So the conversation with Mark in Midland went a little something like this:
G’day mate, got a few minutes to complete a survey on spirituality?”
“Nah – don’t believe that stuff.”
“So you don’t have a view about God?”
“Nah. If you could show me God around the corner I’d believe.”
“You might not like what you see!”
“I’ve got ghosts though. Scare the @#$& out of me.”
“Yeah mate. Black figures. One of them’s me dad, so I just told him to &%*@ off.
45 MINUTES OF CONVERSATION LATER
So are you going to let me do your survey?”
“Coax me! You didn’t want to at the start!”
SURVEY COMPLETED/GOOD BYES SAID
So what you going to do about me ghosts?”
I’ll think about that and get back to you mate.
So what am I going to do about Mark’s ghosts? I met Mark doing door-to-door evangelism in the in-aptly named Cope St in Midland, one of the less salubrious streets in the area. Mark was the tidiest drunk I have ever met. He was under his car, engine on a hoist, second can of XXXX in his hand – 10:15am by my watch. In his squared away garage were glossy red SidChrome tool boxes, the ones real mechanics use. Everything neat as a pin, including the collectable Garden Bag in the corner – a cubic metres-worth of carefully crushed beer cans inside. A neat drunk to be sure, but I wouldn’t want him working on my brakes.
He and the “missus” divorced, so he’s left with his teenage daughter, his garage, his beer and his ghosts. So what am I going to do about them? I had been thinking about it for a while, then it struck me, the issue’s less what I would do about his ghosts and more about what would Jesus could do about his ghosts.
Our Providence Church Plant meets for its rather informal launch this Sunday. We’re going to go through Mark’s Gospel. “Mark for Midland” I’m calling it – nothing fancy, pretty straight up and down. Why “Mark for Midland”? Because Mark is solely about Jesus, so we’re really on about “Jesus for Midland”. So I am ploughing my way through Mark’s gospel (For yet another group! How many is that down the years? – Ed), and then it hits me, or more to the point, I hit it. Mark 1:21-28:
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were allamazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
The Gospel (good news) of Mark is also the Gospel for Mark. Mark doesn’t need to get rid of his ghosts as much as he needs Jesus to come around the corner and be the God he doesn’t believe in. I’m dropping a copy of Mark’s Gospel around to Mark in Cope St with some highlighted “ghost” passages and an invitation to chat over a coffee (if it’s morning), and something a little better than XXXX if it’s past midday.
It ended a little something like this:
“Thanks for filling in the survey. Can I have a name to complete it.”
“You’re the spiritual man – you tell me my name.”
“How’d you know that?”
What I wanted to say:
“Jesus told me.”
What I did say:
“It says ‘Mark’s Shack’ on the wind-mill in your front garden.”