My sister and I were raised in different families together. Let me explain. When we get together and start reminiscing about our growing up, we have very different memories of things; how they came about, who was involved, even names of family members are recalled contrarily.
“Remember the trip the family took to Niagara Falls in 1957,” Barbara would ask. “No Barb,” I would remind her, "you were studying in Cleveland by then. It had to be in 1956.” “Oh, and what about Uncle Ed’s boots dripping acid on the new carpet?” I would add. “New carpet? I don’t remember any new carpet,” she might reply. After talking about “cousin Sid” during one long conversation I finally broke in asking, “Who the heck was Sid?” “Aunt Betty’s son between Chuck and Joe,” she explained. “You mean Pat?” “His real name is Sid.” And so on and so on.
Sometimes Barb’s daughters would be present, or my sons, and they would have looks of incredible confusion on their faces. But what a wonderful turn of events! The very fact of our disagreement about family stories would keep their interest far beyond what might be normal for youngsters separated from those events by both distance and time. They would ask us questions. We would relate our histories as best we could, often with revelations to one another.
Our stories are so very important. The stories of our families and the stories of our life as a congregation and the stories of our faith – all so very important. Had it not been for story tellers we wouldn’t have scriptural accounts which sometimes are as inconsistent as Barb’s and mine of our early lives. We wouldn’t have the examples of courage and hope and changes of heart that the Bible records for us. As troublesome as some of them are to believe they teach us the values and tenets of our religion.
2012 is in many ways to be “The Year of Stories” for Midway Hills Christian Church. Our Elders will soon share in a retreat designed to help us remember individual stories that contributed to making us the people we are. The hope is that you, as a member or friend of this congregation, will have the same opportunity. And that, together as church, we will celebrate our collective stories shaping the character and nature of our mission and ministry, and how we became the kind of church we are.
This is powerful and important for us to do as we continue to be a relevant, welcoming purposeful church!