Author’s Note: This piece is taken from my chapter on “Jesus and the Four-Fold Gospel: God as Bodily (and Textually) Mediated” in my forthcoming book ‘TheoMedia: A Media-Theology for the Digital Age”]
I am providing weekly reflections on Advent from the four canonical Gospels, looking at how Jesus appeared in our midst. Last week, however, we began not with a Gospel, but with a Blank Page—the blank page often found between the Old and New Testaments in our Bibles. In that previous post, I cited this prayer of longing from Isaiah:
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (64:1).
And Mark’s Gospel shows us that He did.
The entire Bible opens with what appears to be a calm, peaceful scene: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). And the Gospel of Mark opens in similar fashion. The Spirit is portrayed as a dove hovering above the waters of the River Jordan.
But the scene is not calm or peaceful in Mark 1.
Before the Spirit’s dove-like descent, something harsh and violent happens, something that is sudden, striking and permanently damaging. As a man bursts out from the surface of those baptismal waters, there is a silent explosion overhead in the cosmic curtain. The Spirit’s descent is through a punctured hole in the heavens, through the shredded edges of a ripped open sky:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. (Mk 1:9-10)
The Greek word behind “torn apart” is schizō. It is the etymological ancestor of our English word “schism.” The idea of the Greek verb is to split open or tear asunder.
This violent puncturing of the sky in Mark’s Gospel is a decisive moment in the biblical story when it becomes clear that our God will tolerate no longer the divine-human alienation, when he will content himself no more with the mediation of prior centuries:
“In Mark, then,God has ripped the heavens irrevocably apart at Jesus’ baptism, never to shut them again. Through this gracious gash in the universe, he has poured forth his Spirit into the earthly realm.” 
This is a God who will suffer no more barriers between himself and his people. This is a God who commits violence against the obstructing boundaries. This is a God who will tear heaven apart to get to his children.
It is not just the sky that gets torn in Mark. The verb schizō reappears at the end of the Gospel, forming what biblical scholars call an inclusio, the dual use of a word or theme that encloses or bookends a larger body of text to serve as an interpretive frame. Mark is to be read within the frame of divine-human boundaries being torn and ripped apart:
“Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (15:37-38).
God rent the heavens and came down, leaving a gaping gash overhead, its edges dangling with tattered sky. And then the fabric of the Temple veil that screened the divine presence from the rest of the world came suddenly unstitched. Our God is a sky-ripping, curtain-tearing God. No divine-human barrier is safe from him.
So Happy Christmas, friends. And “let nothing you dismay” (as the carol goes) because, according to Mark, the Son of God has been let loose into the world like kingly Lion destroying barriers and rescuing His people.
 Joel Marcus, Mark 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (The Anchor Yale Bible; New Haven: Doubleday, 2000), 165 (emphases added).
Editor’s Note: Ahem, didn’t see this sat in drafts last week! Apologies!