More and more I hear people saying that we as a culture have forgotten how to tell stories. In a world dominated by movies and television, we have unwittingly outsourced that job to professionals. Where we used to sit around a fire and listen to the narratives passed down for generations, we now plop down in front of Netflix and hope to be entertained. Where religious communities used to be united by a story and a heritage, today it seems we place a much higher priority on theological agreement, musical styles, and at times political parties.
This semester at Lighthouse, we set out to try and reclaim a bit of our storytelling heritage. In particular we have focused on telling the stories in scripture that tend to get overlooked, those that have repeatedly slipped between the cracks of our lectionaries, and pericopes — those that are confusing, seemingly uninteresting, or uncomfortable. How do we read the stories in which the writers themselves cannot seem to say where God is, or where an un-heroic character is celebrated as a hero? These questions have given us whole new avenues of faith to explore, and have helped us to bring the conversation into our own complex lives. After all, God didn’t stop telling his story when the Bible was completed.
To help us see where God is still acting today, we have asked students to share their own stories of God’s movement in their lives. Every week before we hear about how the biblical characters experienced God, we get to hear from people we know. It seems like hearing each others stories closes some of the overwhelming distance that we sometimes experience when we read these ancient texts.
In related news, a massive thank you to the local community leaders and students, Kris Rocke, Adam Ydstie, Ken Sikes, Daniele Bender and Lyanna Diaz, who helped us kick off the school year with the First Annual Tacoma Bus Tour. When we asked the question, “How can we pop the ‘UPS bubble’ and get students to fall in love with Tacoma?”, the answer was obvious: just as in faith, the students need to hear the stories, and they need to hear them from the people who have already fallen in love with the city.
So on October fifth we loaded up into an old yellow school bus and drove through South Tacoma, North Tacoma, Downtown and the Hilltop, listening to stories, and thinking about our own role as Christ’s hands and feet in this community that God loves so much.
It has been an incredible start to the year. Thank you to you all for the myriad ways you support Tacoma College Ministry and the students of Lighthouse!