Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
A recent trip to New Mexico gave me the opportunity to learn about Native Americans and their history and culture. As I was admiring their arts and crafts, one design stood out- the storyteller doll. This pottery based artwork presents an elder surrounded by children as the elder has an open mouth telling the stories of their people When reading today’s scripture, I was reminded that so much of our faith is based on stories that were shared and passed on. Even today we are called to be “story tellers” to our children and to the world, so that our faith continues to be remembered and celebrated.
Today’s first reading tells the story of how Peter was instructed in a dream that the Gentiles were also to be a part of God’s saving action. He visits the home of a Gentile family, and they hear the Word of God and are baptized with the Holy Spirit. The news of this conversion travels by word of mouth to the Apostles and others in the Christian community, but they question Peter’s actions. When Peter recounts his dream, he also remembers the story that Jesus had told him how John had baptized with water, but “you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.” These stories help him to recognize God’s saving power as a gift for all that are open to receiving. When the others hear this good news, they rejoice since they understand that “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
In the gospel story, Jesus tells the story describing Himself as the Good Shepherd. He explains that the sheep know His voice and will follow. He also tells his listeners that He is the gate, and “those who enter through me will be saved. “ Jesus promises those that follow Him abundant life.
Both readings are familiar stories that have great meaning for our faith. These stories remind us that God comes to save all people (and creation) and the pathway to God and His loving embrace is through His Son, Jesus. Through the oral and then written tradition of these stories we believe that God has been and continues to be actively involved in our world. His promise of the Spirit is available for all those who are open to Him. Jesus then provides the pathway to follow to live an abundant life in Christ.
As Christians we are called to be storytellers sharing our stories- both those we have read about from times long ago, but we also need to share the stories of our faith that we have lived out over the years. When we can show others how these ancient stories have meaning and power in our daily living, then our faith comes alive for the world to see. Telling the stories of how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives not only brings hope and encouragement to our community of believers, but it becomes a light that draws other people to believe as well.
I love the sculptures of the storyteller dolls portraying a woman or man surrounded by children listening, climbing, and clamoring to hear the words that our spoken. Similar to the storytellers of the Native Americans, we must open our mouths and tell the stories of our faith so these stories can continue to be told for future generations. God is telling us the story of His love for us, but we must take time to listen and reflect on how He is speaking. Through prayer, scripture, creation and the stories of others God continues to help us write the story of our faith journey as a disciple of Christ. May we be open to the Spirit in our lives, so our children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, strangers and even our enemies can hear our story and know that God is alive in our world.
Loving Father, You desire that all creation will be one with You, and You send Jesus as the way to bring that to fulfillment. With the grace of Your Spirit, help us to recognize You in our lives so we can share You in the stories we tell. May all we do give you glory and praise. We pray this through Christ, our LORD. Amen.
- Marylynn Herchline