At the start of this year, our focus as a Church was on ‘The Big Story’; which meant that we were going to spend 2020 looking at the great sweep of the Christian Narrative, all the way from creation to eternity. We aimed to follow this thread, this story, through the Bible, all the way from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end, exploring the twists and turns of the great story of salvation and examining the characters who were caught up in it and the events which embodied it.
This was our plan, but you know what they say about ‘best laid plans’! I have reflected elsewhere, of course, that this has all come a little unstuck. Responding to the particular challenges presented by The Virus has been much more urgent, and rightly so. For most of us, The Big Story of 2020 is, as I have said before, Covid-19.
However; now that we are starting to meet together again, it seems to me time to return to some of our original thinking.
You see, we were not just going to tell the story of the Bible this year. We were also going to find ways of telling some of our own stories and sharing the ways in which we have all experienced the saving power of God. Church is, to me, fundamentally a place where we bring our own stories alongside God’s story. It is a place where we encounter something so much bigger than ourselves: God’s plan to bring rescue and healing to the whole world, through the love and work of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a place where our stories, individual and all-consuming as they sometimes feel, can be placed into a wider context – one of eternal hope.
It is a place where we can all become a part of something bigger than ourselves: as the ‘Body of Christ’, we become a community of people who all participate in God’s redemption and rescue, in their own lives, and in the world around them. We become a community of love. A family.
And, as I have said before, communities are often formed by stories; by a shared sense of narrative and a shared sense of journey. By sharing their own stories with each other, and by joining them together into that bigger story.
It was always my intention that we would make the effort to share some of our stories with each other this year – and so that is what I want to invite us all to do this Autumn. Let us dare to share!
Let us dare to share with each other some of our own journeys, some of the events and decisions and people that have shaped us, and brought us to where we are. Let us even – in fact, let us particularly – share those stories of what God has done for us, and how we each go about joining our own story into God’s Big Story.
I hope to create opportunities, this Autumn, for us to do this. I may even approach you to ask if you would be willing to share some of your story in a service! Watch out for a regular ‘My Story: God’s story’ slot in our gathered and online worship.
We will also, through the Autumn and into Advent, look at the big themes of the story of Jesus – through whom the story and character of God is revealed to us in a new, and definitive, way.
In our Advent course this year we will look in a new way at some of the characters from the birth narratives in the gospels, telling and sharing some of their stories, and relating them to our own.
We will, I hope, have ‘An Autumn of Stories’. I hope you will be willing to share a little of yours, listen generously to those of others and to be gathered up, with us all, into the greatest story of all.