Archive for January, 2012

Friday, January 13th. Mark 1:40-45

January 13, 2012

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.  Mark 1:40-45


I looked up “leprosy” in Wikipedia.  Here’s what it said:  “Leprosy or Hansen’s disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis….Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body’s defenses being compromised by the primary disease.  Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.”


95% of the population is naturally immune to these bacteria.  Those who aren’t can catch it by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time when an infected person sneezes.  There are about 100 new cases reported in the United States each year. 


There was no Wikipedia in Jesus’ day.  But there were people suffering from leprosy.


A significant number of Old Testament passages deal with skin lesions and other signs of physical illness.  All shared the same diagnosis – God is cursing you.  And all shared the same cure – get away from us so we don’t get cursed too.


On the one hand, I have heard people argue that this was God’s way of protecting God’s people.  Ritual washing and the like was a religious act but it had the side benefits of helpful hygiene.  In the same way, this argument says that the prohibition against eating pork was God’s way of protecting people against contracting trichinosis.


On the other hand, you can read the same verses and see the fearful reaction of people triggering a kind of “herd” instinct which then begins to include rituals of behavior, the sole purpose of which is to set “our” herd over against “your” herd, so that “our” herd can live in the illusion of safety.  The truth is, there are lots of scary diseases and it is very mysterious who comes down with them.  You can get trichinosis lots of other ways than strictly from eating pork and you can get other kinds of food poisoning from eating just about anything.  The herd instinct, rather than offering protection to the safe, really just adds emotional pain on top of the physical pain suffered by those who get booted from the bunch.


Enter Jesus and the first leper who approaches him in Mark.  Jesus welcomes him rather than shunning him.  Jesus is there for him rather than avoiding him.  Jesus heals him and tells him to return to his community.  To follow the rules, check in with the priest, and, for reasons we will consider as we move through Mark, not to say anything to anyone. 


There have been many times in history when people acting in the name of Jesus demonstrated this kind of love, care and compassion to those suffering from horrible diseases.  Fearlessly, Christian caregivers have established clinics and hospitals and sent missionary doctors to very scary places.


And there have been times, as we have seen in the case of HIV/AIDS,  when Christian voices have fallen prey to fearful herding and excluding, heaping emotional pain on top of physical pain with callous moralism and public shame.


Which reaction looks more like Jesus?


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, fill us with the same kind of compassion that you consistently showed to hurting people.  Come to the aid of those who have been shunned and excluded through the often uninformed fears of others.  Bless those who serving in the healing professions and draw near to those who suffer.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Thursday, January 12th. Mark 1:35-39

January 12, 2012

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.  Mark 1:35-39


A young couple with two children came to church this past Sunday morning.  I’ve known them for years now, since before their first child was born.  I’m always happy to see them.  As we greeted each other, they told me that they tried to come to worship the previous week but their car ran out of gas on the freeway.  This is never a good thing.  Especially with two children in the car.  On a Sunday morning.


Yesterday on the way into work the guys on the radio were talking about how low they will let the tank get in their cars before they stop at a gas station.  One person said he never lets his tank get below 1/4 full, another said he tries to squeeze every mile he can get out of every tank.  It drives his wife crazy.


There are plenty of ways to live life on the edge – I’m thinking that standing on the edge of a busy Houston freeway with an empty gas tank isn’t the optimal way.


Yet how often do we live with our spiritual gas tanks on empty?


One of the great math problems of life is figuring out how other people are able to squeeze so much more out of life given that we all only get 24 hours a day.  Rich or poor, young or old, no one gets more than 24 hours a day.  The difference comes in how we use them.


Last night on the way home from work I listened to a podcast from my bishop.  He was talking about preaching on the first Sunday of the year and in that he asked a series of questions about the degree to which we will be prayerful and intentional about the life that unfolds before us in this new year.  His sense, and his coaching, is that “prayerful” and “intentional” go hand in hand.  He is right.


I have 24 hours to live today.  I know where I need to be at 10:00 am and 6:00 pm because I already have appointments.  I’ve let my relationships with other people set that part of my schedule.  But I alone get to choose when I get out of bed in the morning and when I go to the sleep at night.  And I get to schedule my time between appointments.  Where in my schedule do I put time to focus on my relationship with God?


