Looking back, it seems that we needed to hear and see a story like the one that unfolded in the Hudson River a couple of weeks ago. After losing two engines to a random collision with airborne geese, pilot Chesley Sullenberger ditched US Airways flight 1549 into the river, doing so in such a way that every person on the plane survived. Who can forget the sight of that massive aircraft, floating intact, passengers lined up on the wing, ferry boats suddenly deployed as rescue vessels.
The entire event has been hailed as a combination of miracle and highly skilled piloting. Whatever it was, it was good news. And our appetite for the story and the telling of it over and over by news anchors and passengers reflects our affinity for good news. Perhaps these days we don’t simply like good news. We desperately need good news.
As Mark tells the story of Jesus he wastes no time making it perfectly clear that this is good news. The Greek word for good news shows up quickly in chapter one. Good news is in the first line of the story, rendered as “gospel” in the NIV Bible. The same word shows up again in verse 14, this time as the “good news” that Jesus proclaims. For Mark the story about Jesus is good news, and the message that Jesus announces is good news. But like all news, good news about and from Jesus has a context, a backdrop that helps us understand exactly what kind of news we’re hearing.
Mark first tells us that the good news about Jesus is connected to the long tradition of the Hebrew prophets (Mark 1:2-3). Isaiah and Micah set the stage for this story, this gospel. This news has been in the making for centuries, long promised and long awaited.
And Mark also tells us that Jesus began announcing good news when John had been put in prison (Mark 1:14). John was eventually executed by Herod, and within a few years Jesus would be executed as well. The good news doesn’t mean the end of bad news. Jesus said God’s kingdom was at hand, that God was at work ruling all things. Herod’s execution of John would have made that hard to see and believe.
To say that it is possible to find God in the everyday is to announce good news. Finding God in the everyday is another way of saying exactly what Jesus told people who were hungry for good news; God is at work ruling everything; nothing is beyond God’s care or attention; nothing escapes God’s reach or exceeds God’s power.
But believing this good news – seeing God in the everyday – will require us to be patient. Sometimes good news is unfolding in ways we can’t see, happening over time. It also requires us to believe the good news while hearing plenty of bad news. Unlike the ditched aircraft, plenty of things are going down around us and leaving no small amount of wreckage and loss: ditched relationships, ditched corporations, ditched dreams.
Sometimes the wreckage makes it hard to believe the good news, the gospel. We miss the kingdom, the presence God in the everyday. Believe the good news. God’s kingdom is at hand. God is in the everyday and that includes everything about this day.
Gracious God, help me to hear your good news today – the announcement of your presence in all things. And help me to believe what I hear, in Jesus’ name. Amen.