Why St. Mark’s Church? Aren’t there enough churches in Arlington already? Probably not, that is if all 350,000+ Arlington residents attended church on Sunday.
I know that’s an unrealistic expectation. Yet I contend it’s a worthy goal. Not simply because I would like to have St. Mark’s Church filled each Sunday. It’s good for anybody and everybody to know, trust, love, and worship God as he has revealed himself in his son, Jesus Christ.
Summarizing this revelation of God in its most basic terms, St. John says, “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5), and, “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). Because the Church is about God, he is the One people engage in Christian worship. This is good because he is the God who can always be trusted since he is “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jas. 1:17). God is the one who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). These are only a very few reasons why I claim that it’s good for anybody and everybody to know, trust, love, and worship God as Jesus reveals him. This leads to another claim and the most direct answer to the question, Why St. Mark’s Church?
In light of who Jesus is and what he teaches, at St. Mark’s we believe people exist to live in the love of God, by the love of God, and for the love of God. This belief rests upon the solid foundation of Jesus’ proclamation of his Kingdom, explanation of his mission, and invitation to his life.
Jesus’ proclamation is direct. “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mk. 1:14-15). While his proclamation is direct, it isn’t always clear to us.
Basically Jesus is saying, “What you’ve been waiting for his here. You can live in the sphere of God’s direct influence, under his constant care and protection. Think about your life again with this idea in mind, and believe this good news.”
On the basis of this proclamation, Jesus, himself living in Father’s care and Kingdom, gives an explanation of the character of his mission. “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28). This challenges many manifestations of leadership and service both inside and outside of the Church, abolishing any notion of self-serving or self-aggrandizing leadership. At the same time Jesus’ explanation illuminates the unchanging reality of his radically attractive humility and the deathless power of his indestructible life and love.
In light of his proclamation and explanation, Jesus’ invitation is nearly irresistible. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).
Jesus’ yoke, his burden, the overall shape and content of his life, is unlike any other. Simultaneously uncanny and yet familiar. It’s familiar because he is humanity as we are all meant to be. This vision of humanity is strangely familiar for it is a forgotten memory of our future destiny. He is uncanny because the ways and means of this age attempt at every turn to suppress or distort the proclamation, explanation, and invitation of Jesus.
But at St. Mark’s Church, we make every attempt to stand clear of those efforts and learn to trust him and live in his love. For we believe people exist to live in the love of God, by the love of God, and for the love of God.
In my next post, I’ll look more closely of what it means to live in the love of God.