patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

god's good news

Soon after Jesus’ baptism, John was imprisoned and “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God” (Mark 1:14 NASB). His very first sermon, according to Mark, was this: “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”

I hate the word gospel. Some English translations nowadays translate it more recognizably as what the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion) actually meant in its time: good news. Even these translations, though, typically revert, here and there, to gospel. A word that blinks in and out of our consciousness without even a second of consideration. A word we all know. And don't know at all.

It started out as a good Old English word also meaning good news, derived, etymologically speaking from its Anglo-Saxon roots, good and story. It ended up being just another of those Christianese words whose meaning we have so circumscribed as to forget what it even means—good news, glad tidings, a story we’re dying to tell and others should be eager to hear—and undervalue what it’s really about.

The good news of God—or, as I prefer it, God’s good news—is not to limited, as we so often limit it in our use of the word, to the death and resurrection of Jesus, though that is certainly part of the story we believers long to tell and that others should be eager to hear. God’s glad tidings includes also the birth of Jesus in the first place, that God sent his son to our world in the first place. Jesus’ teachings are also good news. That God’s work is easy. That all we have to do is believe in the one God sent. That Jesus, having returned to his father, is preparing a place for us. That he stands at the door and knocks, excited to eat dinner with us.

Indeed, God’s good news is that he made us and loves us even though we tend to discount or even deny his existence and abiding presence and love. And that we have one another—that God saw it wasn’t good for us to be alone and gave us lovers, friends, children. All the really good news of our lives comes from God.

And every story of the Bible, however grim—and, believe me, the story of the human race we call the Book is about the grimmest book you will ever read—contains a mote or two of the best news ever. The promise that we can look forward to a better world, a happier existence, some day in the future.

All this is buried in the word gospel, a word we use so unthinkingly. So small-ly.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

come, again

So Jesus, newly baptized, starts collecting followers.

Along the way a good story: After Jesus tells Philip, “Follow me,” Philip goes and finds his friend Nathanael and tells him he has found the promised one of scripture, Jesus of Nazareth. When Nathanael scoffs, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Philip says, simply, “Come and see” (John 1:43-46, my mashup).

That right there is the church, in its essence, I think. Not wanting your friends to be left out. Telling them, “Come and see.”

So, Nathanael goes with Philip, and Jesus tells him he saw him standing under a fig tree, before Philip ever spoke to him, and Nathanael, of course, believes. Who wouldn’t?

I think my favorite word in all of scripture is come. I'm always wanting to write about it. All the best stories emanate from it.

“Come out of the ark,” God tells Noah.

“Come to bed with me,” Potiphar’s wife entices.

“Come see a man who told me everything I ever did,” the woman at the well will say.

“Come out of him,” Jesus will command. And he will promise, “Come to me all you who are weary."

So much there. In that one little word.