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“The Beginning of the Good News . . .”

. . . is how the Gospel of Mark begins. Most biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the four Gospels to be written. The plot moves along at a brisk pace. There is this sense throughout the Gospel that “Jesus is on the loose.” Jesus is unbound by tradition and he boldly proclaims that he has the power to forgive sins and he even heals on the Sabbath. He talks about the Kingdom of God using parables that are not easy to understand. 


Each time I read through the Gospel of Mark, I am captivated by Jesus as he disarms and confuses and breaks down barriers so that we can ultimately be prepared to hear the Good News as good news.


In the late 1970s the British character actor Alec McCowen performed the Gospel of Mark from memory before theater audiences in London and New York. McCowen said that the Gospel writer was one of the great dramatists. Likewise, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary encouraged his students to memorize the Gospel of Mark, and my friend, the Rev. Kirianne Weaver, a pastor in Ithaca, NY, took the professor up on his challenge, memorizing the Gospel of Mark and performing it before church groups.


You can find several videos of people performing the Gospel of Mark by memory on YouTube. Each presentation takes about an hour and forty minutes, with some as long as two hours.


I’m not necessarily telling people that they need to memorize the Gospel of Mark themselves, but I do want to encourage all of our Covenant friends to take about 90 minutes to two hours to read through the Gospel.


As we continue with Year 2 of the Narrative Lectionary, all of our preaching texts on Sunday morning from now until the Second Sunday of Easter will be from the Gospel of Mark. I’m looking forward to all of us exploring it together, as we contemplate what it means for Jesus to be on the loose in our own time.


Grace and Peace,


Pastor Jack

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