Mark Lays It Out For Us
The Reverend Michele H. Morgan
December 6th, 2020
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1: 1-8
Mark lays it out for us. This is the beginning of the good news. It is not the only good news; this is the very start. HERE now, God is breaking into the world, into time, and into space, and we are called to change. We are called to notice. From the start, this is a tale that will change everything; This gospel will change how everything is. Mark does not give us the frame of the story we know it, we hear it from the Gospel of Luke, later and before.
God breaking into this world, God becoming human, and instead of the worst of all of our fears, God came as a child and a very human child. A child dependent on others to care and feed, to give comfort, to love and care for god as a child. It is an amazing story of vulnerability. Giving up power to learn something, to know more about the life of humanity. This is the beginning of the story.
Jesus and all that he brings here of more light, more love, and more Goodness, yet he brings it through the lens of humanity. It is a story not of an all-powerful God or warrior who will change things through force, a subjection it is the start of a gospel that will call us to what Jesus brought/brings into the world’s life. Wonder, Joy, mercy, and Comfort, and all the other things that the most human, human who walked the earth brought/brings.
Now, this is the gospel of Mark so he going to tell us the story in a scant 16 Chapters so we best pay attention as we march along, we are linked deeply to the lectionary and we will spend the year with a lot of Mark and we will not hear again from mark until January 10th. Mark’s gospel is brief and the lectionary will add in Luke and John as it fleshes out the story. So what does this quick gospel want from us? The community of Mark wants you to know of the healing, the servanthood, and the pain of Jesus in this world. It is not a gospel full of out world miracles but mostly the grind of people being people and helping one another.
We will hear perhaps my favorite healing story the story of Peter’s Mother in law, also healings of leapers and paralyzed folks, Jesus will call the fishermen to come, the tax collectors to serve, commission followers, ask for help and continue on to his own death. It is perhaps the perfect gospel for us to linger with as we live into the last bit of 2020 and into the reality of 2021.
We need to keep healing, from the body blow of the last year, we will not know what the cost of this pandemic has been on us until we are able to truly gather again and talk about the toll it has taken on us. I am amazed by the amount of death that I am hearing about, I mean you read the news and you see that 2918 people a day are dying from COVID, and that is a little over 15 727 crashes a day. (social math) Yet in the particular, I have attended three online funerals for friends’ parents this week. It seems like we will not know, yet we can not give up, we can heal people metaphorically by staying home, if we can, wearing a mask and lessen the curve. That is a call from this gospel.
People are out of work and hungry, they are being evicted and it is servanthood to reach out to the government and demand a relief package, I do not care who is blocking it, this is about to get way worse and we need to be of service to the people around us. More hungry people on the streets is not the vision that God had for us when God broke into the world. We can make a decision to give more this season, spend less on ourselves and others give at least 10% of our holiday budget to mutual aid, to feeding ministries, to keeping everyone in their home.
We can take the vaccine when we are able to, we can hopefully open up the world safely by having a population who has true herd immunity. We need to continue to build trust in communities that have not been served well historically by Medical communities. We need to acknowledge the pain of underserved communities
We are called people to make the world a better place, and Mark’s gospel invites and shows us the way.