Here in Sierra Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends, we just don’t use that word anymore, despite so many of us being stone-cold Jesus-freaks. And, despite having a history that is thoroughly and publicly evangelical for over a hundred years.
Evangelical is euangelion is Greek for “Good News.” True Friend that I try to be, I will stand up and tell the world: the news still is Good News. My experience is that the Kingdom is at hand, that God is my loving parent, that my Jesus demands justice and compassion for poor people and people of color and me, too! He puts courage and hope into my life when I need it the most. Crazy as it is, my Jesus can be quite persuasive with his barefoot talk of kingdoms and his barefoot thing for God. Look, Jesus got me sober, and helps keep me sober, and I’m not about to deny that. I know Who butters my bread.
But for me, it’s all about relationship, not about theology. I don’t trust theology as far as I can throw it. I spent too many years in advertising. Furniture in heaven? Temperature in hell? I could care less. Relationship with Jesus? Now that I know, and it is good news.
Mark V: The Opera, my graphic novel treatment of one of the New Testament miracles, reimagined into this present, explores and illustrates some of the challenges of doing authentic evangelism today. This is the biblical story where Jesus exorcises a legion of demons out of a man and into a herd of swine. The end of the story, by the way, is that the man, now healed, says to Jesus, “Let me go with you,” and Jesus says, “No, go home and tell everyone what God has done for you.” (Mark 5: 1-20)
Followers of Jesus are an embattled, misunderstood minority, and that’s exactly where we should be, with neither the power of the state nor a privileged social position. I think we need to put up or shut up: (I will be trying “put up;” the second option is clearly out of the question.) Put up: In Jesus’s name, heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, cast out the demons (We’re coming for you, bigots!), and preach the Good News to the poor.
Mark V: The Opera is about a third of the way done, and (God willing and the creek don’t rise) it should be in the Barclay Press catalog by October 2022. I will be grateful if each of you would buy five copies. See: www.dereklamson.org/mark-v-the-opera ~~~
Derek Lamson is a guitar-player and writer with a side-hustle as a substitute teacher. He is a member of Eugene Friends Church and Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends.