Wrestling with Matthew

It’s overcast today but not raining (!) and the dog and I are thinking of taking a walk pretty soon.

On Saturday the 20th I told out at Waycross, the Episcopal conference center neat Bloomington, for a group from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Indianapolis. They were *wonderful* – responsive, interested, and full of ideas. I love it when I have a group small enough to talk over each story. Marti Steussy – professor of Biblical Interpretation at Christian Theological Seminary – has said that one of the Four Commandments of Biblical Storytelling is: Thou shalt allow listeners a chance to respond. But I can’t always do that with a big group, and not every group feels comfortable responding.

I forget what the other three Commandments are, but I could find them if I had to.

I’ve learned that sometimes when people ask for Biblical storytelling they want a teacher and sometimes they want an entertainer. I can do both – and the stories are well-suited to both – but if I’m not clear what role I’m in, it gets messy. The St. Paul’s folks wanted to get into the story and process it. That gives me such joy!

This week Carol Wolf wrote to ask about leading a workshop at next year’s NOBS Festival Gathering and – pushed along by my experience at Runcible Spoon – I offered to present a workshop on What’s At Risk When We Tell A Bible Story. When people start telling Bible stories they worry (at least I did) about getting every word exactly right. But there can be numerous other painful mistakes and misunderstandings, and if people can’t deal with those, they might give up. I almost did. So – I have in mind giving Biblical storytellers a chance to process discouragement and frustration together.

I called this blog “The Storyteller’s Shawl” with a very clear vision of what that shawl would look like, but countless hours with Google Image Search have failed to find such a shawl, and my attempts to draw one have generally not been satisfactory. But – the weather is closing in and I have no big programs to prepare for, so I have some study time to wrestle for a blessing with the Gospel of Matthew. Maybe, in the course of this, a shawl will emerge. My latest sketch is on the ABOUT page.


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