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Over Christmas we went back to Missouri. It seems like every time we go back to where we came from we are pointing stuff out.

That’s where I proposed to your mom.

That’s where you went sledding for the first time.

That’s where your mom used to ride 4 wheelers.

That’s where our bus broke down full of teenagers when we were leading a youth trip.

It seems like everywhere we looked in the towns we grew up in, reminded us of a story about our life. A story from our past.

My kids were totally enthralled. They were sitting on the edge of their seat…

“Show us more dad…”

Is what I imagined they were saying…

I think sometimes we think nothing existed before us.

Like time started when we were born…and it will end when we die.

This perspective puts us at the center of our story. It makes everyone else a character for our narrative. That unintentional novel in our mind and perspective causes us to look past the minor characters, the struggles that seemingly have nothing to do with us, the plots that seem frivolous or auxiliary to our story.

For my parents 40th anniversary several years back, we went back to Columbia, MO where they dated, fell in love, married and where my brother was born. We saw where they both went to college. We retraced steps across campus and peaked in spaces they used to spend time as teenagers. We drove by the grocery store and ice cream shop they had their first date. We went by the married student housing they lived in as a young couple. Seeing those places told me more of the story of my parents, and therefore, told me the story of me.

I hope when I share places I lived and experiences I had they tell my story to my kids.

I think in our faith, we can sometimes forget that we come from a beautiful story…that began before us.

A story that has stretched across time and space.

A story that begins in the beginning.

A story that centers in the ancient near east.

A story that is still happening today…and won’t end until Amen.

Often times we end up learning about our faith and story, by tuning into whatever is most current.

Like, if you turned on the show Grey’s Anatomy today…you’d be missing almost 2 decades of story that preceded it.

Like you opened up the last chapter of Lord of the Rings and think…Why am I supposed to care about Frodo?

When we go back, when we dig deep in the story that came before us, when we learn about the history of God’s people, the struggles and promises, the covenants and liberation, the prophecy and longing, we start to see that it makes the entire story so much richer. We start to realize it is our story. It is our faith.

Our story didn’t start the day we were born, it started in the beginning.

But when we look back, when we see this is our story, our faith starts to come alive in a new way.

Our faith becomes even more rich and relevant.

It becomes so much more than a moralistic therapeutic religion.

It becomes a living narrative we are swept up in.

The backstory changes everything.

I want to invite you into the backstory.

I want to invite you to dig deeper.

There are two ways.

First, we begin our Bible Studies this week, Wednesday, January 11th. We are journeying through the book of Genesis. We are about half way through, but anytime is a great time to join.

Men meet at 8:30 and Women meet at 10am.

Second, we are planning a trip to the Holy Land. We will journey to Israel, spend time in Jerusalem, around the sea of Galilee, and cross into Jordan. The trip is scheduled for March 8th-20th, 2024. We will have official sign ups soon, but I want to encourage you to get the dates on your calendar. If you have any interest at all, please let us know by emailing [email protected]. We’ll get you more details soon.

Let us know if you need anything. See you tomorrow morning or this Sunday for worship.