The word gospel shows up a lot in the Bible. Translated from its original Greek form, the word literally means "God's good news." Gospel = good news.
Something awesome about God's good news: It can show up basically anywhere. Especially when we don't even expect it. Any environment. Any context. Any day. Any voice. It isn't just pastors and church professionals who proclaim God's good news. Everyone can! And it doesn't only happen during sermons on Sundays in church buildings. Good news is being shared and lived out every day of the week.
The good news comes in both whispers and shouts in hospitals, classrooms, kitchens, stairwells, war zones, funeral homes, cafes, and parks. There is gospel in the certain and the uncertain. In the awful and in the joyful. In life and in death.
The gospel is the reminder that we're not alone. Instead, we're loved and valued in a way that far surpasses our human understanding by a God who never leaves us. It's significantly good news. Especially when we feel things like: hopeless, alone, misunderstood, scared, and terrible.
Sometimes the gospel looks like a smile, and other times it looks like shared tears and grief. Sometimes good news sounds like a word of comfort, and other times it sounds like question marks.
Last week a father and his 15-year-old son named Callum came to my office to talk about the existence of God. I always preface such conversations with a reminder that I am an expert in nothing and a learner in all things, so I'm not the best person to talk to for answers. The chat was one of my favorites. Ever.
The depth of the high school sophomore's questions was profoundly good news to me. The idea that people's brains work the way his brain works and the reality that there are parents willing to journey with their kids into the questions: That's such good news to my pastoral ears!
It was genuinely one of the most enlivening conversations I've had since seminary. The gospel doesn't always sounds like certainties. Sometimes it sounds like, "I wonder that, too. It's healthy to wonder."
Sometimes the gospel sounds bold and courageous.
At a recent conference for pastors, a 20-year-old college student studying criminal justice preached. Usually a fellow pastor preaches for the first night of the conference so it was a special treat to hear from a college student. Her name is Taylor and she participates in campus ministry in Winona. She boldly preached about the truth that God doesn't leave us. She read the passage about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And without hesitation, she proclaimed that God goes with us into even the stench of death. Taylor said we don't get to choose when God is with us because God is always with us.
I'm sure I've learned that truth before. I'm sure I've preached that truth before. But I tell you honestly: I'd forgotten it in my own journey. I'd utterly forgotten it. And then Taylor proclaimed it to a room of 150 pastors, and I remembered.
That's how the gospel works. It keeps showing up. Ever-reminding us of the nature and presence of our creator.
I pray you experience some gospel this week. I pray good news flows in and out of you like nurturing oxygen for your spirit. The gospel is everywhere. May you see it, taste it, touch it, smell it, and hear it.