These thoughts came to mind this morning in the context of a discussion about what the gospel— i.e. what the good news —really is. My two cents:
Make no mistake–I love the old, old story and if I had children, I would be raising them in church and grounding their lives in the liturgical year (probably in an Anglican, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox community). But if and when the question arises, I would also acknowledge that if the good news is really dependent on our knowledge of (and faith in) the alleged historical events that are associated with the life of Jesus, as reported in the scriptures– i.e. his virgin birth, his ministry and miracles, his physical crucifixion, and his bodily resurrection/empty tomb —then the vast majority of human beings seem to be living and dying without the grace of God and without any point of access to the light of life. As such, IMO, we must look deeper– deeper than Our Sunday School Theology –if we are to recognize the light of the world that Jesus says he is/we are/I Am!
In contrast to Our Sunday School Theology, however, if we understand the metaphorical and symbolic (or archetypical) significance of the story (apart from any overarching concern with its historicity), then we can also acknowledge that there is a light which lights everyone who comes into the world and that the grace of God has appeared to all men. Indeed, it is from this point of view that we may truthfully say that whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely–and it is in this light that we can truly understand the tradition as an authentic revelation of God whether or not it is true in every (imagined) historical, prophetic, and/or metaphysical detail.
Gospel of Thomas 113 His disciples said to him, “When will the kingdom come?” “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.”
Good news! Let us take up our cross–the kingdom of heaven is at hand; within us; among us (cf. Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-25; Matthew 3:2; Luke 17:20-21).