By Tom Ehrich

Preparing three talks for a clergy retreat in Massachusetts has taken me to a different place.

Not the skills and organizational development training I normally do, where I offer as much insight and expertise as I possess. Rather, a going deep, seeking the story within, telling it honestly, finding a narrative grounded in authenticity.

I don’t seek to dissect Scripture, or to provide talking points for Lent, or to influence their practice of ministry. A retreat leader is a storyteller, and the aim of telling my story is to guide them deeper into their own stories, and there in our respective stories to encounter God. My story keeps changing, of course, so this week’s telling feels strangely new.

Risks abound in storytelling. The risk of getting in my own way, of not letting the “I” of my story become an invitation to the “You” of their stories. The risk of telling the safe story, not the true story. The risk of exposure. And, as always in ministry, the risk of rejection.

My themes are Tests (Gospel for Lent 1), Impermanence (Lent 2), and Risks (Lent 3). Finding stories to fit the themes has been no problem. Pealing away their safe layers to find their core has been the challenge.