[Anne Bogel wrote today’s guest post. I’m so excited about this that I can hardly see straight!]
I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD any loose-fitting clothing I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place!
I’ve sat through enough sermons in my life to hear this particular joke 5 different times from 3 different pulpits. And as it so often goes, I can remember the joke years later, but I have no idea what the point was.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too: pastors, preachers, and teachers trying to “warm up” the crowd with a joke or interesting story to get their listeners’ attention. And when the lesson is over, the crowd can remember the joke, but not the message.
I wish they’d just let their message stand on its own.
I’m happy to yuck it up at a bad joke, but I’m troubled by the subtext. When a teacher begs for our attention, they communicate that their core message might not be accessible, or interesting, or worth listening to. Without meaning to, they apologize for their ultimate message and deprive it of its power.
We need to have faith that our message has power. We need to have the confidence to let our stories stand on their own. When we tell them well, our hearers remember the story and its point.
Recently at a Sunday service, my rector told a haunting story about the time he served at the 21st century’s Pool of Bethesda: the Mayo Clinic waiting room. He spoke of sickness and elusive health, of mystery illnesses and miracles, of the angels that came to stir the waters–thousands of years ago and even now in that waiting room.
He let his story stand on its own. He trusted in the power of his story, and the power of the gospel message. He didn’t beg for our attention. He didn’t have to, and he knew it.
His story could stand on its own.
(He mentioned that he’d thought of turning that story into a book. It would be a good one. I pray that he does, and I promise I’ll send Tim a copy so he can share it with you.)
We all have stories that deserve to be told: stories that are accessible, interesting, and worth listening to.
We need to tell them, without apology. Our stories have power, and they can stand on their own.
[Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy, and writes about the intersection of faith and life at Anne With An E, but sometimes she gets them mixed up, because it’s hard for her to divide life into discreet categories like that. Clearly, she’s also an INFP.]