The Words We Long to Hear

In the preface to his translation of the Gospel of John, the late Reynolds Price wrote this: “Bizarre as it is in so many parts, John’s Gospel speaks—in the clearest voice we have—that sentence all humankind craves from stories: The maker of all things loves and wants me. In no other book our culture possesses can we see a clearer graph of that need, that tall enormous radiant arc—fragile creatures made by the Father’s hand, hurled into space, then caught at last by a man in some ways like ourselves, though the ark of God.”

Isn’t this what we are craving this Advent? Aren’t we longing to know that the source of everything loves us and wants us? And isn’t this our greatest fear: that at the end of the day God may want and love a lot of people, but I am not one of them.

Unfortunately, the church hasn’t always been helpful in proclaiming this message. Unfortunately, the church has too often been more than willing to say that God doesn’t love or want the ones Jesus included: whores, con-artists, murderers, the contagious, morally lethargic, and the spiritually blind. The church has excluded such flawed creatures even though Jesus said that it was precisely these kind of folk who would get into the kingdom before the fine upstanding members of society. In rejecting some in God’s name, the church has hampered God’s mission in the world.

In spite of all the barriers we put in the way of the Good News, thankfully every Advent and Christmas we simply read the stories that tell us the truth.  We hear that the Angel Gabriel told a young woman from the outback, “You are highly favored.” We hear that Jesus was born, not in the heart of respectability, but in a cattle stall amongst the suspect. We hear that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”—all of us regardless of our credentials or reputation.  We simply read the stories and the stories tell us what we long to hear.

Ask God to let you know that the maker of all things loves and wants you. What better gift could you receive this Christmas?