by John Schwehn, student reporter

Our identities are embedded in our stories. As each congregation has presented their diverse histories and stories, they have brought us into a deeper understanding of who they understand themselves to be. They are musicians, justice makers, generous hosts, dancers, and dramatists. They dwell in urban and suburban communities, on college campuses and historic downtown city centers. All are faithful witnesses to the Gospel, and all are seeking to proclaim this Gospel to the world they so deeply love. The forms that their proclamation will take flow from their gifts and imaginations and hearts.

As the congregations’ projects find expression and specificity, we have kept returning as a group to the ways in which our shared story of faith centers and grounds our engagement with the world. The church has a very different story to tell: a story of forgiveness and liberation and grace, a story of almighty God’s incarnation as a tiny, vulnerable baby boy. On Sunday night, we sang this story together, enacting its drama together in song and in prayer. Singing our praise to God is one way in which we overcome the shortcomings of our ordinary language. Singing binds our many stories into God’s one story of love.

Music is one language we might borrow for bringing our story to a world that hungers for meaning. Our plenaries (and our worship!) have introduced other kinds of languages for telling the story: the visual arts, dance, ritual engagement, shared meals. What other languages might we borrow for telling the story? Do we need new forms of expression – a new vocabulary even – with which to proclaim the timeless story of God’s redeeming activity in and for the world?