‘I’m not crying, I’ve just got something in my eye’ I say as we sit in the Stag, glued to our seats, watching the end credits roll. Or coming to the end of a good book, laying it down with a contented sigh – we all recognise these moments, moments when are lives are touched by a compelling narrative.
Some stories are factual, some are fictional, and some are a creative mix of both. But stories have power. Stories shape us, they move us. The stories we tell win elections, they take countries to war. They move us to give money to charity or to check on a neighbour who may be lonely.
We all love a good story. They are how we make meaning in the world; they motivate us to act – but some stories are better than others.
As a Christian minister I have told and retold the story of Jesus more times that I can remember. His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. At times the story has moved me, inspired faith and action, and other times it has left me questioning and full of doubt. But every year as I retell this ancient story, I invite this story to shape, mould, challenge and change me.
It’s a story of God, found not in power and wealth, but in frailty and poverty, in self-giving love and humility, in flesh and blood humanity. It’s the story of God born among us, showing us how to live and love well. Of lives healed and restored, wrongs forgiven and the excluded welcomed in. As we approach Easter, we remember particularly the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection; his once for all sacrifice for you and for me, so we can have a relationship with God.
And yes, sometimes I find elements of the story difficult to believe, but I trust that this is the story God wants told and I invite it to change my perspectives and to mould me as I hear it.
This year I find the Christian story speaking to our current climate of division and prejudice. In contrast it is radical and inclusive. It invites us to live with hope and joy, with peace and goodwill, open to the stranger and alive to the mysterious.
In our increasingly secular age, we right off such religious stories to our detriment. This New Year why not give church another try? Check out our website, bgbc.co.uk, for times of our services. Then come, hear this ancient story again and let it shape and challenge you. I guarantee you’ll be the better for it.
Remember: Church is for life, not just for Christmas.
Grace and peace,
Bessels Green Baptist Church