The Story that is Coming
The Scripture this week, whether in Isaiah or Mark, Peter or the Psalms, tells us of what is to come. But it’s the advent season, it’s Christmas time, and we know what is coming. The baby Jesus is coming, the heralded birth of the Messiah. We know the story. Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, they don’t find a place in the inn, and they, yet again, end up in the manger. The angels sing to the shepherds, who walk away from their flocks to seek out the child. The wise men see a star in the distance and trek across the desert on their camels. It’s the same story every year. Or is it?
One of the things that has fascinated me most as a writer and actor over the past decades is performing the same play, the same material, over and over, sometimes hundreds of performances. And yet, if you’re paying attention during rehearsal or during performance, you discover something new in the text, in the story, time and again. Do actors somehow become smarter because they’ve performed a play dozens of times? I can guarantee you a “No” on that one. Or is the new insight due not to increased intelligence or mere repetition but instead due to the ever growing narrative of our own lives that allows us to find something new in that which is old.
Any seasoned storyteller can tell you that each listener brings their unique story and life experience to the narrative that is being told. Each listener, each participant, brings their whole life with them when they listen. A good story invites the listener to step into the narrative as it unfolds.
This Sunday I hope that you will bring with you your own narrative, your own stories, about the Advent season, about the holidays and Christmas in your life. As you consider those stories, please keep in mind that this week’s theme is love.
I’m going to tell a story relating to that theme about an old man standing in the rain on Christmas Eve many years ago. It’s a true story. And the point of the story is not to help us understand the narrative of the past nor to simply see that which is coming but to be ready for the opportunity to step into the narrative, into the story of God’s love in the present.