“Tell me a story,” says the child to her parent at bedtime. “Well, once upon a time….”
Today, at bedtime, I like nothing better than a good novel or biography. I want a story. Enough already of those church books and magazines. Tonight, I just want to fall asleep with a good book that might keep me up late.
Some of us live a story that others might like to tell or to hear. If we become a celebrity, our story will be told, despite ourselves. Some of us are weary of our own stories. One friend put it this way: “I’m sick and tired of my little drama.” Whose story would you like to hear? Which story would you like me to tell?
In yesterday’s gospel account (Matthew 21:23-32) we hear Jesus tell another story, a parable of two brothers, working in a vineyard. Jesus is the author of many stories. He tells this story after the religious authorities question him about his authority. Someone with authority is, simply put, an author. Jesus, we say, is the author of our salvation. Jesus creates and tells us the best bedtime story of all – the story of how God loves us and saves us and heals us.
There was a Newsweek article recently called “Heard any Good Stories Lately?” (9/22/08). Here’s the summary: “A (presidential) candidate’s personal narrative might sway more voters than (their) experience, positions on issues and policy proposals. Blame the power of emotions.” Actually, there is nothing and no one to blame. It’s not about blame. It’s about the power of story. We human beings love a good story. People of faith love, as the old hymn puts it, to tell the story. We Christians love to hear “the old, old story of Jesus and his love” – love even for the likes of us!
Music can be powerful, as one wise woman once put it, because music releases the feelings, and feelings release the healing. That’s why so many of us come to church. To tell and to hear the story. To sing. To pray. To share communion. To be strengthened. To be renewed. To be saved. To be healed. We come because we long for the healing power of the greatest story ever told. Blame? Blame the power of the story on God, on that storyteller Jesus.
That Newsweek article’s last sentence? “Sit back and get ready for seven more weeks of storytelling” (p. 42). Yes, get ready. We have three straight weeks of Jesus’ vineyard stories, then one more week with a wedding story. Sit back and get ready for stories, those old, old Bible stories we’ve heard time and again. Won’t you come to church and hear the stories of Jesus and his love?