The Stories We Tell

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, which most Christians deem the holiest week of the Christian calendar.  [I don’t want to get into an Easter vs. Christmas debate here, but let me just go on record as saying I think more theological importance should be vested in the incarnation, which has far more soteriological importance than is usually acknowledged.  Truth be told, I’m pro-Christmas, theologically:  I believe that God’s indwelling in Jesus reveals just as much of God’s love, grace and mercy as the cross.  But that’s another post for another day.]  For most Christians, then, this week represents the climax of the story we tell about who God is, how God is in relationship to us [and the whole world], and where our deepest hopes about human life are rooted.

I was thinking about this “story” as I read the following article in The New York Times:

The upshot of the article is that families that share a compelling narrative, a narrative that spans generations and tells of both ups and downs, create the strongest identity in children–an identity that gives them extra resilience in the face of life’s challenges.  One of the psychologists involved in the study,  Dr. Duke, discovered that “children who have the most self-confidence have…a strong ‘intergenerational self.’ They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.”

As Christians re-tell the narrative of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem, his betrayal and abandonment, his crucifixion and death–ending, of course, in his triumphant resurrection, we are at the same time telling the larger narrative of our own lives, our own ups and downs, our own betrayals and deaths.  As we read ourselves into Jesus’ story–a universal story with cosmic ramifications–not only are we better able to make sense of who we are at our core, but we also are renewed in times of crisis, and we are given confidence about the future.  This is, fundamentally, our “family story,” and this week in particular, we tell it with special urgency and intensity together with millions and millions of our brothers and sisters all over the world. Our family is vast, our story is transformative, and it has the happiest ending one could ask for–not only for Jesus, but for us, too.  

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