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How to Read a Story - Part 1

What would you tell a child about how to read a story from the Bible? How do adults read and find inspiration from stories from the Bible?

Every story you read from the Bible has many layers of meaning. When you read, you can "make the story your own" by thinking about it and reacting to it. Over the generations, people have reacted to biblical stories through art, music, drama, literature and craft; through thinking and talking about the story and always finding new layers of meaning.

Some of the classic stories of children's literature have similar richness. Think about the story of Cinderella. Why was Cinderella a great star in this story? Was it because her feet were small enough to fit into the glass slipper? Was it because she was pretty? Was it because her step-sisters and step-mother were mean to her? What was Cinderella's reward in the end? What made this a happy ending?

A good story gives us lots of things to think about. The lessons are not always obvious. We bring our own knowledge and values to the story. We realize that Cinderella was special because she had a lovely, humble attitude, not because she was pretty or because her feet were the right size for the slippers. We also know that it's not "all about" marrying a prince, but about the idea of being chosen and finding the blessings of life.

Classic stories, folktales and the biblical stories have this in common: they are both simple and complex, they provide layers of meaning, they inspire interpretation and re-interpretation over the years. And beyond the richness of the story, the sacredness of the Bible comes from the intersection of humanity's search for meaning combined with the spark of inspiration from God.

March 2014