Dixie Darr

Tell Me a Story

In Church, spirituality on July 12, 2017 at 7:00 am

A dozen or so of us, men and women, ages six to sixties wore all black: pants, shirt, socks (no shoes) and imagined we were around a campfire telling the story. We had broken it up into paragraph-sized chunks, and each of us memorized three or four parts. As one person finished, another would stand and say the next piece. When we recited our last part, we each left the stage silently, walked up the aisle and out the back door. And then it was done, the Gospel of Mark.
Early Christians told the teachings of Jesus orally. Rabbis or teachers in every generation raised and trained the next generation to deliver this oral tradition accurately. Before the invention of the printing press, the oral tradition was considered more trustworthy than written texts, and 90-95% of the people couldn’t read anyway.
On Palm Sunday 2005, this somber performance was our worship service.
We met once a week for months in our fellowship hall to rehearse, helping and encouraging one another. The six-year-old, not surprisingly memorized her pieces first. I copied my chunks onto index cards and practiced them as I took long walks around the neighborhood.
The performance went smoothly, working toward the moment Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” We all had to raise our fists and shout, “Crucify him” over and over.
It moved pretty quickly after that, through His crucifixion and death and burial. Finally, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to anoint Jesus’ body and found the stone rolled away from the door of the tomb because Jesus had risen.
I still remember which verses I recited, although I no longer have them memorized. Our performance was challenging and meaningful, and we did it together. Of all the things I’ve done in fifteen years of church life, that was the most powerful.
Our lives are made up of stories.
This is one of mine.


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