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The Advent candles and the Christ candle are still burning when the gospel of Mark plunges us into the good news.No messing about. No long introduction. This is the good news.(Mark 1:1-20)

Mark is the shortest of the gospels. There is little embroidery and a sense of urgency about the proclamation of this good news. Often, when encouraging people to discover the good news for themselves, pastors will point enquirers to the gospel of Mark – because Mark quickly gets to the heart of the matter. There is a directness, often a bluntness in Mark’s retelling of the story. And it begins with Jesus’ ministry. No genealogies of birth narratives for Mark, but a jump into what the significance of Jesus’ ministry holds for the world.

In connecting Jesus with John the Baptist, authenticity is given to the prophet’s foretelling of “one who comes after me”. And, in the baptism of Jesus, we are reminded in the words of the gospel that this is God’s beloved child.

This Sunday, so soon after Christmas, while the Nativity scenes are still displayed and the Advent candles still burn, how do we make the jump into the heart of the gospel, the fulfillment of years of waiting?

  • It might be useful to briefly compare the 4 gospels’ beginnings as a prelude to what became the prevalent themes in each.
  • For folk who, perhaps, are weary of Christmas, preparation for which often begin as soon as Halloween is over, it may be refreshing to hurry on to the good news and the point of all the build up, both for us today – and for those who longed for a Messiah 2000 years ago.
  • Considering Mark’s portrayal of Jesus call to repentance might be a way in to help us consider how we are presenting the good news today.
  • And pondering calling of the first disciples might recall us to the tasks with which we have been charged.

Lots of possibilities for this first week in the gospel beginning what promises to be an exciting journey with Mark. Continuing our task – to give the word flesh, rooted among us, transforming our lives and the world today.

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