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Journeying with Mark – Paula Gooder et al

September 16, 2016

jwmAt last, a book to put in the hands of laypeople who want to prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s readings, if not every week then at the start of each season of the Church’s year.

Each chapter has four parts: a section ‘exploring the text’, which gives some information on Luke’s narrative and connects it with the season; ‘imagining the text’ which is a poem or piece of imaginative writing from the perspective of a character in the gospel, or a modern-day re-working of the story

It is good to see Ched Meyers quoted outside radical; sources.

Quotations:

The aim of Mark’s Gospel is to introduce us to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There are many ways in which we can encounter him – for example, through his calling of his followers or in the moments of great revelation at the baptism, transfiguration and crucifixion – but probably the best way to encounter Jesus in all his fullness is through his ‘everyday life’. Jesus’ everyday existence, however, is very different from our own: it is marked both by his teaching and by his miracles. It is very easy today to attempt to split Jesus’ miracles and teaching apart. Miracles are something many people today feel uncomfortable about, so we focus much more attention on Jesus’ teachings. Mark’s Gospel, however, makes this rather difficult. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark does not give us large blocks of Jesus’ teaching (such as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5—7) but instead weaves it throughout the whole of the Gospel.

The Revised Common Lectionary’s decision to intersperse Mark’s Gospel with John’s Gospel is nowhere more frustrating than in Holy Week. As we noted in the Introduction, Mark’s Gospel builds from the moment that John the Baptist bursts on to the stage in chapter 1 to Jesus’ final cry on the cross. For obvious reasons, each of the Gospels focuses on the cross as the event in which Jesus’ ministry finally comes into focus. This is especially true of Mark. The second half of Mark’s Gospel lies under the shadow of the cross, and of what this will mean not only for Jesus but also for those who follow him. It is therefore frustrating that this vitally important part of Jesus’ life and ministry is covered in the Lectionary not in the words of Mark but in those of the fourth Gospel, whose theology of the cross is very different from Mark’s. Indeed the only place where Mark’s account of Jesus’ death is given as an option at all is in the reading of the Liturgy of the Passion which some churches use on Palm Sunday.

 The season of Advent is about waiting, both for the Jesus who came to earth as a baby and for the victorious, risen and ascended Christ who will return to earth as King. One of the challenges of Advent is to keep our vision fixed not only on the more tangible and comprehensible birth of Jesus but also on Jesus’ second coming. Mark’s Gospel naturally focuses our vision on the second coming because, unlike the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, it has no stories of Jesus’ birth. Mark simply begins with the adult Jesus starting his ministry with his baptism in the Jordan. The Gospel does, however, contain a passage – Mark 13 – which has been one of the most significant in discussions about Jesus’ second coming.

M But . I couldn’t cope with the way our Jesus became . I couldn’t cope, nor the other children. You see, Oprah, he abandoned us and threw away everything we stood for .. or that’s how it felt at the time.

Abandoned you? What do you mean?

M Jesus gave up the carpentry, and he seemed to turn his back on all that had been so important before. He left the brothers and sisters who relied on him, he never came home, wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t stand still for a moment … we began to think he was ill, out of his mind, fanatical . . I was so worried that he would do damage to himself, wear himself out, get himself in trouble with the strange enchanting stories he began to tell about God. We were beside ourselves.

Oh, Mary, I never realized it was like this for you .

M No, most people don’t see it . . how difficult it was for a mother to have him surrounded by others, keeping family out, confusing us with all the contradictory things we heard him teach — one minute reminding us to honour father and mother, and then the next breath he was on about leaving behind inheritance and family for the sake of God’s kingdom. Some people thought he was marvellous of course, but me and the children, we felt outside it all, excluded. People would ask, `Where did he get ideas like this?’ as if our Jesus was a nobody! It was so hurtful to hear all those things at the time, before we came to understand.

And what was it that you came to understand, Mary?

M That my son Jesus was Wisdom’s child.

I don’t follow you.

M I came to understand that Jesus had a project, a particular `job’ as we would say in the carpenter’s shop. And the job was to be God’s presence among us — God’s healing and freedom and wisdom and peace — all free us, and that to be the way he was he had to of himself, not just a part.

So are you saying, as a disappointed mother accept the way your son turned out?

M What happened to Jesus broke my heart: the torture, the cross. I had to let him go, the whole family had to let him be who he be in God’s plan.

So, Mary, is Christmas a time full of regret the mother of a baby who would grow up t misunderstood as admired?

M No one should imagine, when they see me as a baby, that it was an easy thing for me to My child grew up into a man nailed to a cross that sweet child no one should fool themselves an easy thing for my son to be Jesus. My whole self to be God among us.

So you know from your own experience what some families go through, Mary?

M It’s not easy to accept one another when you are shattered. I know how painful it can be closest to you be the people God intends  that’s the price of really loving another person my child is also God’s child, and that to be fulfilment for each and all of us…freedom and wisdom and peace — all freely available to us, and that to be the way he was he had to give the whole of himself, not just a part.

So are you saying, as a disappointed mother you came to accept the way your son turned out?

M What happened to Jesus broke my heart: the betrayal. the torture, the cross. I had to let him go through all that: the whole family had to let him be who he was meant to be in God’s plan.

So, Mary, is Christmas a time full of regret for you, as the mother of a baby who would grow up to be as much misunderstood as admired?

M No one should imagine, when they see me holding Jesus as a baby, that it was an easy thing for me to be his mother.

My child grew up into a man nailed to a cross. Looking at that sweet child no one should fool themselves that it was an easy thing for my son to be Jesus. My Jesus gave his whole self to be God among us.

So you know from your own experience what hard times some families go through, Mary?

M It’s not easy to accept one another when our expectations are shattered. I know how painful it can be to let those closest to you be the people God intends them to be. But that’s the price of really loving another person. I learnt that my child is also God’s child, and that to be both is life’s fulfilment for each and all of us.

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