The other night we had some folks over to our house for a few drinks. One of the couples are in their sixties and they did something that is often overlooked and underappreciated. They told us their stories from when they were younger, stories of hard times that could be told with laughter and a glint in their eyes now that they are so far removed. IT was beautiful to hear these tales, and marvelous to see how they interacted, the husband prodding the wife to tell more, not to forget anything, not to leave anything out. The husband, laughter in his eyes before his wife even says what he is waiting for her to say, a piece of their story he has heard countless times and yet gets such joy out of hearing it again, sharing it again, letting my wife and I into their story.
In the bible there are many passage about the importance of telling the children, and future generations the stories of what God has done for his chosen people. They set landmarks up, stones, pillars; monuments intended to help them remember. They also set special days aside to spend with family and friends, to eat the fatted calf, and to tell each other the old stories. It was important to their identity as a family and as a culture, and as a people of God.
When my grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s decease, a man who had been a university professor and avid crossword puzzler, many of us felt terribly sad. Sad that he didn’t really recognize us, but in my case at least, sad because the man who had used his mind so well, who had trained it to hum and sing in academia, could hardly understand a thing he had written in his career. My grandmother wrote an autobiography of their time together and a cousin and I (with the help of my wife) typed it up. Grandma could then read it to him over and over again, and he wanted to hear, he loved to hear their stories, laugh and cry at what had been. We all took comfort in that.
The stories the Israelites told each other weren’t all about the past though. They were also about the future, about the one to come who would finalize the promises that everything hinted at. Today we know that this was accomplished by Jesus, one of the greatest story-tellers. Today I am grateful to be a story-teller, one who gets to share and spread the story, to laugh and cry, and to enter into it. To enter the biblical story, and the story of the body of Christ as it is found in the world today. I am honored to have people in my living room and yet feel hosted by them. I am blessed to have classy old fellas who can sing and dance and who treated their wives right (most of the time).