Lead Through Story (7/31/2016)

A sermon preached by Daniel Pryfogle
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA

July 31, 2016

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: Look around the room. See the people. See their faces. Open your ears to their stories. What is your name? What do you see? What do you hear? Why are we together here, and now?

How beautiful the faces! How lovely the stories! How blessed the names! The Spirit says, You are gathered by my purpose. I have been gathering you all your days, and before. Why? Because you are needed. Because your story matters more than you can know. For your story is part of my creative power, and my power is in you. Your story makes all things new. Yes, it does. Your story is a line across the breach. Your story is the thread to reweave the world.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: I know you wonder, How can this be? I could talk to you about connection, about participation, about co-creation, which is all true, but what I really want to get to is you: Your particular story is my lifeline. My poet Kazantzakis said it well: I am in jeopardy. I am always in danger. Why? Because I have gambled on you. I have chosen another way from the beginning of time that is obscured by the marks of your ancestors and your contemporaries, by your skylines and shopping lines, by your train lines and airlines and power lines, by your push, shove, grasp, by all your force; yet what I seek, what I need, is your power, your genuine power. It’s all you.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: I know your doubts. I know you question how a story can change anything. It’s just a story, you say. They are only words. They are just a construction, an ordering of beginning, middle and end, just to entertain. I know you think a story isn’t much, isn’t enough, is nowhere near enough to change the world and in so doing save me.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: But listen to me now. I am the Word. Your ancients called me Word. They called me Logos. They were grasping for something more than language yet not other than language, something more that contains letters and words and sounds of speech and parts of speech, surrounds them because this something more infuses them like smoke, like water, sustains all the words you speak, carries them through the air as sound waves, forms and reforms them in other ears to make then intelligible, turns them into a force that calls for response, that compels Yes and No, that leads to action, that leads to deeds.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: The ancients were after something more, something expanded by human artifice but never diminished; something renewed by human love but never depleted; something like energy, something like gravity, something like eternity. And so they called me Logos.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: In another time, like yours, they might have called me Story. And so they might have said,

“In the beginning was the Story, and the Story was with God, and the Story was God. … All things came into being through the Story, and without the Story not one thing came into being. What has come into being in the Story was life … And the Story became flesh and lived among us …”

The Spirit asks the church at Palo Alto: How do you throw out your line? How do you follow it? How, especially, when you can’t remember your line?

Set aside all rules. Clear them to make a space around you. Put your hand on your heart to feel the words you cannot yet say. Close your eyes to see what I will show you. I never once asked you to be anything other than what I need: You.

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: Be revealed!

The Spirit says to the church at Palo Alto: Come! Walk into your story, and I will take notes. I will remember with you.


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We are a progressive Baptist Church affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. We have been in Palo Alto since 1893. We celebrate our Baptist heritage. We affirm the historic Baptist tenets of: Bible Freedom, Soul Freedom, Church Freedom, Religious Freedom

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