Welcome to 2023: The Year of Story. We recently had our grandchildren visit with us, and in the evening as they prepared for bed, the request came every night. “Read us a story. Tell us a story”.
I love stories and I love storytellers: Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Norman Maclean, but also Louise Penny, Colson Whitehead, and Louise Erdrich. Who would you add to the list of great storytellers?
In addition to those listed above, I would add Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The writers of the four Gospels. And lest we forget… Jesus. Jesus could spin a yarn. Jesus could tell a tale. Jesus could narrate a great story. And Jesus also knows how to star in a great story.
Our focus in 2023: The Year of Story will be on learning and telling the Story of Jesus. A story that many of us have been learning and telling our entire lives. The Gospel Story of Jesus matters. As St. Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16, the Gospel “…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith…”.
The stories of Jesus that I learned in Sunday School, heard proclaimed from the pulpit, read in my illustrated Children’s Bible, loomed huge in my imagination when I was a kid. And that’s what great stories do. They loom. They challenge. And they inspire. Great stories have a way of enlightening our minds, moving our hearts, healing our relationships, and transforming whole communities.
During 2023: The Year of Story, I want to encourage you and your parish to learn and tell the transforming Story of Jesus.
Let us pray, “Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord”. Amen.
(Evangelical Lutheran Worship pg. 72)
As we begin 2023: The Year of Story, I invite you to start with two simple practices related to the Story of Jesus.
- Memorize Scripture: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. Acts 1:8 is the Year of Story Memory Verse.
- Read Scripture: Join a host of others across the Northwestern Ohio Synod as we focus on the Story of Jesus! In 2023, we will read through the writing of the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This week we are working our way through the Birth Narratives of Jesus.