Known for articulating mysteries of the faith through songs accessible to both major corporate worship song lists and personal devotional playlists, Laura Story has gradually grown into one of Christian music’s most favored singer-songwriters.
Her poignant piano ballad, “Blessings,” written in the confusing aftermath of her husband’s brain tumor diagnosis, became a tender musical prayer for thousands of people struggling with unexplainable pain. Subsequently, Story became a number-one seller with a handful of Dove Awards, a GRAMMY Award and a platform as one of gospel music’s premiere artists.
And though “Laura Story” became a household name for thousands of music listeners across the country over the past few years, for her local congregation—Perimeter Church in Atlanta, Georgia—Laura is simply, and fondly, known as “worship leader.” And it is in the context of sharing weekly communion through the ministry of music with her home church that Story finds her inspiration to write songs that eventually connect with the world.
Her latest expressions of faith are captured on her first Christmas recording, God With Us (FairTrade Services), a worship-oriented combination of affective carols and original anthems highlighting yet another sensitive collection in Story’s meaningful, and growing, discography.
CCM: Christmastime is the one time in our calendar where the sacred and the secular seem to make peace. Worshipful lyrics like “O, come let us adore Him / Christ the Lord” stream from the speakers of everyday public places. Do you experience this unique impact of Christmas music in your life as well?
Laura Story: Absolutely. One of the greatest things about the Christmas season is people who aren’t normally interested in spiritual things are all of the sudden looking for an opportunity to celebrate the Christ of Christmas, which some of them don’t even believe in. As a worship leader in a church, I love the thousands of visitors that come during the holidays looking for a nostalgic experience, yet hopefully finding something much more meaningful.
CCM: With so many Christmas records already stocking the shelves, what inspired you to add your voice to the list?
LS: That is a great question. For many years, I was a firm believer that after Amy Grant’s “Tender Tennessee Christmas,” there was no need for any of us to ever do a Christmas album again!
Christmas has always been an important holiday to me. The idea of God being “with us,” the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us has made all the difference in my life. I couldn’t help writing songs about how the birth of Christ impacted me personally.
CCM: You speak candidly about tragedy in your recent book, When God Doesn’t Fix It. In response to your husband’s diagnosis with a brain tumor, you said, “In that moment, we think life as we know it is over. The truth is, life as we’ve yet to know it has just begun.” It seems this statement relates to the entire human condition as we anticipate and experience the birth and life of Jesus.
LS: Absolutely. The birth of Christ is an event that literally split time in two. It is hard for us as Christians to fully comprehend what it meant for God to become man and to be born in a stable, but it was by far the greatest gift to all of humanity—that God saw our desperate need and sent Jesus.
The birth of Christ was God’s rescue plan for humanity, and I try to keep this in the forefront of my mind each Christmas knowing that He was compelled by His love for me.
CCM: Hard life does not disappear during the holidays. How does Christmas color the tragedy in your own family’s life?
LS: In some ways, it is a comfort that Christmas comes every December 25 no matter what kind of year we are facing. I can remember our first Christmas after Martin’s [Story’s husband] surgery and being thankful simply that we had him with us for another year.
This particular Christmas will, I am sure, contain joys that I don’t even know yet celebrating with a three-year old and one-year old twins! But whether you find yourself celebrating Christmas during a joyful season or a hard season, the truth is the same—Emmanuel came to be “with us” in every season.
CCM: To listeners across the country, you are known as “singer-songwriter-touring artist.” But at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, you are known as “worship leader.” How does the weekly opportunity of facilitating communion through music for your congregation help shape the songs you write and record?
LS: I would go so far as to say that there is nothing about my songwriting or recording that is not impacted by my community at Perimeter. I have had the privilege of serving there for over ten years now, and anything that I do on the road is an overflow of what God is teaching me in the context of my church family at Perimeter. It truly is a blessing to serve there.