Jesus got up early in the morning and he prayed.  We can assume he prayed prayers of praise and gratitude.  Perhaps he prayed for strength, for guidance, for direction.  And when his prayers were complete, his friends interrupted him.  His tank was full, his mission before him, and off he went to teach and heal.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, inspire in us a willingness to take time, to make time, to be quietly in your presence.  We praise you for the gift of life.  We ask your blessings on the people we know who are hurting.  And we pray that you use us today to be a blessing in the life of someone else.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Wednesday, January 11th. Mark 1:29-34

January 11, 2012

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.  That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.  Mark 1:29-34


Entering the gospel of Mark is like riding a roller coaster…except for the part where it starts out really slowly with lots of anticipation.  Mark has no room for that.  Mark is all about the urgency of the good news of Jesus.  There is a certain breathlessness to Mark’s story that I find compelling.


Jesus teaches and immediately heals.  His teaching and his healing belong together. 


For much of my life I was taught to reduce everything about Jesus to a little phrase – “Jesus forgives our sins.”  I was taught (don’t ask me how, I don’t remember anyone sitting me down and drilling this into my head) that salvation could fundamentally be boiled down to the forgiveness of my sins based on my belief in Jesus so that my name could be added to the Book of Life and I could go to heaven when I died and everyone that didn’t believe in Jesus therefore was consigned to spend eternity in hell which would be awful but I’d be in heaven which would be great so God would work out a way that I could forget about everyone else in hell so that nothing could get in the way of me enjoying eternity in heaven.  On streets made of gold.


It was a compelling story for me as a teenager.  Basically self-centered, I wanted good stuff for myself and I worried about ending up with bad stuff.  If accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior could keep me out of the fires of hell then I accepted Jesus at every available opportunity.  So I did.  Every time I could.  But it never seemed to take.  It never made much of a difference.  I may have been rescued from an eternity in hell but my most pressing problems were the hellish aspects of life between now and then.  My new deal with Jesus wasn’t touching those.


Eventually I came to learn – and I am still learning and re-learning this – that the root word for “salvation” isn’t “forgiveness” but it is “healing”.  And these two terms aren’t as different as you might think if you think in terms of relationships.


Just as the teaching and healing sides of Jesus’ ministry belong together, so it is that forgiveness heals our broken relationship with God and, once internalized, makes us very uncomfortable in settling for brokenness in the other relationships of our lives.  This insight, this connection, makes all the difference in the world.


Now it makes sense that Jesus begins his ministry in Mark both by teaching and healing, AND that such healing inevitably is accompanied by a restoration of relationships, a return to community.  Our broken world is desperately hungry for such healing.  Thus Peter’s mother-in-law moves from the bed to the kitchen to make lunch…and every suffering person within earshot of this story brings their loved ones to Jesus’ feet.  Wouldn’t you?


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, broken people seek healing.  Our deepest pains are rooted in broken relationships.  We believe you are both Source of Life and source of the power to heal.  Give us a deep sense of urgency to be about this work in everything we say and do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 10th. Mark 1:21-28

January 10, 2012

They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28

Capernaum was a little seaside village about 20 miles from Nazareth. Matthew 4:13 tells us that Jesus used Capernaum as his home base during his ministry. Yet here in Mark, Jesus sounds more like a new sensation than a local boy made good. His coming out party begins in worship.

Mark tells us that Jesus’ surprised the crowd by teaching “as one having authority.” The common style of teaching, the style employed by the scribes, was to teach the tradition by drawing upon the collected wisdom of those who had gone before. Scribes would quote the teachings which had been handed down to them. Much like trial lawyers who base their arguments on the accumulated interpretations and applications of the law, scribes were not innovators or expected to draw out fresh new ideas.

Evidently, Jesus’ teaching was different. Not like the scribes. More like the Author. Jesus taught with authority. We see that later when Matthew portrays Jesus’ teaching using phrases like, “You have heard it said…but I say to you.” What Jesus brought was fresh and new. It was good news.

