Telling the right story

First published 16th December 2016

If you go to church over Christmas, you will almost certainly hear a history lesson.

You will almost certainly hear St Luke say something like: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus. Luke reminds us of a history full of terrible kings like Tiberius, Herod, and Augustus, who talked of peace and traded violence.

Luke knows that history takes us nowhere. It is a lesson we are still leaning. Whatever you voted in the referendum on Europe; whether you hoped for Trump, or Clinton, or loathe them both, you come to a place where history does not feel like progress. We reach a place where promises are not kept, where bad decisions are made and terror and violence mess up the brightest hopes.

History, and our own efforts, betray us. We have to look for something else. The answer, Luke tells us, is to think differently and look elsewhere. Faith is not living in the midst of mad events and hoping for a happy ending. Christian faith is the absolute conviction that we keep telling the wrong story, trusting the wrong outcomes believing the wrong people. Power and political promises are the wrong story. They will lead us to a wilderness of our own making. We have to start believing in something else. We have to start believing in another story about reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption. We have to look for a new creation founded on love and lived out in real peace. In fact we have to insist on this other story. Luke told that story once, now its our turn.


The Very Revd David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol

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