Listening for the Promise

Advent 2B“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Mark 1:1

An author was describing the editing process of his book. The book was the story of an adventure on the Rio Grande River, but it ended up little more than a quest for beer along the border.

The story was too long, and the editor removed so much of the original text that the story changed. Then the title was changed to reflect the new focus. Or perhaps the text was changed to match the editor’s vision of the story as reflected in the title.

Publishers want to sell books, and the title is an important part of the promotion. A book about beer grabs our attention, The title makes us curious. What is it about? Where is this story going to go? What is the author trying to say?

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but we do that all the time. When you search for a book to read, don’t you look for something that sounds interesting? Aren’t you drawn to the ones with words on the cover that peak your interest?

The verse quoted at the top is not a complete sentence. It is not part of the story. It is the title Mark uses to tell us what he intends for his book.

He is introducing us to the subject of his story and the main character. He is also telling us that this is just the beginning. This is the first book in a much longer story.

As we delve into this year of reading from the Gospel of Mark, we’ll find that his story is the same but also different than the other Gospel writers. Mark does not describe Jesus’ birth. He doesn’t tell us what happened at the stable or with Jesus as a child. He does not tell us about wise men or shepherds or angels. Mark doesn’t really begin at the beginning. He begins with John the Baptist calling people to repentance.

That’s where our story begins, too. What John started, Jesus completed in his life, death, and resurrection. It might seem too early to think about Good Friday and Easter when we are barely moving toward the second Sunday in Advent. But the birth of Christ would mean nothing without the rest of the story. This is the Beginning of the Good News, the fulfillment of all God’s promises and you have been invited to be part of it.

– Adapted from Sola Publishing’s “Weekly Devotional”