Yesterday, my husband buried one of the saints of the church. But before doing so, he was privileged to hear her story. And so was the “adopted church daughter.” And the other “adopted church daughter.” The nurses. The doctors. The ministers wife. The janitorial staff. And just about anyone who would listen.
Then, when she could no longer tell her story, she had it written down, in a four page document to be handed out at her funeral.
And so that’s what folks walked out with yesterday, following the memorial….a five color, four page booklet that told the highlights of Helen’s story. With pictures and everything.
We laughed about it a bit…shook our heads and mummered, “That Helen…,” but the reality is, all of us would like to think our story will be remembered. That it mattered somehow. That the nuances made a difference.
People often ask me why the church tells the same stories over and over again, year after year. I’ve literally had someone say to me: “I went to church as a child…I heard the story. What’s new to hear?” Or, “I’ve read the Bible…I’m good.”
And if I’m honest, there are some years, when the stories lose their luster for me too. It’s like, I told the story to my minster…my adopted church daughter…the nurses…the janitorial staff….I’ve even written it down and handed it out a few dozen times….and it has started to lose it’s meaning. Become mundane. So I get it.
But then someone like Helen comes along to remind me that story matters.
It matters that we tell the triumphant story of Jesus entering Jerusalem…AGAIN. It matters that we hear our own voices in the voices of the crowd, shouting “Hosanna!” And then wonder together if we too, will turn and shout “crucify him,” the very next day? It matters that we don’t forget. That we hear the language of triumph AND death, and figure out where we settle in it.
Because the story matters. I mean, for cryin’ out loud! The nuances changed the world.
And so we decide, each time we hear the story of our faith…if it will become part of our story. Will it make it to the five color, four page booklet at the end of our life? (Yikes! That really teetered on the verge of cheesy!! Sorry about that! But the question remains…) Will it matter? Will we be changed by the story of our faith?