Rev. Barrett Owen
Before joining FBC in 2022, Barrett was the much loved Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Waynesboro, VA. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, a Master of Divinity in Congregational Ministry from the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA, and a Master of Theology in Homiletics from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Decatur, GA.
- My Story. Our Story. The Story.
There’s something circulating in higher theological education called the Cosmic Egg. It’s not hard to hold, but it has massive implications to how we live.
The Cosmic Egg has three interconnected layers, and they each matter.
The yolk (interior layer) is “My Story.” It’s the individuation of my personhood. My gifts, insights, and abilities to affect change lie here.
The Egg White (middle layer) is “Our Story.” It’s our communities, families, and group identities bound up in harmony with one another.
The Shell (outer layer) is “The Story.” It’s the things in this world that are always beautiful, true, and good. It’s God’s universal reality.
You can play with this theory any way you want, but what I find helpful about its imagery is that each part of the egg has a positive and negative connotation.
For instance, all of us need a strong My Story. We need to self-differentiate by pursuing life and making something of ourselves. We need to know, “My Story matters. My personhood is good. I am made in the image and likeness of God.”
It is possible, though, to get too focused on My Story, and we can become narcissistic and self-obsessed. To break free, we need a healthy balance of Our Story with My Story.
Our communal identities matter. Our school, family, teams, and clubs help define and give context for My Story. It invites us into something bigger. Becoming aware of “Our Story” and how it affects us can open our eyes to so many beautiful engagements and connections.
But it can be negative, too. If we aren’t careful, we can forget that there are other “Our Stories” existing beyond ours. We can mistake our Our Story for everyone’s Our Story, assuming our experiences should be the only right and true ones.
To break free, we need a healthy balance of The Story. This outer edge of the egg holds everything together. For us Christians, we know this layer to be God’s ultimate story. And what exists at this outer level are the things that are always beautiful, true, and good (i.e. Love, Forgiveness, Justice, and Grace).
And that’s the Cosmic Egg. There’s a lot to explore here, and you can engage it in innumerable ways. I have three maxims that resonate with me:
1) No one layer is more important than the other.
My Story, Our Story, and The Story each serve to awaken our souls to God equally, and at any point, we may need to strengthen or give attention to another, but we are always moving in and out of all three in dynamic ways. We need all three speaking life into us.
2) By sharing My Story, people become attuned to the dangers that manifest in Our Story.
Every single person has a My Story that needs space to reflect and share but not outside the context of Our Story. If Our Story is forcing trauma onto people, we as a church must have the eyes to see and voices to name that this was never intended to be a part of The Story.
Trauma survivors are good examples here. They have a story to tell, and we need to make space to hear them but we cannot assume by hearing them, that Our Story will automatically improve or won’t need tweaking. These layers define and enhance each other.
3) We need to reclaim that which is beautiful, true, and good for all people.
I believe God’s Ultimate Reality is for all people to live under the shell of The Story experiencing love, grace, and hope within their communities and selves. Unfortunately, people lose sight of this reality because of the damage done at the Our Story and even, My Story levels.
If a post-COVID church is to do anything well, I sure hope it will give dedicated attention to everyone’s My Story in order to create a safe and inclusive Our Story so everyone can flourish and experience that which is beautiful, true, and good within The Story of life.
Peace and joy,