Recap: The Stories We Tell

June 1, 2017

When I was little, some of my favorite books were from the Mr. Men Little Miss series. My oldest cousin had given me his collection along with the set of cassette tapes, so I could listen to the stories even if I couldn’t read them yet. I would set myself up in my playroom with a stack of books and my bright red Fisher Price tape player, and I’d get lost in the stories of Mr. Messy and Little Miss Trouble.

I still love stories. If you were to come to my home, you’d see bookshelves in almost every room, and a stack of books almost as tall as the lamp on my nightstand.

Stories can move us beyond ourselves and give us a different perspective on the world. They help us to know ourselves better and to understand others more fully.

As Christians, we are story people. We read stories of Scripture to learn more about who God is and who we are in relationship to God. Jesus himself told stories to help his followers understand more about God and what God hopes for God’s people.

The centrality and poignancy of stories were two of the reasons why we chose “The Stories We Tell” to be our Formation theme this year. Over the course of the past nine months, we’ve shared a lot of stories with each other. FPC friends of all ages have listened to God’s story in Scripture together. We’ve shared our life stories with each other at Bible studies and grade level dinners. We’ve seen how God is writing a larger story for First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte that began long before we were born and will continue after us.

As we wrap up this formation year, we are grateful for the ways you’ve shared your stories with each other, and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s in God’s next chapter for FPC.

~ The Reverend Katelyn Gordon

(Please view some of the art that has been created as part of telling our stories over the past nine months, and scroll down to read what a few of our members believe about the importance of telling our stories.)

 

The bowl is made of strips of paper with words about baptism and belonging written by First Church children, 2017 Confirmands and FPC staff.

Why is it important to tell stories?

This book was created by FPC Congregational Retreat participants in October 2016. Participants designed a page based on their favorite Bible story to be included in the book.

“Because God is in them!” – Fox Staub, age 4

“Stories let us know about the Bible and what Jesus did for us.” – Avayanna Simpson, age 8

“Stories help us worship and remember what Jesus did.” – Jane Young, age 7

The chalice was made by member Frances Furr; Youth intern Callie Malone added the words selected by FPC Officers at the 2017 Officer Retreat. The officers were asked to respond to the question, “Who or what has helped you to know you belong in this community?”

“Telling stories is so important for in doing so we can let people into our lives and cast light on the seemingly inexplicable feelings and emotions we experience. When we seek to share events in our life—either light-hearted or vulnerable—we foster community, and a topic that we once felt alone in becomes one that is relatable. For me, stories are a space where people can bare themselves, be vulnerable, and find solace within the group of people who receive those words and find meaning in them.” – Grace Burud, age 18

“Stories are important. We need to tell them so that we pass them down from generation to generation. If we don’t tell them then people won’t ever hear them!” – Elijah Johnson, age 12

“Stories link us together. We learn about commonalities between ourselves and others to build relationship, and can understand the experience of those around us more fully when we share our stories.” – Katherine Stewart, FPC middle school youth advisor

“Because we forget so much. We forget the goodness of God, the beauty of life, and the many blessings we receive simply from being alive. We also forget or exaggerate our suffering and pain, and stories remind us of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Stories connect us to each other, to ourselves, and also, perhaps most of all, to God. Who is a better, more unpredictable, more creative story teller than God? God’s stories are planted in our hearts, watered and fed by the stories we hear and the stories we read in Scripture. They then grow to become the stories God writes in us and in our lives. If we are paying attention, we will notice that God writes such good stories that we have to tell them; we have to share them. We simply cannot keep them to ourselves.” – Gail Henderson-Belsito, FPC elder