Telling the Story

There are lots of ways to tell a story. The one that comes most naturally is to start at the beginning and move ahead to the end. A to B, pillar to post, a straight a line as possible. There are other methods such as using flashbacks, telling the story in a non-linear fashion moving the reader/listener back and forth across the timeline, letting the story stitch itself together in the imagination of the audience. There are lots of ways to tell a story.

There are lots of places we tell the stories: around a campfire on the savanna of the Serengeti, around the family dinner table, leaning against a car in the school parking lot, the coffee machine at work, family reunions, as many places as there are people and memories.

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At the water cooler

“Gathered around the water cooler” was (maybe still is?) an expression to describe the gathering in the office of people to give greetings, exchange news, and tell stories. In Kenya it was the well, a river, or the public water tap. Every place and time has had a place where we gather to tell the stories that animate our lives. I suspect this morning, the conversation is the buzzer-beating ending of the NCAA semi-final game between UCLA and Gonzaga: overtime, 3 seconds left, Jalen Suggs goes the length of the court and drops a 40-footer to end the game. The twitter sphere exploded. Possibly one of the greatest college games ever as the two teams went back-and-forth. And now the water-cooler experts can debate if Suggs’ shot was the best ever or does Duke’s Christian Lattener 1992 bucket (with amazing inbound pass from Grant Hill) to defeat Kentucky in the “Elite Eight” contest. remain “best ever.”

I wonder what amazing shot was replaced by the Hill-Lattener game winner? I wonder if I will be around when that shot is forgotten and the next entry is compared to Gonzaga/Jalen Suggs thriller? Such are the stories we tell.

But in a few minutes I will be celebrating Easter Sunday 2021 and the greatest story ever told. Best ever. Now there’s a story to share when gathered at the water cooler.

Being a Parish

The weekly bulletin and this column are a good thing. I enjoy writing; I enjoy the process of thinking about what I want to write, starting to write, and then sometimes watching the column take on a new direction of thought. Now and again by inspiration or necessity, I might write a whole month of columns or more at a go. Late in the month of February, I had produced pastor columns for the first weekend in March (First Sunday in Lent) all the way through and including Easter Sunday. Check that off the “to-do list.” Then life changed as the world declared a pandemic, the churches closed, and the world found out it was a lot safer to be at home. Some columns did not need to be redone: Unmasking (March 15) and the two columns on “Habits of the Heart” (March 22 and 29). When I made the decision to stay with them and not rewrite them in the light of these pandemic days, I thought that they were still appropriate to the moment at hand. In looking at the columns again this morning, it was a good decision. Continue reading

The Road to Emmaus

In Luke’ narrative there is no account of the Resurrection; there in only the empty tomb – which is not the source of faith for people in Luke’s rendering of the gospel. Rather, in Luke’s gospel it is the empty tomb and the encounter with the person of the Risen Jesus. The empty tomb is what Jesus had said would happen “on the third day.”  The event of its discovery points back to Jesus’ word.  A word mostly fully realized later in the ‘breaking of the bread.”

Luke 24:13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Continue reading

Why do you believe?

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. (John 20:1-9) Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Resurrection

resurrection-of-christ-iconIn the Book of Job, chapter 14, Job is pondering the deeper things of life. He is asking the age old question in the face of pending or possible death?  Will a person, once dead, live again? (יִ֫חְיֶ֥ה cf. Job 14:14). The question has now been answered. The tomb is empty. The defining conviction of Christian hope is that because Jesus was raised from the dead, the grave is not the final reality of human experience. “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is risen. Continue reading

One Short Sleep Past

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death…. One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.” So wrote the 17th century poet John Donne about the freedom from the seemingly unsurpassable power of death and the promise of new life, eternal life at the core of our Easter celebrations. Continue reading

Holy Week

When I was a child, I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, just to let them know that I was too sick to come to school that day.” So my father used to tell me. Hmmm…? Really – but hey, dad was really old, right? He probably grew up in the ice age and maybe the weather was very different back then. Such are the stories of our youth as parents try to teach us the lessons of life, sometimes wrapped in yarns, tall-tales, and memories of a different time and place. I still wonder how the to-and-from the store was uphill both ways. Continue reading

Story telling

There are lots of ways to tell a story. The one that comes most naturally is to start at the beginning and move ahead to the end. A to B, pillar to post, a straight a line as possible. There are other methods such as using flashbacks, telling the story in a non-linear fashion moving the reader/listener back and forth across the timeline, letting the story stitch itself together in the imagination of the audience. There are lots of ways to tell a story. Continue reading

Getting our bearings

May the grace and peace of the Risen Lord be with you. He is risen, Alleluia! Alleluia! I trust these words find you well, blessed, and part of the Easter people celebrating our awesome and loving God. As an Easter people we will not just celebrate one day — we are about to begin a whole season of Easter from now until Pentecost Sunday on May 20. In that same period, life begins to accelerate with the Annual Pastoral Appeal, Confirmation (April 29), First Holy Communion (May 5 and 6), Mother’s Day, final exams, graduations, summer vacation and camp planning, getting ready for college, and a whole list of things around the home and office. Continue reading