose us, for God to work through us for good.

We might totally bungle things as we seek self-preservation like Peter or make a huge golden calf of a mistake as we seek to please everyone like Moses’ brother Aaron.  We might have the most rotten past, a legacy of anger, hurt, and self-righteousness like Paul – and yet, through the stories of the Bible, the story of our faith, we discover that still God loves us.  Still, God forgives us and redeems us and even more so – invites us to partner with God in creating peace and hope in our world.

The Bible’s stories are filled with all sorts of people.  Some of them were faithful and dependable, role models for our walk with God.  And others were flawed and imperfect, human beings just like us.  People like Sarah who laughed and doubted God’s plans and tried to create their future of hope through their own will and not God’s will.  People like King David who had such incredible moments of selfless trust in God and then such incredible moments of selfishness and self-centeredness.  People like Mary Magdalene who lived tormented by demons until she met Jesus and became the disciple who never wavered in her commitment to him.

The Bible’s stories are filled with all sorts of people and not all of them are role models.  Their stories do not always have a happy ending, and if they do, the happy ending is rarely a simple road.  And that is powerful because each of their stories show us that even when our lives are a struggle, even when the world around us feels like it is a mess, still, God is creating; still God is loving; still God is forgiving; still God is working – working through us for good; still God is leading us to a future of hope.  We are never alone.


Some people call the Bible “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”.  Reducing the Bible and its stories to rules, instructions, guidelines diminishes them.  The Bible and God’s stories are so much more than words on a page, so much more than a to do list.

God’s Word, God’s stories create.  They form us.  They transform us.  They illuminate, helping us discover who we are called to be and the meaning and purpose for our lives.  They heal us and comfort us as they show us over and over again how unconditionally God loves us.

And just as the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, God’s word becomes flesh in us.  These stories of failure and faithfulness, of the underdog becoming the hero and the outsider becoming God’s instrument, these stories of unconditional love begin to live in us and change us, and we become God’s Word, words of peace, kindness, joy, and acceptance.  We become God’s Word made flesh, bringing light and life to the world, bringing hope, comfort, and healing.

Whether you grew up as a Christian, hearing the stories of Jesus and Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the Whale or you are just getting to know God and connecting with Jesus for the first time, regardless, the Bible can be pretty intimidating.  Where to begin?  What to read?  What does it all mean?  Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed that we just don’t bother.

And that is so sad because we have been created by God to delight in stories, created by God to be inspired and comforted, healed and enlightened by stories.  Our whole faith is a story.  Our whole lives are a story.

So this summer, I invite you to sit back, relax and let me tell you a story, a bunch of stories – stories of daring and boldness, stories of mistakes and forgiveness, stories of friendship and devotion.  This summer, inspired by the favorite stories of those in this community, we will tell our story, the story of Jesus and God’s love.