Text study on Mark 1:14-20
Lectionary text for Jan. 22, 2012
I am a procrastinator — a serious procrastinator.
In writing this post, for example, I could list at least five chores I miraculously found time to accomplish today — despite the fact that I’ve been avoiding them for — cough — weeks, all in an effort to delay actually writing. On the upside, my bathroom is now super clean.
As a former newspaper reporter, I need due dates and deadlines. Deadlines compel me to move. They propel me forward. In them, there is a sense of imminence and urgency, a “now-ness.”
This might explain why Mark is my favorite Gospel. In part, Mark appeals to me because its author continually and hurriedly advances the narrative from “the beginning of the good news”; to the mission and ministry of Jesus, the Christ; to the saving grace of the cross and the empty tomb.
Literarily, it’s as though the writer is aware of some approaching deadline and wants the hearers and readers to feel that urgency, too.
This week, the story picks up from the text two weeks ago.
Washed in the waters of baptism, and having fasted and been tempted by Satan for 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus quickly begins his mission by proclaiming that the fulfillment of God’s promises is near, and Jesus “immediately” begins gathering disciples to move forward the proclamation of that nearness.
A sense of urgency
The gospel does, in fact, carry with it a sense of urgency. Imminence. Anticipation. There is movement and motion. The good news isn’t a stagnant, murky pond of water but rather a rolling sea: sometimes turbulent, sometimes serene, but always stirring.
Our baptisms are not stagnant rite-of-passage events, but rolling, moving calls to discipleship. With the waters of life washed over us, we are propelled immediately and urgently forward to share in and about the promise and possibility of the risen Christ.
We move in anticipation of all that God was, is and will be.
There is no procrastinating when it comes to the good news. In the “now-ness” of our calling, we leave our old selves behind and follow Christ in love, in mercy, in grace, in service to others.
We push forward to love our neighbors as ourselves: to ensure that the naked are clothed, the hungry are fed, the homeless are sheltered, the oppressed are set free.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near … .”
- How do you feel the “now-ness” of the good news in your life?
- In what ways does God push you forward to enact the love of God and neighbor?
- How do you avoid, procrastinate or delay the urgency of God’s call in your life?
Lisa Barnes is ordained in the ELCA. She is the director of community partnering and advocacy for Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey.