Storytelling the Pain of Past and Present

Storytelling the Pain of Past and Present

“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” –Professor and medium_11545796855Author Julius Lester

Many preachers this week are busy considering the Exodus 1:8-2:10 lectionary text for this Sunday–the story of the women who saved the Hebrew children from the cruelties of a Pharaoh who “did not know Joseph.” Yes, it is also the story of the birth of Moses. It is the story of how he was birthed into the world and saved by the hands and the hearts and the minds of the women and girls. These incredible women and girls–the ones whom Pharaoh overlooked–began the liberation of the Hebrews from their enslavement in Egypt. It is an incredibly powerful story to tell by heart.

Many preachers are also considering how to address what is happening in Ferguson, MO. How will we talk about race from the pulpit? How will we encourage our communities to hear the pleas of those who cry out for justice? Stuck on where to begin? Why not begin with stories? Begin with the tweets and the articles and the Facebook statuses. Begin by listening to the stories yourself. Then go, and tell. 

To tell someone else’s story is a sacred act and must be treated as such. It is an act which requires (and builds) empathy. It encourages the empathy of the listeners as well–it invites them into the sacred space of the story. How can we begin to repair these broken relationships and systems? By listening to the stories.

Later on in Exodus, calling to Moses from the burning bush, God says, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters,” (Exodus 3:7). Listening to to the cries of the people, God calls Moses into the dangerous work of freedom fighting. God calls Moses to continue the work that began with those women–the defiant midwives, Jochebed and her daughter, and even an Egyptian princess. Perhaps in considering their bravery and strength in the midst of the injustices and devastation that surrounded them, we will be made bold in our own storytelling this week.

May we listen
May we hear the cries of ALL God’s people
May our shared stories move us to justice 
May we all be set free

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