Tell us again

Pastoral Messages | April 18, 2019

When I was growing up, I loved to listen to my dad tell the same stories over and over. I’d say, “tell me, again, about how you and mom met.” Or I’d ask to hear, repeatedly, about what I was like as a baby, about the time my dad made Twinkies at the Hostess factory. I’d say, “tell me again, about the yurt you built when you were a youth director.” Or “tell me, again, about how I got stitches when I was running for ice cream and a good night kiss.”

My dad was a great storyteller, but those stories were not just for entertainment. I wanted to hear them, over and over again, because they reminded me who I was. Those stories weren’t as much about Twinkies and yurts and ice cream as they were about my dad’s character, how my family worked, the things that mattered to us. I asked for specific stories, but what I meant was, “tell me, again, the kind of people we are. Tell me, again, how much you love me.”

We all have those stories we tell over and over again. The stories that are regularly told at family gatherings, about grandpa’s courage during the war or grandma’s generosity to the neighbors. We tell, repeatedly, about the love stories of parents, or the mischief of the cousins, or the faith of the aunts. These stories shape our character and establish values. We become the people we are through the stories that we tell.

As Christians, we also tell the essential stories of our faith over and over again. We tell them for the same reasons, because those stories shape who we are and how we live. In these next three days, we’ll hear, again, about Jesus and his last days as he walks down this road of giving love. Today, on Maundy Thursday, we hear the story of his last meal with his friends, kneeling to wash their feet, sharing with them a holy meal, giving a mandate to love. And tomorrow, we’ll follow Jesus down the road of suffering, his torture and execution on the cross, his burial in the tomb. And then on Sunday, we’ll hear again, about how Jesus burst from that tomb, rising again to save us and this whole world.

This is the story that shapes our lives. It is the story that forms us into the people we are. We tell them year and after year, Sunday after Sunday, because we can never get enough of these life-shaping stories. We say, “tell us, again, God, about how you are present, even in the pain of our lives. Tell us, again, about how the worst thing is never the end, that new life always comes. Tell us again, about the kind of people we are. Tell us, again, God, how much you love us.”

This weekend, in worship, as we gather around the table, at the foot of the cross, and in a garden of resurrection joy, we’ll hear, again, about Jesus, who lived and died and rose again. It’s the story that makes us who we are. It is a story we can never hear too many times.

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

5 Comments on “Tell us again”

  • Carol Seitz

    April 19, 2019 at 10:59 am

    I had the blessing of the friendship of your parents – of helping build the yurt – your father reeked of love !

  • Kathleen Connell

    April 19, 2019 at 10:16 am

    A lovely personal reminder. Thank you.

  • Sheila Mesick

    April 18, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    The hymn sung over and over each Easter Sunday that I heard as a child, low in the grave He lay Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord. Up from the grave He arose, a mighty triumph over His foes. He arose the victor over the dark domain, He lives forever with his saints to reign, He arose, He arose, hallelujah Christ arose. I remember the singing of that song, the voices among the congregation who have long passed. The glory and promise of the hymn lives, as does each of us who partake in its’ promise. Blessed Easter Sarah.

  • Connie King

    April 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    One of my favorite hymns: “I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory….”

  • Diana Holland

    April 18, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you for your heartfelt message.

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.