This Lenten season has provided a very cool opportunity. We have been providing an email devotional for our members every day that includes artwork, prayers, scripture, and, most importantly, selections of readings from great spiritual writers. They have ranged from the early church to the Reformation period to the nineteenth-century to some of the twentieth-century’s best known theologians and writers.
So far we have heard from the great preacher Will Willimon, been reminded of our call to love God in others by Thomas Merton, heard one of Christina Rossetti’s famous poems (she wrote “In the Bleak Midwinter), and remembered just how dark Martin Luther’s writings really were. And the fun part is that Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Frederick Buechner, Madeleine L’Engle, Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning, Tolstoy, Lewis, and so many others are still ahead. (Yes, I basically found the best book of Lenten devotions ever about two decades ago.)
What is just as fascinating for me, however, when putting these devotions together is to write up short bios on each of the authors each day. For example, yesterday we were reading a selection from Jürgen Moltmann. Probably one of the top three most influential Reformed theologians of the twentieth-century, but what most people forget is that he actually fought in the German army in World War II. The author of The Crucified God did not, in fact, have his conversion to Christianity until after seeing the atrocities committed by his countrymen, in the midst of three years of being a prisoner of war. His writings are profound. Ardent. Wholeheartedly gut-wrenching. Coming from the deepest places of our soul where God resides. Something that can only happen after such a story.
And all of their stories, their writings, too, are a reminder that who we are as God’s disciples, Christ’s witnesses in this world, is meant to stem entirely from the story that we tell. The ways that God walking with us through this world has shaped us into who we are today. And where we go from here.
All of us have a story to tell. Unique. Honest. Sometimes heartrending. Nevertheless, the question is will there be another protagonist when your tale gets told? Do you see yet that you were never alone in that narrative that has twisted and turned from the moment you were born? Have you begun to perceive how you fit into the remarkable chronicle of God’s wondrous work in this world?