Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark

This summer and all through autumn, we hear stories from the Gospel of Mark at Sunday Eucharist. Sister Joan shows how the Sunday excerpts fit into the whole story of Jesus’ life and ministry. The 11 short chapters and the questions make this book ideal for bible study and faith-sharing groups.

Click here to read the Table of Contents and sample chapters. Order at goodgroundpress.com or call 800-232-5533. Only $10.00 per book.


When you call to order Mark’s Gospel: The Whole Story treat yourself to another of our books. Some are ready-made for group sharing. Others might be the just the thing you or a loved one need at this time. Our beautiful flower cards make a nice Mother’s Day gift. Order online at goodgroundpress.com.

Gospel Reflection for April 11, 2021 – 2nd Sunday of Easter

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.32-35; 1 John 5.1-6; John 20.19-31

Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.” – John 20. 21-23

On Easter evening the risen Jesus enters the disciples’ midst with two gifts — peace and new life. The sight of Jesus and his greeting of peace bring the community joy. These first disciples find the risen Jesus with them as Christians do to this day when they gather in his name.

Jesus breathes the new life of the Spirit upon his disciples. The peace and forgiveness the risen Jesus brings the community become their commission. Jesus sends his followers to make the lives of others whole as he has made their lives whole. He awakens their capacity to forgive each other as he has forgiven them. Jesus insists that what they forgive is forgiven but what people hold stays held, continuing to fester and irritate in the community. Jesus’ Easter commission is to work through hurts and harm and hold one another in joyful, life-giving community.

The gospel writers write to hand on to future generations the testimony of the earliest believers. The God who creates is the God who comes among us in Jesus to save, heal, forgive, and make whole.

When have you experienced Jesus’ peace and presence? When have you found new life in forgiving or being forgiven?

Gospel Reflection for April 4, 2021 – Easter Sunday

Scripture Readings: Acts 20.34, 37-43; Colossians 3.1-4; John 20.1-9

“While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away, so she ran off to Simon, Peter, and the beloved disciple and told them.” – John 20.1-2

Our world is global now.  Our story of creation is much longer and more involved than Genesis describes, a process that unfurls over 13.7 billion years and continues today.  Theologian John Haught suggests, “We should no longer think of God having a plan but instead a vision that aims at bringing into being a community of love.”  It calls us to participate in co-creating with God. 

We recognize we live in and because of God’s generous creativity; we see Jesus’ death as the profound self-giving love at the heart of the universe.  We see Jesus’ act of self-giving as life-giving, as gift, as grace and vision and power for becoming a community of love.  We recognize the Holy Spirit endows us in Jesus with the capacity to transcend ourselves and become more than we can imagine. We recognize the Spirit endows the whole universe with the capacity to transcend itself toward ever new forms.

Mary Magdalene sets in motion the Easter gospel when she goes to the garden to visit Jesus’ tomb.  The time is the dawn of a new and unending day.  Death proves not the end for Jesus though fear, cruelty, power, and violence have had their way with him as they have had their way in our world today.  The One who begins life and sustains life raises Jesus from the dead to new life—alleluia.

Mary Magdalene runs to bring Peter and the Beloved Disciple to the empty tomb.  The Beloved Disciple, who is deliberately not named so we can all identify ourselves as beloved disciples, enters the empty tomb, sees, and believes.  This Easter gospel calls us to come, see, and believe God’s glory revealed in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the vision and promise of our own life with God.

Easter testifies to the power of God’s love 

Jesus’ resurrection testifies to the impossible coming to be

Every dawn testifies to the giver of our lives, the Holy Spirit,

Calling us into song like the birds, 

Calling us into deeper roots like the bulbs

Calling us with Gerard Manley Hopkins to recognize Easter is a verb,

What Jesus has done for us we must do for one another

Welcome Christ to easter in us,

To weave with our love each day a community of love in our world.

What new life will you keep on cultivating in the Easter season?

Gospel Reflection for March 28, 2021 – Palm/Passion Sunday

Scripture Readings: Mark 11.1-10; Isaiah 50.4-7; Philippians 2.6-11; Mark 14.1-15.47

“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” – Mark 11.9

“When it was noon, a darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15.33-34

At every Eucharist we worshippers pray the same ”Holy, Holy, Holy” the people shout in welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem. Jesus is the one who comes in the name of the Holy One and inherits God’s promises to David. He is the messiah, who comes not in military victory but in peace, riding humbly on a colt. In the liturgy of Palm Sunday the welcome turns quickly toward the passion.

In Mark’s narration of Jesus’ passion, most of his disciples flee. Judas betrays Jesus to the officials who want his movement stopped. Peter denies knowing Jesus as he hangs out in the High Priest’s courtyard during the very time the officials condemn Jesus for blasphemy inside the High Priest’s house. Jesus speaks few words as he endures flogging, mocking, and then crucifixion. As he is dying on the cross, Jesus prays from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We feel his desolation.

Jesus is not alone as he dies on the cross. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, and many other women disciples stand with him at a distance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witness his burial.

The passion leaves us in desolation and loss. Who are we like — the betrayer? The officials who want to stop Jesus threatening their authority? Simon of Cyrene recruited to carry Jesus’ cross? The disciples who flee? Peter who denies that he knows his friend? The women who stand with Jesus at the cross but cannot ease his suffering and anguish? The centurion whose comment, “Truly this man is the Son of God,” could be faith or could be cynical like the bystanders’ comments? Joseph of Arimathea, who shows up to bury Jesus?

In whom do you see yourself in Jesus’ passion narrative?

