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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The lost art of storytelling

Recovering a sense of wonder for God's word

Many of us experience the Bible in a lifeless way. We find it tired and stale, lacking in adventure, romance, nuance and the unexpected twists of plot offered by Hollywood's recent blockbusters. Somehow we miss the wild rumpus of it all: stinky fishermen, hillside feasts, old women with coins, manna-flakes for hungry families on the go, and cramped seaworthy barns.

Telling a Bible story to a congregationHow do we share the gospel when we've lost the root of its very meaning: a good tale? Why do we reserve lively, imaginative flannel-board stories for those who can fit around kid-sized tables and chairs? How can we recover a sense of wonder for the Scriptures when for years we've heard them as rote readings?

Recently a writer-friend of mine returned from a weekly "mom" meeting, bursting about an encounter she'd had with a biblical storyteller. The woman was a professional who'd been invited to share her storytelling gifts with the group. From memory she offered the tale of Jonah.

My friend was mesmerized as if hearing it for the first time. The writing seemed to burst out of its biblical box with newfound freshness. And when the story was over, my friend raised her hand and asked the storyteller, "Where can we find good writing like this? Who wrote your script?"


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