For decades now doomsayers have been proclaiming “print is dead.” First, it was an increase in TV channels and the rise of personal computers that would do away with printed materials. The explosive use of the internet seemed to be proof of these cries. Then it was a sure thing that e-readers like the kindle and nook would signal the complete collapse of the print industry. Since the 1980’s the landscape of the printed word has changed. Printed newspapers and periodicals have suffered, as we do prefer to get news online. Bookstores have also suffered a lot because people have also moved to online shopping. However, when it comes to books themselves print is very much alive. In fact, printed books are more popular than ever. Digital books are being sold and audio books are gaining popularity in a digital format, but neither of these innovations have slowed down the sale of traditional printed books. This all means that more books are being bought than ever before.
The reason for this is simple, humans love stories. The fact that book market continues to grow shows this. It is not just books. Episodic television shows with in depth stories that develop over multiple episodes has also exploded in popularity. Whether it is binging an entire season of a show or curling up with a good book for hours, we cannot help but be drawn into compelling stories. The stories we enjoy do more than just entertain us, they help form our identity. The details of our favorite stories are never far from our thoughts. This is why an avid reader of Harry Potter can give in-depth details about the most obscure characters, why high cultured bibliophiles can quote line after line from Shakespeare, or why fans of Little Women have strong opinions about who their favorite character is.
This is not a modern phenomenon. People have always been drawn to stories. Folk tales, legends, and myths show that stories are as old as humanity. This is why we find stories in the bible, and this is specifically why Jesus told parables. Jesus was more than a rabbi, and miracle worker. He was also a storyteller. The gospels are full of example after example of how Jesus communicated eternal truth through stories.
We tend to immerse ourselves in the stories we love, but we have to confess that many of us do not spend that much time with the stories that Jesus told. There are likely plenty of believers who have re-watched their favorite show more times than they have read the stories Jesus told. Stories connect with us like nothing else. They inspire us and stick with us like nothing else. We all love and even crave compelling stories. No doubt this is why Jesus told so many of them. So if we want to better know what it is Jesus taught, and we want to better have the good news of the gospels connect with our lives then then we need to read the parables.
This is exactly what we are planning to do as a church. For six weeks our focus will be on the stories Jesus told. From Sunday morning worship to the mid-week bible study to Sunday school we will be engaging with these stories. In general, all people love stories, and as we explore Jesus’ stories, hopefully we will find our love for our savior growing as well.