The First Sunday in Advent also marks the beginning of a year’s cycle of Gospel readings focused on Mark. The season of Advent and Mark’s Gospel go well together – a seemingly odd statement perhaps, as nothing of the story of Jesus’ birth is found in Mark’s rendition. In fact, Mark’s narrative seems as far away from Christmas as one can possibly get – a dark, terse, dramatic narrative bearing an enigma called “the messianic secret.” Yet it is perfect for Advent, a season that declares something hopeful on the horizon when everything seems to say otherwise. Mark’s original audience faced looming annihilation – a real possibility under Nero’s persecution (just as today’s Christian communities throughout the Levant and other locations are forced to endure a religious ethnic cleansing). Mark’s gospel is about faithfulness and trust under duress – and Mark’s voice comes from the midst of the experience.
Get ready for a year of riding the storm with Mark!