The Gospel in Dangerous Times

[from the beginning of the year email that Brian sent to the Wine Before Breakfast community]

There’s trouble brewing.
Big trouble.
Violent trouble.
Trouble, “the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

You can feel it in the air
and see it in the streets.

There’s a rebellion brewing,
a mother of all storms,
and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Desolation,
dislocation,
lamentation,
ruination,
conflagration.

Resistance,
protest,
rebellion.

A battle of stories,
a conflict of myths.

Everything hangs on the outcome.
This is a matter of life and death.

For our people,
for our land,
for you,
for me.

So which side are you on?

You can’t sit this one out.
There is no neutrality.
There is no safe place to stand.

Which side are you on?

The assault on our rights
has gone on for too long.
The oppression of the poor,
the excess of the rich,
the desolation of the land,
the violent repression,
the rounding people up,
the forced exile.

It’s all got to end.

This sacrilege,
this genocide,
this repression,
this imperial rule,
this “fake” lord and saviour,
this regime of deceit,
this rule of fear and hate.

It’s all got to end.

So which side are you on?

Which side are you on?

The rebellion has begun,
the empire is tottering,
the day of the Lord is at hand,
the day of vengeance is before us.

So which side are you on?

Throughout the empire
there is resistance,
and it is coming down to the final reckoning,
the resistance army is routing the Romans,
and dealing with the collaborators.

So which side are you on?

St. Mark didn’t write these words,
but he could have.

No matter how you shake it out,
Mark wrote his gospel in a time of conflict,
a time of rebellion.

And such times always force the question,
which side are you on?

The Jewish Wars were either brewing
or in full force,
and Mark writes to followers of Messiah Jesus,
perhaps in Galilee, perhaps in Rome.

The very times in which they lived
forced the question,
which side are you on?

In this conflict of stories,
the war of myths,

which side are you on?

And Mark answers that question
by telling a story,
by adding another tale into the conflict.

A story of discipleship and resistance.
A story of a nonviolent saviour.
A story of amazement and hope.
A story of healing and suffering.
A story of imperial execution, and subversive resurrection.
A story about Jesus of Nazareth.

And Mark asks, which side are you on?

This year at the Wine Before Breakfast community
we return to the beginning.

We return to the gospel with which we began.

While the smoke was still billowing from the World Trade Center,
a number of us gathered on September 18, 2001,
to pray,
to lament,
to sing,
to hope,
to eat bread and drink wine.

And we began a year of reading Mark together.

It’s time for us to meet Jesus in the gospel of Mark again.

Our times demand it.
Our lives might hang on it.

Which side are you on?

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian and the CRC Campus Minister at the University of Toronto. He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is entitled Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination.

Leave a Reply