Reflections by Jerry Webber

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Living, Breathing Good News

The Gospel text for prayer today is from the extended version of Mark's Gospel, Mark 16:15 - 20. The passage begins with the risen Jesus saying to his disciples, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to all creation."

Several things are significant in this one line. First, the context for the disciple's future, as they carry what Jesus has given them, is the world. It is not their own circle. To merely hang out together, sharing campfire stories of their time with Jesus, would not fulfill their creative purpose. Their lives were to be spent in the world, in ALL the world.

Jesus also charged them to proclaim, speak, tell, announce. This kind of telling happens with both life and lips. Our feet and our hands, our heart and our mind, our words and our silences . . . all tell the world good news.

Jesus claimed that the good news -- I'll get to the radical "good news" in a moment -- is for all creation. Nothing in the created world is left out. Jesus' intention was not merely for the human corner of creation, but for the entire created order . . . for the reconciliation of persons with persons, tribes with tribes . . . but also for the reconciliation of humans and the created world. In our world, the schism between humans and the natural world is just as deep -- or deeper -- than the many rifts among people and nations, and just as troubling.

Jesus phrase "good news" caught my attention this morning. The English phrase is drawn from a single Greek word from which we get "evangel" or "gospel." "Good news," is a helpful, if slightly colloquial, way of getting at the intent of the original idea.

Frequently through the years, I check in with myself on how I'm hearing this phrase, "good news." I know how the word has been captured by certain segments of the religious landscape and given a narrow, monochromatic definition. Some religious groups seem to have answers that are certain and cozy, and that assume one-size-fits-all. For these folks, "good news" means something very specific, with little room for how good news might be uniquely kneaded into a one-of-a-kind human experience of God and world.

My questions about "good news" tend to be less theoretical and more experiential, exploring my own lived-experience of good news.

What is the good news extended to me?
With what good news have I been entrusted by God?
What about my life is too good to be true . . . so good that I have resisted believing it?
What about another person or group is good news . . . and can I let myself believe that good news about them and for them?
How do I experience good news day by day?
What is the good news I am invited to proclaim (tell, speak, announce with lips and life) to all creation?

I explored this landscape for quite a while this morning. I won't share with you all the fruit of that exploration, but these statements seemed important to me. Perhaps as I explored "good news" for myself, these affirmations will be helpful in your own explorations.

** The primacy of love, this is good news, that love is stronger than hatred, that love lasts longer than death, and that love transcends anything else that would estrange or separate.

** The good news is that love heals, love reconciles, love makes whole.

** God is not the tyrrant many of us have thought God to be, not the capricious dictator of our worst nightmares. For many of us, this may be the "best news!"

** My own deepest truth is not shame, nor is it my badness, my failure, or my unworthiness. Rather, my deepest truth is planted somewhere in my "fearfully and wonderfully" made-ness. This is good news!

** The good news of my own identity, my deepest and most authentic self, is not dependent on job, relationship, or on any other contingency of life. Like Jesus, I am -- as you are, too -- a bearer of good news in the world.

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