Midweek Musing 4/19/2023 - Keep Telling the Stories
Currently, I am listening to a podcast series entitled Buried Truths. It is produced by WABE, which is Atlanta's public broadcasting radio station. It has won numerous awards, and I am thoroughly enjoying learning about our state and its history, even though the topic is sometimes difficult to stomach.
This podcast is the product of a class taught at Emory University by a former editor of the AJC and outstanding journalist named Hank Klibanoff and several different professors of history. The course is entitled Cold Cases of the Civil Rights Era, and it details unsolved murders or miscarriages of justice that happened in the state of Georgia during the decades in and around the civil rights movement.
I have been fascinated with much of history that I was never taught in school and the fact that so many crimes and unethical practices were buried by politicians and other officials. If you're looking for a good podcast, I would highly recommend it.
Mr. Klibanoff, who narrates much of the show, states in the very first minutes of the first episode much of the purpose of this class and this work. He states that we need to know who we are, what kind of people we were, and the stories behind that so that we can better understand who we are today.
This telling of stories (both good and bad) is much of what the Christian faith is about. The fact of the matter is that the stories in the Bible have not changed in hundreds or even thousands of years. Our understandings of the stories and our interpretation of the stories as well as the meaning we derive from them in our current context may be different, but the stories themselves have not changed. We may have learned more about the cultures and communities due to the studies of archaeologists and historians and anthropologists, and while this may enhance our understanding, the stories themselves have not changed.
However, that does not mean that these stories are not important. In fact, they are key to our faith as they remind us who we are and to whom we belong. Some of these stories our acts of beauty and grace. Others are troublesome and even traumatic. However, all of them show the mighty acts of our steadfast God who remains faithful and loving to humanity, even when we have not been faithful or loving to God or even each other.
This is why it is so important we gather together to read the scriptures, remember the stories and consider how they shape us today. Hearing and telling stories is not a new element of our faith. In fact, it goes back to the Old Testament and is even prescribed in the book of Deuteronomy.
"When your children ask you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?' then you shall say to your children, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. Then the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right.'
Deuteronomy 6:20-25 NRSV
Later, in 1st Peter, we hear more about our history and where we come from as disciples of Christ. These words from Peter were the same words we recited as a congregation a few years ago when we baptized that beautiful infant. These words tell us who we are, where we have come from, and who we are to be as the people of God.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
1 Peter 2:9-10 NRSV
So, I invite us all to continue to read the story. To continue to see how we fit in that story as we work towards that promised day of the kingdom of God, remembering that by God’s grace, we have been saved. And that by God's grace, we were once no people, but now—thanks be to God—we are God's people. May we indeed share that story of the good news with all we know and meet.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Alleluia Amen.