The Power of Story

MJ has been wrapping Christmas gifts all morning. I can feel winter in the air. The days are getting shorter…just the way that I like them! Vintage Christmas songs are playing and I am in a holiday frame of mind… MJ and I were asked to light the candles on our Advent wreath for our Zoom church service and we had our red sweaters on and the wreath between us on the table. The lighting of the candles during the season of Advent has always been a special joy of mine over my 22 years at First Presbyterian. Each year a different family or couple or individual… lights the candles and also reads some comments appropriate to the season. I have discovered through out my christian walk that the more I know my fellow members of the congregation…the more connected I feel to our church.

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on

Story captivates our senses and enlivens our minds! As my friend, Ro, spoke yesterday of her work on the Stewardship Ministry of our church…I felt a kinship and an appreciation for her efforts and what a blessing that she is to all of us! In today’s society of mistrust and conspiracy theories we have become increasingly insular. We all to often live in our own heads…but we have a hunger to hear the heart beat of another traveler. I often considered over my 32 years and 2 months and 3 week career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale that the way to recruit new students and to retain those that we had was to be able to connect with them through our personal accounts…our stories….of what SIUC meant to us… The same may be said of our church…we may love the sermons and the music and the programs…but we are inextricably tied to our faith community by the strong cords of our heartstrings!

The great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, said that he really did not care how much you knew until he knew how much you cared about him! The Story of the United States of America causes us to pledge our fealty to a nation that is based on an idea… The Story of Christmas and the Christ child and the manger and the wise men following the star…compels us to wait and seek his birth into our needy world.

We hunger to connect in a meaningful manner with our fellow human family. When the person sitting next to us in the church pew on Sunday morning becomes more that a smiling face…but rather a fellow traveler with many of the same challenges that we have faced…connection and engagement and encouragement is a natural outgrowth of our shared stories…

Santa Claus and his eight tiny reindeer and his home at the North Pole not only stirred my imagination as a youth…but still does! The idea of every child all over the world being visited by the ‘spritely old elf’ on each Christmas Eve…and his sliding down our chimneys as his means of entrance to our homes…is a narrative that brings a warmth to our hearts in the cold of winter. When I see a Christmas Tree or the ornaments that have been placed by many campus woods walkers, during the holiday season, a peace and contentment comes to my heart…from the story that gripped by imagination and tied itself to me…so many years ago! Often tears come to my old eyes when I hear the first words of a Christmas carol…because the story of Christmas lives in side of me…

Tiny Tim is among us. Poor Bob Cratchit is laboring for poverty wages in his penury and he and his family will gather around their Christmas table with little to feed them…but with full hearts… Perhaps we can locate the redeemed Mr. Scrooge?

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