Sometimes a sermon can catch our breath, literally. The Holy Spirit connects with our human spirit, and our heart can feel the added energy—be it pressure or relief or a little bit of both. Expressions of “hmmmm” or “oh my” might sneak out of our mouths, or our eyes moisten, or we hold ourselves a little tighter. On Sunday, September 13th, I offered some reflections on Proverbs 1 and Mark 8, stacking the two stories up to one another as a way into how we might tell our stories, personally and communally. Some of you have said that this sermon captured some part of you. So, I am including an excerpt from that sermon in hopes that it may be helpful—both as a reminder for those of you who were here and as a foot in the door for those of you who were not able to be with us that Sunday afternoon.
“So many of us never hear that God desires a broken and contrite heart. What we do hear repeatedly in society is how important it is that we create an image that our lives are full and that we are happy. And much of Christianity perpetuates this myth by telling us that if we have sufficient faith we will be happy.... In place of the stories or well-worn masks that no longer protect us from our own selves we begin to see and hear a truer story; a story that reveals us for what really is. Stories about ourselves that have lots of unknowns and mysteries and uncertainties and fears, laced with trust and hope and faith.... This is what Parker Palmer talks about when he writes about our letting go of our ego stories, and begin telling our soul stories....
Jesus asked “Who do people say that I am?” That question is the beginning of our ability to tell our secret stories in life. Because our answer to that question for ourselves—who is Jesus in my life—will lead us to better answering the question “Who am I?” And by better understanding who Jesus is in our lives, and by being better able to understand who we are in relationship to Jesus, we can more clearly claim our place and speak our peace.”
What I imagine Jesus is asking us to answer today is the question, “Who do you say that I am—in your life?”
What is your soul story? For what has God created you? And what is it that God continues to create in you? As if those questions aren’t large enough to slow any person down, Christians who are a part of a church community have the added “benefit” of the same questions for us communally. Engaging our individual soul stories in a way that brings them into conversation with others in our shared community so that we can find our common, shared story, is no simple task. What is your soul story, Welcome Table? For what has God created you, Welcome Table? And what is it that God continues to create in you in 2015, moving forward, Welcome Table?
Welcome Table has found firm footing, not in platitudes and easy answers to such gnawing questions. We have, historically, looked deep inside for that voice within to guide us. As we move through this interim period together, it will be important for us to continue to pay close attention to those voices from within that provide guidance and wisdom. And for each of us to share our voices, through the telling of the experiences found in our soul stories, so that we can shape a shared story.