“But, what of galaxies, and stars, the biosphere and atoms . . . . For story is all there is. The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”- Muriel Rukeyser.
There is a lot of truth in this quote by the poet Muriel Rukeyser. In the end, our lives are the culmination of our stories. I have a story to tell about my life, you have the story of your life, and we have a story to tell about our lives together as a community of faith. On April 30th, we will gather to celebrate the stories of our lives together.
We will pause to mark 200 years of God’s story intersecting with our stories at a place we call Bethel. Please mark your calendar as we have a wonderful day planned thanks to the hard and diligent work of our 200th Anniversary Celebration Team. We also have some things planned between now and then to help us celebrate the stories of our lives together.
Beginning on Sunday, January 8th we’re going to have a theme each week, which corresponds to one of the Psalms of Ascent. The Psalms of Ascent are Psalms 120 – 134. They are Psalms that the faithful worshipers recited as they made their way toward the temple in Jerusalem to worship. We are going to read one Psalm each week as we march toward April 30th. Each service will center on the theme found in that week’s Psalm. For example, on Sunday, January 8th, we’ll read Psalm 120 and one of the themes found in that psalm is repentance. On January 15th, we’ll read Psalm 121 and we’ll learn of God’s providence. Here’s where we need your help. Each week I’d like to highlight one or two of your stories as it relates to the theme of that particular Sunday. I’m going to provide you with a list of themes and if you see one that is personal or special to you, then I’d like for you to email us the story of why this theme is significant to you and tell us your story as it relates to that theme. Take January 8th for example; the theme of repentance. I’d like to be able to share with the congregation one or two stories of how someone from our congregation practiced repentance and why this theme is significant to them.
I realize that some of these themes are very personal and to talk about something as personal as repentance may be more than you want to share with the congregation. While this is true, it is also true that when we are vulnerable and when we take a risk by sharing our stories, even stories of repentance, then it’s like we’ve opened up a window and allowed a fresh breeze of grace to flow through our congregation. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect, all of us are flawed. We are all sinners, we all fall short of God’s glory, but we are also Christ followers, which means that Christ can take the stories of our failures and missteps and, if we allow, Christ can begin to write a beautiful ending to each one of our stories. For Christ followers, all of our stories turn out to be redemption stories and in my mind, a redemption story is the kind of story we all need to hear. So let’s not be afraid to share our stories, both our victories and defeats. When we do this, we very subtly give people permission to tell their stories and we get to both give and receive grace and that is a beautiful thing, maybe the best thing. So listed below are our themes for each week. If you have a particular story from your life that you think would tie into the theme, would you please do me the honor of sharing that story with me? You can email it to
and perhaps we will use it during a worship service. If we use your story in a service we will reach out to you and share with you how we plan to use it and make sure we have your permission. My hope is that as we tell these stories between now and April 30th that indeed a window will open, and we will fill our lungs, and our hearts, with a fresh sense of God’s grace. Here is a list of the themes we will focus on between now and April 30th. Repentance, Providence, Worship, Service, Help, Security, Joy, Work, Happiness, Perseverance, Hope, Humility, Obedience, Community and Blessing.
May God bless you and may God bless Bethel Church. Amen.