Leave it to the unclean to ask the question most necessary:
have you come to destroy us?
a question asked by those who know
that the search for freedom
is a quest not guaranteed
and that hope, unrealised
will break us…
liberate us from the demons
that would stop us from searching,
and from glib hope that doesn’t honour fear…
[isogeting Mark 1:21-28]
i met with the prison chaplains on Monday to start our little foray into Mark’s Gospel. According to the scholars and their commentaries, the stuff we’re really going to have to sort ourselves out on is Mark’s worldview – issues of unrealised kingdoms and the danger of hope; demons; chaos and absence. Coincidentally, they’re themes that resonate quite nicely with prisons too.
The trouble is, the stories in the gospel might be about confrontations with systemic oppression and the evil that dehumanises, but in their telling they don’t easily offer much to those living within it at the moment. Even the commentaries written around Mark – even [perhaps especially] Ched Myers’ – are written from and for those who have the resources and capacity to go face to face with oppressive systems.
it works for us that there’s no happy ending in Mark, post-resurrection, just fear and terror… which is perhaps the only credible response to the resurrection – and indeed to the idea of hope, for those who live permanently in the darkness of easter saturday. it’s not fear of what is hoped for, but fear of hope – at the power that hope, unrealised, has to destroy.
we come to worship.
there are no easy answers here,
no sentimental comfort
and no guarantee of hope.
just each other, held together by the need to begin again
and a story that tells us how it can happen.
welcome to worship