And Mary sang, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,’ (Luke 1:46-48)

We encourage you to download, gather with a group of friends, and experience our newly released Bible Study on the Story of Jesus. We have 3 objectives in mind for 2023 the Year of Story:

To help you experience the connection between God’s story and our stories.
To help you become aware of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.
To help you learn and share the Jesus story.

In the opening reflection entitled, Someone to Sing To, Pastor Sarah Schaaf shares a story of her dear grandmother, followed by a Jesus story centered on Mary and Elizabeth.

“Beep, Beep, Beep. The school bus would back into our lane. I was the last stop on the winding bus route that led up into the hills of West Virginia. Ksssss. The bus door would release and set me free, but I would never go home. It was as if my feet had a mind of their own. I would come to the gravel crossroad between our family’s houses, and I would say to myself, “Just go home Sarah”, but I never did. I instead would turn and walk up the hill to my grandmother’s house.

I never knocked on the door. She knew I was coming. She had heard the bus in the lane and was already in the kitchen, her head buried in the refrigerator. I would open the door and hear her call out to me, “Maria”. (My grandmother was the only one who called me Maria. My middle name is Marie.)

Soon there would be something to eat on her small kitchen table and my grandmother would take her place across from me. “How was your day?” she would ask. Out it would pour. All of it: the sagas of the day, the laughs, the complicated relationships, the joys, the fears, the questions about who I was and who I was becoming and what I should do next.

Before long the bus would reappear in our lane beeping. Then my brother and cousins would make their way to my grandmother’s table until we were all crammed around it, but for a while I had her all to myself. And with that the blessing of learning how to give voice to my story, in the presence of someone who loved me.

Years later, we would discover that we had all been calling our grandmother on our drives home. At different hours, from different states, after doing very different work, we would get into our cars and instinctively dial her number to tell her about our day. She would always answer as if she had been expecting the call. “I knew it was you” she would say. And with that blessing, our stories would pour out”.

In the Magnificat, Mary doesn’t sing for the angel Gabriel, or Joseph her betrothed, or her friends and family in Nazareth. Mary goes, “with haste” to the Judean hill country, to the home of Elizabeth, her cousin who is also pregnant. At the sound of Mary’s voice, John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb and she is filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth’s blessing ushers in Mary’s Song.

Pastor Sarah concludes these two opening stories by asking, “Who do you go to when you need to share big news?” and then goes onto to draw us deeper into the Story of Jesus, the Story of Mary, the Story of Elizabeth, and eventually our own stories.