Church. To some, it is a place of healing and acceptance. To others, it has been shame and rejection. But, to everyone who has considered themselves to be a part of the church at one point or another, it is more than anything, a story. For me, viewing church and specifically my role in it as a story is a paradigm shift from what I have always known.
Growing up in church, we read, listened to, memorized, and acted out all of the famous stories from Creation to David and Goliath, from Jericho to Daniel in the Lion’s Den. These stories were central to our faith. They taught us, and we were formed by them from a young age. It was good. It was fun and exciting to be a kid in children’s church learning about battles and giants and how our God was bigger than the problems the Bible characters faced. What we didn’t grasp and understand was that we were a story too. We were a continuation of the stories we had come to know and love.
Learning that has been an interesting and welcomed shift for me. Instead of just learning about these stories that happened a long time ago in far off lands to people separated by thousands of years, I have come to learn that we are a part of the same story. We have been given a place among the heroes and saints that we learned about as children. When we come to realize this, the stories become more real. We become participants rather than observers. We have a buy-in now with skin in the game.
Knowing and accepting this comes at a cost. It comes with risk because it asks us to actively participate in the story of redemption. We can no longer be bystanders to the work that has been done. We are invited to continue in the work that was started long ago. We do have a choice in all this, though. We can continue as we always have and go about our business, or we can join and play our part in the redemption of all things.
I want to encourage everyone to see that we get to continue with the work that Jesus started and passed on to what would become the church. We are not just living in the memory or shadow of what happened in Acts 1 and 2. Instead, we get to continue the narrative and be written into the next page of a story that will continue long after we are gone. May that give us a sense of gratitude for what has come before us and a sense of hope for what is yet to be written.