Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Church, Easter and the power of stories

Why did Jesus teach using stories? We call them parables, but they were stories. Sometimes I think we try to make them more sacred by using theologically loaded terms, or at least terms that have become theologically loaded.

Anyway, this question crossed my mind as I reflected on our experience of church on Easter Sunday. This is not a mona nor a criticism of what we attended. It's more a critique of how we do things and why we do them and how that might or might not connect with those we are trying to reach. You see, Easter Sunday is a significant day for the church. Everyone in church nows that, but for a lot of people outside of the church it's just confusing because for some reason the shops aren't open.

The message we preach or resurrection, hope and forgiveness are easily understood by those who have been around the church for long enough to know the language. But for others, I wonder how much of it actually makes sense.

As one who has been involved in the preparation and delivery of Easter Sunday events, I am just as guilty as everyone else of making the gospel complicated. Not by design, but simply by explanation. There are times when we probably tell too much of the story, explain too much of the theology and obscure the simplicity of how to respond. We are never going to make the resurrection more believable simply by offering more tangible explanations of the empty tomb.

Perhaps this is why Jesus used stories. Yes, there was an element of mystery, and method to what he did. I'm not going to ignore the challenge of his words about seeing and understanding etc and the use of parables. But maybe it was the need to engage the people at their starting point and not the starting point we would like them to have had that made stories so useful.

Maybe, if we can declutter the method we can let the story explain itself.

It's odd. I've never really struggled with the idea that Jesus came back form the dead, or even the concept of the incarnation. I've never really been bothered about the arguments over creation or worried about eschatology. Maybe, if we spent more time helping people explore the stories, the truth will speak for itself without the need for all our careful explanation.

Just a thought.

No comments: