This fall we tried a creative way of diving into scripture with a resource called “Echo the Story”. I came across it attending a training event led by the creator, Michael Novelli. His thoughts on how to study the scriptures as a “sacred story” gave me a wider perspective. But since many of you haven’t heard of the term “sacred story”, I wanted to share a bit from his book “Shaped by the Story”. It begins with the question, “What are some ways in which people see the Bible? As fantasy? Instruction manual? History book?”
There’s another way in between these views of the Bible. We can look at the Bible as a “sacred story”, the ancient accounts of people’s experiences with and beliefs about God.
Most of the Bible - about 75 percent - is actually narrative. The ancient Israelites and early Christians weren’t trying to report events like modern journalists or historians. Instead, they were telling stories of their experiences and what they believed about God’s activity in the world. Many of the stories they told were passed down from generation to generation.
A “sacred story” is a different kind of story, combining literal and poetic descriptions of reality to reveal deep truths. The ancients were not worried about getting every detail right; what they wanted to ensure was that their beliefs and perspectives were preserved. This is an in-between way of looking at the Bible because it conveys that the Bible is both reality and metaphor mixed together.
I believe that through our imaginations and reflection on these stories, God helps reveal to us the truths embedded in them. These stories are sacred because they are a unique revelation of God to us. They give us a glimpse of who God is and how God wants to work through us in the world.
In order for us to explore the Bible as a “sacred story”, we must ask different kinds of questions.
What do you notice? We enter these stories with our imaginations - like eyewitnesses who will then share what we have seen and sensed. This helps us to move to an experience that had multi-dimensions and depth of meaning.
Why would they tell this story? These stories arose out of a remarkable, beautiful, strange and mysterious culture. These are their sacred stories - stories they risked their lives to preserve and pass down to us. So we should come to them with reverence and awe.
What does this story say about us? What does it say about me? Embedded in these stories are deep truths that can provide meaning for us in this moment. The wealth of meaning is inexhaustible.
These types of questions help us continue to hear God’s creative way of speaking to each of us through the scriptures. I hope it provides you with a fresh perspective, and invite you to come on this journey with us through Lent on Sunday mornings.