I need some good news

Sermon by The Rev. Lisa Smith Fry
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mark 1:14-20

I get really tired of bad news all the time. What hope is there if the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket?

It’s gotten so bad that I don’t watch the news at night, don’t take a paper to start my day at my house. A huge percentage of the news we receive today is negative. Relentlessly negative.

Within the last couple of weeks I’ve heard about:

  • Extreme 117 degree heat in Australia,
  • Weather in the single digits all down the eastern seaboard,
  • shootings that occur so frequently that we or horrified, or worse– complacent
  • a flu epidemic targeting elders and children,
  • families being torn apart by immigration battles,
  • two world leaders less concerned about the potential for millions of deaths in a nuclear holocaust, than about whose arsenal button is bigger.

To cap it off we have factions within Christianity arguing about whose God is bigger and better, and bible texts are being used like grenades, to tear apart their victims.

And I can’t stand it. I need some good news.

And I get it.

“Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the good news.”

Proclaiming the good news! Believe in the good news!

What is this ‘good news’?

Remember—Jesus is saying this at the beginning of his ministry. SO—the good news he is preaching is not that he died for our sins. So what is this good news of God that Jesus is bringing the world?

Now there is a tiny footnote in the bible that says that that phrase  “the good news of God” can also be translated: “the good news of the kingdom..”

So then, the whole passage might read: “

“Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and saying, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the kingdom!”

I would say it seems clear that the good news is about the kingdom. It’s important, and it’s close– nearby—later he will say it’s among us, within us. Because of this, Jesus says, we should repent:  we should begin to see life—not in the way we’ve always seen it, and lived within it– but from a new perspective.

That is not just good news—its amazing news! The kingdom is all around us – and we can be part of it.

Jesus then spends 3 years demonstrating for the disciples what this kingdom looks like.

I makes me wonder—what would have happened if that had been the focus in the followers of Christ for the last two millennia?

We could have dropped everything and followed Jesus by looking for, and building the kingdom. He told us what to do: there is no one we can’t love or pray for, there is nothing that God has made that is unclean, rules are helpful but being love in the world is our goal.

Jesus’ message was one of freedom.

Yet we spent the next 2 millennia winding ourselves up in nets of tiny rules and issues of theology that distract us from the good news of the kingdom.

Sometimes we don’t even see the nets—because we’ve taught ourselves to look through them.

And what snags me may not snag you. And what snags you may not snag me. And these nets are nearly invisible to us until someone points them out, and helps us get unsnagged.

So we spent too much time discussing these nets.

We waste time arguing about things that probably matter less to God than to us–and we lose the opportunity to unravel the greatest mystery of all—discovering the kingdom of God without and within.

But Jesus is not deterred: his message of freedom is still calling to us. It’s not too late to hear some good news.

“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near! See the world from this different perspective, and believe in the kingdom!”

Drop your nets, and follow me!  Amen.