Happy New Year, Storied, and welcome back!
We’re back from our time together as a family in Northern Ireland and it was so good to reconnect with family and friends and just hit the pause button. We went on lots of walks and ate lots of sausages and chocolate and cheese; we lit a fire in the fireplace every night and drank lots of tea. Even though the flights were long and exhausting with a curious four year old, we made it back to Nashville in one piece and are now enjoying being snowed in.
We hope your time off was equally restful and we can’t wait to get back into exploring our evolving faith together as a community.
We aren’t typically the kind of people who get excited about mission statements and vision boards. I (Chris) spent exactly one year of my life in a corporate setting, and I bolted out the door on my last day like Lot fleeing Gomorrah (never looking back lest I be turned into a pillar of spreadsheets).
Still, it’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of productivity that crackles in the positively charged January air, and so we spent some time in the “boardroom”. We came up with a freshly refined mission statement for this Storied community we share:
Storied is a broad and inclusive Christian community, centred around a weekly devotional for the disillusioned and deconstructing… yet hopeful.
The Church Isn’t An “Agreeing On Stuff” Club
By Chris Llewellyn
In an attempt at New Year’s efficiency, the first devotional of the year will also serve as an explanation of the first part of that statement.
“Truly I understand that God does not show partiality…”
The context here, is Peter, a devout, conservative Jew experiencing a profound faith shift: “God’s love is not confined to my tribe but released to every tribe.” He is realising for the first time, that they- the “unclean” gentiles, the heathens - have just as much access to grace and salvation as he does.
God doesn’t have a favourite denomination. If any group could make a claim for being “the chosen ones” it’s surely the Jews, yet here we have it plain in scripture that God does not show partiality, or favoritism, to any nation, sect or faith expression as long as they “fear God” and “do what is right”. (Acts 10:35)
If the early church could bridge the chasm of cultural and theological differences standing between Jewish and gentile believers, somehow forming a thriving spiritual community together, I guarantee we as ex-vangelicals and Episcopalians, charismatics and catholics, Baptists and Unitarians— and whatever else— can muddle through this too.
The church isn’t an “agreeing on stuff” club. It’s supposed to be a diverse group of Jesus chasers, alive with debate against a backdrop of grace.