Thursday, July 3, 2008

memory and imagination

Two weeks from tomorrow our family will get on a plane with all of our luggage (yikes!) and head back home to Mozambique. We have been having a great time here in the US with our families, but our minds are starting to think about life and ministry among the Makua.

I’ve been thinking about our teaching ministry in Mozambique. Our team is using a chronological storying method. This approach understands the key stories of the Old Testament as necessary preparation for hearing about the death and resurrection of Jesus. So, the churches we work with hear about the Creation and the Fall, Noah, Abraham, Exodus, David, and the exile among other things before they hear about the coming of the Messiah. We believe that this approach gives the hearer the best preparation for understanding the story of Jesus and sets the stage for their own transformation in order to begin to look like Jesus.

I came across a quote that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

“Reading and interpretation, therefore, reflects a conversational mode that looks backward and forward – backward as a function of memory, which provides fuel for the imagination that looks forward. Embodiment of biblical truth in the present, therefore, stands at the place where memory and imagination meet.” - Gordon Matties

This quote is a little thick. What I’m taking away from this quote is that for the church to be the people that God has called them to be in any context they’ll need to draw on the deep wells of stored memory from the biblical text to inform their imagination as to how to live out the faith in that place. We need to be rooted in the biblical stories. But, we’re not expected just to repeat exactly what happened to the faithful who have gone before us, but instead to be faithful - be consistent - with the story we’re apart of.

So, our memory (formed by the biblical testimonies and local testimonies of God’s faithfulness) equips our imagination and allows us to live out the faith. My goal then is not to tell interesting narratives, but to outfit the Makua-Metto with the formative stories necessary for living out their faith in their neighborhoods.

Grace and Peace,


  1. Check out NT Wright's New Testament and the People of God for the first hundred pages or so. He unpacks the importance of story and its relevance for epistemology.

  2. Thanks Matt,

    I had already ordered that book and am taking it back to Mozambique. It will move to the top of the list.