Since Advent, the Sunday scriptures, heard by Episcopalians and many other denominations, are grouped into Lectionary Year B. The focus is on Mark, the earliest of the gospels and the account closest in time to the life of Jesus. Those encountering Jesus carried the stories, passed them on verbally over and over, and finally compiled them into the first of the written gospels. By the time Mark was organizing his work, Christians were determined to have hearing recipients recognize that the man known as Jesus was to be known as The Christ, the true Son of God, who totally shared human life.
In the earliest stage of organizing thoughts about the activities of Jesus, Mark or his scribe probably etched Greek words into wax coating of a wooden slab, the first century notepad. To give them permanence, Mark’s thoughts were transferred to papyrus, the paper of the ancient world. By the time the theology of the early Christians had evolved into the trinitarian understanding that Jesus was not just a human son emanating from a separate supreme being, but was actually truly one with God, Mark’s text became incorporated into a collection of pages bound together. The earliest form of our books today was visually differentiated from the long strips of joined papyrus that formed rolled Hebrew scrolls. From this beginning, Christian scriptures we call the New Testament were obviously different from Hebrew texts. With this change, God’s good news gained new life and was ready to reach out and gather in a whole world.
In reflecting on how Mark’s message came to us, we must not miss the reason for our four Bible gospels: Gospels are good news telling us of the love of God for all of us. And God’s love is the basis of the unity all of us have in prayerfully living in the Diocese of the Rio Grande today.
In our Come Follow Me Study this week, you will find the meaning of God’s love in the words of Mark 14:6-9 by reading the New Revised Standard Version aloud twice. By making a gender change, you will be challenged to think about how we become conditioned to understanding Bible language that may limit the undergirding meaning of biblical texts.
But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’
From this passage where Jesus interacts with a woman, let us consider how our thoughts may change, if we have Jesus speaking to a man.
But Jesus said, ‘Let him alone; why do you trouble him? He has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. He has done what he could; he has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what he has done will be told in remembrance of him.’
From the first century onward, Mark’s writing was meant to provoke Christians to understand that Jesus, who we as Trinitarians believe was truly God living among us, was the pivotal change agent for all of human history. Shifting past Old Testament expectations to a clear, new vision, Mark’s Jesus tells us to see the unlimited good possibilities for us in listening to and following Jesus. We serve God by joining Jesus and continuing the work of bringing the good news to our human world. And the good news about Jesus is all-inclusive.
Mark’s message is a guide we should heed. At this moment in the life of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, all of us, female and male, named and unnamed, are called to leave the past behind and to welcome the new opportunities that are to come. Now, by each of our actions in the body of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, our service following the example of Jesus will be remembered. We will honor God together, as we thank Bishop Vono and welcome our new leader to guide us in proclaiming the good news to the whole world.
Activities and Prayer for this Week
But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’ (Mark 14:6-9)
Jesus reminds us that sometimes what we think unimportant is the most important of all.Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
There are many needs across the Diocese of the Rio Grande. As an individual, or group, identify some of these. Are their ways in which those with what we consider needs or problems can minister to us?
Make a collage of the things that the ‘needy’ can offer to the world.
Prayer: Blessed God, we know that you care for each person. Help us to have our eyes open to their needs, their gifts, their hopes, so that we can see all people with your eyes of love. Let us be open to what each person offers. Amen.
Share: Comment on this post or Facebook to share one or 2 of the ways the diocese is ministered to which you, or your group, identified. You could also post a photo of your collage.