August 31, 2018

Once Upon a Time

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old...
Ps 78:2

"Once upon a time..." When these words are spoken, we know a story has begun. We often call these stories myths, and in the modern age the word myth has come to be synonymous with lie. But in reality, a myth is the deepest of truths; it is the truth at the root of reality as a people understands it. The sharing of myths through the ages has taught children, encouraged adults, and bonded societies. And so when we see the ominous words of Psalm 78:2, that is how we should receive them: What I am now going to hear is the truth at the root of all other truths; it is my people's raison d'ĂȘtre. And then the psalmist begins to recount Israel's struggles and victories, and the thread that runs through it all is the steadfast love of God.
Many call the stories of the Bible myths. Maybe when they say that, they mean they're untrue. But I'm fine with the word myth, for to me, a myth is not just the root of truth, but a truth that creates a people—a truth that can be shared with children who are yet too young to understand reality, and adults for whom reality is too difficult to deal with. The stories of the Bible strengthen me with a worldview that demonstrates struggle, victory, mistake, forgiveness, the fickle nature of humanity and the constancy of God. Hearing it has been a privilege. Telling it to others is a responsibility.

Thank you, God, for story and song, for law and love, for forgiveness and freedom. As I have heard it, so let me tell it, for the sake of the One who lived and died and lives again, and who taught me to pray...