Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Immediate Waiting

In today’s reading from Mark (1:14-28), the word “immediately” appears four times. In such a short passage, it really sticks out, making it seem like everyone is in a hurry. But I think that’s the point. This opening chapter to Mark’s gospel account identifies a major theme in the whole book—that things are happening and that they are happening right now. “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” “Immediately he called them.” “Immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.” “Immediately there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.” One moment unfolds into the next without delay, revealing that God’s activity on earth is urgent and uninterrupted.

For us, however, it often feels as if God’s activity on earth is interminably delayed. Answers to prayers can take lifetimes if they ever come at all. Signs of God’s salvation seem locked in the past or agonizingly far ahead in the future. How can Mark place so much emphasis on God’s work happening “immediately” if 2000 years later we’re still waiting around for it to happen?

The kingdom of God isn’t a destination; it’s a process. It’s a series of events. It’s a direction. Mark wanted his readers (including us) to realize that the kingdom is already here—that each little thing that happens to make God’s presence among us and plan for us real in our lives is the kingdom. Yes, we’re waiting, but we should be waiting for whatever happens next.

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