Human beings love stories of all kinds – books, films, TV serials, shaggy dog stories down the pub and family anecdotes at weddings.
There seems to be something hardwired into us to enter a world of imagination or memory, follow the threads of a plot and attach our allegiance to particular characters.
December is a great time for new cinema releases. I am eagerly anticipating the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’.
It’s a favourite book of mine and it’s wonderful to witness a new generation captivated by the same endearing characters and enduring themes.
The power of that story doesn’t lie so much in the inventiveness of the world, or even the exciting twists and turns of the hobbits’ adventures, but in the universal themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, power and courage.
The best fantasy stories succeed because they contain deep truths about who we are and how we relate to one another and to the world we live in.
We are the narrators of our own life stories. We can’t control how our life events will unfold. There are surprises and shocks along the way.
There are companions who travel with us, and other people who seem only to disrupt and distract us.
What we can control is how we tell those stories, both to ourselves and to others.
Are we honest enough to acknowledge the contribution our own mistakes have made? Do we look back with forgiving hearts and a sense of perspective, or are we stuck in the swamp of bitterness and blame?
Do we look forward with confidence and hope, knowing who we are and where we are heading, or do we feel adrift, fearful of the future?
For Christian believers, our stories are caught up and intermingled with the story of God’s plan for humanity.
It’s a story of human betrayal and divine rescue.
At Christmas, we reflect on the chapter we call ‘Incarnation’ – when God became human and moved into an ordinary neighbourhood in 1st century Palestine.
It’s a story of fragile-seeming beginnings that go on to have world-changing impact, as Jesus grows to maturity and sets in motion the release of God’s kingdom of peace, truth and justice.
What stories are you telling yourself and those around you, as we head into the last couple of weeks of 2014? Are you looking backwards or forwards?
What are the events and experiences that have shaped your life this year?
It’s good to take time to be still and reflect, to review your personal story.
The plot points may be outwith our control but we can try to identify the big themes, and look to be those who, like Bilbo Baggins, become stronger, wiser and braver as a result of our life adventures.