Telling and re-telling the story of God in our midst

Telling and re-telling the story of God in our midst

By: Rev Karl Dickson

Karl is the Vicar in the Parish of Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, and writes here about the imperative to dig deeper, to find God in our midst and to continue to explore new ways in which to make God known.  This is from an article he wrote for the parish, and is kindly adapted for Movement Online.

The Finnish writer, Tove Jansen (whom I discovered as an 11-year-old) wrote a delightful series of books about the Moomin Family, and some assorted characters – such as The Hemulen, Little My, The Hattifatners, Bob and Thingamy – to name but a few.  The 11-year-old Karl fell in love with her range of children’s books, and that love has been passed on to one of my daughters – to whom I am now reading the series.  She can read them for herself, but there is a beautiful sacredness to being the storyteller; I revisit these timeless stories as the teller and as a dad. 

Not only do I get to tell stories, go on adventures with the characters, enjoy moments of joy and melancholy, as well as revisit old friends; I get to say words like the following: “Lie on the bridge and watch the water flowing past.  Or run, or wade through the swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof.  It’s very easy to enjoy yourself.” 

“’Quite, quite,’ she thought with a little sigh.  ‘It’s always like this in their adventures.  To save and be saved.  I wish somebody would write a story sometime about the people who warm up the heroes afterward.’”, and “’Why do you smile all the time?’ he said.  ‘Because I am looking at you,’ she said.” 

In reading these stories to her, I have also been reminded that I am called to tell the ongoing story of God in our midst.  Not a “once upon a time,” but a “here and now” moment; so, in that spirit, let me tell you about the here and now. 

The Gospel reading recently was from Matthew 13:44-46. 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” 

This speaks clearly to this point in time, to where St Paul’s Waiwhetu is at right now.  A time when I know that God’s Spirit is being felt; a time when words of encouragement and healing are being heard; a time when people are finding new ways to serve in our church and community.   

In the Gospel reading, our two protagonists do whatever it takes to obtain the treasure / pearl.  They dig deeper to find the taonga in their midst.  The key questions for us are: are we willing to dig deeper? (Pardon the pun.)  Are we willing to sacrifice short term comfort for longer term riches? 

If we are wanting to see the Kingdom of God at work, if we are wanting to see Christ’s healing, reconciliation, grace, love, joy, peace, hope, justice and God’s Spirit to move more powerfully – then we need to embrace the answer “Yes.”  This will require that we pray, reflect, discuss, pray and respond.   

Here at St Paul’s, we will be exploring how we might adapt our liturgical practice so that we might allow time to wait on God, as well as pray for ourselves and others across our wider church family.  But this Gospel story is not just being told in and through our Sunday worship, but in our daily activities and relationships.  Across our movement, God is at work, His Spirit is moving, Christ is being proclaimed!  In our parish, people are responding to God’s call for justice, by supporting others through court, housing and relationship issues. People are responding to God’s call to challenge the culture of the day.  People are serving our migrant brothers and sisters.  People are serving those in our hospitals, rest homes and in their own homes.   

In our godly activity and in our worship and prayer, may I encourage you to remember that first and foremost, we are the Body of Christ.  We are His storytellers – called to make His name, love and justice known.  That is the story that is unfolding for us – it’s time get our hands dirty, as we dig for that treasure in our midst. 

We hope to bring occasional editorial-style articles to you, to take different viewpoints on God’s goodness to us throughout this movement.  We are interested in hearing from anyone who would like to make a contribution.  Please email duncan@wn.ang.org.nz if you would like to discuss – all editorial rights reserved.