Tag Archives: Matthew

The story of the EPIPHANY

Revisiting the Epiphany Story

Before you begin with the story-watching/learning process, check out this beautiful song by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, musician, Psalm scholar and liturgical theologian! His gift to us this Epiphany. You can see/hear more of Richard’s work at Worldmaking Publishing and Psalm Immersion –or hear his wonderful weekly segment on the Pulpit Fiction Podcast!

 

WATCH AND WONDER

Matthew 2:1-12
As told by Elizabeth Adkisson

 

WONDER WORDS

HOMAGE–What does it mean to “pay homage”? To pay homage is to pay respect. The wise men wanted to go to find Jesus to show him respect and honor him. Do you think King Herod really wanted to find baby Jesus to “pay him homage”? In what ways did the magi (the “wise men”) pay him homage? How would you or have you paid someone homage?

EPIPHANY This story is called the story of the “Epiphany.” An “epiphany” is an appearance–often an incredibly special one. On January 6, we celebrate the Epiphany (appearance) of Jesus Christ to the Magi (wise men).

WAYS to WONDER 

For all ages:

***What makes someone wise? Who are the wise men and women that you know today? Who are the wise people in the world?

***Get out your “nativity set” (it can be an actual nativity set or just about any kind of moveable objects)! Since most nativity sets don’t have Herod (he’s not the most popular guy), find something to play Herod. Got a Darth Vader figure, great! Even a salt shaker will do. Be creative! As Ms. Adkisson’s story plays, have your family play out the Epiphany scene. (You can also read another version of the story here.) Then try to tell it yourself as you move the pieces around. (What parts of the story did you remember? What was left out?) manger4

For the older set:

***If I were telling this story, in order to connect with Herod, I might think about a time I struggled with jealousy (fear that something I have will be taken away by someone else). Recall a story of jealousy from your own life.

***Later in Matthew, Jesus says this: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 16:25) Are you worried about what might be taken away from you (or what you might have to give up) in order to follow God? Tell a story about a time you gave something up to follow God–or witnessed someone else make a sacrifice to follow God.

Improv Wisdom

I begin 2016 with a great joy–getting to participate in an improv class through Washington Improv Theater. I have always loved theater and improv, but have not taken formal classes since I was in school. I have wonderful friends who are doing serious work on the theology of improv–check their blogs out here and here. I am particularly interested in the ways improv can aid us in going deeper into the biblical stories and our stories. While I hope to post more on the connection between improv and storytelling/learning, it strikes me that today’s story involves a great deal of improv on the part of the wise men.

One of the first rules of improv is to say, “YES”–to agree to the situation presented to you, and to move on from there. Much like in life, especially when life throws us unexpected circumstances which force us to be flexible and adjust, for improv to “work,” one must be willing to enter in to what is being offered. The brilliant Tina Fey has a great description of “Yes, AND” in her book, Bossypants:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if you say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You ________!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun….

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own…. To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.

In what ways do you see the wise men saying, “yes” to the circumstances presumably unusual circumstances unfolding before them?

Too strange NOT to tell: The Transfiguration

Learn the story of the transfiguration, or simply watch the video and do the “Ways to Wonder” exercises near the end of the post.

And be sure to check out Story Divine to hear more stories from the lectionary, along with personal storytelling prompts!

WATCH and WONDER

Matthew 17:1-9
The Story of the Transfiguration
as told by MaryAnn McKibben Dana

The transfiguration story is a strange one indeed. Many people have wondered what to make of this story. Storytelling the transfiguration is a wonderful way to connect with the story and to draw others into the experience on the mountain. Who knows–maybe we will be transfigured in the telling! I challenge to you to tell the transfiguration story BY HEART on Transfiguration Sunday this year. Here is a link to the text courtesy of gotell.org!

WONDER WORDS

Tranfiguration is the “act of being transfigured.” To be “transfigured” is to “change in outward appearance; transform” or “to change so as to glorify or exalt.” (dictionary.com) In this story, Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. What does the story say that transfiguration looked like?

Learn it BY HEART

1) As you are working on learning the story, considering using this Retell Wheel (just click the link)–especially if you are learning with the younger set. Just click on the wheel and answer the questions!

2) Divide your text into EPISODES. Episodes are “chunks of the story that are unified by a theme or an image,” (Story Journey, 13). Name each episode. The names for each episode should be brief (1-3 words) and easily understood. Write the names on the margin next to each episode. Choose episode names that will help you recall the content of the episode. When you are ready to tell the story, fold your paper over and see if you can tell it!

3) MAP IT OUT! On a piece of paper, map out the story. Where are Jesus, James, John, and Peter? Where do Elijah and Moses appear? Which way do they go up the mountain? Down? Where is the cloud? Where are you? Once you have mapped it out on paper, try to SEE IT in your mind. Now tell the story. (Hopefully you’ll begin to ask yourself lots of questions about location. For instance, where are you looking when you are Peter talking to Jesus?)

