Immediately, suddenly, Mark wrote a gospel!
When I was in college studying the New Testament for the first time, I was introduced to Mark as the author of the earliest, shortest, and least likely gospel to earn its evangelist an A for his composition skills. He was always lurching from one scene to the next, like a small child eager to show a beloved friend one new discovery after another. He was breathless in his pursuit of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, through his ministry, through his crucifixion, to the empty tomb.
It is there that Mark left us, finally run out of things to say in that clumsy, endearing, run-on way. Others thought that his ending was not finished enough, and added one coda to another; but Mark knew his way through his gospel. His good news was as astonishing, as abrupt, as immediate, and as sudden as the ending of his book.
The word, “immediately,” occurs more than twenty times in Mark’s sixteen brief chapters. There is an urgency to his proclamation of the “good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” which has its own profound beauty.
We live in a maelstrom, a world which never stops spinning (in more ways than one), which never seems to slow down between breathless episodes of news, commentary, opinion, reaction; not to mention the everyday minute-to-minute work of breathing, being present, making the bed, the tea, the grade. We are inundated with suggestions and exhortations to slow down, make space, take time – which would be lovely, given half a chance.
When half a chance doesn’t present itself, there is good news in Mark’s reckless, headlong delivery of the gospel. God will easily keep pace with us. Jesus will immediately, suddenly run with us. The Spirit never runs out of breath.