I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.
“I Love to Tell the Story”
I was traveling last week with our youth staff to a conference in Detroit, Michigan that focuses on faith formation. The theme of the conference was “Story,” and focused on making the connections on where our story and God’s intersect; and on how we can best share God’s story with others. Then, just as I was about to return home, I learned of not one, but two deaths within our community:
- Bertha Numendal died on February 2nd; and
- Jane Starks died on February 3rd.
I was blessed to be able to do the funerals for these two. Jane yesterday, and Bertha’s today.
While doing funerals can be sad events, as you find yourself immersed in the lives of people who are deeply grieving loss, there are things about funerals that I really enjoy.
- I love to be alongside people during a time of need
- I love being a witness to how family, and a whole community, can rally around those who experience loss
- I love the opportunity to remind people of the promises that God makes through Jesus.
- And mostly, I love hearing their stories.
Bertha and Jane both had amazing stories of their life, family and faith. And part of what I get to do (and part of why I love being a pastor) is to listen to the stories, and to look for places and ways that their story and God’s story all intersected.
And as the funeral details are being prepared, people walk up and tell me stories of their own experiences with those who have died.
Hearing Bertha and Jane’s stories reminds me that I too have a story. And that you have a story. We all do. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. There is drama, romance and conflict. There is love, reconciliation and grace.
It was so clear to me that both Bertha and Jane’s lives told the story of God’s great love for them; and that they were able to extend and share that love with others. It makes me wonder sometimes, “how does my own life tell God’s story?” It’s a question that I want to be able to think about now. We all have the opportunity to direct how our story plays out. The choices we make every day influence our story and how it will be told.
At the end of our lives, what story do we want told? How do we want our story to reflect God’s story? How hard do we want people to have to look in order to find ways that God was connected?
Participating in two funerals in two days, and spending time listening to the stories of these two saints who have gone on to join the “Great Cloud of Witnesses” makes me wonder these things.
So what’s your story?