Reflection on Mark 1:1-3

Bishop Jim and I have decided that we will offer short meditations through the week, we will take alternate days – Monday, Wednesday and Friday for me and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for Bishop Jim.

If something we say creates a question or a thought in your mind, please know that we are readily available to talk with you by telephone or skype or whatever platform you use.

What we want to do is create social nearness while respecting the urgent call for physical distancing.

And so to the reflection, as an act of self-discipline (which is no bad thing in Lent) I have made the bold decision to base my reflections on Mark… verse by verse by verse. I wonder how far we get in these sixteen chapters?

Today, Mark 1:1-3
1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

The opening of Mark’s Gospel brings to mind the opening of two other Bible Books – Genesis and John. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created…” and John 1:1 “In the beginning was the word.” I find it, forgive me, rather lovely that the straight-speaking, economic writing of Mark is allied with these two great books in the Bible.

So we begin, as we should, be celebrating, acknowledging the beginning of creation… of the cosmic world, of the rational Word and of the glorious Gospel. Our God revels in creative activity and even creative activity that can bring something beautiful, ordered and varied out of… nothing.

Day by day, if not hour by hour, right now we are looking to God to enable us to see new beginnings rather than tired endings, engaging opportunities rather than endless ennui. I feel sometimes a little overwhelmed by all the suggestions sent to me personally and generally… but even one idea adopted and tried for a little while can enlist me in the divine ranks of angels and archangels… all working to create new beginnings.

Mark then speaks of the good news (Greek word euangelion) that characterizes the message about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is said too often, but sadly never really redundant, that we dare not allow ourselves to be drowned in a swamp of bad news. There is a light in this darkness; a friend reminded me today (John 1:5) “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.”

And this is good news: Jesus means Saviour, Rescuer, Liberator; Christ means Messiah, Lord of the Heavens, and Son of God identifies you and me with the divine so closely that no light can shine between us. “Jesus became what we are, so that we might become like Him.” Today do your best, with the Spirit’s aid, to walk and talk and think like daughters and sons of God.

Verses 2-3 give us a backward look and thus remember the profound commitment that God gives to preparation, planning, provision for the future. God is never taken by surprise, even though events are not planned by him as some master chess player; God can never be preempted by tragedy, disaster.

Right now I cannot affirm that God has a purpose for this global pandemic but I do believe that something enduring, beautiful, enabling can be created out of this chaos… there is no beginning without God… and now already He is called us to be part of that new creation.

A Prayer
Lord Jesus,
I pray that we will see a new beginning of grace and love and power in ourselves and in others today.
Help us to prepare without greed, or panic or disbelief.
In our experience of wilderness, may we hear the prophetic voice turning us to the Lord.

Alan Neale