Last month Coventry won the UK City of Culture bid for 2021. I remember proud posts flooding my Facebook feed reading #thisiscoventry, not forgetting the many excitable WhatsApp messages which followed. I was a little excited, however it was only 24 hours later that I found myself feeling this same, contagious, excitement and pride. It was the moment when I saw a room full of people engaging with stories about the nativity in fresh and diverse ways. It was the biggest privilege to be a part of it.
I’m referring to the first Storied event. The evening’s focus was “How the Christmas story explores our human experiences.” It featured carols, a wonderful two-part telling of the nativity story by Tim Coleman, and an array of poems, stories, and songs all reflecting on the story in past and present contexts. The performances resulting from the theme, “A Child is Born” evoked many emotions – but the main thing I took away from the evening – was how storytelling, and the arts, can be a platform to bring people together. Different lifestyles, life experiences, beliefs…in the storytelling sphere all are welcome and able to connect through listening and performing. Jen Williams describes this scene far better than I in her reflections on the first Storied event,
Honestly, I went for a mince pie and a little giggle at some brave people doing things I don’t have the guts for. I sadly didn’t get a mince pie but what I got was so much more. The bookshop was packed with some people having to stand at the doorway, silently listening to some true quality storytelling. It was captivating and authentic – not yet another nativity story. There were different viewpoints on the meaning of Jesus’ birth. There were carols and songs; there were poems and stories and plenty of friends to natter with. I had a great Christmas night out and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Like the nativity, the Bible is full of stories which can be creatively explored and grappled with. It’s full of stories about individuals who face challenges in life, who travel and adventure, who find themselves in the most difficult of circumstances devoid of hope – yet still, endure. It shows us the relationship God has with His people, and demonstrates the deep unwavering love of God for each and every one of us, from the beginning to the end. I could go on.
One of the things I love most about reading the Bible is how, no matter how many times I visit a passage, there is always deeper insight to be had. As the living, breathing, word of God, it shows us more about our creator and connects us with Him. The Bible begins with creation, “In the beginning God created…” God is a creative God, the best craftsman, and so passion and love of creativity in its multifaceted forms comes from Him.
The next Storied event is this week on Wednesday 10th January, 7pm, at the Big Comfy Bookshop in Fargo Village. It will be focusing on “Eden.” If you’re reading this, I encourage you to come along, and who knows, maybe prepare something for the evening! It’s such a safe and supportive environment to perform in whether it’s your first time or feels like you’ve been performing for a while. Following my experiences of the last event, I simply cannot wait. The creative juices are already flowing.
Check out the event on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/174500243138971/