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What's Your Story?

In the article below, the Revd Bee Arnold reflects on the importance of Christians telling their stories.

Story: a narration of the events in the life of a person or the existence of a thing, or such events as a subject for narration.

Story has become a buzz word recently, everyone is telling them, listening to them or writing them.

What does the word make you think about? Does it drive fear into you as you imagine those moments racking your brain, for a tale to tell in assembly or a sermon starter? Does it make you think about bedtimes with your children or perhaps special times with your own parents?

Why do we tell stories? Jesus told stories to help us access uncomfortable or hard issues. He told stories to help us to see a new perspective on things all too familiar. He told stories so that we could picture ourselves in different situations. He told stories to make ideas and teachings come alive.

Not all stories are bible and sermon illustrations, we know that story can be a great way to tell facts and information that are real and not only imaginative writing. What are these stories? I want to call them our stories. When we tell each other about our lives; both past and present. When we share with on another the about the different circumstances we find ourselves in. When we tell each other about the times when we have felt the highs and lows of life. As Christians I believe stories are also when we tell each other about the presence of God in our own lives.

We tell our stories to each other for different reasons, maybe it’s to share and be vulnerable in order to have a deeper connection, maybe it’s so that we can encourage each other with our own experiences, maybe it’s a way of sharing knowledge to help people. Perhaps it’s for your own comfort. Or maybe it’s so that someone else can feel they are not alone in their current situation.

I have a Lenten challenge for us – but don’t worry it’s not another book to read or series of studies to do – rather it is simply to reflect on our own story. To be more specific, the story of how you got to be where you are now. Go right back to the start. Where were you when you first felt God might be calling you to ministry? How did it feel? Who did you tell first? Who accompanied you on the way? What did your Diocese ask you to do as you discerned further? How did your understanding of God change in that time? How did you change? What were your fears and your joys?

Maybe you want to think it over for a few days or weeks. Maybe you can look back over diaries and essays written. I am so sure that reconnecting with your story will be positive thing and you can reflect with God on how far you have come and how much has changed. Even in the tough times of ministry remembering the thrilling moments of hearing Gods call for the first time can be reassuring and reaffirming.

When we have rediscovered our own stories the next challenge is to think about who has heard our story? Who are you sharing it with now? Might there be someone who needs to connect with your story? Someone who needs to know they are not alone or that they are not being silly? Might someone need to hear your story in order to fully understand their own?

Clergy and lay ministers have a particular job to work with God and raise new ministers for His Church. How do we do that when all we can offer is ourselves?

I believe our stories play a large part.

So, the two questions I leave you with are:

What is your story? and Who are you telling?

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