The gospel of Mark opens with these words. Good News!
Don’t we all love these words? Good News! If someone comes to us and says I’ve got some good news to tell you it immediately engages us. We usually start to feel happy, maybe even a little excited. We give the speaker our full attention. We listen in anticipation. After we have heard their good news it often leaves us with a sense of wellbeing.
Immediately before writing this I was glancing at the English newspapers online. It seems to me that they are filled with bad news. Today, I read about financial disasters, soldiers getting killed, child abuse, legal and governmental corruption to mention just a few. I’m sure good things do happen but the focus always seems to be on the bad stuff!
I imagine it was the same in the first century. I doubt if human nature has changed much. So Mark opens the gospel with the words good news and not just one event, an ongoing state. “This is the beginning of good news”. What a way to get the readers attention.
It served as a salient reminder to those believers who were suffering persecution and hardship. By the time the gospel was written Jesus had already been dead more than 30 years. For those disciples it must have felt a long time, perhaps memories of the events were starting to feel old. Perhaps a little hopelessness was setting in.
Then the reminder is given . . . “This is the beginning of good news”. The gospel was written and must have been a light to them, a chronicle of good news.
Perhaps, that is how we should view advent. It is a light to us. Reminding us of what is important. Indeed, the beginning of good news.
Bad news seems to loom strongly at this time of year. There seems to be a lot of extra pressure on our time and finances. It can be a stressful time. With the rushing and the busyness it is sometimes hard to remember what it is all about.
I do love the advent wreath and the lighting of the candles each week. The candles representing hope, peace, joy and love culminating with the Christ candle to welcome the Christ child. They are our tangible reminders of what advent is about: the beginning of good news.
So as we continue to journey through advent, take a moment to light those candles and remember what the season is all about. Good News!