Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. Deuteronomy 26:5
God asks his people remember, every time they worship, the story of their roots. Their ancestors were slaves in Egypt. Whenever harvest comes, these children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren take an offering to God. As they lift it up, they remember their history. They remember that they don’t have a highbred spiritual pedigree. Their ancestors were wanderers, nomads, people without homes who followed God into the unknown. They faced challenges, and when they cried to God, God heard. God answered. Every time they worship, the people remember their history. That God cares for them not just when they’re at the center of the map, but on the ragged edges.
The stories we choose to remember about our history, about how God is moving in it, are vital. These are the stories we tell our children. The histories that give us strength and hope when times are hard. The way we celebrate when the harvest comes in.
What’s our story? Start to discover it by spending time this week thinking about your story. What God has done in your life? What cry did you lift that God answered? What hardships has God brought you through, what miracle have you seen? Then take the circle a little broader- what God has done in this church?
One story that resonates with me from our FUMC history is that just before the Great Depression, FUMC built a new building. They had capital debt at one of the worst economic times in our nation’s history. And yet, God helped them, in the Great Depression to not only keep thriving in ministry, but also to pay off that debt in its entirety. I look at their creativity (the group that paid the least each week had to care for a duck-Gwendolyn, the boy scouts cleared a cotton field…) and sacrifice and know that we, with a new building just before COVID, have ancestors cheering us on.
The stories we tell become part of worship. The stories of God’s work in our lives and in this church give meaning to our offerings today. We remember that it’s God who is calling us, God who guides, God who makes a way. We remember and lift up our first fruits to God with joy as we tell that story.