Jesus in Blue Jeans

As I serve in the church of the 21st century, I have a special place in my heart for the Gospel according to Mark, the Gospel that is at the center of our vision this next Lectionary year.
We live in a church with the walls “painted” by the telling, year after year, in word, in song, in fabric art—of the gospel of Jesus. Imagine along one wall of the church Matthew’s picture of a rabbinic Jesus who came to “build a church” to form a community, to teach a community, to “be with” that community even after his death, “to the end of the age.” Imagine along the other wall Luke’s beautiful portrait of the One born in a stable in Bethlehem, who gathered a community of the lost and the forgotten, who came to be the Savior and to call a community to continue that work. On the ceiling imagine John’s gospel, the misty, spiritual picture of Jesus as “the Word made flesh,” “the light that came into the darkness” “the bread of life”—the Life Giver.
Mark’s Gospel perhaps is best imagined as a painting of the divine Christ on the floor of the church, with Jesus as the very human “man of sorrows.” As the Gospel begins, his birth is not described in the beautiful images of St. Luke, no, he simply is given as one who comes suddenly, inexplicably from Nazareth, from the “out back.” In the middle of the story he struggles daily to get through to disciples that are often all too human. In the middle of the story, Jesus himself often struggles to discern what God is “up to.” Then, at the end of the story, in the Garden, Jesus will ask God—”if it be possible”— to “take this cup from me”; then he will proceed to “drink the cup” to its completion. Jesus’ stunning final words from the cross in Mark would simply be a quotation of the question-filled, yet faith-filled, Psalm 22, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Then Jesus would scream and die.
Yet, here’s the thing. In the face of the struggle on this earth, in spite of what looked for all the world like defeat on the cross; was the story of Jesus “over and done with”?
And it still isn’t.
People of God, follow the story in Mark’s gospel as faith communities setting out again this year to follow Jesus.

Jesus in Blue Jeans, (20th Century), photo of sculpture on Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri, Uckfield, East Sussex, England

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