Storytellers

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…

It’s deer season!!

Oh wait…that didn’t get your attention yet? Let me try this;

IT’S DEER SEASON…!!!

So many things I love about deer season but the single most important part of deer season is the art of storytelling. Nothing beats a good story to cause past hunts to spring to life anew; to transport us back to the moment, to feel the biting wind on our face, to filter through the information again which caused us to make the decision we did, to smell the fallen leaves, to remember what was going on at home during that time, to instinctively itch that spot on our calf because of a bad sock, to relive the pressures of life at that time years ago, to twitch with anticipation as the deer stepped into a shooting lane, for the tingling feeling in our stomach to start all over again, to see again the set of the sun and the angle of the shadow, for our blood pressure to rise and our palms to sweat, the muscles in our shoulders tense as we pull back the bow…

A good story is more than remembering, it is experiencing. It is young hunters sitting around the campfire listening to the old hunters spin wonderful tales of the woods and the things that live there. The young-ins are soaking it all in and actually gaining experience from what they are hearing. They will use these lessons to make strategic and tactical decisions in their future exploits in the back country. It takes passion to tell a good story. There needs to be a certain level of love for a subject before ‘telling that story’ causes experience to occur. We all know that guy who seems to bag trophy animals year in and year out but is an awful story teller. All he wants to do is show me a picture of something dead on his phone. I am learning nothing from the picture. It is a digital record of a body count. Kind of like when Church’s start focusing on attendance and not on the ‘worship’ of God. It becomes about ‘counting’ and not about ‘experiencing’. If we stop for a moment and think about ‘worship’…eventually we will come around to a definition that reads like this: “Worship is telling God’s story”   (I absolutely stole this definition from a book I read years ago, I take no credit for it, but I think it’s spot on).

The Church tells God’s story of creation, incarnation, salvation, and revelation through songs, through prayers, through the reading of Scripture, through the Sacraments, through the voiced word, and ultimately through the decisions we make every day reacting to life. We will either act and behave in a way that tells God’s story, or tells the story of rebellion and wickedness (and we know whose story that is). The story we tell is an act of  ‘worship’. When Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  (Matt 16:24)  It dawned on me that Jesus is talking about ‘worship’. He is talking about taking up the cross that He carried. A cross that denies our own will, and acknowledges God’s will. The cross represents sacrifice and death. The will of God the Father is that we would love so passionately (like Jesus) that we are willing to sacrifice and put to death those things in our life that get in the way of telling His story. The flip side of this is that we all bear a cross, everybody walking the earth is willing to sacrifice and put to death things that get in the way of the story they want to tell. I think of the families that celebrate the NFL by dedicating their time, their meals, their fellowship, their money to their favorite team. The cross they bear, the story they tell, is an act of ‘worship’.  Now…understand what I am saying. Our passion for football, or hunting, or reading books, or whatever…is not evil in and of itself, but it can become evil when that story supersedes the story of creation, incarnation, salvation, and revelation.

The art of storytelling is not lost, but it certainly seems to be misplaced. Our responsibility as Christians is to examine the story we are telling and ascertain if our ‘worship’ is misplaced. This quote struck me the other day, “The storytellers in our midst should be among the most respected persons in the community, even if they repeat the same story over and over. They keep us in touch with God’s life in our present time. They midwife the Word becoming flesh in our history today.”     Wow….!

When our passion for Christ runs so deep, the story we tell helps give birth to creation, incarnation, salvation, and revelation. The story helps others ‘experience’ God Almighty. Even when the story is an old story, told many times, it causes the young-ins to listen, to gain experience, to ‘worship’.  May we check our lives to see what story we are telling, may our passion for Christ deepen and flower, may we bear the cross of Christ and tell God’s story…

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