Story invites our participation. A good storyteller gathers us into the story. We feel the emotions, get caught up in the drama, identify with the characters, see into nooks and crannies of life that we had overlooked, realize there is more to this business of being human than we had yet explored.
In exploring the collective story – of refugees, resettlement agency staff, volunteers, and members of communities of faith – we need to either blend all their stories together or tell the story from another perspective.
The Story needs be told from God’s perspective because that provides a context for bringing together our divergent stories. In both the Old and New Testaments of our Christian Scriptures, story is the primary means of bringing God’s Word to us. In 1 John, Jesus is referred to as the Word of God; the Word creates – think of the power of word. Jesus uses words through story to help his listeners recognize God in their lives.
There are stories of God’s heart for the vulnerable – widows, fatherless, strangers – but these stories have been told elsewhere on this website. The story I want to tell here is the story of the Bridegroom and the Bride. This is a story of God pursing mankind through the ages. Who is the Bride? The Christian church is sometimes referred to as the “bride of Christ”–a metaphor that illustrates that closeness of Christ’s relationship with his church, and the depth of love and service that he holds for the church. God is pursuing persons from all the people groups of the world to be the Church, the bride of Christ. And at the fullness of time all creation will “rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb [Jesus] has come, and his bride has made herself ready”. Rev. 19:7.
Perhaps, God is sending the nations to our doorstep so that people that wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be introduced to Jesus can come to know Him (Rom 10:14-15). And perhaps, just perhaps, the sojourners from other lands can teach us something about how our culture and Christianity are so closely intertwined. But how will we know this, unless we rub shoulders with the nations at our doorstep?
The Bible’s stories show us a spacious world in which God creates and saves and blesses. First through our imaginations and then through our faith they offer us a place in the story, invite us into this large story that takes place under the broad skies of God’s purposes. They invite us in as participants in something larger …
Some of the ideas for this story came for “Living into God’s Story” by Eugene Peterson