Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Winn Collier on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Winn’s local city newspaper is The Daily Progress. Here is Winn Collier on the Good News.

THE GOOD NEWS

Recently, in conversation over tea with local activists who carry some skepticism of the church, one new friend asked me his burning question: “how do you deal with evil, war and violence?”

Last Easter season, on a morning ride to his kindergarten, my son Wyatt asked, “Dad, when God raises us from the dead, are we going to be really alive? Or just alive in our head?”

Three years ago, in the dark hours, I sat on a cold couch, facing the suffocating night while my family slept. In tears and anger, I assaulted heaven, “Will this ever end? What is wrong with me?”

Kathleen Norris says that “[t]he discipline of poetry teaches poets, at least, that they often have to say things they can’t pretend to understand.” That’s how I feel amid this conversation around Jesus’ good news. However, these three experiences with their accompanying questions move me toward the center of what I mean whenever I say that Jesus is the good news.

Most of us are aware of an ache, a sorrowful wondering if our world will ever be right. We know deep in our bones that something has gone wildly amiss. We know that the injustices and loneliness and social fractures rife in our world are evils we ought rail against. We might not all believe hell is a place where bad people perish, but I’ve yet to meet a person who disagrees that we encounter bits of hell in Darfur’s refugee camps, in terror and the wars terror spawns, in urban centers where young girls peddle their bodies on the streets.

And we know, somehow we simply know, it was not meant to be this way. But why do we know? My hunch is that we have this primal intuition because our story carries echoes of the good news. Might it be true that we were created for Eden? Might it be true that we gasp at beauty and are furious at evil because we were made for beauty, not evil? Perhaps Jesus’ story (God became human, died as a scandalous act of love and then walked out of his tomb as signal of God’s intention to resurrect everything death has ruined) tells us what our heart already knows: we are people of life, not death.

Perhaps Jesus’ story, rather than offering a Pollyanish fairytale, narrates why the world I experience collides so cruelly with the world I long for. For me, Jesus’ good news provides the one hope that I haven’t gone utterly mad.

A people of life, not death: this we know. And here we encounter the jaw-dropping good news. Death might be everywhere, but death does not have the final word. Jesus has come, and death (of every sort) will one day be emphatically undone. And life will dance free in the streets. As Frederick Buechner said, “What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”

Winn Collier is husband to Miska, a spiritual director, and dad to Wyatt and Seth, who were dangerous boys even before the book came out. Winn is a writer, working as a columnist and authoring three books: Restless Faith, Let God: The Transforming Wisdom of Francois Fenelon and most recently, Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions. Winn and his family make their home in Charlottesville, Virginia where they serve their spiritual community, All Souls Charlottesville. You may connect with Winn @ winncollier.com.


9 Responses to Winn Collier on The Good News

  1. David Cooke says:

    Beautiful and moving words that were good news to me today. I really needed them.

  2. Winn Collier says:

    Thank you, David. I need this hope too.

  3. Winn,

    What a wonderful question your son asks- “Are we going to be really alive or just alive in our heads?” I am curious, what does it mean to you, to be really alive?

  4. Scott Olson says:

    thank you, Winn for the insightful and timely good news. With death and evil so pervasive, it is a good reminder of the life and love/goodness of God that triumphs over the grave and gives hope to the downcast.

  5. sonja says:

    Winn,
    The first time i hear of that name.In the Netherlands it could be ‘Wim’.
    I liked the question of your son Wyatt.Aren’t we all like children again at some point with our questions.I love the innocence about it.There was a time in my life before where i didn’t appreciate the innocent part anymore for it was not a ‘cool’
    thing.But i’m thankful now to be alive again.

  6. jrwoodward says:

    Winn,

    I appreciate the holitistic way you have shared the good news. It speaks to questions people have on the streets in an insighful, philosophical and poetical way with theological depth. To live out our calling as people of life in the midst of death is so vital and Jesus keeps me sane as well. Thanks for sharing the good news with us in all its richness.

  7. Winn Collier says:

    Thanks, all.

    Joey, I think it means a host of things to be “really alive,” an awakened heart, living with presence and hope. However, in the context of Wyatt’s question, to be really alive means (I think) that we will really, truly, physically be made new. Our hope is not just in some theoretical, esoteric, abstract future “mode.” But, rather, we will sing with fuller voices, we will smell, run, dance, love – only better than now. I told Wyatt, “You bet, buddy, we are going to be alive, really. You’re going to be even more you (more who you were intended to be), not less.”

    God has always gone physical. Physicality matters. It gives me hope to know that pains will really be mended, wrongs will really be righted, cities will really be renewed, systems of injustice will really be trampled. And we’ll be alive. Really.

  8. Pingback: realmealministries.org » On the Good News

  9. Austin says:

    Winn,

    Thank you for your honest words — you always help me see life, even when times are dark.

    Austin

    P.S. It’s a good thing I’m a poet, because I don’t understand much of anything.

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