By Steven Norris
This year, I received one of the most meaningful Christmas presents I have ever received. It’s not very often that you get a gift that was over twenty years in the making. To explain, I need to give a little back story.
When my mother turned fifty, my brother and I decided to surprise my her by coming home from college and showing up unannounced with a cake and a big “Surprise!” One of the gifts that we gave her was a little book entitled, Reflections from a Mother’s Heart. It was a journal of sorts, complete with writing prompts to help mothers share some of their story with their children.
Mom started answering some of the questions, but life has a way of slipping up on you and the “tyranny of the urgent” easily takes over. One of the few benefits of the recent pandemic has been that mom has had more time to sit down and think about some of those questions.
As you may have guessed, on Christmas morning, I opened a box to find a large three-ring notebook filled with handwritten pages. Not only had mom gone through and answered the questions in the journal, but she included an almost 100-page memoir complete with scanned pictures of her life. For the first time, I was able to hear her story and the story of God’s working in her life throughout the years.
In the book of Deuteronomy, we get advice from the scriptures about telling our stories. Chapter 6 contains one of the most well-known passages in the Hebrew Scriptures: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one…These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…be careful that you do not forget the Lord…”
One of the most important things that we can do as a people of faith is to tell our story. We are to give witness to the ways that we have experienced God at work in our lives and in our world. The past couple of years have been hard. It would be tempting to focus exclusively on the negative headlines and completely miss the countless examples of God’s faithfulness. In the midst of tragedy, we have also seen goodness, service, and selfless love.
How can we tell our story and preserve the evidence of God’s faithfulness in the year ahead? Maybe it doesn’t look like the three-ring binder my mother created. Be intentional about talking to your children or grandchildren over dinner or a family walk about your faith experience. Regularly name the things for which you are thankful. Renew your commitment to be involved in a community of faith, where we tell and retell the story of our faith through worship and ritual. Whatever form it takes, let us take advantage of the opportunity to tell our story for future generations.