Human beings have been telling stories for thousands of years.

Storytelling is an innate trait which humans have actually used to process life. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist said, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.” Our minds were clearly created to tell stories and to hear stories. We need stories. Richard Kearney, a professor of philosophy, says “Telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. More so, in fact, for while food makes us live, stories are what make our lives worth living.” Something about stories fascinates us. This becomes evident when a new movie comes out in theaters. Right? We love the idea of the build-up, the climax, and the happy ending. Stories weave together into a giant tapestry. Our stories intertwine.

I had the privilege of interviewing Ben and Kelly Smith from Bread & Wine recently and got some insight into their hearts for stories coming together, community happening and how the name of their music group says it all. There is one aspect of stories coming together that is hard to engage in and that is vulnerability. Personally, vulnerability is a passion of mine. I love when people find connections from telling their stories. I love when people find healing by exposing the hard stuff. Kelly also has an extraordinarily high value for vulnerability. She says that the truest moments of change happen when we are honest about our feelings and experiences, with ourselves and others. Kelly follows up and says, “It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be vulnerable, mostly because the main messages our culture celebrates are happiness, success, and temporary fulfillment.” She goes on to say that we haven’t been taught how to hold vulnerable moments well. She also says, “When we’re vulnerable, we are offering a pure/raw piece of ourselves for another person to hold for a moment.” Great trust and faith are required to let someone hold that piece of ourselves. Kelly believes that vulnerability is an act of faith that invites someone into the parts of you you’d rather keep hidden. Deep relationships can happen when two people agree to be vulnerable! 

But something magical happens when people are vulnerable with their stories. Relationship happens. Ben and Kelly Smith started Bread & Wine when the inspiration came to them while they were worship pastors at a local church in Atlanta. They felt a deep-rooted desire to take worship outside of the four walls. The Smiths understand that going to church can sometimes be very hard for many different reasons. Sometimes people have been wounded by people in the church. Sometimes people feel guilty for walking away from church for some amount of time. Some don’t necessarily agree with something they heard in church. They wanted to provide a place where people wouldn’t have to go inside a church to encounter God. There are people that need a touch from God but don’t want to go to a church. Kelly said, “There are so many things that divide us as a culture (religion, race, sexual orientation, politics), but we believe God wants us to be united by the Law of Love, inclusion, and grace.”

Kelly also said, “We’re most passionate about creating a space where all are welcome; space where we can express our love for God musically, and provide an environment where people can explore God, receive God, and share God with people from different paths.” Bread and Wine was appropriately named after the communion tradition that Jesus modeled for us at the Last Supper. Ben said they try to center everything they do around the concept of the communion. Community is sitting around the table, breaking bread together and drinking wine (or grape juice). He also said he feels that this tradition exemplifies the values of God that Jesus held as reverent. Every person, Baptist, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist… whoever you are, you are welcome to the table. Ben said, “There is nothing but our own resistance that removes us from the table.” Everyone has something different to bring to the table. Ben says that at the table, we learn how to disagree without rejecting, when to speak up, when to be silent, when to give and when you should just receive. The table, meaning community, is messy but its a process worth persevering through. 

The Smith’s wrote a song called, “Every Table is an Alter.” At every table, when we come together and share a meal, break some bread and drink some wine. I asked the Smith’s about their inspiration for this song. Ben said it was birthed from a desire to see God in the everyday. Ben alluded to a story in Luke 24 when Jesus had resurrected. The strangers on the road were walking and Jesus, himself walked up beside them. They invited Jesus into their house, even though they had not yet recognized him and it wasn’t until they broke bread together that “their eyes were opened and their hearts began to burn.” Breaking bread woke up the hearts of men to the person of Jesus. Ben said, “When we begin to see every table as an altar and every stranger as an opportunity to encounter God, this changes how we exist in the day to day.”

Would anyone besides myself like to meet this couple, Ben and Kelly Smith?

They will be coming to Conyers for a gathering to talk about creating. The event is called Created and it will be hosted at The Father’s House Conyers on Saturday, February 10th at 1 pm until 5:30 pm. There will be 4 sessions and then everyone will break for dinner and then come back at 7 pm for music from Bread and Wine. When I asked Kelly and Ben about why they create, they said, “It’s our unique and colorful expression of what God is doing inside of us.” They believe that something happens when you release something you have tirelessly worked on for a long time, to an audience. Hearts are reached when you create and then share your creation. Don’t miss out on the Created Gathering. Thank you, Ben and Kelly Smith for sharing your time, your hearts and most importantly, your story, with all of us. 

Lauren Roberts