The following is a reflection on Mark 1:1-8, the Gospel Lesson appointed for December 3rd, 2011, the second Sunday of Advent, Year B according to the New Revised Common Lectionary. On this site there is also
• a reflection on the Hebrew Bible Lesson for the same day, and
• a version of the Prayers of the People for Advent 2B.
A few weeks ago a group from my parish met up in New York City to see the new revival production of Godspell.
The show is “in the round,” and when we got to our seats we all took the time to look around, a full 360 degrees, to see the various props and parts of the set which were strewn around the theater.
The first thing that caught my eye, and the eye of my oldest daughter, was the drip of water that was falling from the ceiling. It took a moment to see where the drip was falling – it looked like it just had to be falling on the stage.
Gosh, was this part of the show? Or, was this just an old leaky-ceilinged theater? Aren’t people going to be dancing on that stage? …Could be dangerous.
Then we saw that it was falling into a hole on the stage, a hole which was just large enough for me to see that there was a good deal of water in it – enough to splash up with each drip.
At that point I realized, quite obviously, that this was “part of the show,” but for what? The hole full of water was too small to do anything with.
And then came along John the Baptist, belting out that great tune I knew so well from my childhood: Prepare, ye the way of the Lord!”
When the band joined John with earnest, and the drums started rocking out, the trickle turned into a cascading waterfall of water into the hole, and doors on the floor of the stage were opened around the small hole.
All of a sudden, it was no longer a small hole, but a large hole. A Baptist-Church-worthy baptismal font! John stood by the cascading stream of water and flung the falling water all over the stage, while smiling people were hit by the water, and changed forever.
It was a scene of incredible joy. Wet joy. Clean joy.
But, joy, nonetheless.
Mark begins his Gospel with his introduction of John the Baptist—but, not before Mark tells us that this is “the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
It’s news that is, above all things, good.
Sometimes we forget that. “Religion” becomes something that we “have” to do, or “should” do. A list of do’s and don’ts. A parade of sallow-faced and furrowed men and women pontificating on morality, or doctrines, tossing out Greek and Hebrew words like they were lifeless Styrofoam trinkets.
But, the news that we have isn’t bad news. Or, furrowed-face news. Or, too-terribly-important-for-silliness-news.
It’s good. It’s news of joy and gladness. Redemption and release.
And, here at the onset of the Gospel of Mark, and on the second Sunday of the new church year, and at this time when we are preparing our hearts and homes for the coming of Christ…it’s beginning.
If you’ve got water to fling, go for it! But, for the sake of all that is holy, please splash some joy around.
We’ve had enough furrowed faces!!