It might be the shortest of the Gospel but it was still a big ask when in some mad moment it was decided that we would tackle the whole of Mark’s Gospel during yesterday mornings service at All Saints. Primary as a springboard for the Sunday School who are journeying through it in the months ahead.
I have a soft spot of Mark’s Gospel, it jumps right in:
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1
… bypassing the nativity stories straight into Isaiah and John the Baptist preparing the way. Mark is easy to read in a single sitting and in doing so you get a real feel for the sense of urgency it conveys. This Good News might be beginning but it needs to be continued. By the end of the first chapter, Jesus has been Baptised and tempted, called disciples, healed, taught, and made it clear that the outcast is as loved and precious in God’s sight as anyone else.
As I say it was a big ask, but somehow we managed it, some stories from childhood, some walking on water, two lots feeding the multitudes, a transfiguration, and the Eucharistic Prayer itself retelling the story of Holy Week.
What struck me afresh as we galloped through the chapters this morning was just how demanding Mark’s Gospel is. The parables, the miracles, the teachings are being told to us for a reason, and that reason. To go and tell others, regardless of who they are, where they live and what their gender maybe. This Gospel isn’t just about telling the Good News it is about spreading it! It isn’t something that should be put on the back burner as committees meet to distract from the task in hand, it shouldn’t be something left to someone else, it shouldn’t be something that is conditional. It isn’t something that should be kept in the family, it shows no favoritism and excludes no one.
In each and every chapter Mark proclaims, the Good News is for now and it is for everyone, adding not to let anyone, who claims some kind of special insight or that there are some special conditions, tell you otherwise.
Is that really such a big ask?