Our modern lesson on Sunday was a story that my preaching professor Fred Craddock told in his lecture series “Preaching as Storytelling”:
Scott Momaday, American Indian writer, professor of literature in Southern California, tells this story. When he was a small boy, his father woke him early in the morning and said, “I want you to get up and go with me.” His father took him by the hand and led him, sleepily, to the house of an old squaw, and left him saying, “I’ll get you this afternoon.” All day long the old squaw of the Kiowa tribe told stories to the boy, sang songs, described rituals, told the history of the Kiowa. She told the boy how the tribe began out of a hollow log in the Yellowstone river, of the migration southward, the wars with other tribes, the great blizzards, the buffalo hunt, the coming of the white man, the starvation, the diminished tribe, and finally, reservation, confinement. About dark his father came and said, “Son, it’s time to go.” Momaday said, “I left her house a Kiowa.”
When youngsters leave our church building, do they leave Christian? To be Christian is to be enrolled in a story, and anybody who can’t remember any farther back than his or her birth is an orphan.
I love that line, “Anyone who can’t remember any farther back than his or her birth is an orphan.”
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have long had their stories erased or forgotten. Because of the insidious effect of the closet, many LGBT people never heard their stories told by those who had gone before them. Homophobia only began to recede in our culture when lesbian and gay people began to tell their stories. Suddenly, people realized that they knew people whose stories were different than theirs. Suddenly, LGBT people discovered that their own stories were not unique in the world.
Everything has changed in the past few decades because people told their stories. What might change for others if you claimed and told yours? You are not an orphan; why don’t you tell your story so those who come behind us will know they are not orphans?
Rev. Michael Piazza