june 2012 by xuyuzhu


									Musings from Pastor Jean – “Telling Our Stories”            (June, 2012)

         Human beings are natural storytellers. We share our lives and our thoughts with each
other all the time. It seems as though the act of sharing makes our lives more concrete and real.
Haven’t we all had both good and bad things happen to us and our immediate thought in either
situation is to find someone with whom to share? All the classic jokes about people talking
“around the water cooler” have a basis in reality. We reach out because we are designed to be in
community. The worst thing for most people is to be in isolation. People need other people. We
are not meant to be alone.
         We are social creatures and find validation and understanding by sharing our lives and
our points of view. Stories are also a way for a community to hold onto its history and keep it
alive. The earliest entertainers were those who could remember the stories and share them.
Stories of success and victory were told over and over as a way of keeping up the hopes and
dreams of a people. Even failures were shared as a means of helping people not repeat their
mistakes. The Old Testament was kept alive and added to over centuries of oral tradition before
finally being put down in written word. Stories are a major element of our biblical tradition. The
Gospel writers created the parable form of short stories making a point using everyday life
elements and situations. People can relate when stories sound like their own lives.
         In ancient times we told our stories face-to-face around the campfire and in drama,
poetry, and songs. The earliest religious gatherings were religious theater and the big
ideas/themes were shared. When people can’t read for themselves, learning and sharing are done
through spoken or sung word, movement and art. All art is some variation of trying to express
and idea or share and experience.
         Once stories were written down, they reached wider audiences. Movies, TV, and radio
kept expanding the story range. With cell phones, we don’t even have to be in one particular
place. We can share our stories any time and in any place. We continue the early methods, but
we’ve added email, online blogs and items, Facebook and 140 character Tweets. The
opportunities seem almost endless. We are bombarded by information, but not all of it is either
helpful or even good. We all struggle to make our way through the onslaught of data. Yet, we
still desire connection with each other.
         Although our methods have changed throughout time, our need to communicate hasn’t
changed. Anyone who has spent time on the internet knows that people quickly respond to
anything put online. Yet, I am not sure that we are communicating back and forth or just
commenting. There is a difference. Communication requires some sort of relationship and a
commitment to having something meaningful occur, not just a “hit and run” anonymous
comment like so many online.
         I share all of this because part of what it means to be a community of faith is to tell/share
our stories with each other. Not only does such sharing allow us to get to know each other better,
but we can also better support and encourage each other in that dialogue. Part of being Common
Ground is finding a place of meeting, where the stories we share find a welcome ear, a
sympathetic heart, and maybe even a hug. Our stories also help us to figure out whether our
efforts are making a difference and whether or not we are reaching out beyond these walls to the
greater community.
         Beginning with this newsletter, we are creating a column called, “Our Common Ground
Stories” which will be open to anyone to share some short story/essay or thought about how
Common Ground has or is impacting your life. It can be a story/idea from something within the
church community, or something external from the community at large, at work, school, etc.
How is our vision making a difference in the world?
        This month’s inaugural piece is being shared by Lynne Dablow, daughter of one of our
founding members, Betsy Dablow. Continued on pg. 3 3 Lynne and Betsy came to worship on
May 13 to share part of her story after having read my sermon from May 6 about my deep
disappointment and pain with the United Methodist General Conference (April 24 – May 4) and
its inability not only to agree to disagree on the issues of inclusion of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and
transgender folks, but also that it was unable to be civil to each other and that the institutional
church left people deeply hurting and divided. In my sermon I called for the local church to
model our vision of not only total inclusion, but radical hospitality, where love casts out fear and
that we can meet together in love, even when we may disagree. Based on what Lynne shared
about her story in worship on May 13, she was asked by the Visioning Team to begin our series
because what she said touched our hearts. Please read her story. I think you will find yourselves
feeling very proud of our values and our mission/vision statement that says “Everyone Counts!”
In a world filled with ugly shouting, epitaphs and hostility, reading/hearing each other’s stories,
learning about each other and growing in our understanding of our similarities and our
differences may be the best means by which we can model love, acceptance and inclusivity. It all
begins with us. What is YOUR story?
        Blessings, Pastor Jean

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