Immersed in Mark

Dear Faithful Bible Readers:

I write to you on a sunny morning after reading four chapters of I Samuel and a chapter of the Book of Proverbs as well as a chapter of the Gospel of John from The Jewish Annotated New Testament, which I will speak more about at a future time.

As you may have noticed, we are reading from Mark’s Gospel this year as part of the Church’s three year Common Lectionary, which we share with Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians.  Each year we read through a different gospel in church.  Because John’s Gospel does not fit in the same chronology as Matthew, Mark and Luke, portions of John’s Gospel are interspersed in other years – especially in the year when we read through Mark’s Gospel.

This Wednesday nights March 21 and March 28 I invite to join me in MacColl Auditorium for an in-depth look at Mark’s Gospel from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Our evening includes dinner and a presentation followed by time for questions and answers.  We will be examining important sections of Mark’s Gospel.

PLEASE RSVP to Anita Burke at: aburke@stthomaswhitemarsh.org by Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., if you can join us.  That way we can have a dinner waiting for you.  If you RSVP, please commit to attending as we will be paying to provide a dinner for you.  Please bring your Bible and read chapters 1-3 of Mark in advance, if you can.  Bibles will be available for those who need them.

This class should wet your appetite for our upcoming Sunday Forum at 11:00 a.m. on March 25 when comics artist and writer Steve Ross, a friend of the Rev. Heather Patton-Graham, speaks in our forum on how he used the Gospel of Mark as the basis for his graphic novel Marked – a re-imagining of the Gospel of Mark.  Ross offers a unique approach to retelling an ancient tale that still has the ability to shock, outrage and inspire.  Ross is an illustrator, comic artist and writer whose work has appeared in many magazines and periodicals including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Finally, on Wednesday, April 4, we invite you to join us from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. Thomas Church to listen as British-born actor Richard Lyntton reads the entire Gospel of Mark aloud in one sitting for us.  The audience is invited to sit quietly and hear the entire gospel read in its entirety or to walk quietly in the church while the story is being read.  This will be transforming experience to enrich your Holy Week and prepare you for Easter morning.  Afterwards we will welcome the audience to join us in Haas Hall for a glass of Sherry or fruit juice and reflect upon your experience of hearing Mark’s Gospel read in its entirety.

A Few Notes on Mark’s Gospel

  • Mark is important in part because it was the first gospel written.  In the New Testament only the authentic letters of Paul pre-date Mark’s Gospel.
  • The author of Mark is the first to tell the story of Jesus’ life in writing.
  • Mark’s Gospel is the primary source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  About 90% of Mark reappears in Matthew and about two-thirds of Mark is found in Luke.
  • Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark does not begin with the birth narrative of Jesus, but begins with Jesus as an adult going to John the Baptist in the wilderness.
  • Mark is known also for what he omits.  He does not include some of Jesus’ most famous teachings, the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer or the best-known parables such as the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan.
  • While Mark clearly identifies Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah, Jesus never identifies himself publicly in this manner, but only in private with his disciples.  Instead, Jesus carries out what scholars call “the Messianic secret,” holding back his true identity unless his disciples see him suffer upon the cross and understand the true meaning of his role as the suffering servant and the Messiah.
  • The earliest versions of Mark’s Gospel do not tell stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his followers.  They conclude with the empty tomb.  Later additions of the gospel add some resurrection appearances.

Come join us for the next three Wednesday nights and our Sunday Forum to learn more about the first story of Jesus ever set in writing – the Gospel of Mark.
With every blessing for your faithful Bible reading,

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