Insulting the Romans (February 4, 2013)

…Opening To…

If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, the crack where junior’s Frisbee hit it. If you look through a window, you see the world beyond. Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a Holy Bore and those who see it as the Word of God, which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past into the depths of ourselves. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:1-3; context)

…Filling Up…

Continuing the Biblical theme of the past few weeks, this week we are going to look at five words we say quite often when we talk about the Bible. These five words are used so often, in fact, that we probably don’t spend too much time thinking about their meanings. Rather, we just say them and forget that the words don’t actually define themselves.

The first word is “Gospel.” Gospel is a pretty word. It rolls off the tongue and retains its pleasant sing-song, Old English quality. Gospel means “good news.” (There’s a cool scene in Tolkien’s The Two Towers, when the antagonistic crony Wormtongue names Gandalf “Láthspell,” which is the opposite of “Gospel.” Gandalf was bearing, at least from Wormtongue’s perspective, “ill news.”)

The four accounts of Jesus’ ministry take the name of “Gospel.” As far as scholars can tell, the writer of the New Testament, including the writer of the Gospel according to Mark, snatched this word out of contemporary parlance and used it as a mission statement for Jesus’ ministry. Until that time, the Greek word for “Gospel” was used for royal proclamations and military victories. “Good news: the emperor had twins!” “Good news: the legions have conquered a new bit of Gaul!”

Mark takes the word away from its original context and uses it for the “good news” of God’s kingdom breaking into the world. In a sense, Mark thumbs his nose at the authorities of the world when he steals their word. He uses the word to show the world the true meaning of “good news.” For followers of Christ in today’s world, it is our duty and joy to make sure our proclamation of the Gospel is still “good news.”

…Praying For…

Dear God, you continue to shower us with the good news of your grace in our lives. Help me to proclaim that good news through both my words and actions to everyone I meet. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, endeavoring to learn more about you, learn more from you, and learn the best ways to be your child in this world.

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