The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

Raking The Coals, Pt. 2: We Tell The Story and We Are The Story January 24, 2008

Filed under: peace and justice,public theology,Songs,storying — Joel @ 6:28 am

I wrote this song tonight in thought preparation for the sermon I’m giving this sunday.  The talk will be about the subtitle of this post: that as the Church (capital C), we do two things, we tell the story of God and enact that story in our community.  This thought was articulated for me by Stanley Hauerwas.  This belief in the Church as central to God’s plan for the world is becoming a very compelling idea vying for my allegiance, especially the way Stan expresses it.  

                 So I’ll link the song below and write the lyrics as well.  Often the Church is experienced not as a place of humble confidence and faithful proclamation of the kingdom of God but as a place where people are trying very hard to act like they know why they are together at all (giving many the feeling that nobody really knows).                      

                     But perhaps there are some good reasons for the Church of Jesus as a community which witnesses to the work of God (which is not confined to the Church) and to enact (as much as is in their power and maturity) the works of God, as exemplified by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  So we tell the story and then we imitate the story, even if it gets us in trouble.  In fact, there are hints that it should get us in trouble.  This makes sense because it seems to me that if the life of Jesus caused agitation in the domination system of its day and if we are imitating him, we will cause agitation to those systems which propagate injustice and oppression.  HIstorically, we have too often been on the other side.  Here’s the song: We Tell The Story

We tell the story

And we are the story

Of Jesus, of Jesus


He came like the day springs up from the night

He clothed all our weakness in dawning delight

He suffered beneath the cruelty of fear

His body was raised from the ground of our tears


Though we were faithless and will be again

He comes and he comes to lead us like friends

Not like the cruel tryants of earth

Not like the blood lust that spikes our dry thirst




The kingdom has come he said in our ears

The ways of my father have come to draw near

Its not by a system that you’ll know its paths

But by the community we’ll build to last


Watch what I do he said to us clear

Watch how I raise those drenched in tears

Watch how I lay the powerful down

Now go and seek this kind of crown


So he has called us his dear family

The inheritors of his humility

The Spirit of God, a sweet fire within

To make us all signs of this kingdom come in


This kingdom is followed by those who believe

In a God who loves, a God who leads

His people in ways of peace and not war

He leads us to pray, he leads us to give more than we have




7 Responses to “Raking The Coals, Pt. 2: We Tell The Story and We Are The Story”

  1. Walter Says:

    Powerful song, Joel. Looking forward to Sunday.

  2. roflyer Says:

    Absolutely wonderful, Joel. I especially like this line:
    “Often the Church is experienced not as a place of humble confidence and faithful proclamation of the kingdom of God but as a place where people are trying very hard to act like they know why they are together at all (giving many the feeling that nobody really knows).”

    I’m about to listen to the song. Sweet man. Hope it goes well on Sunday. I wish I could be there. I’ll make sure to listen to it online though.

  3. […] My dear friend Joel Mason at The Herb of Grace has posted a beautiful new song along with some reflections on the mission of the church.  No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on […]

  4. jac Says:

    great thoughts.
    and song!
    (guess i better go to church this week).
    i totally agree with you, and i suspect that the part that is a bit murky in people’s minds is what exactly the enacting of the kingdom looks like.
    (is it just about being a nice person, is it just about building a happy community?)
    i’d love to hear a talk, perhaps either within and/or following your sermon, examining the life of Jesus and discovering what he was all about, how he spent his time and with whom (and i like how you already address this in your song).

  5. Matt Wiebe Says:

    good stuff joel. i like the play between we tell / we are the story.

  6. masonmusic Says:

    I’m glad you guys have enjoyed the song.

    ry: it’s interesting that one of most ‘normal’ places (church, gathering) is such a mystery to us (not the good kind); I wonder why this is.

    jac: Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you that what is needed, especially after a talk like mine, is some ‘mining’ to find out exactly how Jesus lived his life, endured his torture and death, and waited for his resurrection. The more time spent wandering around in his parables and actions, the better!

    i like Gary Best’s thought on sunday that many people want to have the ‘big C’ Church but don’t want to have to deal with the ‘sall c’ church, the local church where you have interact with real people. This is a good observation in relation to those who would make the big C a pie in the sky, a ‘spiritual’ church in the heavens.

    I thought this comment also spoke to the need to know what our job is as a church, so we know what we should endure and what we shouldn’t have to.

  7. Matt Says:


    I have taken your advice and read up on your blog. Too bad that your talk related to this post didn’t get recorded. If you typed some notes could you send them to me/post them here? Thanks for all these great mental percolations. I do not get much stimulation these days regarding theological/ecclesiastical issues.

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