By Sarah Holik Murray
Story. Witness. Narrative. Testimony.
These are common and familiar words to people of faith. Even so how well do we worship and live as faith storytellers?
In “Telling Stories on the Lord’s Day: Worship as Narrative Ritual,” Eric Mathis led workshop participants in discussing how well we tell God’s story and the story of God’s people in our congregations.
Both an overview of the historical background behind the church’s loss of story in worship and conversations about our own contexts revealed the ways we often make services more ceremonial than celebrations of God’s active presence in our lives.
Mathis encourages churches to discover and cultivate their stories by asking believers to consider not only where God is at work but how God’s presence is revealed in their relationships, in their work and their feelings about that work, in the good and the bad that happens. We’re used to marking baby dedications, weddings, and funerals but life includes so much more. How to we acknowledge and honor the day-to-day or the difficult?
Suggestions for expanding the church’s narrative ritual include:
• Using brief testimonies each week to remind one another who we are and whose we are
• Creating public and private liturgies for life moments already acknowledged with worship as well as miscarriage and stillbirth, divorce, Alzheimer’s adoption, leaving home, and renewing wedding vows.
When we are honest and trust God with our story, we see stories everywhere. And lest we forget, Mathis reminds us that the best stories are often told without words.
Sarah Holik Murray serves First Baptist Church Fitzgerald, Ga., as Minister of Preschool, Children, and Senior Adults. A newlywed, Sarah is excited to share the CBF world with her husband, David, at his first General Assembly.