The First Collective Submission

Abby (no “e”) sent me this post as the first of what I hope to be many “collective” posts from readers. If you have some time, stop by her place and check her writing out. You’ll find yourself to be fast friends with her words.

Thanks, Abby!
a gobstopper of a gospel
By Abby Barnhart

he was legendary. the fourth-grader they called the jawbreaker. inspiring awe from playground to bus stop, not with a fist but a candy.

some said he’d been working on the same gobstopper for 5 and a half months. a nine-year-old’s eternity. a baseball glove on his nightstand and a juice glass at the dinner table – sedatives to his mother’s persistent fears of choking.

once out of her sight, it was back to the sweet stuff. rumors of the candy’s original size approached mythic proportions.

“i saw him with it once this summer – it was bright green and as big as my fist!”

“i heard it was bigger than his head!”

he didn’t do it for the fame. in an interview immortalized in the elementary school newsletter, the jawbreaker confessed: “i just want to see which flavor is next. it keeps getting better and better.”

curiosity killed the molars, sure. but you can’t deny the insatiable, even when it’s hard.


living hope. body and blood. new birth.

i remember days when these truths seemed easy to swallow. sweet in their marbling of the inexplicable and comforting. the changing perspectives each lending a layer of new flavor to the experience.

i read them again, and they seem to build upon each other with such density that the best attempts to chew them over are returned a chipped tooth.

a dollar-store jawbreaker. bigger than your head.

what i first tasted as a nine-year-old i struggle to get to the core of today. though tough to teethe, it keeps getting better and better.

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4 Responses to The First Collective Submission

  1. sethhaines says:


    I loved this piece. It reminds me of a simpler life, and thus, reminds me of a simpler Gospel. My gospel was supplemented with goldfish and koolaide, garbage pail kids and candy cigarettes. It was all sweet and simple. Sometimes, I miss that.

    That being said, without the complexity of life, death, and everything in between, I wouldn’t understand the complexity and beauty of the gospel. What you’ve written here has made me think.

    Moving into Advent, I hope to take the time to reflect upon the Gospel. Is it all baby Jesuses and stary nights? That is the easy, sweet stuff. Or is it about getting to the center–death, resurrection, personal in-dwelling, sanctification?

    Bigger than my head… for sure…

  2. I would love to read/chat more about the simple/complex of the gospel at Christmas especially. I wasn’t thinking that when I wrote this . . . but it’s so true. Part of me has a serious gag-reflex this time of year to all the sentimental around the holiday, and I have trouble digging through it to the humongousness of the truth. Thanks for letting me pipe up, here.

    • sethhaines says:


      I get your gag-reflex. That being said, this is truly my favorite time of the year. There are folks writing about this over at and I think you might find their thoughts refreshing.

      To me, Advent marks the beginning of a season of possibilities. It reminds me that without the baby there could be no resurrection. I hope this year it brings me back to the essence of faith and helps me springboard into a year of reflecting on the life of Christ. I’m not sure how that will work out, yet. Frankly, I’m really human and can be fickle. That’s just the truth.

      Do you and your fam (husband, extended fam, etc.) have any faith traditions at this time of year?

      • I’ve been reading Christmas Change and think it’s just the dose of genuineness I need! I’m approaching this Advent with the same hopes you express . . . I feel the need to reflect, refresh, return . . . which seems the point really.

        Fortunately my family moved last Christmas to the same are in Illinois as my husband’s – so we get to enjoy Christmas traditions with both families. Yesterday, I started a reading schedule that will take me up till Christmas – I found it here:

        I hope turning my thoughts and prayers to this crucial beginning and fulfillment of the gospel story will help me return to the Christ-centered in Christmas.

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