In John Lewis’ Walking With the Wind, there is a great scene where the Big 6– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph and Whitney Young– are discussing plans for the 1963 March on Washington. They are arguing about the word “patience” as it played out in one of the speeches.
John Lewis, the youngest leader by far, despised the word. He didn’t want to be strategic . He didn’t want to compromise or take the long view. He wanted the rights he deserved now. Today. Immediately. He was sick of waiting. The older men, who had been working for black rights for decades, warned against his urgency.
The more seasoned leaders won out. The word patience was used in the speeches. The scene is powerful in how it pits veteran experience with idealistic vision. Movements that bring about truth and justice at the policy level, changing heats, minds and laws, take both strategies. The civil rights movement needed Lewis’ drive. I have to respect Lewis’ young, energized, righteous impatience. There is a time and a place for urgent love.
Mark’s Gospel is written with a sense of urgency. The beginning is curt and brief:
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
So is the ending:
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark portrays a Jesus that is constantly moving. The word “immediately” appears 40 times. Jesus moves from one act to the next with haste, humanizing those who feel abandoned and isolated. Their ailments, their sickness, their loneliness matters to Jesus. Mark’s writing style shows us Jesus’ unconditional, urgent love.
In a recent Easter reflection, my friend made the distinction between urgency and haste stating:
I will love with urgency, but not with haste. Urgency feels like saying, “You are important and I want to see this relationship progress and grow because I find you utterly fascinating.”
Haste is reckless, rushed, and stays on the surface. Haste makes mistakes. Urgency, conversely, is intentional. It honors, validates, moves, showers and shows passion. Who and what deserves our most urgent love? Today, how can we accept the urgent love of Jesus and use that love with others?