Advent Reflection: Beginnings

by Joan Fanshawe

(Based on Mark 1:1-11)

Well it’s all about beginnings today! And isn’t it wonderful to be back in the church again!

This year we are following the Gospel of Mark, the first of the four books written about Jesus that we now call the Gospels and here we have his opening sentence “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Some scholars now think this is more like a title for the whole of Mark’s story of God’s work in and through Jesus Christ and that the whole story that Mark tells … is still just the beginning. Why? Because the significance of what God accomplished through Jesus’s life, ministry, death and resurrection endures.

The impact of God’s work isn’t over, the transforming power of the Gospel – the good news – continues.
Transformation requires movement and movement means aliveness doesn’t it?
Alive in Christ: isn’t that our story and our journey?

An ‘aha’ moment for me not so long ago was reading this statement: There is not a single story in the bible about the status quo.
From “Let there be light” to “a new heaven and earth”, Scripture tells story after story about transformation and movement. God is ‘the becoming One’ whose coming into being creates the present, moment by moment.

It’s not uncommon I guess after a new idea or revelation to be aware of other supporting comments, so receiving Richard Rohr’s daily meditations for a week recently under the title “A faith created by Courageous Movements” really resonated with me. Especially this observation he included from a colleague Brian McLaren’s book: “We make the Road by walking”.

Movements play a special role in biblical stories. In Exodus we hear, for example, Moses led a movement of liberation among oppressed slaves. They left an oppressive economy, journeyed through the wilderness, and entered a promised land where they hoped to pursue aliveness in freedom and peace.
Centuries after that, the Hebrew prophets launched a series of movements based on a dream of a promised time . . . a time of justice when swords and spears, instruments of death, would be turned into ploughshares and pruning hooks, instruments of aliveness [Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3].

Then came John the Baptist, a bold and non-violent movement leader who dared to challenge the establishment of his day and call people to a movement of radical social and spiritual rethinking. . . .
When a young man named Jesus came to affiliate with John’s movement through this baptism – that we have just heard – John said, “There he is! He is the one!”

Under Jesus’s leadership, the movement grew and expanded in unprecedented ways. . . . It rose again through a new generation of leaders like James, Peter, John, and Paul, who were full of the Spirit of Jesus. They created learning circles in which more disciples were trained to extend the movement locally, regionally, and globally. Wherever advocates and activists in this movement went, the Spirit of Jesus was alive in them, provoking change and inspiring true aliveness. . . .

[Christianity] began as a revolutionary non-violent movement promoting a new kind of life on the margins of society. . . . It claimed that everyone, not just an elite few, had God-given gifts to use for the common good. It exposed a system based on domination, privilege, and violence and proclaimed in its place a vision of mutual service, mutual responsibility, and peaceable neighbourliness. It put people above profit, and made the audacious claim that the Earth belonged not to rich tycoons or powerful politicians, but to the Creator who loves every sparrow in the trees and every wildflower in the field. It was a peace movement, a love movement, a joy movement, a justice movement, an integrity movement, an aliveness movement.

So Mark’s story really is just the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ – we here today are part of this on-going story, called to participate in the continuing spirit-led, transforming movement of God-with-us in our own time, because of Jesus who dwelt among us and still shows us the way to be fully alive.

God of light and love revealed to us in Jesus the Christ, be with us on our journey of daily new beginnings, movement and transformation. Amen

Sunday 30th November: Pain seeking understanding

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