The Really, Really, Really Good News
Come here. Sit down. I want to tell you about the really, really, really good news. This good news is so good you might not believe it, but it’s true. That is why I used three really’s. It’s so good that you may think I am making it up, but I am not.
Now, that I have you attention I want to tell you a story. It will illustrate the good news I have to share with you.
Late one night a man walked into a diner ordered a cup of coffee and donut.
There he was at three a.m. drinking coffee and eating a donut when a group of prostitutes comes in and crowd around him. He tries to disappear. The woman on his right was very boisterous and she said to her friend, informing her that tomorrow was her thirty‐ninth birthday.
Her friend said, “So what do you want me to do? Do you want me to sing happy birthday? Should we
have a cake, a party?”
“Look, why do you have to put me down? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. I don’t expect to have one now.”
That’s all he needed. He waited until they left and called Harry (the counter man) over and asked, “Do they come in here every night?”
“The one right next to me…”
“Tomorrow is her birthday. What do you think about decorating the place? When she comes in tomorrow night, we’ll throw a birthday party for her. What do you think?”
“Mister, that is brilliant. Brilliant!” He called his wife out of the back room. “Jan, come out here. He wants to throw a birthday party for Agnes.”
She came out, took his hand, squeezed it, and said, “You wouldn’t understand this, but Agnes is one of the good people. And nobody ever does anything for her.”
“Can I decorate the place?”
She said, “To your heart’s content.”
The next morning, he’s there at two‐thirty. He brought streamers and strung them about the place. He made a big poster—”Happy Birthday Agnes”—and put it behind the counter. He had the place spruced up. Everything set, everything ready. Jan had gotten the word out on the street. Every prostitute was squeezed into the diner.
Three‐thirty in the morning and in comes, Agnes and her friends.
As they come through the door, they all yell, “Happy birthday Agnes!” They start cheering like mad. He’d never seen anybody so stunned. Her knees buckled. They steadied her and sat her down on the stool. They all started singing, “Happy birthday, happy birthday to you!”
When they brought out the cake, she lost it and started to cry. Harry stood there with the cake and said, “All right, knock it off Agnes. Blow out the candles. Come on, blow out the candles.”
She tried, but couldn’t, so he blew out the candles, gave her the knife, and said, “Cut the cake, Agnes.”
She sat there for a long moment and then she said to me, “Is it okay if I don’t cut the cake?
What I’d like to do is take the cake home and show it to my mother. Could I do that?”
He said, “It’s your cake.” She stood up.
He said, “Do you have to do it now?”
“I live two doors down. Let me take the cake home and show it to my mother. I promise you
I’ll bring it right back.” She moved toward the door carrying the cake as though it was the Holy
Grail. As she pushed through the crowd and out the door, the door swung slowly shut and there was
stunned silence. You talk about an awkward moment. Everyone was motionless. He didn’t know what to say, what to do.
He finally said, “What do you say, we pray?”
It’s weird, a sociologist leading a prayer meeting with a bunch of prostitutes at three‐thirty in the morning in a diner. It was the right thing to do. He prayed that God would deliver her from what dirty filthy men had done to her. You know how these things start—some ten, eleven, or twelve‐year‐old girl is messed over and destroyed by some filthy man and then she goes downhill from there. Men use her and abuse her. He said, “God, deliver her and make her into a new creation because I’ve got a God who can make us new no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve been through.” He prayed that God would make her new.
When he finished his prayer, Harry leaned over the counter and he said, “You told me you were a sociologist. You’re no sociologist. You’re a preacher! What kind of church do you belong to?”
He said, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for whores at three‐thirty in the morning.”
He looked back at him and said, “No you don’t, no you don’t. I would join a church like that!”
“Wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t we all like to belong to a church that threw birthday parties for whores at three‐thirty in the morning? Well, I’ve got news for you. That is the kind of church that Jesus came to create. He came to bring celebration into people’s lives that have had nothing to celebrate.”
That’s not my story. That is a story that Tony Campolo tells (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWlMV-UmueM) to flesh out a story Jesus tells in Luke. The parable of the prodigal tells the story of a son who squanders his inheritance returns to his father’s estate to work only to be greeted with a hero’s welcome.
That’s the welcome each of us gets when we turn back to God. When we chose to let God tell our story his way. God forgives and welcomes us no matter who we are.
As Rob Bell writes in Loves Wins, “What the gospel does is confront our version of our story with God’s version of our story. It begins with the sure and certain truth that we are loved. That in spite our sins, failures, rebellion, hard hearts God has made peace with us. We are now invited to live a whole new life without guilt or shame or anxiety. We are going to be fine.”
The really, really, really good news is that God loves us as we are not as we should be no strings attached, but loves us way too much to leave us that way. God’s unconditional and limitless love transforms us into the people that He created us to be. God’s amazing love makes us His sons and daughters. God loves us more than we can ever comprehend and there is nothing we could ever do to earn it. Its free and ours.
I hope on this day and moving forward that we can embrace, experience, and share the really, really, really good news that God loves us.