I Love to Tell the Story (With God’s Help)
June 4, 2022
Each summer during college, I served as a counselor at Lutheran day and residential camps. Working primarily with elementary-aged children, the camps had time for Bible study, games, arts and crafts, campfires, and all the other tiny things that collectively make summer camp so magical. One week’s theme was the Holy Spirit and included a re-telling of the festival of Pentecost for one day’s Bible study. Feeling confident in my storytelling abilities, afterward I asked the first- and second-graders seated on the grass in front of me to sum up what happened on Pentecost. These campers had been riveted: they were going to nail this question! An eager hand shot up and one proud camper proclaimed, “That’s the day God set everybody’s heads on fire!”
That was not quite the summary of Pentecost included in my counselor guide to that day’s Bible study. Have you ever had an experience talking with someone about the gospel or offering words of sympathy or encouragement and output does not quite equal input? Sometimes we are so confident in our own knowledge and experience that we aren’t fully aware of how our words are hitting their audience. To borrow a theme from Pentecost, sometimes the message seems to be lost in translation.
This is indeed a miraculous story to tell, one full of fantastic miracles, fulfillment of prophecies, perplexing characters, and sudden plot twists. There is no shame in finding it difficult to find the language to convey the meaning of Christ’s ministry on earth, his painful death on the cross at the hands of a brutal government, and glorious resurrection on Easter morning. And yet we are told, by Christ himself, to go and share the story.
But how do you begin to share this Good News? Knowing the chasm between God’s work and our storytelling abilities, the Holy Spirit arrives on Pentecost to set everyone’s heads (and hearts) on fire; to move in the winds of our voices, to inspire new believers and rouse tired listeners from their slumbers. The Holy Spirit moves in the Church and the waters of baptism, promising new life and reminding us once again of God’s favorite story- one of redemption, reconciliation, hope, and steadfast commitment to God’s beloved children. Most of all God delights in us, those eager children sitting on the grass, ready to tell the story again and again.