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The Church is a Storyteller

Once upon a time, everyone was waiting. What were they waiting for, you might ask? Well, not all of them really knew. They were waiting for the One who would save them. Save them from what? A lot of the waiting people were confused about that too. Some people thought the Savior would free them from enslavement by their enemies. Others thought perhaps they'd be saved from hardship. The prophets of the Jews said that the Savior would come to save them from their sins.

And then one day, a baby was born. At first, only a few recognized Him as the long-awaited Savior—some poor men watching a herd of sheep, some star-watching scholars from another land—and for most of His life, He continued to live in obscurity.

Finally, He went out and gathered together a band of friends and began to preach all over His small homeland, inspiring some, angering others.

After only three years of this, His own people, the ones who'd been praying for centuries for the Savior to come, decided they didn't want the kind of salvation he was bringing. They'd forgotten He was to save them from their sins and wanted instead to be saved from their Roman oppressors. And so they had Him executed by those same Roman oppressors.

But then He rose from the dead.

A few weeks later, His friends began telling everyone His story, and how He'd come to rescue everyone from their sins. Despite persecution of every kind—death, imprisonment, and torture—this band of friends collected hundreds and thousands of people into their group.

For two thousand years, members of this group have been inspired by their founder to continue His work of saving. These are called the saints. Some have worked directly to save people from their sins as preachers, confessors, and contemplative religious. Others have worked to save men from oppression, poverty, or disease, following the example of Jesus who healed the sick and injured.

This is the story that the Church tells us every year. She doesn't just hand us a dry text of the story either. She uses songs and visual aids, and even acts out parts of it.

Lent is one of the most dramatic parts of the story, the part where it looks like Jesus is losing. Where His own people don't want what He has to offer, where they reject Him, where He suffers, where He dies.

In most stories, when the hero dies, the story is over. But this isn't most stories, and we know that Easter is just around the corner.

We know this because we've all heard the story over and over and over again.

But let's try this Lent to remember just how strange that story is. A man is rejected by his own people, handed over to their hated oppressors for a shameful execution. Who in Israel on Good Friday would have believed that two thousand years later, that betrayed dead man would be worshiped as God on continents not yet discovered? Who would have believed that His image—a naked, beaten man, nailed to a log and left to die of asphyxiation—would be displayed in people's homes, worn around their necks, enshrined in magnificent churches. Or that people would gaze on it for inspiration and even comfort?

We've seen crucifixes on our walls so many times that we barely notice them. We've heard the story so many times it almost seems commonplace. It's anything but.

It's a story only God could write. This year, let's try to listen.


About the author: Marie C. Keiser has been reading insatiably ever since she learned how, and writing almost as long. After teaching middle school for a few years and marrying one of her fellow teachers, she retired from teaching to further her plans for world domination . . . er, that is, to accommodate the needs of her growing family. When she's not plotting with her husband or chasing toddlers around the house, she writes from an undisclosed location surrounded by corn fields. You can find her remarks about life and stuff at Heaven's Hunter is her first novel. 

Image by amurca from Pixabay

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