‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. A long time ago…’
We love stories. From our earliest days to old age we love listening to, and telling, stories. They are how we make sense of the world around us, how we first encounter ‘others’ in our imaginations, and they are how we form our collective memories that bind us as societies. Jesus was a master story-teller; his stories, called parables, played off the collective stories familiar to his listeners, and turned out to be enigmatic, challenging, full of surprises and unexpected outcomes. His stories are crafted to disrupt in order to allow light to enter the dark places of our hearts.
The problem, though, is that the darkness in our hearts only enters through stories as well. Bad stories. Stories that speak against, stories of victimisation and discrimination, of separation and boundaries, stories that reinforce prejudice. These are the stories that feed self-pity and blame others. We see it all around in families, local communities, society, politics, nations. At every scale stories feed and shape our beliefs.
The story Jesus tells is of the end of all these dark stories and the beginning of the new story, which is the oldest one of all. It is the story of death; Christ’s death, our death. And then birth, with the offering of a new beginning, where, like children, we learn there are no borders other than in the mind. ‘There is no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, no male or female, for we are all one in Christ.’ This is the nature and gift of baptism. The new story is of the unquenchable love of God poured into the world, poured into our hearts.
The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Trinity can be found here.