Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
Excerpt from “Nurting an Imaginative, Inquiring Spirit” from Faith Forward: Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity (2013), eds. David M. Csinos & Melvin Bray. 119.
A child once asked a storyteller,”Every time you tell us a story, you have to put it inside your own head first, don’t you?”Wise words.There are no shortcuts in educating children in matters of faith, in sharing stories with them. First and foremost, the storyteller needs to experience the story, to exercise and nurture her or his own imaginative spirit.
But how do we do this? How do we experience a story through our own imagination so that we can in turn offer the gift of the story to young people? The following process of hearing, wondering, and imag- ining can help to move the story out of literalism, factuality, certainty, and fixed answers and into the realm of the imagination.
Jesus offers us a pattern for nurturing the inquiring, imaginative spirit in the story of his encounter with a lawyer who asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What do you think?” Jesus asks.
The lawyer offers a response. “Good answer,” replies Jesus, which prompts yet another question from the lawyer:”Who is my neighbour?” Jesus tells a story, a story that sparks imagination and takes those present (and those of us reading today) deeper. The lawyer might have entered that story as any one of the characters – priest, Levite, injured one, inn- keeper, Samaritan, even the one at home who is waiting for the traveller to return. I imagine that the story continued to unfold for the lawyer as more questions bubbled up and led to something deeper. But for now, Jesus asks, “Who do you think is the neighbour?”
Jesus facilitates a discovery that goes beyond the set lines or boundar- ies, and with a simple commission says, “Go and do the same.” We can only imagine where the lawyer went from there, and we can only imag- ine to what extent he embraced “the other” as neighbour. He leaves the story, and we enter it.
Two more parts to follow (Monday, March 28th & Monday, April 4th)
Susan Burt is Managing Editor of Seasons of the Spirit, an international, ecumenical, and lectionary-based Christian education and worship resource. She has served as the Australian editor of The Whole People of God and has worked in children’s ministry for the Uniting Church in Australia. Susan lives in Adelaide, South Australia, where she is a member of the Christ Church Uniting Church, a theologically progressive community that seeks to celebrate the best of the old with the possibility of the new.