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The beginning of the Good News: Second Sunday in Advent (Year B, 4 December 2011)

Today, the Rev’d Josie Nottle joins us for the first time. Josie will be working among us with her focus being youth and children’s ministry.

 

The beginning of the Good News

Readings
Isaiah 40.1-11
Mark 1.1-8

 

Three books of the Bible have the word ‘beginning’ right at, well, the very beginning… Those three books are

  • Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”
  • John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”
  • Mark: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…”

What’s your reaction to that? If it’s Ho hum, or So what?, listen closely: the writers of the Gospels of John and Mark knew the Old Testament very well. They knew that its first words were “In the beginning”, and that those words started the stories of the creation of the world. Mark and John are giving us a clue: what they are writing about is as important as the creation of the world. In fact, it’s about a new creation.

John says that the Word with which God spoke the universe into being—“God said, ‘let there be light’ and there was light”—that Word was personal. More than that, this person was God. More than that, this person took human flesh and lived among us, not to judge us but to bring us life in all its fullness.

Mark says that the Good News is good news of a new creation. A brand new beginning. In fact, it seems likely that this was Mark’s title for his whole book: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.

What is ‘the gospel’? You may know our word comes from the old English godspell, which means ‘good news’. The gospel is good news. If it’s bad news, it’s not the gospel.

But it’s not any old good news. It’s not the good news that the Rev’d Josie Nottle is commencing her time with us this Sunday. That’s wonderful news, but it’s not the gospel. It’s not even the good news that the Aussies are thrashing the Kiwis in the cricket. For one thing, it depends what side of the ditch you hail from—it’s bad news for the Kiwis. It’s not even the good news that the baby was born safely, or that the operation was a success. It’s a particular kind of good news.

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