This is written as a summary reflection on the weekly discipleship discussion of The Gathering Community. The Gathering Community is a group of seekers who are “relinquishing what has failed (which we will likely treasure) and receiving what God will give.” Currently we are traveling through the book of Mark, receiving good news for our wearied world and selves.
An age of grief. That’s the best way I know how to describe the reality of our day. A time of deep grief that has settled into the soul – the very core of our being. Today we know that grief expresses itself through many different outlets: anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, feelings of failure, and social withdrawal. And grief has its embodied expressions as well: sleep interruption, weariness, muscle tension, headaches, digestive issues, and physical pain. Many of us are well acquainted with the expressions of grief.
If we can hold our experience of grief and bring it with us to our reading of Mark, we have a chance to hear and see Mark’s message. Mark assumes his readers know the realities of suffering, dehumanizing oppression, seething anger and exasperation, and the resignation of human agency. Yet, even while bringing our own experiences of grief to the interpretive scene, we still might struggle to fully see and hear due to the depths of our privilege and our 21st century expectations. Hard words no doubt, but important to confess if we are going to enter Mark’s world and receive Mark’s message of good news.
Mark begins his story with an imaginative appeal; “The beginning of the good news.” In other words, “here is something you have never heard before, the creation of a new reality…and it’s better than the one we currently know.” Now that’s an audacious claim, but nevertheless, it is the claim Mark makes. Everything that follows those opening words in Mark unfolds that new way of seeing and hearing and reveals what it means to be human and how to experience God in a new way.
I reckon that’s what Mark is pointing us toward when he quotes Jesus saying, “Hear this announcement of good news: the kingdom of God is here.” And to hear it, we will likely have to suspend what we think we already know, hold loosely the things we often cherish, and engage the intentional work of “looking” for the new reality being revealed.