And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
HOW ARE YOU PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS OF CHRIST?
I am glad “the longer ending” of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20) made it into the Bible. (Look this up if you want to know more.) I suppose the leaders of Virginia Theological Seminary are glad it did, too. For three years at VTS - for four mornings a week and on other occasions, too - I attended chapel and read these big bold letters on the back wall above the altar: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” People in my seminary class were from all over the United States, from Hong Kong and Kenya and Uganda. We were women and men, younger and older, low church and Anglo Catholic, Episcopalians and from other denominations, too. We were former lawyers and teachers and librarians and pig farmers and geologists and Peace Corps Volunteers, and some of my classmates were barely out of college, and when we graduated, we scattered far and wide. (For my three years at VTS, I was the only student from Colorado.) We were called to different places and began proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ - the Son of God - all over the world. Graduates of VTS have been doing this since the 1820’s. And that is just one seminary!
The “gospel” is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So says Mark, at the very beginning of his gospel. (Mark 1:1) And today, on the 25th of April, we remember St. Mark the Evangelist. There is a prominent church dedicated to him in Venice, and the Church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as its first bishop. (See Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, from Church Publishing Incorporated, pp. 345-345)
By the way, you are not off the hook if: a) you are not one of the four Gospel writers, or b) you have not been trained as a preacher. If you have been baptized, you promised to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 305) When asked if we will do this when we renew our vows in the Baptismal Covenant, we say, individually, “I will, with God’s help.”
How are you proclaiming - by word and example - the good news of God in Christ? How have you experienced that good news? How have you experiencing Christ’s reconciling love? How do you experience living “in Christ?” How is God helping you to proclaim this good news?
We are reminded - on this day - that all of us who claim Jesus as Lord and follow in his ways, are also following in the footsteps of all the saints who have proclaimed him over the centuries. I’m guessing that you became a Christian because the Spirit of God worked through someone - or a group of someones - who proclaimed Christ to you. And now the Spirit of God works though you and me to bring the gospel of Christ to others.
Thank you for being an evangelist... for bringing the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to others.