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Rev. Will Sparks - November 10, 2023

I come from a family of story tellers. My Dad was a history teacher and he taught that the same story can be told by two different people in two different ways to very different results. The stories of history are utterly shaped by the perspective of the story tellers. Jimmy Rankin, East Coast musician of Rankin Family fame talks about the stories told in Cape Breton culture, “Some were born of true detail and some were purely fiction.”

The stories of the bible are often based on events that actually happened, especially the stories of Jesus. But ever since, we have constructed those stories and shaped them differently in different times to very different results.

Enter Ken Irwin’s “Stump the Preacher” topic for this week: The Atonement. The Atonement is a doctrine of Christian theology that tries to answer the question, “What is the significance of Jesus’ death.” We know the pieces of the story: He was born, he lived and taught, he gathered a following, he was arrested, tried, tortured and killed in the most ghastly of ways, his followers experienced him alive afterwards. But what does it mean? Where does the love of God fit in to this story of violence and cruelty and why does that matter?

I am grateful to Ken for asking the question. Where God’s love fits into stories of violence and cruelty is not just a Jesus question. It is a puzzle that most of us struggle with today. There have been times it has stumped me. I trust that this won’t be one of those times. Come on Sunday and you’ll find out.

Will Sparks