On Christmas Eve a stranger pulled up in front of Raven Hill. It was approx. 30 minutes before Lessons & Carols was scheduled to start, so I thought that perhaps it was someone who had seen an advertisement for the event and had decided to arrive early to socialize and get to know people ahead of time. Turns out it was an Amazon.com Christmas employee in an unmarked vehicle. He carried a small box up to our doorstep and handed it to me. Inside the box was a copy of Frederick Buechner’s book, “Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale.” On the 70th page of the book Fred says:
People are prepared for everything except for the fact that beyond the darkness of their blindness there is a great light. They are prepared to go on breaking their backs plowing the same old field until the cows come home without seeing, until they stub their toe on it, that there is a treasure buried in that field rich enough to buy Texas. They are prepared for a God who strikes hard bargains but not for a God who gives as much for an hour’s work as for a day’s. They are prepared for a mustered-seed kingdom of God no bigger than the eye of a newt but not for the great banyan it becomes with birds in its branches singing Mozart. They are prepared for the potluck supper at First Presbyterian but not the for the marriage supper of the lamb, and when the bridegroom finally arrives at midnight with vineleaves in his Hair, they turn up with their lamps to light him on his way all right only they have forgotten the oil to light them with and stand there with their big, bare, virginal feet glimmering faintly in the dark. …People are prepared for the worst but rarely for the best, prepared for the possible but rarely for the impossible. The good news breaks into a world where the news has been bad for so long that when it is good nobody hears it much except for a few. And who are the few that hear it? They are the ones who labor and are heavy-laden like everybody else but who, unlike everybody else, know that they labor and are heavy-laden. They are the last people you might expect to hear it, themselves the bad jokes and stooges and scarecrows of the world, the tax collectors and whores and misfits. They are the poor people, the broken people, the ones who in terms of the world’s wisdom are children and madmen and fools. Rich or poor, successes or failures as the world counts it, they are the ones who are willing to believe in miracles because they know it will take a miracle to fill the empty place inside them where grace and peace belong with grace and peace. Along with Sarah and Abraham they have nothing but laughter left, because although what the angel says may be too good to be true, who knows? Maybe the truth of it is that it’s too good not to be true.