Reclaiming your Cultural Stories in Communities of Faith
Sometime last year, I embarked on my first blog series. The series was entitled “The University Series” which sought to engage how we live together as the Body of Christ acknowledging and celebrating our diversity. Though it was short lived (since us bloggers were moved to this new fancy home, that is) it was a lot of fun and I (among others) really enjoyed it. Just as I was thinking about whether to bring it back or not, a friend asked if I’d be willing to speak at Week Four. Now, Week Four is a student group on campus that offers students a chance to give a talk that answers the question, “If you could tell future seminarians one thing, what would it be?” I was honored to say the least, and sought to think about what I should talk about. Since it was this Summer and I was taking a Directed Study course on the Gospels and Oral Tradition, I thought it would be cool to see how the power of story would be influential in the way we interacted. The result was the talk, “The Power of Story: Reclaiming your Cultural Story in a Community of Faith.” As I was putting together material for the talk, I remembered that blog series. So, I decided that now was a good time to bring this series back.
So, allow me to tell you a little bit about what this series will entail and why I feel it is important.
I originally used the term “university” because I heard it used in a sermon once. The preacher used it as a way of finding “unity” within “diversity” thus the term “university.” I thought the term would be perfect as we were talking about not only how to engage diversity in the body of Christ but how to do so on campus. But instead of just including my two cents on the topic (which I did, naturally) I thought it would be a great idea to include actual stories from students on campus of different backgrounds that answered the same set of questions and shared how they were claiming their cultural stories in communities of faith. (I will try to re-post the stories on the other site so that you can read those as well)
So, now for the important stuff. The reason that hearing stories like these is important is because it answers important questions like, . What did it mean to move from paper (or being statically diverse) to practice (actually engaging diversity)? What did it mean to hear from people of different backgrounds? What would they have to say about our theology? The reason that stories do this best is because story has a way of drawing us in; giving us something to relate to but reminding us that the story is also beyond us. No matter how “real” they are; they are magical. They bring us together in a way that stating facts and tossing around ideas just can’t. I believe that it is necessary that we learn to reclaim our cultural stories in communities of faith for three reasons:
1. Our theology and our church is in need of a desperate awakening that challenges the way we view our church in light of the dominant culture.
2) we need to realize that we are only deceiving ourselves and limiting God if we continue to deny the varied expressions that is the result of worshiping with other cultures and
3) we would be foolish to forget that we are a storied people; brought together by the telling of a story, not as an attempt to re-write ours per se, but a story of a God who decided to plant himself within our story, in order that it might be redeemed.
It is that story of a people and their God that brought all of us together, from various backgrounds, all throughout time. God could have just stated the facts; but He decided to tell us a story. I believe that we can do the same. And I also believe that diversity, multi-culturalism, and engaging the body of Christ are also important. It just so happens that story is an amazing way to engage diversity.
So I hope you look out for those stories as we allow students on campus so share how the Gospel has impacted their culture. We are also going to share how some communities are engaging their diversity and how it is impacting their churches and other communities. We are also open to answering any questions that any of the readers may have so feel free to engage with these stories.
I hope that many of you will begin to take the time to ask yourself how you can reclaim your cultural story within a community of faith. For some, that may mean taking the time to better understand your cultural story. For others, it may just mean finding the space to tell and the people to listen. Either way, I hope you are able to reclaim your story, and to see how it too has been redeemed.
Until next time folks…