Father’s day conjures up different emotions for each of us. It can be a hard day for many, particularly for those who’ve lost their dads, have dads that have disregarded them or those who’ve never even known their dads. It can be a day of celebration for many other. I n either case, days like these remind us of where we come from & they remind us that we each have a story.

And, stories are powerful, aren’t they?

I’ve been thinking a lot about stories this week. How many of you listen to This American Life? And how many of you listened to the recent series S-Town?

I don’t want to give too much away, but like most This American Life episodes, S-Town tells a fascinating set of stories. Everyone in Woodstock, Alabama has a story, but the most intriguing, the most fascinating to me is the story of John McLemore.

Part of John’s story is that he’s fed up with life in Woodstock and he’s way past ready for a change. He spends most of his conversations with the show host Brian Reed, complaining, lamenting, cussing & critiquing the narrow-minded culture & the backward ways of his hometown. From the way he talks, you get the feeling that he’s going to leave Woodstock any day. After all this place embodies nothing he stands for or believes & in fact, he can’t even be his truest self there.

Yet, despite it all, he can’t seem to do it. It’s like he’s stuck there, unable to break free from the story of S-Town.

Stories are powerful because they tell us where we come from & who we are. They also have the power to hold us back, to keep us stuck in a place we know we’d rather not be.

On the contrary though, stories can inspire us in new directions, can’t they? They can tell us there’s another way.

This week has reminded me of that, too.
And, it’s been a tough week for inspiration –
a block fire in London,
a congressman shot by an adversary while playing baseball &
the acquittal of the police officer who killed Philando Castile.
Not to mention, the one year anniversary of the Pulse tragedy.

Last Sunday as I attended a vigil in remembrance of that terrible night at Pulse, I listened as all 49 names were read and a bell tolled in honor of each one. Each name represented a life – a life full of hopes & fears, plans & imperfections – a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter – a story of a life that ended way too soon.

I kept thinking it shouldn’t be this way &
I know this isn’t God’s hope for the world.
Then, I remembered another story.

It was a story that interrupted the cloud of grief & despair left lingering after Pulse.

I remembered how in anticipation of hate-filled Westboro funeral protesters, a group of people from an Orlando Theater company decided that hate would not be the story for that day. So, they got together & constructed angel costumes with wingspans large enough to overshadow the sight and sound of the protesters. They lined the funeral processional wearing their costumes.

It was a beautiful picture & one that still inspires me. It’s one that can help us all remember that we have the power to interrupt death-dealing stories & to embrace life-giving ones. We can choose a different way of being in the world.

Despite so many misrepresentations, that really is the way of Jesus. Jesus was an interruption to the harmful stories that had been guiding people for way too long: stories of false religion, of corrupt power, of violence & greed & hate, of wars & enemies, stories that said “you’re only measured by your birthright or by the best or worst thing you’ve ever done.”

He interrupted those stories with one
of love,
of healing,
of non-violence,
of new community
& of new life.

Whether it’s the story we were born into or
the ones our town or nation tells us are scripted for us
we have the power to choose the story we will embrace
& the ones we will interrupt.

Writer Shauna Niequist put it this way: “The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song.”

And I would add, choose the story you will embrace & the ones you will interrupt.

As you move through this week, let’s consider this question:
What story are you embracing, interrupting or creating through your life?

We are so excited about tomorrow’s brunch gathering at Hyperion Brewing Co & hope you plan to be there!

Just a few reminders/thoughts/things to consider…

5 reasons why we are hosting brunch at Hyperion:

1. It’s a great way to be present & partnering with our neighbors.
2. We get to support & encourage 2 local businesses & a local artist!
3. To foster community & friendship.
4. Because we love to eat together (maybe a little too much!).
5. To share, give, laugh, imagine, savor, comfort & celebrate God’s goodness (hmm…this is starting to sound a lot like practicing the way of Jesus).

Things to consider doing:

1. Be good hosts (this may mean making sure there is enough food before we get more or giving up a seat so others can have one).
2. If you are able, give generously through tips or paying for someone else’s brunch.
3. Meet someone new (introverts, just one; extroverts, more than one :))
4. Bring a hygiene or food pantry item for our JASMYN collection.
5. Show up & pitch in where help is needed (**speaking of help, if anyone is able to help manage the electronic donations to cover brunch tomorrow, please let us know asap!**).

And, one more word – yes, we are hosting brunch at a brewery, but like all of our gatherings, we promise to make this a safe & welcoming space for drinkers, non-drinkers, kids, Jesus followers, skeptics, those of other faith or those who are not sure where/if they fit in.

Peace + love,

Susan

No More Outsiders

May 31, 2017

[This message was shared on Sunday, May 29th in response to Acts 15:1-19.] What’s it like to be an “insider”? What’s it like to know the rules of the group, to fit in neatly, to know you belong? On the other hand, what’s it like to be an “outsider”? What’s it like to wonder what […]

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Presence is Everything

May 23, 2017

Sunday, May 21 – – Words for the Journey [The following message was shared as part of our Sunday worship gathering and in response to Acts 8:26-39.] On Wednesday night, we began a new 3D group series and we started our post-dinner conversation with this question: If we are all learners, then what is life teaching you […]

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Can I get a witness?

May 6, 2017

Nafis White is a sculpturist from Ferguson, Missouri. Her piece, “Can I Get A Witness?” (pictured to the right) was intended to bring attention, to inspire action and to illuminate injustice. It was created shortly after the murder of Michael Brown and wherever it is shown, it is accompanied by a growing list of names of people […]

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Awkward Endings & New Beginnings

April 26, 2017

This message was shared on Sunday, April 23rd and was based on Matthew 28:11-20. This is how it ends – the gospel according to Matthew that is. It ends with an interesting image lingering in our minds. However you imagine Jesus’s appearance (& dare I say there’s no way his skin was this white!), the artwork […]

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When Believing is Hard

April 17, 2017

Words for the Journey for Resurrection Sunday based on Matthew 28:1-10. If ever there was a time when resurrection seems like a farce, like fake news, or like some made for TV reality show, it’s now. Bombs dropped. Refugees rejected. Nations divided by war. More gun violence, bad test results & blows to already defeated people… not […]

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Holy Week, Bombs & Being Together

April 8, 2017

Here we are. About to enter another Holy Week. About to enter the suffering of a God who we believe suffers with us. It’s a tough week, if we take it seriously. If we make space to enter the suffering of Jesus, we find ourselves feeling discomfort, powerlessness & loss.   In a culture that resists […]

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Lessons in Avoiding Destruction & Leaning into Life

April 4, 2017

During our Lent Sunday gatherings, we’ve been challenged to move Deeper into the Way. The following message was shared on April 2nd & was based on Matthew 7:1-4, 12-29. In this final section of Jesus’ most famous, least followed series of teachings, he addresses one of our most burning questions. Where is the path that leads […]

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Free as a Bird

March 21, 2017

As part of our Lenten journey through the Sermon on the Mount, the following message was shared during our worship gathering on Sunday, March 19th, and is based on Matthew 6:19-34. — In what are we choosing to invest our lives? In a documentary entitled The Minimalists, AJ Leon tells part of his story. He was […]

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