July 25, 2021
Stories regularly circulate in church. Whether we’re unpacking biblical narratives or sharing anecdotes from our own lives, good news changes us in the telling. Some accounts, though, get less airtime within the saintly cloud of witnesses. Christians are prone as the next person to gossip behind closed doors. We share certain stories in voices that barely break a whisper and that may be a crying shame. Because God’s Good News lies hidden in those tales, too. Many of us were raised to believe that if something doesn’t build up the hearer and the teller, best not to chatter. It’s a good prudence test. But sometimes I think it keeps us from stumbling onto God’s Good News in our lives. Brave spiritual communities find God’s grace turning even the most sobering accounts into salutary testimonies full of hope, rich in hard-won wisdom.
What sort of stories should we dare to pass along?
Believe it or not, the Gospel compels us to bear faithful witness to everything God turns ‘round right in our lives, from seemingly mundane chronicles to the more colorful ones (you know, the kind that paint us in an honest light). Because redemption stories need to be heard. They dismantle our egocentric habits and character defects that secular culture often leads us to idolize. The gift of grace we receive by faith breaks us open to speak of God’s salvation, shaking up our lives through no merit of our own. This is what makes personal testimony so potent. We are spiritually poorer when those communal riches are not in circulation.
Today’s lectionary pulls out one such heirloom from our tradition. Salacious and steamy as any gossip-worthy family secret, this feature from the Hebrew Scriptures leaves us wondering about David’s legendary reputation as a “man after God’s own heart.” David’s hubris, lust, and murderous rage get top billing in this story. But buried there are also glints of God’s grace, glimmering amid that carnage wreaked by David’s unbridled sin.