Stories are an essential part of who we are as humans. At the most basic level, we are constantly engaged in a wide range of stories, whether it is streaming a tv series online, immersing ourselves in an engrossing novel, or even interacting on social media. Stories, however, are more fundamental in their significance and are more formative in their substance, for they give shape to how we understand the world in which we live, and move, and have our being. It is within the framework of narrative that our beliefs, actions, and desires are given meaning, which in turn reinforces the narrative we are living out day to day. It thus makes sense that we are so drawn to stories, because life itself is an immersive drama in which we take part.

Whether we realize it or not, the world is constantly offering a variety of powerful stories that attempt to sell us a vision of the “good life” in order to form the way we believe, act, and love. For example, the narrative of consumerism tells us that the “good life” is characterized by having more and more possessions, which not only informs our understanding of happiness, but forms the way we live our lives. If we are not careful, we may be living out a story offering cheap happiness, while only giving despair.

But by his grace, God has revealed the true story of our lives through his Word that counteracts the narratives the world has to offer. In Scripture, we are presented with the meta-narrative arc of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration: In the beginning, God created a good world, in which humanity, made in his image, was to represent the gracious reign of the Creator by causing the world to flourish and filling the world with his glory (Creation). Yet, the very creatures who were to represent God’s gracious rule, rebelled against their Creator, wreaking havoc on themselves and on the world (Fall). Because of this rebellion, humanity’s relationship with God, the world, and each other, is broken, leaving all of creation groaning for reconciliation with the Creator. But God in his rich mercy, sent his only Son to live out the story we could not, bringing reconciliation through his life, death, and resurrection (Redemption). Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ and are being formed by this story of the Gospel, faithfully proclaim the glory of God as they wait for the Creator and Redeemer to make all things new (Restoration). The true story of the Gospel revealed in Scripture is the “good life” offered to us. It is in this grand story in which our individual stories make sense and find their proper place; and inasmuch as we immerse ourselves in this ultimate story, we faithfully bear witness to theauthor and finisher of our faith. Yet, to immerse ourselves in this story does not mean to merely assent to the basic premises of Scripture (though that is essential), but to fully embody these truths in how we live our lives. We embody these truths in and through the daily habits (such as prayer, reading scripture, witnessing), weekly practices (such as the gathering as the corporate body of Christ to worship), and yearly rhythms (such as observing the seasons of Christmas and Easter). This is why as a church we are committed to these Gospel-shaped rhythms to form us as a people who exist to be a people who enjoy the glory of God, equip the people of God, and extend the love of God. We pray and hope that by God’s grace and for his glory this guide will contribute to the alignment of our hearts, souls, and minds that we may live out the story of the Gospel to the glory of Christ, our King.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus,delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

          “‘The Lord said to my Lord,

          “Sit at my right hand,

         until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Acts 2:22–36