If you have ever parented, grand-parented, or babysat children, you have probably had the joy of reading to them. And if you read to them with any regularity, you probably remember the ways kids seem to fixate on certain stories, forsaking all others. When our sons were young, we had a wide array of picture books, and I was always bringing home armloads of new ones from the library. No matter how many books the boys had to choose from, they always wanted to hear the same few favorites, over and over again. My husband or I would suggest a new book, only to have them pull a familiar favorite off the shelf once again. We would read the beloved book, and hear them exclaim at its completion: “Read it again!” Groan.
I once got so sick of the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, that I slyly hid it behind my son’s bed, hoping he would forget about it. I could only laugh when he came running into my room some weeks later exclaiming, “Look what I found! Now read it again!”
Reading the same book over and over is an impulse I understand. I have certain favorites that I have read so many times I can quote large chunks: Jane Eyre, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, Anne of Green Gables, To Kill A Mockingbird, to name a few. I will never get tired of reading these stories, though every nuance of plot and character is utterly familiar to me.
Why is it that certain stories bury themselves in our souls and never let go?
Part of the reason is, of course, the book is just a really good yarn. But it’s more than that. I think part of the pleasure of re-reading a favorite story is that we are transported back in time, able to reconnect to all the other times we have experienced the story. And each time we read the book, it is a different experience-- not because the book has changed, but because we have. Really good books reveal more of themselves each time we read them, growing along with us. As we experience more of the world, our encounter with a beloved and familiar story becomes richer and more meaningful, and we reinforce our sense of who we are, where we belong, and what we value.
Do we ever get tired of hearing the story of God’s love for us? Each time we experience the story of God’s love for the world, we reconnect with a story that is at once both familiar and capable of yielding new insights into who we are, and who God is. The story of God and God’s creation is a really good yarn, and it is one that reveals more and more about God’s love for us each time we hear it.
So come this Sunday, January 13th, to hear Jonathan Morgan preach on the power of stories to connect us to God, to ourselves and to one another.
Let’s read it again!
With love and peace,