O my people, hear my teaching; parables I will unfold. Give attention as I utter dark and hidden things of old— things that we have heard and known; by our fathers they were shown.
We will tell them to our children, generations yet to come; We will show the LORD’s great power and the wonders he has done. Laws for Israèl he made, statutes firm to be obeyed.
These he ordered our forefathers to their families to tell, So the coming generation, not yet born, would know them well, and their children, in their turn, God’s commands and laws would learn.
Then to God they would be faithful, mindful of what he had done— Not like their disloyal fathers, stubborn rebels every one; for God’s word they had denied and his precepts they defied.
Such were those of Ephraim’s army who, though strong and armed with bows, To the cov’nant were disloyal, turned their back upon their foes. They forgot what God had done, and the wonders he had shown.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this Psalm to the tune Ottawa here.
The Psalmist is well aware of the power of stories – parables that teach. Stories that will be told to children for generations. The Psalmist knows that stories are a formidable way to teach about the Lord’s power and wonders. Almost every child likes to be told a story, and, if we are honest, most adults love them too.
What an apt reminder to us, two days before Christmas, that stories should be told and re-told, for this is a time of year when we have an amazing story to tell. This is a time of year when people are curious about our story; a story of love, hope and joy, of a child in a manger; a child that saved us all.
Great stories are about love, heartbreak, battles won, enemies defeated, adventures, journeys, challenges, friendships and hope – and our story has all of these in one way or another. So just for a while, forget those questions and niggles we have about the facts, forget issues around the accuracy of astronomy, or virginity, or stables, and enjoy the story. Tell the story. Tell the story to anyone who will listen; the world is perhaps more willing to listen at Christmas. So, let’s join the Psalmist and be storytellers.
Once upon a time in a land far far away there lived:
a donkey (little) cattle (lowing) angels (a host of) shepherds (possibly with socks) wise men (three or more) an innkeeper (busy) a king (insecure) sheep (black, white and rainbow) a mother (blessed) a father (or two) and a baby (a saviour, a king, a servant, a messiah, a miracle)
….and perhaps they didn’t all live happily ever after, but because of that child all of humanity might live, now and forever.
Lord of Song and Story, Inspire us to be storytellers, narrators, bards. Inspire us to tell our story and share our good news, to tell of the Christ child who came to end divisions, who came to share love. Amen
The Rev’d Jo Clare-Young is minister of the North Yorkshire Coast Pastorate of the URC