I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory—to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
In 1866, Catherine Hankey penned these words in a two-part poem entitled, “The Story Wanted” and “The Story Told.” Within a few years, parts of her long poem had been put to music. Over a hundred years later, we continue singing this hymn. The story, too, continues to be told in many ways. Currently, the media attention is focusing on Mel Gibson’s way of telling the old, old story with the release of The Passion of the Christ. Other movies, books, television shows, music lyrics and lives are telling the story too.
The story of Jesus and His love did not end on the cross, nor did it end at the ascension. The story continues today. I am part of the story. You are part of the story. Everyone—whether Christian or not—is part of the story. Communion, as I celebrate it each Sunday with my church, is about telling the old, old story. Recently, this became truer than ever.
It was a regular Sunday. God’s Word was spoken from Acts as Paul told the story to the Athenians on Mars Hill. Then, as usual, we gathered around tables for communion. Our communion service has undergone a significant change over the past year. Because it is about sharing in the story—which is best shared around a table—we sit around tables in small groups to share not only the bread and cup, but lunch, fellowship, encouragement, engagement in each others’ lives and the sharing of our own stories.
As we finished our pizza (not our best meal, but sufficient), the young man next to me, a college senior, pulled out his Bible and a small piece of paper that was in it. Then he told his story.
As a senior in high school, my father became very ill with cancer and was in the hospital where he died. He had reached a point where he was so weak and had so many tubes running into his body he could not speak. So he began writing down what he wanted to say. One day, I was visiting him in the hospital. Another one of his friends came by to see him. My dad pulled out the pad and began to write. He was writing for a long time, scratching out words and trying again. Then he finished and handed off the paper. This is what it said …
As he began to weep, he handed me the scrap of paper. I read it, passed it on and joined his weeping. Through his tears, he continued.
My dad was the godliest man I have ever known. When I saw this note, “Darin is my son,” I began to weep. My father was proud of me. He called me his son. He wanted his friend to know that I was his son. That is a day I will never forget.
Darin will not forget it because he experienced his father’s love, and he also experienced “Jesus and His love” that day. I will never forget Darin’s story as I too experienced the love of God in a powerful way that day, mainly through the story being told again while gathered around the table. I do not know if everyone was as touched by God as I was that day. Actually, I’m sure one young boy sitting at our table was not sure why we were crying or what the big deal was about. But his older brother, a fifth grader, understood. He wants to be loved and wants someone to say about him, “This is my son.” Hopefully, as he continues to come to our church with friends, he will be able to experience more of God’s love through the telling of the story. The story will then become his story.
Darin added later that his vision of heaven is to walk “up to the pearly gates and see the Lord in all his splendor only wishing to hear four words—the same words his earthly father wrote before he died, “Darin is my son.” God sent his Son … that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4).
This “old, old story” is our story. It continues. We need to be telling it in new ways, but the old method still works best: Tell the story through living, loving, learning and befriending those around you.
[Brad Carter lives in Texas where he loves to hear and tell stories through his ministry in both university and church settings.]