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Preaching as Storytelling

How to rely on stories to carry spiritual freight

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A story, if it's a good story, is tailored and contoured to the audience. It's never repeated exactly. It's fitted in. A different condition calls for a reshaping of the story that will address appropriately the new condition; you have to put the grease where the squeak is.

I was at a family reunion, and I was seated on the patio on a very cold seat. All the other seats were wooden, except this one, and it was cold. Someone said, "Don't you recognize that?" I looked at it and said, "I don't recognize this. Why should I?" I was told: that was the bottom step at the old home place where we were born. Then I remembered the old rotten wooden steps, and how someone replaced the bottom one with a piece of marble. And the person said, "Turn it over." We turned it over and on the other side were burial inscriptions appropriate for someone named George Washington Duncan who had died in 1792. A piece of marble became a gravestone, then a step, and now a patio seat. That's the way a story goes: it's ...

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