Interestingly, but something we will come to expect in Mark, an unclean spirit which possesses a man in the synagogue instantly recognizes Jesus. The unclean spirit knows that Jesus is the Holy One of God and that Jesus’ presence means the end of the unclean spirit’s welcome. With authority – that is, with the power to get something done – Jesus silences and casts out the unclean spirit.

The people are amazed.

We’re just 28 verses into Mark and already people are amazed by Jesus. A man is newly released from his bondage. A crowd of people have been given fresh insight.

Being amazed is one thing. Following is another.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you come into our presence in Jesus, bringing fresh insight into our lives, helping us see those who are broken in our midst and giving us hope for healing. You are the Author of life; may we surrender to your authority as you lead and guide us through this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, January 9th. Mark 1:16-20

January 9, 2012

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.  Mark 1:16-20

I wish I could talk to Jesus.  Not in prayer.  Not in my imagination.  But face to face, man to man, personally.  I want to see what he looks like when he talks to me.  Does he look me in the eye?  Does he gaze off into a distance only he can see?

The Bible, particularly the gospel stories, does this to us.  It draws us in.  It appeals to our imaginations.  The words come into us and start dancing.  The Word becomes incarnate in our hearing.

My guess is that we react differently to this calling of the first disciples.  Someone might say, “Jesus was so compelling that he was irresistible, mesmerizing, and people couldn’t help themselves but follow when invited.”

Someone else might say, “God already knew who the right disciples were so he sent Jesus to them and, with a one sentence invitation, they sensed the compelling Spirit of God and left everything to follow Jesus.”

Or, “Since the Bible tells us almost nothing about Jesus’ life before this point, it is safe to say that he had long developed a group of like-minded friends who followed him for years.  It didn’t happen as Mark would have us believe but eventually Jesus did attract a significant following.”

Such imaginings are interesting but what I am most interested in is how can we do that again?  What does it take to help a modern 20-something or 30-something or young couple with children who are scheduled up to their eyeballs find faith and their place in Christian community?  How does the Spirit enable us to do it again?

Here is what I’m fascinated about this year – I am remembering again that the Christian movement took root in people’s lives and continued to grow during the 40+ years between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the writing of the gospels.  That is a long time, a lifetime.

All that earliest Christian movement had was an experience of God in Jesus that transformed their lives.  No written Bible, no organized worship life, no church buildings, no hymnal, no paid staff, nothing that we think is essential for “doing church.”  Nothing except people talking to people.  People telling both the Jesus story and their own story and then choosing to live their lives differently.

I don’t think that all we have added to the Christian experience through the years is evil.  Most is actually helpful.  But much can be distracting.  So I don’t want us to miss the simplicity and the beauty we see in this moment by the lake – “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” – and they did!

Peter, James, John – and now us today.  We’re all in the same boat, still following the same Lord, still given the same commission.  And my sense is that what worked then is all that really works today – one person caring enough about another to tell a compelling story about how God is transforming their lives.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, you called common fishermen to follow you in reaching new people – we pray that you continue to do this work through us today.  Use us to bring a new way of seeing and doing life that brings hope to the hopeless, home to the stranger, healing to the broken and justice for the forgotten.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Friday, January 6th. Mark 1:12-13

January 6, 2012

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:12-13

Immediately after the affirmation of his baptism, Jesus is thrust into the wilderness.  Mark tells us this wasn’t accidental.  God literally threw him out.  The image is as violent and disruptive as Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple.

The entire wilderness experience is communicated in a single sentence.  Not unlike the veteran who says “I was a prisoner of war for six years and then came home.” Or someone else casually saying, “I’m a cancer survivor.”  The brevity of the description is too much, no wonder both Matthew and Luke felt the need to expand its telling.

We know what the wilderness means.  Isolation.  Deprivation.  Temptation.  We know 40 is a powerfully symbolic number in the Bible.  40 days of rain in Noah’s flood.  40 years in the wilderness for the people of Israel.  Moses on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. A 40-something time period is a period of testing and trial but it always leads to something better.  New insight, renewal, rescue, new life.

