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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gospel, part 1

"Gospel" is a church word. To folks in the church it means a story of Jesus by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John...or maybe music out of the folk or Black church traditions. To folks outside the church it seems to mean "really true," as in that's the "gospel truth."
Interestingly to me, the folks who don't ever go to church, or at least not much, don't read their Bibles much, but use a phrase like "gospel" truth have a pretty good idea of what the word means. To my mind, Christians would be a lot better off talking about the gospel God brings rather than talking about morality or ethics or all the other stuff the seems to be what God is about for some folks. For me, God is all about the gospel...and that's the truth!
You see, gospel is God's way of showing love to me or to us, gospel is the freedom we have received from God to live out our lives in peace and justice. Now the gospel has some meat to its bones, namely, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, but gospel is what God is about...freedom, life, peace...
A young lady came up to me the other day and shared her frustrations at being young, at being disrespected, and at being discounted and feeling devalued by everyone she knew. Yes, she knew it would be hard striking out on her own; yes, she knew she would have to make sacrifices, but did everyone have to be so mean about it? There is no rule, law, or ritual this young woman must follow in order to have God love her...she is loved, by God, she's just having trouble seeing it...hearing it...experiencing it. Is there gospel for her?
Another woman, a mother of a four-year old, was talking to me about her younger days...(she's 23, so I went with it out of respect, and for the fact that I didn't want to stab her with my fork), and how she never really wanted to be in school, never really wanted to stay at home, and now, with a child whom she loves, parents far away whom she never sees, she realizes how fast time flies. "I was in a real hurry to grow up," she tells me. Is there gospel for a 23 year-old, single mother who wants to slow down from a life in the fast-lane?
Do we just say, that's tough...it'll get better? Really? How does it get better?
The reality is that it doesn't get better...people are mean...life never slows down...but there is gospel, isn't there?
They are not trapped by others' meanness, they are not trapped in the swales of time, they are free to live...to keep trying...to keep being not mean like the rest of us...to keep focused on the things that slow us down...(like keeping up with a four-year old!) Because the gospel is a gift, one we do not earn, but receive without doing anything at all to earn it, we are not trapped...we are free...but is there ever anyone around to tell us that? There may be someone at a church, but by the time we get there it's too late...because we don't need to hear the gospel only in church as much as we need to hear it in the world...or least two young women do.

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