The Reflection for this week focuses on how it is that Jesus Christ is Good News, if he is at all anymore.  If it is, then what kind of good news is it and what does Gorbachev and Putin have to do with it? #Good News #JesusChrist #Gorbachev #Putin #GreatChristianPreaching #Advent



For listener supported, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   12/7/2014 The 2nd   Sunday of Advent.

 Please pause this audio and read Mark 1:1-8.

           I got a raise. The flight landed safely. My mother stopped drinking. We are getting married. We had a baby. I love you. I found twenty bucks in the pocket of my jacket that I put on the first time since spring. I got a new smart phone. I got all A’s. I bought a new car. We found a new house. All of these are various types of good news.

 Good news is something that is favorable that happens to us, or to someone we love. It is personal. It is joyful. It usually requires nothing of us, but to just enjoy it.

           Yet, there is other good news. My cancer is in remission. I survived a heart attack. No one was injured in my three car accident. Our marriage is doing much better after counseling. The dictator has been deposed and democracy has been established. This good news is personal, joyful and happens to us or ones we love, too, but there is something qualitatively different about it. It requires some continuous action on our part.

           When our cancer is in remission, we need to live a different healthier lifestyle to handle or prevent its return. Surviving a heart attack definitely requires a change in lifestyle. A change in driving style or a long rehabilitation may be required after a car accident. When the dictatorship, or oligarchy, of the Soviet Union fell in the late 1980’s, it took two years before Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. At the time, Gorbachev said the following,

 “This society has acquired freedom. It has been freed politically and spiritually. This is the most important achievement that we have yet to fully come to grips with.”

           Gorbachev was astute because coming to grips with freedom means that you, as a citizenry, protect it with everything you’ve got. It means that you participate in that democracy. This is something that stopped happening when Vladimir Putin came to power over Russia and we can see that Russia now wants to expand its power through the Republics that surround it. The second kind of good news requires a response, a commitment for the effects of the good change to last and become permanent.

           In preparing this reflection, I had to ask myself a question that I had come to take for granted: What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the “Good News”? What difference does it make to have Jesus come at all anymore in the consciousness of the people of the world?

           The coming of Christ is definitely the second type of Good News. It is good news that says, “your sins are forgiven and God is giving you an invitation to a new life.” It is a message that says that when you die, there is an opportunity that all the bad things you have done will be forgiven. It says that God isn’t looking at you anymore and waiting until the right moment to open the earth and swallow you up. It also says that the salvation of God will not just be through a certain people, a chosen people. No, salvation will and should be proclaimed to the ends of the earth by people, but the offer of salvation, going to heaven, is for all. Everyone has the opportunity.

           With that opportunity comes an invitation to change. Just like someone who had cancer will now live differently, the Good News of Jesus Christ is an invitation to begin loving others and loving God through our actions. This may mean that we will have to start living a different life. We may have to stop having indiscriminate sex. It may mean that we will have to cut back on our drinking and stop getting drunk. It may mean that we will have to start thinking of other people and their needs before our own. We may need to start thinking about the structures of the society and ask if they are fair to the poor, the outcast, the unwanted, the sick and those in prison. There are definitely some changes in store for the person who accepts the Good News of Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 Every day, I tweet a message of inspiration. I do live question and answer sessions on Reddit. About five years ago, we started these podcasts and made them downloadable so that you could download them any time you wanted. Everything is immediate and consumable to make us feel great. This is the first kind of good news and it is not without merit. Good news is good news. Yet, it can condition us to think that the good news of immediate gratification is the meaning of life.

 I don’t think we really believe that. Even those without Jesus Christ or even religion in their lives are angered when a sexual partner has sex with someone else. Even those without Jesus Christ or even religion in their lives are outraged when someone breaks into their home and steals their possessions. Even those without Jesus Christ or even religion in their lives are hurt when someone lies to them or doesn’t recognize their work. Even those without Jesus Christ or even religion in their lives have a sense of justice that says that if the income at the top goes up over 281%, the income at the bottom has got to go up more than 1%.

 So, to participate in the Good News of Jesus Christ, we know that there is true participation because usually it is accompanied by a change. It is a change that is not made possible by obligation or striving. Instead, it is made possible by a recognition that the way I live my life is selfish and there is a better way.

 When friend of mine recognizes that she is being selfish, she often laughs and says, “I want what I want when I want it!” Then she changes her behavior because she realizes that selfishness does not shed a positive light on God. We say we are Christians, and then we shelter sexual criminals, people who embezzle, those who lie, those who treat others coldly without mercy? I do NOT think so.

 This Second Sunday of Advent, we hear Mark, the Gospel writer, tell us that he is about to tell us the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. Then he tells us the story of John the Baptizer coming out of the desert to preach repentance in preparation for the Good News. Advent is a time of preparation for the second coming and then the remembrance of the birth of the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the universe. He does so because Jesus Christ came to save all people from their sins so that they could live a new life. It is a calling to repentance that is repeated over and over and over again. It is a calling to love God and others around us no matter who they are. Are you ready? Are there changes you need to make so that your life is really good news and represents THE Good News? Do you know that there is an offer of salvation for you? Have you accepted it?

 I hope you have or will accept it again and again. I hope you will let God call you to repentance from things in your life that use your relationship with him or use others around you. I hope you will make yourself ready. Repent. The Good News is here. The Good News is now and the Good News is for you. Amen.

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