As an athlete growing up, I had mixed feelings about the pre-season.  I loved being back on a field or court but dreaded the way that coaches would push us to the edge of our abilities and endurance. Over and over again through the years I would hear things like “the harder we practice the easier we’ll play”, “remember that somewhere someone is working harder than you for what you want”, “we can’t control the outcome of a game but we can control how how we work in preparation.”  Those memories always come back to me when I hear these verses.

People recognize the “wilderness moments” they have lived through.  Usually painful, wilderness moments are times following a divorce, a severe illness, a major move, the death of a love one.  Wilderness moments are debilitating, confusing, depressing.  We forget that life will one day get better for wilderness times do end.

Sometimes we need wilderness moments.  Many people seek time in the wilderness, time in retreat, to find themselves, to rediscover their connection to God, to restore a sense of balance in their lives.

So it is that, just as Jesus identifies himself with us in his baptism, he also identifies with us in his time in the wilderness.  He is tested.  He is tempted.  And he experiences the restoration that God works in our lives as he is cared for at the end by the angels that God sends his way.

So it is that, regardless of what is going on in our lives just this moment, there is as much comfort for us in this wilderness memory as there is in his baptism.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, our lives have tasted the joy of affirmation and the pain of separation.  We’ve known good times and hard times.  Thank you again for the enduring promise of your love which helps us endure the wilderness moments of our lives.  Help us learn every lesson that every hurt sends our way and sustain us in the midst of our education.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Thursday, January 5th. Mark 1:9-11

January 5, 2012

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  Mark 1:9-11 

And just like that….the deed was done.  Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Washing.  Tearing.  Blessing.

So many images come to mind in reading these three brief verses as Mark not only opens the story of Jesus but ties it together as well. 

The image of the heavens being torn apart and our mind jumps to the odd reference to the temple veil at the crucifixion of Jesus.  “Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:13-14) 

Something is happening in Jesus – God is changing the nature of things.  The inaccessible – heaven, the inner court of the temple – has become accessible.  God will not be locked away, out of sight, out of mind. 

We hear the stirring words of affirmation that Mark tells us only Jesus could hear: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  And then our mind jumps to the other places we will hear these words in Mark.  First, on the mountain of the transfiguration in Mark 9, and then from the mouth of one of the Roman centurions who did the dirty work of the crucifixion, “Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’” (Mark 15:39)

Only Jesus hears the words…then Jesus, James, Peter, and John…then the truth of Jesus’ identity as Son of God was revealed even to an accursed Roman centurion.  This is how the Jesus story will spread.  This is what “tearing open the temple veil” will look like in people’s lives as the Holy Spirit works through the good news of Jesus in the years to come.

And between the tearing and the blessing there is a strange reference to a dove.

I have no memory of learning the story of Noah and the ark, it just feels like one of those stories that I have always known.  And I remember as one of the best parts the dove that returned to the ark with an olive branch, a sign of new life, a promise that the waters of death would recede and life would start anew.  As a child I didn’t get caught up in the particulars of the story.  (I certainly didn’t think it might be necessary to send an expeditionary force in search of ancient ship boards.) 

I only remember Noah being obedient in building a large boat in a very dry place, looking foolish to his neighbors.  The adventure of gathering up animals.  The rain falling.  The water rising.  (I do remember thinking the fish were lucky.)  Then the dove.  And soon after…the welcome sight of dry land.

Thus, Jesus entered the water of the Jordan River.  Identifying himself with sinners, the ministry of Jesus begins in the water of baptism.  In this baptism – as in our own – heaven is torn open, the dove of peace and promise descends, and words of affirmation are spoken.  You are my beloved child.  With you I am well pleased.

In that, we are born anew.

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, by water and the Holy Spirit you bring new life in our world by raising us to new life.  May we ever see baptism, not as a once upon a time event, but as a daily dying and rising, a daily homecoming and sending forth, a seal of our identity and a sign of our calling.  May we live, not in the bondage of seeking to earn your love, but in the freedom and lightness of knowing that nothing can ever separate us from your love for us in Christ Jesus.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 4th. Mark 1:2-8

January 4, 2012

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:2-8

Back in November I was part of a Jewish/Christian interfaith wedding at our church.  As part of our preparations for the wedding, I invited Rabbi Dan to come and spend a morning with me.  I wanted to learn as much as I could about his theology of marriage, the meanings behind the various Jewish traditions in the wedding, and just generally talk “church shop” with my cousin in the faith.

