The Advent Letters

Hi. It’s me again, Lord,

We lit the second candle of Advent this morning at church. But you know that. I’m fairly sure that second candle represents some character or some theme of this season, but I can’t find a consensus and our pastors have veered a bit off-script this year, so I’m content to let today’s candle stand for just a little more light. That feels true. And next Sunday will be a little more light, and then a little more the next Sunday, and then, then in a couple of days that candle in the middle which I know for a fact is yours. I mean you came right out and claimed it, right? I am the light of the world. Straight up ballsy, Lord. If not kinda crazy. Then, as now, such talk will get your crucified. Yeah, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

You do know I love Christmas. And probably as much as anything, I love the music. I have to tell you I’m quite taken with a carol that’s new for me – “Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance?” Well, you saw me the other morning when I was listening to it in the darkness just before the dawn, and those words and that tune, they broke me down, Lord. It was like there were hard places in me, places all knotted up for reasons I’m aware of and probably some reasons I’ve no idea of. But listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing that song…ugh, Lord, it broke me. I’d like to thank you for that, for I believe your infinitely tender hand behind that breaking.

I grew up hearing the Mormons were all going to hell. I’m not sure I ever believed that, but that was what I heard. But with you as my witness, Lord, nobody sings “Whence Is That Goodly Fragrance?” like that choir. Nobody. Some of their theology is nutty. Then again, some of the Baptist theology I bathed in as a boy is equally nutty. We all keep insisting we know, so to speak, what each candle stands for, when maybe the truth is if we’ll simply stay faithful there will be a little more light, and then a little more. I’ve no idea how all this is gonna play, Lord, but the longer you give me breath, the more I pray we’re all going to heaven. For the life of me, I cannot imagine anyone who has experienced your grace to not at least hope in that direction for us all. But I know a fair number of folks who are banking on hell being full occupancy with maybe even a wait-list. As I said, Lord, I cannot imagine.

Some swear these days by the phrase “love wins.” I get it, but that’s always felt squishy to me. I find myself leaning more toward “the light wins,” as in “the light of the world,” as in, “you, Lord.” But that’s just me.

Thank you for just a little more light this morning. Thank you for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Thank you for always listening.

Sincerely amen.



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  1. Abby on December 9, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Just a little more light…He is the Light of the world, and all that is good in me, too…let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

    Thank you, John.

  2. paula jones on December 10, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Amen, and amen.

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