Friday, February 08, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 33: Exodus 34-36; Psalm 28; Mark 1

At once...
One thing I am noticing in this Bible Challenge is that the first two books of the Bible have an awful lot of reprise in them. It reminds me of the television shows of my childhood that would leave us one week with a cliff-hanger (and various teasers about what would happen next week to our heroes.) Then, the next week, the program would resume with a retrospective of last week's events, the cliffhanger..."and now, for the exciting continuation of our story!" I remember the excitement and anticipation of having to wait. I remember being eager to sit down with my family of friends in that moment when the next program would be broadcast...and I remember the impatience that would rise when we would have to spend the first five minutes looking back, instead of forging onward into the story.

Maybe that is why I love the Gospel of Mark so much. This first chapter sets a pace that few other books of the Bible can match. There is little time to waste in getting into the action, the point of the story: the good news of Jesus Christ needs to be told now, and we cannot waste time...we have to move at once in order to experience him, in order to follow him. It is time to be on the way.

The Gospel begins with a brief note from Isaiah, setting the stage, much like Chorus would do in classical theater...and then, John appears, preaching a baptism of repentance. Jesus comes from Nazareth of Galilee to be baptized. He is, by John, and the heavens part...and then knowing himself as the Son, Jesus is immediately driven out into the wastes to comes to terms with this realization...and then he immediately calls the disciples, immediately exorcises a demon, immediately heals Simon's mother, immediately heals the sick and possessed of the town, then moves on. He even "sounds" a bit impatient when the leprous man says to him, "If you want, you can make me clean." Jesus is "incensed" in my translation, and seems to heal him with a sharp temerity. Everything seems to be happening at once, and it is as if we have to run to keep up.

What it gives me is a sense of excitement, and just like those television series of my childhood, I can't wait to see what comes next. I am eager to meet this Jesus, even to run after him. I can't wait to see what he does next, where we go next and to what new experience he is leading us into.

This is not a cerebral, hesitant appreciation for an abstract kingdom that we are being invited to share. This call is for here and now. It is happening, always, in the present moment. When should we do this thing God is calling us into? Now. When should we seek to follow, and act on, the guidance and direction of God?

NOW.

That sentiment echoes in Exodus. We are finally getting underway with the construction of the meeting-place God has asked Israel to construct in their midst. The contractor has been identified and the donations have been assembled. It is time. When should we prepare a dwelling place for God in our midst? NOW!

So, in case you were wondering what to put at the head of your to-do list today? First, pray; then, act so that the kingdom of God is here and now for you:

  • Seek God
  • Follow God
  • Do it now
  • The Rest Will Follow....
  • Go to store, buy milk
  • Pick up kids
  • Clean desk
  • Fix leaky faucet
  • Etc.
God is not found in the past or future. Today, that much is quite clear...So, that means we find God in the present, and our choice of when to follow? Simple: at once.

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