From the Introduction
The Importance of Stories
"Children, come join me for the story," the storyteller beckoned, with arms open. Girls and boys hurried forward to get a spot next to a friend. Some children hesitated, holding a parent's hand, as they walked slowly to the front of the sanctuary. When everyone was settled, the storyteller began, "Long, long ago, even before Jesus was born. . . ." You could feel the congregation, adults and children, relax and settle in to hear the story. A good story, told well, has something for everyone, from four to ninety-four and beyond. Certainly the Bible is filled with good stories. And worship is an occasion for all generations to hear the story together. Hearing the story together is no small thing, for we Christians are a storied people, and hearing it at the same time and in the same space brings all generations together.
Many reasons are given for including a children's sermon or time with the children in the order of worship. At one end of the spectrum, it functions as a way to transition the children from the worship service to their church school classes. In that case, the little talk or story may have nothing to do with anything else that takes place in worship or in what children do in their church school classes. Too often, it is a story or talk that is prepared hurriedly and ends with a moral, one that is often beyond the understanding of the children.
But let's back up for a moment. Why is storytelling of any kind important? Stories--family stories, community stories, national stories, faith stories--are how we pass values from one generation to the next. These stories tell us who we are and what is important to our family, our tribe, our nation, our faith community. These stories bind us together. In this same way, Bible stories bind us together as the people of God. They tell us who we are and whose we are. They help us see God at work in our world. They incorporate us into the body of Christ. And stories begin to work this wonder when we are very, very young. Therefore, what better time to tell Bible stories on a regular basis than when the faith community is gathered in its most unique and faithful act, the worship of God?
When the Bible story matches the sermon text, the story provides an entry point into the sermon for adults and children as they ponder the story and how it is proclaimed in the sermon. Repetition of the story as it is told and as it is read from the Bible reinforces the text, its structure and plot, and need not be a concern for worship planners.
When that text is also the passage studied in church school, for children or all ages, which is possible with a lectionary-based curriculum such as Feasting on the Word, the possibilities for faith formation are multiplied. But these optimal conditions are not necessary to nurture faith through telling Bible stories in worship.
The ultimate goal is to tell the Bible story so the listeners' imaginations and hearts catch fire, as happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus when Jesus told the stories of the prophets. Bible stories help us recognize Jesus and meet the God who sent him to us.
Another reason for telling Bible stories in worship is to free these stories from the page. When Moses spoke to "all Israel" as the people were about to enter the Promised Land without him, he told them that everyone was responsible for teaching the children, and this was no small thing, "but rather [their] very life" (Deut. 32:47). Every adult in the church has some responsibility for telling the story to the next generation. Indeed, the congregation promises that to each infant baptized. When the story is told in worship, adults have a model to follow. They find that it's just fine to laugh at a humorous detail or to wonder what happened next. They also learn that they don't have to include every word or get everything right. After all, this is how Bible stories were passed from generation
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|Size: ||297 KB|
|Publisher: ||Westminster John Knox Press|
|Date published: || 2015|
|ISBN: ||9781611646160 (DRM-EPUB)|
|Read Aloud: ||not allowed|