The conversation became wide-ranging and eventually we got around to what it takes for a Christian to convert to Judaism.  I wasn’t surprised to learn that the last step, in a long process, for both women and men is to be baptized, ceremonially washed with water.  (I’ll admit that I was taken aback at the news that men would need to be circumcised or, if that was already taken care of, be expected to yield a drop of blood from a sensitive donor site.)

Yet my sense is that many Christians would be surprised to learn that Christians didn’t “invent” baptism, just as many Christians are surprised to be reminded that Jesus was a Jew rather than a Christian as we understand it.  The ceremonial use of water is part of nearly every religious tradition.  This ought not be surprising given that water is one of the basic building blocks of life.

What IS surprising is that Jesus, not to mention “people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem”, all firmly Jewish, would have traveled out to the wilderness to be baptized by John in the Jordan River. 

Why?  Mark tells us it was “baptism with water”, “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

The universal meaning of baptism is transformation; it is a change, a movement from one state of being to another.  The unclean is washed clean.  It is a symbol of death and rebirth.  It is both the ending of the old and the beginning of the new.  God was doing a new thing along that river and the people were streaming out to be a part of it.  Jesus among them.

This weekend we will remember this baptism of Jesus in worship.  Pastors will offer various interpretations of what it means.  Central to any such interpretation will be the conviction that the public ministry of Jesus begins with his baptism and that Jesus begins that ministry by publicly identifying himself with sinners. 

Baptism for us then means both that we are set free from our bondage to sin and rebellion from God AND that we are set free TO serve the world in Jesus’ name.  It isn’t an initiation rite into a club but a commissioning to service.  Baptism doesn’t take us out of the world, it sends us back into the world as newly born followers of Jesus.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we see your humility and love as you entered the Jordan to be baptized by John.  May we see in our own baptism how graciously you love us as you claim us as your own.  We pray today for those searching for a spiritual home – that they might find spiritual mentors who are genuine, generous, and loving who can help prepare them for their own baptisms into your service.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Tuesday, January 3rd. Mark 1:1

January 3, 2012

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1

Welcome to a new year!  I hope you enjoyed the rest, the busyness, the memory making and all that goes into the Christmas season and that you are ready now to tackle whatever God brings our way in 2012.

For those of us worshiping in congregations that follow the Revised Common Lectionary of Sunday morning Bible readings, we are now in year B, the year of Mark (and big chunks of John).  As we move into this year, it seems a good idea to me to spend a significant amount of time in our daily devotions listening to what Mark has to say.

We’ll start today with a little background.

According to most Bible scholars, the Gospel of Mark was the first attempt in the early church to write down an account of the life and ministry of Jesus.  (We have to say “most” Bible scholars because those who devote their lives to such work often come across like economists in that much of what they do is disagree with one another.) 

It makes good sense to see Mark as the earliest written gospel.  It is the shortest and the tendency of later works would be to expand it rather than drop what it says.  Virtually all of Mark is included in the gospels of Matthew and Luke so it seems obvious that Mark would have been written first. 

No one is sure who wrote Mark, exactly when it was written, or exactly who the audience was for whom it was written.  The most common traditions suggest it was written sometime around or after the Jewish Civil War of 67-70 CE to a largely Gentile audience, perhaps in Rome, by John Mark, mentioned in Acts as a young man who served under Paul (Acts 12:12, 15:27).  Like all traditions, some of that might be close to reality and some just educated guesses.

As each of the four gospels were written after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the heart of Mark is responding to the big question, “What do we do with a Messiah who died?” 

Mark begins his answer with a short one sentence prologue that sets the context for what is to come.  He will be writing about Jesus Christ who he immediately declares to be the Son of God AND that what he says about Jesus will be good news.

As we leave behind the chaos of 2011, it will be good to begin 2012 with some good news.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, thank you for seeing us into another new year and thank you for staying in touch with us through your Word.  As we begin listening anew to the gospel of Mark, we pray that you might speak good news into our lives.  We pray that this good news might make us new.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.