Do you like to hear and to tell stories? Most people do. We tell lots of stories as part of our conversations. We tell stories of things we have done and said. We tell the story of things that happened around us and we tell stories that were told to us. These stories give us joy. Have you thought about what an important role the story plays at church?
Though many stories are told around here, the Church is here to tell just one story, Jesus’ story. The Church is here to tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We are here to tell the story of why He had to come and what a blessing it is that He did. Jesus’ story is the story we are to tell, to share with each other, our family, our friends and especially with those who have not heard it. But how do we do that? What would we say? Well it is what the Church is here to tell you, so think about how that is done. Think about the church year and how it tells the story of Jesus and of our salvation each year.
Let’s quickly walk through it to get your thoughts started. The church year begins with Advent, the season of waiting. How the people waited for and longed for their Savior to come and how we wait for our Savior to return. Then Christmas and the Savior is born. Jesus comes as a human, to take our place under the law, and as divine, in order that He can fulfill the law for us. We have a great need and Jesus comes to meet that need. In Epiphany He reveals Himself, and God the Father speaks on His behalf. Jesus reveals His divine power in His miracles. He reveals that God is active here among us. He is the beloved Son of God.
Then there is Lent, when we are shown our great need for our Savior and the forgiveness of sins that He comes to secure for us. This comes clearest on Good Friday when we see the punishment our Lord took for our sin and on Maundy Thursday when Jesus distributes that forgiveness along with His body and blood for us to eat and to drink. Then we celebrate His resurrection. God the Father declares Jesus’ work sufficient and accepted and us free in His sight. Jesus shows Himself alive and tells His church to share His story. Then He ascends to the right hand of God to be our advocate with the Father.
The church year takes us through Jesus’ story each year. In that way we hear it and learn it. We become more comfortable with it. We can use its outline to be ready to tell Jesus’ story to those who need to hear. We can use it to tell the whole story of our salvation or just one part that someone needs to hear at the time. We can begin at Christmas and tell Jesus’ whole life to someone who does not know Him, or simply remember that He is at the Father’s right hand and offer to pray for someone in need. So the Church is about Jesus’ story. We are here to be blessed by it and to share it and He is with us through it all.
I’ve often talked about confessing the faith using the creeds. We use them word for word in church, sometimes even adding the meanings from Luther’s Small Catechism. We can also use them as an outline with which to build our own confession of the faith.
I encourage confirmation students to not just learn the words of the creeds to be able to recite them, but make them part of you; understand what they are saying, believe and trust in the teachings they express. The more familiar you become with who God is and what He has done for you, the more comfortable you’ll be talking about it. With the creeds and catechism as a guide, you can form your answers to questions like: What do you mean by God? Who is Jesus and what did He do? Why is that important to me? And you can think of more.
As you work through questions like these, you will grow in the faith and be more ready to express the faith in your own words. Then you can indeed always be ready to express the “reason for the hope that is in you”.
You too can be ready to speak the truth in love and share the wonderful gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You’ll be able to share it with your family, friends, neighbors and anyone you come in contact with. You’ll be able to share with them this most wonderful gift of God.
Rev. Don Stock is the Associate Pastor at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church in Munster, Indiana.
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