As we travel through the Sundays of Advent we hear the stories of our roots of faith - stretching back to the founders of the Hebrew people, to the prophets to proclaimed the justice of God and spoke truth to power, to the forerunner of Christ - John the Baptist - and on to Mary - Theotokos, the bearer of God - we hear the grand sweep of the Hebrew and Christian narrative in which we find our indentity as Christ-followers.
And this is what stories do, they root us, ground us, give us a sense of who we are and where we have come from, and where we are going. For persons of faith we find ourselves within a story which is intertwined with the Divine Story - the narrative in which God expresses Godself to the world. The revelation of the Divine story is always bound up with human history, and our constant search for meaning and truth.
Jesus preferred to tell stories, sharing images of everyday life in ways which people could take away, reflect on, wrestle with. These stories were not clear cut, nor easily grasped, despite their simplicity - and even two thousand years later they still resonate, and bear repeated hearing and reflection.
"We are all made of stories" says Eduardo Galeano as did author Charles de Lindt, who also reminds us that our stories - those things which we carry with us, and in which we find our selves, are unique - he says, in his novel 'The Blue Girl': "...no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”
In what stories do we find meaning? What stories do we tell ourselves? Are they good or bad, hopeless or hopeful? How do we allow our stories to shape us and the world around us?
We are all invited to see ourselves within a bigger story, one wrapped up with the story God tells to the world, of the world, for the world - and one in which we each have a part, a place where we are loved, valued, graced and embraced.
As the Doctor says (in an episode of Doctor Who written by Stephen Moffat) "I''ll be a story in your head. But that's OK: we're all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?"
Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.