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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 1:14-15

After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (CEB)

Beyond the radical implications of the notion that God is love (1 John 4:16), my understanding of the gospel is best summed up in the first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel of Mark. In my work with youth, in my preaching and teaching, and in the other ways I have tried to be a pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church, this has been my inspiration and my aspiration.

“Now is the time!” The core message of Jesus isn’t about the past. It isn’t about the future. It isn’t about a heaven or a hell somewhere far away. It’s about the world we live in right here, right now.

“Here comes God’s kingdom!” God’s timing may be a mystery, but make no mistake: God is changing the world. God’s kingdom—the metaphor Jesus uses to name what God wants the world to be—is emerging all around us, and each of us has a role to play.

“Change your hearts and lives!” In order for God’s kingdom to fully emerge, things need to change. We need to change. God is doing something remarkable, something new, something radical—and Jesus is calling each of us to be a part of it.

“Trust this good news!” The gospel of Jesus is not bad news. It’s not about guilt. It’s not about fear. It’s not about punishment. The gospel is good news of redemption and transformation for all of God’s creation.

God of love, open my eyes to the world around me and the emergence of your kingdom. Help me to trust in and be transformed by the good news of your love for us. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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