The First Church of St. John, or “the community of the beloved disciple,” as the late Raymond Brown called it, seems a lot like the church around the corner when you read between the lines. Some of the faithful sound a little too sure of themselves. Others confuse the talk with the walk. Some members get mad and leave the church.
Easter morning is the defining place and moment of Christian space and time. It is the Christian Genesis: male and female in a garden, darkness becoming light. The first day. It is the Christian nemesis: death and despair displaced by life and hope. The last day.
Mark’s Gospel is some kind of joke. It announces itself as the story of the Son of God, but it doesn’t begin with glory. Instead it starts in obscurity in the wilderness. It portrays the disciples—surely the leaders of the church in Mark’s day—as bungling fools. They watch Jesus perform one miracle, then doubt his ability to do the next.