The first movie I ever saw in a theatre was the original version of “True Grit”. In fact, I went back five times that summer to see it using my babysitting money to purchase the tickets. Once in a theatre, I was hooked. As anyone who knows me knows I’m a movie buff and I love deep character development. I’m not your shoot ‘em up kind of girl nor a romantic. I want a good storyline.

John Wayne, Kim Darby, and Glenn Campbell! What a crush I had on Glenn that summer!

If you don’t know the story, it’s a pretty simple western. Girl with grit looks for bad guy who killed her dad. Girl asks other guys who also have grit to help her find the bad guy and bring him to justice. The three travel through unforgiving territory by horse and have some setbacks.  They find the bad guy and girl almost dies in the process.

Like I said. It’s a pretty simple story.

But the character development is oh so sweet!  At first, the three are pretty harsh to each other but as their story unfolds we see their strengths and struggles. As their story unfolds, a bond forms between them. We see empathy, truthfulness and even a love that grows deep in the midst of discovering each other’s pain. As each finds their way, there is a reliance upon the other that is life-giving.

For years, I’ve held this movie in my head not really understanding why a story would stick with me for more than 40 years. But as story has become an important way for me to see change in the world, I see that girl as a picture of myself. She was the eldest in a large family, over-responsible and headstrong in many ways. But just as she was softened by her own story and enmeshed with the stories of others, I too have been softened by those around me as I have better understood their stories and in turn, mine.

Jean Luc Godard, a French filmmaker, whose political leanings created quite an uproar in the ’60s, used story to stir the pot. But he said something rather profound that I identify with. “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”

Sometimes our stories are whimsical. Sometimes they are downright brutal.  But it is our stories that literally change the world. And it is world-changers who tell stories. It’s the most powerful way to put ideas in the world that stick to our hearts and spring us into action.

Jesus did this. He was the best of storytellers.  He said, “I will use stories to speak my message and to explain things that have been hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35)

And his stories did change the world forever.

You and your group have three opportunities to be part of this idea of storytelling this week:

  1. Be inspired. Come to the Neighborhood Group Story Event tonight, May 31st at 7:00 pm and hear the stories of our people.
  2. Be storytellers. Use story for your meetings in the next few weeks. We are providing story prompts for your group to help them to tell stories. Depending on your group size, this activity could be for one or two weeks (This will replace the sermon-based study guide for June).
  3. Be engaged. The movie series is the perfect way to engage your group in storytelling. Pick one of the selected features for the series or one of your favorites to watch together.

We are people who need real-life stories, messages of assurance, so we recognize that no matter what is happening in our lives or how uncertain things may seem at the moment, God is with us and so are those who have an ear to hear them.