Story and Practice

I was reading on another blog that 2014 is going to be a big year for biblical epics. Apparently studios in the US noticed the interest in the television series “The Bible” and have decided. God’s story is going to have a bit of a moment. So get ready for cinemas showing interpretations of Noah, the escape from Egypt, David and Goliath and a prequel to “The passion of the Christ” focussing on Mary.

I guess when they come out these will be varied in quality, and there’ll be lots of discussion about how accurate they are and how faithfully they interpret the original material. Of course there’ll be lots more discussion attempting to enlighten Christians to the fact that their getting upset about fairy tails. I guess this all is probably a good thing, the story of the bible will be shown and discussed after all.

Over Christmas I was watching a couple of documentaries on TV. Christmas is one of those times when the BBC does religion and so you get a few things springing up across that network. One was exploring pilgrimages across the world. The other was studying sacred places around the world. As a Christian history geek I love that kind of thing, but I also thought that both programmes showed well the depth of passion and feeling that religious practice gives.

Story and practice, 2 ways of engaging with faith. I think often Christian mission focuses on one or the other. Either we attempt to get people to understand the story, and why it is really important to them or we try to share practice with them, for example praying for healing, engaging in Christian social action or practicing contemplation. I think we need both.

One way of looking at the bible that has gained popularity recently is as an unfinished story or a play with a missing final act. In this story the present day, and the 2000 or so years before it, are an important part of the drama. This approach offers a way to link story and practice well and a way to tell and show the message of Jesus. Lots of churches are finding ways to do that.

Missional Communities are one great way of linking story and practice together. In these small-ish groups people gather to engage in practices that have been at the heart of Christianity for centuries. We try to be like extended family on mission, sharing what we have, praying, serving others and so on. We’re also trying not to keep this to ourselves, but invite others into the fun! They offer a place for people to put the story into practice and a place for them to encounter the story through practice.

How else can we link the story of what God has done with the practice of what he is doing?