Our church has encouraged our congregation to form some small groups and do life together. My wife and I have been invited to be part of a new group that is forming and is meeting for the first time tonight. Another couple from church have generously opened their home for us to meet and have asked me to run / facilitate it. This morning I have been working on the format of the study and the series of questions we will be asking. The following is the introduction to the the book of Mark, which we will work through.
The Scriptures are a story of life. It’s a story of God, who is the source of all life. It’s a story of God and his creation and how they relate with each other. It’s the relational story of God’s creation within its self.
Today, we live in a different time. We live within the framework of a different culture, different traditions and different technology. And within this experience of life we have our own story. We have our own individual story and in this regard, the story of our life is an ongoing one. Yet our life story is a not an isolated story. It’s woven into and through the very fabric of the lives of others. And therefore our story becomes a communal story. And while our individual experiences can be widely varied; within the sense of communality, we have a commonality of experience of life. One where we experience fun and laughter, and one in which we experience great sadness and grief. And so our story becomes your story and your story becomes our story. And our lives become intertwined as part of the greater story.
The Christian life is a continuation of the communal story. It’s an individual story, woven into the fabric of community. It’s a story where God redeems us from our sins and brings us into relationship with his-self and with others. And therefore while salvation is a deeply personal experience, it’s also a deep communal experience. And therefore our communal experience becomes part of the ongoing communal experience of the story found in Scripture.
The people of Israel had experienced a time span of 400 years in which God had been silent. During this time, they suffered persecution, trials, tribulations and captivity. And it seemed to them that God had remained silent. Hence this period is often called the 400 year period of silence, for during this time, no prophet had been sent to them, to rebuke, encourage and comfort them in that God indeed was within their midst.
Despite this, they had great and precious promises given to them by their prophets of old. And Mark begins his Gospel account within the framework of the Old Testament narrative story. For it is a continuation of the communal story of God and his creation. And with this backdrop, Mark dramatically begins his Gospel story with the promise spoken through the prophet Isaiah, that indeed God was fulfilling his promise to them.