The Good Book Club returns on January 1, 2021, this time reading the oldest and shortest of the four canonical gospels: the Gospel of Mark.
Our churches have entered Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary, which primarily offers gospel readings from Mark. On January 10th, the First Sunday after the Epiphany, we read the prologue of Mark’s gospel. These opening verses include an introduction to John the Baptizer and Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, followed immediately by Jesus’s journey into the wilderness. All this in just 13 verses!
I think this season of the Good Book Club will be especially appropriate for families with younger children for a number reasons. Mark as a storyteller gets right to the point. The stories are fast-paced and unfold in an escalating pattern that makes it fun to read. He writes without much metaphor or poetry, instead editing together early oral stories about Jesus’ life in a straightforward and accessible way.
Kids familiar with Harry, Hermione, and Ron or Luke, Leia, Han, and Rey will understand what it’s like to be the unlikely hero met with resistance. Jesus is faced with more and more oppositional forces as the gospel progresses, from religious and political leaders to Jesus’ own people.
And finally, I expect my children will get a kick out of the disciples’ lack of understanding. Throughout the Gospel of Mark Jesus is this mysterious figure who teaches his disciples privately so no one will overhear him. But it doesn’t really matter, the disciple still struggle to understand his identity. It’s the marginal characters in Mark’s gospel who can see Jesus’ truth. So time and time again we’ll read about Jesus instructing people and even demons not to reveal who he really is or the miracles he’s performed. As modern Christians we’re in on the messianic secret. Our children will know something these adult disciples cannot grasp…which sounds like the plot of nearly every show my children watch and therefore how I know they will love the Gospel of Mark.
To get started, print or bookmark the daily scripture passages so you can easily access them when it’s time to read. Sign up to receive weekly emails from Forward Movement about the Gospel of Mark. They serve as a preview of the upcoming readings, providing a bit of background and context for what’s ahead. These emails have refreshed my memory in previous years, almost anticipating the questions my curious kids would be asking as we read together.
Talk with members of your household about when and how you will read.
How will you engage discussion following the reading?
Will you read in the morning before school and work? Or maybe while eating dinner?
If your schedules move you all in different directions, never fear! Each person can listen to The Good Book Club Podcast which includes the appointed passage from Mark and a short and a reflection.
In a time when we are feeling separated from our church communities, friends, and families, the Good Book Club allows us to connect with the entire Episcopal Church. Grow Christians is one of many partners from across the Church working with Forward Movement to provide resources and support as you take on this spiritual discipline. I hope you’ll join us in reading the Gospel of Mark beginning on January 1st.
How will you participate in the Good Book Club?
What have you learned from participating in previous years?