‘What a tale we have been in, Mr Frodo, haven’t we?’ he said. ‘I wish I could hear it told! Do you think they’ll say: Now here comes the story of Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom?... I wish I could hear it! And I wonder how it will go on after our part.’
If you are familiar with the book (or the films) ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien, you may recognise this quote as being part of a conversation between the characters Frodo and Sam right towards the end of the story, when they have completed an extraordinary quest and defeated a great evil that threatened the world.
I have loved ‘The Lord of the Rings’ since childhood when, for a time, my Dad read it to me and my brother, every Sunday afternoon, in his study. Perhaps the happy memories help, but I really do think it is one of the greatest stories ever told. It is a huge story – an epic – that sweeps across vast distances, has amazing and heroic characters, fantastic battles, moments of peace and comedy, adventure, hope, tragedy, despair, and finally joy.
I do sometimes wonder whether we as Christians are aware of the fact that we are part of a story that is even bigger, even better, even more amazing and even more extraordinary than The Lord of the Rings; or indeed any other story we could care to mention (Not least because we believe that our story is true!) Our story is of course the great sweep of the Christian narrative, all the way from Creation, through the Fall, through the first whispers of God’s great plan of redemption, through to the story of the nation of Israel, and thence onwards into the Incarnation; the coming of Jesus, his ministry, death, resurrection and ascension, then the story of the early church, and then finally a great vision of the future, and of eternity.
As a church, and as individuals, we are caught up in this great story of rescue and hope, and invited to join our stories into it; to become part of God’s great story, to invite others to become part of it and to let it become part of us, and therefore to live with the hope of redemption and eternity planted deep within us.
So as we move forward into 2020 I want to invite us all to engage with this story – the story of rescue that God invites us all to participate in. We are going to tell the story, gradually of course, over the course of the year. At various points during 2020, through our Sunday and Wednesday services, our small groups, and in other ways, we will recount this story, through all of its stages; the greatest story ever told!
But also, I would love 2020 to be a year when we can also tell our stories; there is perhaps little point in telling God’s Big Story, without looking at our own part in it, and therefore I would love it if we could hear stories from our own lives, of how we have experienced God’s rescue, God’s help and God’s hope. I wonder if you would be willing to share some of your story, in some way, this year? Of course 2020 is also the year St Paul’s turns 60; so we will also find time during the year to tell and to celebrate the story of our church, and to look forward in hope and expectation to how it might continue from here!
To go back to those words between Frodo and Sam, we might say something similar ‘What a tale we are in, Mr Frodo… The greatest ever told!’