WAYS to WONDER

1) What would it have been like to see Jesus so transformed? Imagine the brightness. Is it blinding? Soft? Inviting? Harsh? Spend a few minutes just picturing that part of the scene. Now tell the first episode.

2) Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Tell a story about an experience you did not want to end. Why was it so good?

Remember to flesh the story out by thinking of the KEYS TO THE STORY:
Where were you? (Consider the sights, smells, sounds, etc.)
Who was there?
What were you (or others) feeling at the time? Thinking? Has that changed over time?
What actions occurred?
Did you have a sense of God in the moment? Has that changed over time?

MORE to TELL

Watch MaryAnn’s brief commentary on the experience of telling the transfiguration story!

And be sure to check out MaryAnn’s amazing blog, The Blue Room. MaryAnn is a pastor in the PC(USA), blogger, and the author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time. (Put this book on your to-read list–it is amazing.) Here is a recent piece she wrote about Faith and Wonder!

Telling our way to Jerusalem


WATCH and WONDER

Matthew 21:1-11
as told by Rev. Jeff Krehbiel

 THE “MIT”

When learning a story by heart, it is helpful to have a clear idea of what the “Most Important Thing” (MIT) is for your story. Stand up and read Matthew 21 aloud while walking around a few times. What is your initial sense of the MIT for the story?

I am struck with the ties Matthew makes to the Hebrew Testament. After Jesus gives instructions to his disciples (go get a donkey, etc.), Matthew then reminds us of  Zecharaiah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Consider the phrase that leads into it: “This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet….” According to Matthew, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is a fulfillment of Scripture. This includes the way he gets there: Jesus comes into Jerusalem from the East via the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

As the original teller, perhaps Matthew’s “MIT” is the fulfillment of prophecy. Try telling the story keeping this in mind. How can you make the significance of this fulfillment clear ?

Sometimes (often?) deciphering the MIT does not happen until you’ve already internalized the story…keep at it! Of course, the MIT you choose today, may not be the MIT you will choose the next time you tell the story!

LEARNING by HEART

Here is a copy of the story: Matthew 21

For all ages:

Map it out! Take a piece of paper and mark out where all the people/places are in your mind. Now, where are you, the storyteller? Tell the story with your “map” in mind.

For the younger set:

Play it out! Get out any kind of figures (as always, even salt and pepper shakers will do). Have someone read the story while the kids move the pieces…now switch roles. Once you’ve done this a few times, put your “script” down and just tell the story!

WONDER WORDS

Hosanna: The word “hosanna” is translated as “save, please.” In this story, “hosanna” is used as a greeting of praise.

Prophet: noun
1 : one who declares publicly a message that one believes has come from God or a god
2 : one who foretells future events
(from Miriam-Webster “Student” dictionary online: www.wordcentral.com)

MORE TO TELL

  Check back here for a short clip in which Jeff Krehbiel tells us about his own storytelling practices in worship.

My favorite tellers: Reflecting on Lent with Children


WATCH and WONDER

Children tell Matthew 4:1-11
Filmed/Edited by Alex Bryant

My own kids can’t stop watching.

This is how we do it…

We filmed this in an hour. We removed kids one-by-one from our intergenerational church school program (focused on Matthew 4:1-11) to tell the story. Each child who volunteered was given a line to learn on the spot and then coached by me. They had already encountered the story in church school, but we talked about why the devil said what he said…and why Jesus responded the way he did. The kids were amazing. I imagine they’ll be proud as they watch themselves tell the story…and that the whole story will continue to grow in them through the watching. My own kids, who did not participate, have watched it many, many times. My daughter wanted to know why some of the kids were wagging their fingers! (She was engaging in discussion around gestures!) There is so much to love about this video, but what excites me is that as much as I melt every time I see these kids tell the story–I think my kids enjoyed watching it just as much (if not more). All participants in this production were authorized to be filmed and put online by our parent/guardian release form. 

TYING it all TOGETHER

We used the film as the start to our Lenten worship stations program. Following the debut of the film, people were invited to participate in worship stations set up through the sanctuary. Here is one of our activities:

lent rocks

The devil asked Jesus (who was VERY hungry) to prove that he was the Son of God by turning to a stone to bread. Jesus refused, saying, “It is written: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

1. Read the blessing of stones left for you.
2. Put those stones back and create your own blessing to be left for the person that will come after you at the table. Be creative!
3. Before you leave this station, take a picture of your stone sentence.

Another activity was displayed on our projector–a chance to OBSERVE Lent. It was inspired by something I read on Theresa Cho’s amazing interactive prayer station website. Here is the video:

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!

WATCH and WONDER

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

 

WONDER WORD

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 Bible.org: 

“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 gotell.org). 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?)

WAYS to WONDER

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?)