in six verses or less…

Mark 1:9-15

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark truly is the master of understatement.
in six verses:
a baptism
God’s voice and claim
the call of the Spirit
40 days in a desert
a few temptations
a visit from Satan, some wild animals, and a few angels
an update on an old friend
a trip to Galilee
and the promise of the kingdom

(which then fills the rest of the gospel)

Or is it an understatement?

Maybe he’s got it in the right perspective.
what would he say to a church that gets bogged down in theology about baptism, and membership, and who’s in and who’s out…

or that angsts over times in the desert, which may simply be a fact of life
(for Jesus and the church)

which endlessly dissects the temptations of the world

and endlessly discusses where the mission field is…

and endlessly analyses the call of the Spirit…

and endlessly debates whether something is or isn’t the true voice of God…

and sometimes forgets that ‘the kingdom of God’ is actually the point of the gospel.

(and i’m not saying “the church”, as in “all you others out there”. I do this…)

I’m giving up the ‘endless discussions’ about the church for the period of Lent (I’m not sure whether that fits into Maggi’s definitions of Lenten disciplines, Lent’s really just an excuse to do what i know i need to do!). I’m breaking that discipline already tonight, because i have to go and present a report on this project to the Commission who funds it.

i’ll tell them about my Lenten discipline, and why i’m doing it… and i’m going to ask them not to analyse whether this project is good for the church, or whether it upholds the UCA theology, or whether we’ve been called by God as a commission to do this (all important questions, of course, but questions i can too easily answer). I want to simply ask how this project is or isn’t responding to the Jesus’ claim that the kingdom of God is near.

i hope i have the courage to hear.