For the past couple of months as I have started my time here at Laurel I’ve had the opportunity to visit with many of the members and talk about where they are at in their spiritual lives and where they believe we are at in our life together. I’m listening mostly for the stories of people’s lives, the places where they have seen God at work in themselves and in others. For some this is easy to communicate while for others it is a struggle to talk about their faith.
One thing is clear after doing these visits: everyone has a story. One had an illness that led to a miraculous recovery. Another found work through what can only be described as divine providence. Still another saw God in the hospitality given by the poor while another sees God while giving to the needy. Everyone has a story, a time when God became visibly real through actions or circumstance.
In Luke’s gospel Jesus sends out the twelve to the surrounding villages and countryside to preach the gospel and cure people of diseases. Think of it as a short-term mission trip for the 12 apostles. They go to a new place with new people and spend a limited amount of time with those in need and return to their home base. Luke gives the apostles a total of three verses away from Jesus before they return, but who knows how long they were gone?
However, in Luke 10:10 the apostles return. And they share their stories with each other and with Jesus. Imagine that campfire, with Peter and Andrew and James and John and all the rest sharing where they had seen God at work in them. Did they cast out demons? Cure the sick? Heal the lame? Bring hundreds of followers to Jesus?
Did they receive gracious hospitality? Were they ministered to even as they ministered?
Right after this, after this time of sharing, comes the feeding of the five thousand. Right after sharing their stories, the apostles become a part of another miracle – that of taking five loaves and two fish and turning them in meals for at least 5,000. And my guess is the apostles shared that story too because it was so exciting to see Jesus, God With Us, at work.
The life of the church is this constant cycle of seeing Christ at work and then sharing our stories. From this cycle we receive the vitality of the Holy Spirit, gain new perspective on life, and renew our hope for the future.
Yet for many of us we have not shared our stories in a long time, or worse we don’t think we have one to share. But from what I have seen and heard I know that everyone has a story. Everyone has seen God, even if they didn’t recognize it at first. And this is because we are all a part of God’s story that is still unfolding even now. Let’s share with one another as God shares with us.