by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 2/5/15

The season after Epiphany is coming to an end. We have been using this time to tell stories and to hopefully reveal narratives of God’s providence, inspiration, discernment, and love. We have gathered on Wednesdays and sung the words of Fanny Crosby’s hymn that have echoed throughout the Great Room: “Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word; Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.” Stories matter and we have been listening to the faithful stories of our families. This season of the Christian year framed this process of inquiry, storytelling, and witness. Stories about Jesus matter because they shape people’s lives, as well as shape the community of people in a congregation. Congregational stories may either build or break a community and are a critical source of interpreting congregational life. The cultural documents of most congregations would reveal a hodge-podge of holy texts, half-truths, and half-remembered tales told by Sunday School teachers. Congregations have complicated histories that formed, and at times malformed, their identity. Lawrence Peers writes: “Congregations are primarily interpretive communities, seeking new meanings in familiar stories and enduring wisdom for contemporary challenges. Moreover, congregations not only interpret stories of faith together, congregations are stories — each with its own characters and story line, dramas and dilemmas.”  So please continue to add your family stories to the larger library of our congregation, because you will always receive a hearing at Highland Hills.