Telling Tales

The Bible is full of stories. Most of them are told in astonishingly compact form, so few words for so much content. Many are so condensed that we cannot make full sense of them without adding in some of the detail. Take, for example, the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4:4-42). The woman starts off being extremely reluctant to engage in conversation at all with Jesus but leaves intent on telling the whole village that she thinks he may be the Messiah. It’s extremely difficult, on the basis of the few words of dialogue reported in the story, to work out exactly what it is in the conversation that led to this transformation. Later in the story she claims that Jesus had “told me everything I have ever done” whereas all we read in the dialogue is that he’d told her how many husbands she’d previously had. To make full sense of the story we have to imagine the missing dialogue.

To me this is one of the great strengths of many of the Bible stories. They require us to enter into them in order to fully understand them. We can’t be just a passive recipient we need to contribute something of ourselves. Of course different people will contribute different things and understand the stories in different ways. Some people find this unsettling, they would much prefer the Bible to have one unambiguous message, but I find it invigorating. It opens a potential for exploring and developing our faith and making it real to us all. It can be particularly exciting when we exchange our different understandings of the story with each other and open up conversations of how these have arisen.

Over time I find more and more of my preaching and worship leading focuses on exploring different Bible stories in this way. I now spend quite a lot of time searching the Web to find how different people have chosen to tell stories differently and these pages are a record of some of these resources. You can click on the links below or use the drop-down menus above to read on.

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