I love my job
I just updated my facebook status with Sarah 'loves my job'.
And I do, as much as being the leader of The Esther Project is a 'job', or being a minister / biblical storyteller is a job (I tend to find it more helpful to think of it in terms of vocation or way of life, since in this role, the boundaries between 'work' and 'play' are so often blurred ...)
Anyway, as I drove home from the Easter Day service at Christ Church this morning, that's what I was thinking, that I love my job. What I love is that in telling the stories of the anointing of Jesus, Jesus' washing of his disciples' feet, his arrest, the trials, crucifixion, and resurrection, I have had the privilege of inviting people to encounter these pivotal stories of their faith in Jesus, their relationship with God, in new, fresh, ways, so that they may be transformed once again by the story, by God's reconciling love and grace. I don't say it glibly, either, that it is a privilege. I honestly feel that it is a privilege to be there in the story with people as it moves them, stirs their hearts their souls, brings tears to their eyes, brings hard stories and joyful stories from their lives to the surface. I am honoured that God would ask me to do this for God's people. I am thrilled to, at last, after much searching, have found the vocation, the way of life that brings my ecclectic eccentric gifts together, when for so long I felt as though they pulled me in different directions almost tearing me apart and becoming more curse than gift.
And I have been moved by the stories myself, once again.
Thursday's space with the Esther Project was odd for me, one of those times when I had clearly done my work through the reflections in the preparation of it, and found myself somewhat distant from it as I led others through the reflections. But the buzz of conversation after, the drying tears on people's cheeks, and the feelings people shared with me, assured me that the Spirit continued to work through these words, the silence, the song, the people. It was an incredibly collaborative process, which was such a joy and is one of the many things I value in the Esther Project's way of living and being in community.
Friday was quite moving for me. I told the story of Jesus's arrest, trial and crucifixion as it appears in the Gospel of John. Towards the end of the first part, I had invited three men to represent Jesus and the soldiers at the cross, so Phil carried red and black material across his shoulders as the cross (there was a cross standing in the centre of the worship space already); Ken and Don, the 'soldiers', took the material off his shoulders and draped it over the cross and Phil fell to his knees. As I narrated Jesus' words to the beloved disciple and his mother, Phil gestured with his hands ... and he bowed his head as I narrated Jesus bowing his head and dying.
For the second part, John and I narrated Joseph of Arameathea and Mary taking the body of Jesus and laying it in the tomb, with some music in the background. We carried a white shroud to the cross, laid it out, lifted the red and black material off the cross, wrapped it in the white, carried that to an alcove that Christ Church has, and laid it in there. As I carried the material, I felt the weight of Jesus's death, not as I have in a past more conservative community as my guilt at having put Jesus on the cross, but the sorrow of Mary and his followers at losing this important person in their life, their bewilderment, sense of lost hope ...
And this morning I was Mary, recounting her experience of Jesus resurrected, and Thomas, telling his story of unbelief and belief.
I have been telling the stories from the Gospels throughout Lent, and these past six weeks, and this weekend, have been such a gift from Sean and the Christ Church community, enabling me to continue to reflect on the stories themselves, but also on the role of story in our communities of faith, and to continue to discover the power of story to move us and to reveal God to us. I am more committed than ever to the pursuit of ways to help all people who communicate the biblical story to communicate it from their heart, not just the page or their head, so as to communicate not simply the plot and characters, but meaning and invitation.