This morning Rolf Jacobson told a story. His sixth-grade daughter had a science project in which she tested people’s taste and perceptions. First she had people do a blind taste test of three cola drinks: Coke, Pepsi and a generic supermarket brand. Not knowing which cola was which, they split pretty evenly, but the generic was the winner. Then she had the taste testers go into a second room and try the same three drinks but this time they knew which drink was the Coke, Pepsi and generic. Coke and Pepsi were the easy winners. Rolf saw this as the victory of American brand marketing, a kind of story telling. We believe in the Coke’s (or Pepsi) story and identify with their products. Their story has shaped us.
Rolf, a Luther Seminary professor, connected that successful story-telling to the church’s failure to tell the Biblical story in as convincing fashion. For many the Bible has become a dusty ancient book about some strange people, events and ideas that are jumbled together with God and Jesus. We recognize bits and pieces of the story, but it rarely has connection to our daily lives. Though most Lutheran pastors use a Biblical text in their preaching, the over-arching story of the Bible has been lost or never known.
Rolf has proposed a new worship schedule of Bible readings that would guide a congregation through the Old and New Tesatment story in nine months. More information is at narrative lectionary.
Stories shape us. Today I had lunch with two running buddies and I realized that running has been one of the stories that has shaped my life for the past ten years. Because of injury, I miss not being able to run, but I also miss my story/identity as a runner. I continue my physical therapy in hopes of restoring that activity and identity.
Still a deeper story is at work. It’s a story I have heard over and over in worship and study. My truest identity is as not as a runner, but as a child of God. Jesus lived, died and rose again to give me that identity and I can not run away from his story.
How does your life story connect with the Biblical story? Has worship and preaching helped make those connections?