I enjoy challenges since they keep my neural networks fired up and making new connections.
So when our Priest Associate asked us three Old Testament readers for the Easter Vigil service to forego reading our lesson this year and instead “tell the story in our own words,” I thought well, OK. He reminded us that this would be similar to the oral tradition of storytelling in the early church.
My portion was the story of Creation from Genesis. I’ve been reading this scripture lesson at that service for many years. I’m well acquainted with it.
But telling the story of creation is a very different experience from reading it.
I truly wish I had a way of letting you see the event through my eyes. Words will have to suffice.
The church is dark; the only light is provided by candles high in wall sconces and the individual tapers held by a hundred people. I make my way along the aisle and ascend the two steps to stand centered in the open area between the pulpit and the lectern.
I’m bathed by the light of the tall Christ candle to my right and by the candle I’m holding in my hand.
I look out at the congregation, their faces upturned in hopeful expectation, faces lit only by their own flickering candles.
As I begin, it feels as though I am sitting around a campfire, telling my friends the familiar story they had come to hear in a new way.
“It’s dark in the church tonight. (long pause) But it’s only sort of dark. In the beginning, in the very beginning, it was really dark….”
After I finished, the other two speakers told their stories and I was totally mesmerized, even though we had heard each other’s stories at a practice run earlier in the day.
Episcopalians aren’t known for their fondness of change. And that’s putting it mildly. So we weren’t sure just how well received our replacing scripture reading with storytelling would be. But so far, people have told us only that they loved every bit of it.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good story by candlelight?