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My 6 Word Story About Jesus

May 13, 2014

From time to time in my congregation we will participate in a “communal sermon” in place of a regular sermon preached by an individual. I have found this practice to be a way for us to be both spiritually formed and to grow as a community valuing multi-voiced approaches to worship. We most recently did this during the Easter season and the text was from Luke 24:13-24 (NRSV):

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

There appears to be a kind of simple creed or faith statement included in this narrative, beginning with “The things about Jesus of Nazareth.” The statement describes Jesus as prophet, condemned, crucified, and alive. Of course, later in this story Jesus is revealed to his hosts in the act of breaking bread together at the table. But the short, ancient form of talking about Jesus, found here in the first half of the story, stood out and offered a chance to explore the idea through some modern day lenses.

I’d heard of the “six word story” technique for creating a complete yet extremely short story. Ernest Hemingway is thought to have dabbled in this kind of writing, after some friends challenged him to write a complete story with only 6 words.[1] In our day this kind of storytelling can work well on social media forms like Twitter, and I’ve participated in this type of writing there before.

We used the hashtag #My6WordStoryAboutJesus. This would be our topic and also a means to share our stories. Telling our stories about Jesus felt like a good way to help us journey through the Easter season as witnesses to Jesus. Our instructions were simple: if you could only use 6 words, what would you say about Jesus?

After a time of reflection we shared our stories aloud with one another. We ended up creating a long list of short stories about Jesus, which were later tweeted from our Twitter account (@SpringMountMC). The exercise created space to engage with the Jesus of the scriptures, to reflect on our personal views and experiences with him, and to listen to each other as we told our stories.

I noticed some consistent themes among those who participated in this storytelling, including ideas like “Jesus is my hope,” and “There is so much I wanted to say.” As a result, the final story written on the list was an appropriate one to close with:

“Tombs and words cannot contain him.”[2]

May we continue to center our lives on the risen, transforming, and uncontainable Christ.

6WordStoryAboutJesus

 

 

 

[1] See http://www.sixwordstories.net/about/

[2] Written by Gay Brunt Miller.

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2014 4:30 pm

    Love this Chris!!

  2. Steve Kimes permalink
    May 15, 2014 11:01 pm

    Excellent idea!

  3. May 15, 2014 11:28 pm

    Thanks for reading and for the encouragement, brothers. I’m thankful to be part of a congregation that values numerous types of formation practices and trying new things.

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