Telling the Story: Narrative Identity

In the wrap up week of the Telling the Story sermon series, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz explains that Paul’s letter to the Philippians  reveals that telling a story about God helps define our Narrative Identity.

Narrative Identity has three parts — agency, connectivity, and meaning —  as explained in this Tedx video.

    • He is prison but is quite free – Paul has agency. He is evangelizing effectively behind bars
    • He is prison but is not isolated – Paul has connectivity and is writing about connection.
    • He ascribes meaning to his imprisonment – it empowers him to spread the gospel in new ways. (Several comments during the sermon linked the concept of meaning to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning).

To listen to the sermon, go to this web page and choose May 24, 2020.

Pastor Jenny invites everyone to tell their own stories. You can, indeed, tell your story to yourself or someone you know. You can write it, or do a selfie video on your phone. Jenny offers this way, on FlipGrid —  click here

“Tell us a story about a new story you are trying to write,” she invites.
“Maybe you’ve discovered that a story you tell about yourself, others, the world, the present circumstances, God, etc., is not helpful or true. Maybe you’re discovering that a story you’ve told is no longer serving you.  Tell us about this.
Tell us about a story you are hearing God tell about you or others or the world.
Tell us about a time when someone else has helped you tell a different, more helpful, more true story.”

Now it’s your turn


“Family Activities from PUMC Children’s Ministry” Evangeline Burgers

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, it is a glorious time! I hope you are all well and having a wonderful week together at home.

I’ve recorded another read aloud video for our children: What Mary Jo Shared, by Janice May Udry. It is the story of a girl who has a hard time finding a story to share, but when she does it brings her new life! This is a great one for those of us (young or old!) who always feel like, “I don’t know what to share!” I hope you can check it out with your family on our PUMC Flipgrid: and respond with your own stories.

I was inspired by Pastor Jenny’s inclusion in her sermon last Sunday of the importance of changemakers telling their story to make a difference for our world. I picked up this book earlier this year called, Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints, by Daneen Akers. It is a book full of stories of real-life faith heroes, many who are still doing important work among us. The price tag is, unfortunately, a bit high, but the author is reading aloud a new story each week on her YouTube channel. I highly recommend this resource for you and your kids!

Family Story Activity: 

That’s Not How the Story Ends (from 52 Uncommon Family Adventures)

Take turns sharing your favorite stories from books, movies, and TV shows. Briefly explain how the story actually ends and then take turns offering your own ending – one that’s happier, stranger, or more interesting. Your ending may turn a minor character into a heroine or turn a tragic death into nothing more than a close call. The aim is to inspire creativity. Then, talk about some real-life alternate endings you’ve experienced – that is, when you thought a situation would turn out one way but were surprised when it turned out another way. Try to keep the stories positive, with endings that turned out better than expected. Your goal is to help kids understand that dread, fear, and worry are sometimes misplaced emotions. If we can’t see how something good ultimately can come from something that seems bad, we’re not looking at it from the right perspective. We’re not taking into account how
God can change the ending.




Learn to Love Telling Your Story!

Looney_000“I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
– English evangelist, Katherine Hankey

Narratives about our lives and faith journeys are powerful sources of inspiration.  “Too often these stories remain untold, yet they can be incredibly moving for building community,” says Anna Looney, who teaches about narrative medicine in her Humanism & Medicine course at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. With masters’ degrees in English literature and sociollogy, and a doctorate in sociology, she is an assistant professor in the Medical Student Education division of RWJMS Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Anna is the breakfast progam speaker for this Sunday, September 20 at 8 a.m. All are welcome; a $5 donation for the delicious hot breakfast, cooked by the United Methodist Men, is suggested.

Anna will help us understand a bit more about the importance and power of personal stories for hope and inspiration. Our time together will begin with an explanation of the how narratives function as the framework for our self-awareness and personal history. Anna emphasizes emphasizing how personal narratives are central to our faith and daily walk. We’ll have an interactive opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other in a new way.