An appeal: this is 2010 and I already have more information than I can absorb.

Burn my heart.  Burn it like Jesus did for the disciples on the road.

Don't tell me what to do: the life will spring forth from within

if my heart is burned,

and if my heart isn't burned

I won't have either the inclination or the will-power

to do what you so rightly urge on me:

tell me a story that will grab my affections

and make me believe I can do it.

Burn my heart.  Burn it the way Jesus did,

not by systematics and propositions, not by theology,

but by telling a story, telling THE story.

Start with Moses and all the prophets,

go on with the Gospels, the Epistles, the lot,

burn my heart by telling me the story attractively,

with artistry, clarity and boldness.

If you do it well you will open a whole new world for me,

a world that exists on a different script.

Tell me a story than can burn my heart.


Tell me a story, because I'm a story too.

We're all stories, and we tell stories,

like the people in the novel who exist

by telling the stories about themselves;

if anyone committed a crime the others would just

stop telling stories about her and she would

cease to                                                           exist.

But I've been telling my story, and living my story,

on a script that isn't good enough:

it isn't good enough because it no longer explains the way I feel,

it isn't good enough because it no longer satisfies my longings,

it isn't good enough because when I wake in the night it just doesn't feel right.

So tell me a story I can fit my story into,

let it begin with Chapter I:

Someone who's loved me from the beginning, and a beautiful world.

Let it continue with Chapter II:

tell me about God and his people, the ups and downs,

the love and the heart-ache:

I don't need the dates and the Sitz-in-Leben, I need my heart burned

as you open it to me on the way.

Let Chapter III tell me that this God loved me so much

he didn't turn his back on me,

though he would have had a right to do so,

but he came and was a part of my world, and loved me to the full,

and died for me,

but lives forever.

You can tell me how his New Community took root at the beginning of Chapter IV,

if you like, and church history footnotes would be great,

but leave the rest of that chapter as blank pages,

it will be a place for me to slot my story into the Story,

because I'm a story too.

And let Chapter V be something rousing,

not just a happy ending but a glorious one

with angels and dragons and victory over death,

and a new creation

where the long winter will be over and the spring will come

and the thalidomide babies will dance for joy

and there will be no more tears.

Tell me a story, because I'm a story too.

You wouldn't believe the difference your story can make.

Bit by bit (one sermon won't do it!) I'll abandon the old script,

and start seeing the world -- and living in it -- as if it was the new world your story's creating -

or rather I'll start changing this tired old world so that it's just a little like God's new world.

After you tell the story in your sermon, let's tell it again in a prayer, and bread and wine,

and as you break the bread I may recognise Jesus,

and say 'Of course!  Jesus has been here --didn't my heart burn within me,

as he opened the Scriptures to me on the way?'


O, and one last thing.  I don't like people who tell big stories.

So if you are going to tell this one -

and I so, so need you to tell it-

make sure you prove the message is not oppressive

by giving me the option of crucifying the messenger.


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