Stories. Are. Powerful. Stories are not only a record of life; stories have the incredible power to change the course of life. Stories may move you to tears, to questions, to joy, to fear… Stories most certainly can move one into action. Christian activist Jim Wallis writes powerfully of his story, moved to action by the stories of his African-American friends, coming of age in Detroit during the 1960’s: “What I discovered by driving from the white suburbs to the city of Detroit every day, and going into neighborhoods and homes like Butch’s, were some truths about America that the majority culture didn’t want to talk about—truths that are always more clearly seen from the bottom of a society than from the top. This different perspective continues to change me, and Matthew 25 continues to be my conversion passage.”
Matthew 25:40 – "...I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Current events have me pondering, “Where am I in the story?”. Admittedly, I have not been a very faithful reader of the Bible. But, I am working to change that by reading all stories, Biblical or otherwise, prayerfully; “-which is what Christians ought to be doing in all circumstances anyway,” writes former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. “It is letting the Holy Spirit bring you inside the story of how God related to the ancient Israelites and the first Christian believers – letting the Holy Spirit bring you inside that story so that you recognize it as your story. Suddenly these bizarre and exotic figures from the ancient Near East look you in the eye, and you recognize your own reflection. You see that they are indeed like you and you are like them.”
As I read news from around the nation and around the world, I wonder who is looking me in the eye, asking me “Where am I in the story?”. Do I recognize my own reflection? More importantly, do I recognize God in them? If I am honest with myself, then I have to confess that I don’t always answer “yes”. Those I disagree with politically? Not always. Those espousing white supremacy and hate? Surely, not. Terrorist groups? Nope. While these examples are perhaps extreme cases, I still must ask…
What about those cases I can rally behind and support? Standing Rock. Black Lives Matter. Immigrants and Refugees seeking peace and hope in the land of opportunity… While it may be easier for me to see my own reflection and the God within these people, I am still asking, “Where am I in the story?”. Just because I agree with these efforts, doesn’t mean I am truly supporting them. More often than not, I feel that I am “sympathizing”, rather than “empathizing”.
It is absolute truth that our humanity is bound together-God made it so. Thus, how can all of these stories in our world today, impact me and move me into action? “Where am I in the story?” I am in every story, if I am truly listening. By remembering, prayerfully, Matthew 25, as Jim Wallis does, then, I can begin to see…begin to move-move from actor, to ally, to accomplice in these efforts. For humanity.
During the course of Our Sacred Story, Our Holy Journey campaign here at Holy Comforter, I have witnessed the power of stories to transform life, transform church, and transform community. “Where am I in the story?” The answer is there, if I am listening…