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Third Sunday after the Epiphany: January 25, 2015.

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Psalm 62:5-12

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Mark 1:14-20

First Reading

As we are still early here in Lectionary Year B, the year of Mark, it might be helpful to have a few Markan reminders. Immediately, I want to remind you of Mark's fast pace. Mark uses the word immediately (euthus) thirty-nine times in his sixteen short chapters. Two of those happen within this short reading today. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew and they immediately drop their nets and follow. Then Jesus sees James and John mending nets and he immediately calls them. Everything in Mark happens immediately, it seems. The world is moving quickly and there is much to be done.

Another Markan theme present in this early reading is of Jesus' fundamental message. In Mark, Jesus comes to proclaim that the kingdom of God has come near. That kingdom of God is present in Jesus himself and comes to be present in the community of followers. Just as with the story-telling, there is urgency to this proclamation. The kingdom of God has come near. The time is fulfilled. There is still time to repent and to believe in the good news. There is still time, but it is moving quickly. The time is now.

Pastoral Reflection

A common complaint about "modern life" is that it moves too fast. There is no time to sit and just be. With email and texting and Twitter and all, conversation and communication move quickly. Our schedules and obligations often feel as though they are moving at breakneck speed. One pastoral reflection might simply be to acknowledge that Mark knew about that kind of life. Mark knew about a world that seemed to be moving and changing quickly--2000 years ago.

Within that simplisric observation we can see also that God knows about our pace. Jesus lived in an immediately kind of way as well. Jesus immediately reacted and responded to the needs of people around him. Today those needs were to call people to follow and join in his ministry. Later it will be to immediately heal those who need healing and to immediately love those who need to be loved.

Perhaps we can begin to see the fast pace of life not solely as a challenge that we need to get over, but as a gift for ministry. Perhaps we are being trained to be Markan Christians. Perhaps we are being trained to think in immediate terms and to respond with love and grace immediately.

And yet. And yet, while we try to respond immediately and to proclaim God's grace and love immediately, it's good to know that God also operates on a longer time-frame at the same time. The psalmist tells us in verse 12 "steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord." Steadfast love is long-term and goes way beyond the immediate. So perhaps the lesson of Mark is that, in Jesus, God takes the eternal steadfast love and makes it available in immediate ways to our immediate world.

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Title Annotation:Preaching Helps
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Date:Oct 1, 2014
Previous Article:Second Sunday after the Epiphany: January 18, 2015.
Next Article:Scripture for Christ's time: reading Year B.

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