i think i’ve always assumed that it’s people in the church who have the sacred stories to tell. People come to church when they’re “searching”, and we show them (walk with them, point the way) to where they might find salvation (in its broadest, most encompassing terms).
no doubt that’s true for many people … but i also keep being told these amazing sacred stories of redemption, transformation and grace by people “in the world”, who would never use the Christian story to make sense of them (in fact they’re often preceded with the words “I’m an atheist, but…”).
In conversation with a friend a few weeks ago, telling our stories to each other, he made the observation that for both of us our stories of transformation and conversion happened outside the church. Our biggest moments haven’t been in the church, or orchestrated by it. In fact, the major act of redemption in my life happened in spite of the church and the beliefs it proffered (and no, i’m not going to explain that further, at least not in the context of this post!). If that’s been the case for us, why am I so surprised that it’s like that for so many others? How much of our language (even the best language) and how much of our insistence on the Christian story being the way the story of salvation needs to be told, stops people from recognising its unfolding in their lives?
What if we began curating public ‘sacred’ spaces that assume people already have a story to tell – of longing or fulfilment, of agony or transformation… and that it can be told right where they are… that you don’t have to come to church to find it or tell it?
i’m not saying that’s the end point. i’m wondering aloud whether it might be the starting point.
[i wrote this last week… but wanted to put up the Age article first. I want to say that it’s not written in response to this post from Blair…!]