Monthly Archives: February 2014

Does Jesus Get Hangry? Storytelling for Lent 1

This is the first in a series of videos to get you ready to story-learn and tell this Lent!


Matthew 4:1-11
As told by Rev. Leslianne Braunstein



FASTING To “fast” is to intentionally not eat food as a way to become closer to God. Here is an explanation of the practice of fasting in biblical times offered by 

“The [Old Testament] uses fasting and abstinence from food to point to something even more necessary for life—communion with and dependence on God. Fasting behaviors were sometimes commanded, sometimes voluntary, and sometimes even ritualized, but the Hebrew Bible rather consistently portrays fasting in conjunction with themes of disruption and restoration. In the midst of disruption, fasting comes to symbolize hope. Through repentance and prayer, fasting can signify the centering of the self in humility, the renewal of the relationship to God’s sustaining force. As such, fasting takes on a dual significance of mourning and hope.”

Have you ever fasted? What was it like? What was the hardest part? Did it make you feel closer to God?

If you haven’t fasted, find someone who has and ask them about their experience! Better yet–try a fast yourself–even a brief fast might help you tell the story!

learn it BY HEART

Verbal Threads Look for the words or phrases that are repeated through the story. Click HERE for the text (thanks again to There is a lot of repetition in the story, which makes for great storytelling! I like to print out a copy of the story and with my colored pens circle and connect the verbal threads. What do you notice about the repetition?interlaced-herringbone-10

Giving VOICE to the devil I am always struck by what good things the devil offers Jesus. If he’s meant to be the savior of the world, wouldn’t it be great if he was well-fed and already ruled everything??? In order to consider how the devil sounds, you might want to think about (or tell a story about) what tempts you. Is the devil angry or…persuasive…or something else? What works better when one is trying to be tempting

Looking for CLUES What does Jesus look and sound like in this story? Consider what it would be like to fast for 40 days and nights…how might this have affected his speech or the way he stands? Was he hangry? (When I am hungry, I am almost always also short-tempered and angry.) Does he start off the same way he begins, or is he changed over the course of the story? (For example, does he start of weak and get stronger, or could it be the other way around?)


For all ages: STORY BOARDING This story has great visuals (some kids may need a bit of explanation from adults).

  1. Draw Jesus alone in the wilderness (consider…what is the wilderness?)
  2. Draw the temptation of the bread (consider…what do we “live by”?)
  3. Draw Jesus and the devil on the pinnacle of the temple (consider…how do we test our God?)
  4. Draw them up on a high mountain looking at all the kingdoms (consider…what things in this world are particularly tempting to you?)
  5. Draw Angels attending Jesus (consider…when have you felt God caring for you?)

Things to AVOID When Telling Biblical Stories

a new online workshop

Check out our online workshop focusing on things to avoid when telling biblical stories. Jason Chesnut  (Lutheran pastor, storyteller extraordinaire, and founder of The Slate Project ) and I had so much fun preparing for and giving this workshop! If you have more questions about storytelling, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

My favorite part is when I joke that I know all the Greek from Jason’s story…which was written in…ehem…Hebrew, obviously. Suddenly realizing the perils of live and recorded workshops! 🙂

Five Things to Remember…


Professional biblical storyteller Tracy Radosevic’s online workshop:
“Five Things to Remember When Telling Biblical Stories”


to WATCH or NOT to watch

Last week Tracy Radosevic, professional biblical storyteller, professor, and Dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytelling, gave a fantastic live online biblical storytelling workshop. It is FULL of great stuff–you’ll probably want to watch it more than once! During the Q&A time at the end, someone asked Tracy if it is better when learning a biblical story to watch someone else do it first. Tracy said that most of the time it is best to NOT watch. I AGREE. If I watch someone else tell the story–it is hard to get it out of my head. (For the same reason, I do not read other people’s sermons before trying to write my own!)

Especially when I was first learning stories, if I saw someone tell the story I was learning I could not get their telling choices out of my head!!! Part of learning a story by heart is learning it for yourself–finding how it reaches YOU. It is hard to do this when someone else’s telling is in front of you. If you are a beginner adult teller and want to learn biblical stories, perhaps avoiding a video of story you’re learning would be the best option. You can just skip the video and move right onto the activities!

So WHY do I put up videos of the stories I’m hoping people will learn?

1) I want people to have access to biblical stories being told. Even if you never learn to tell them yourselves, you have at least had an experience of it being told. I love pairing biblical and personal storytelling. If you watch the biblical story and then tell your own stories, something very special has happened…something formational.

2) This blog is for people of all ages. A video telling can be a great starting point for group/family discussion.

3) It is my hope that in having many people tell the stories of God on this blog, you will see that there are many types of tellers. Perhaps it will make it easier to find your own voice.

4) I just LOVE watching other people tell stories.

These are just a few reasons. Tracy’s observation does have me thinking of some fun ways to approach video story-learning on the blog–stay tuned! I am hopeful that over time enough stories will be told here that even if you don’t want to watch the story you’re learning, you’ll be able to watched stories that are connected to yours (i.e., if you’re working on the story of the transfiguration, you might be able to watch a story about Moses or Elijah as you prepare).

I am excited about the possibilities…and grateful for Tracy’s wisdom and encouragement over the last few years as I’ve learned to tell the stories of God! (Check out Tracy here!)


This Wednesday, February 19, 3p.m. EST–check out the next installment of the #biblestoriesrock workshops–Things to AVOID When Telling Biblical StoriesJason Chesnut and I will be your workshop leaders!

To view on Google+ (you can ask questions at the end!!!) click here:

To view on youtube (you can watch, but won’t be able to participate w/ questions)

Paul the Romantic?


1 Corinthians 13:1-13
as told by Casey FitzGerald

Here is a copy of the text: 1 Corinthians 13 1to13

the BACKstory

Though this passage is read at most weddings, it is not, in fact, specifically meant for romantic entanglements. Paul is speaking about the kind of love that is from GOD. (Of course, in marriages we are given a great opportunity to exercise such a love.*) Paul was writing to a church community facing many divisions. They were attempting to follow God and fight with each other at the same time. Many of them thought that if they separated they would be better off. Paul was trying to urge them to stay together–to explain to them that acting out of love was more important than any other issue they were facing.

The kind of love Paul refers to is not easy. It is not the kind of love one “falls” into–it is a love of choice and commitment. It is the deep and faithful love God has for us. It is the deep and faithful love we are called to have for one another.


When I tell this “by heart,” I choose to speak the words and intone their meaning as I do…in other words, when I say arrogant, I try to say it arrogantly. I often do this when storytelling, as it helps those who do not understand specific words to understand their meaning. Even if this is not the way YOU would choose to tell it, try the following exercise as you learn the passage:

Say these words/phrases aloud while trying to convey their meaning with your voice and body:

insist on its own way
bears all things
believes all things
hopes all things
endures all things


For all ages: Tell a story about a time you knew you were loved. (What happened? How did you know? How did it make you feel? Did you act differently because of it?)

For the older set: Tell a story about a time you chose love over conflict.


*A word of caution: This text should not be used to encourage people to remain in abusive relationships. Remember: Paul highlighted what love does NOT look like. Love is not abusive. If you or someone you love is suffering abuse, please seek help.