Gospel Reflection for March 21, 2021 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.6-7; John 12.20-33
 
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit….If people want to serve me, let them follow me. Where I am, there also my servants will be. Those who serve me the Father will honor. Now, my soul is troubled, yet what should I say — Father, save me from this hour? I have come for this hour: Father, glorify your name. – John 12. 23-26
 
The gospel writer John deliberately places the grain of wheat saying between two events — the raising of Lazarus and Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. For John the hour of Jesus’ death is the moment when God will glorify his name. A dynamic process begins, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit a hundredfold. In being lifted up — first on the cross and ultimately from the tomb — Jesus will draw all people to himself. In death Jesus entrusts his life to God, the same life-giving Creator that hides the promise of new life in seeds and promises new life for us.

John’s gospel couples the grain of wheat saying with sayings about discipleship that call us to plant ourselves in the Christian community and follow Jesus by serving others. “Where I am, there my servants must be,” Jesus says. At the last supper in this gospel, Jesus does the work of a household slave when he washes his disciples’ feet. His footwashing gives his followers an example of how to treat one another.
 
What promise does God hold for you? How do you respond to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at his last supper?

Gospel Reflection for March 14, 2021 – 4th Sunday of Lent

Sunday Readings: 2 Chronicles 36.14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21
 
“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have life forever. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but so the world might be saved through him” – John 3.16
 
Jesus’ mission is not to condemn the world but to save it. He calls us who believe in him to live in the light, to act for all to see. Jesus calls us not to become accustomed to the harsh realities of our world like racial injustice, militarized police, ethnic cleansing, refugees, workers without jobs and health coverage. We cannot take the daily condemnation and crucifixion of millions of our fellow humans for granted.

But we can leave our destructive deeds and surly attitudes behind and see in the light of Jesus’ self-giving love. We can begin to see God’s kin*dom in our midst and live the new life Jesus brings. We can do our part to take broken and suffering human beings down from the cross.
 
Who can I or we take down from their crosses? Whose sorrow and pain can we help nurse? Who can you help recover from the losses of Covid-19?

New! Cards for All Occassions

Take a look at our beautiful and inexpensive cards for all occasions. Our newest additions are sympathy cards and a gorgeous array of flower cards. Shop now at goodgroundpress.com. Call Good Ground Press at 800-232-5533 if you have any questions. We look forward to getting these cards to you so their beauty can heal and inspire others.

Gospel Reflection for March 7, 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20.1-17; 1 Corinthians 1.22-25; John 2.13-25

In the temple Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the moneychangers seated at their tables. Making a whip out of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. – John 2.14-15

Jesus zeal seeks to restore his Father’s house as a place of prayer rather than commerce. His explanation makes a great Tweet: “Stop making my Fathers house a marketplace.” His disruptive actions of dumping out money and overturning tables might become breaking news today. Jesus has made his point.

In John’s gospel Jesus’ cleansing of the temple becomes a revealing sign. Jesus is the new temple in whom God dwells among us.

Jesus’ example calls us to clean house during Lent, to examine our hearts. Our lives even in the pandemic zoom along. The more we stay at home to work and learn, the more we distance ourselves from the virus but also from interacting with others. Interacting is how we exchange ideas and show love for one another. Our lives easily fall into routines and ruts.

Walks in the emerging spring can awaken us to Earth’s capacity to repair itself and us. Lent calls us to assess what we consume and what consumes us. It calls us to revive our faith in resurrection as a continuing process in our lives as well as the promise of new and eternal life with the risen Jesus.

What effects of climate change anger you enough to act and advocate for change? What housecleaning do you need to do in your life?

Online Retreats for Lent

An online retreat may be a source of growth and peace for you during this Lent time. They are very easy to do. Just click here and you will go right to our online retreat page. You can browse through the retreats by clicking on a title. Read a little of the retreat to see if it is the one for you.

When you choose a retreat set aside 20-30 minutes in your day. Come back to this email and click through to the retreat you selected. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and begin. God is waiting for your attention.
 
If you wish, let us know which retreats have been helpful to you this Lent. You can reply to this email or call Lacy at 800-232-5533. We always like to hear from our customers and friends.

Gospel Reflection for February 21, 2021 – 1st Sunday fo Lent

Sunday Readings: Genesis 9.8-15; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.12-15

“Immediately after his baptism the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. There for 40 days Satan tested him. He was with wild beasts, and angels ministered to him. After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled. God’s reign has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.’” – Mark 1.12-15

When Jesus comes out of the water at his baptism, the heavens split open, and the Spirit descends upon him. A voice affirms that Jesus is “my beloved Son.” These images — the open heavens, the descending dove, the affirming voice — create a theological picture of Jesus in relationship with God, Father and Spirit.

Then the Spirit drives Jesus into solitude in the wilderness. Jesus doesn’t fast in Mark’s gospel but stays in the wilderness for the 40 days, a time echoing the Hebrew slaves 40 years in the desert becoming a people. Solitude gives us time to feel our drives and desires, the arcs of energy within us, the images that call us beyond where we are. In this testing, discerning time, Jesus keeps company with beasts and angels. God is near, within, and around him as God is near, within, and around us, with or without our attention.

Something happened in Jesus’ solitude. Shortly after, Jesus begins preaching in Galilee, announcing the good news of God. “Repent and believe in the good news.” His whole life, his death and resurrection, form the good news we believe, the faith we deepen and renew each Lent. 

After his desert time Jesus lives the rest of his life as an itinerant. He carries on ministries of healing, teaching, preaching, associating with outcasts, standing in opposition to unjust structures, forming a community of equals, celebrating meals with friends, and praying alone and with others.

What solitude can you find this Lent to feel new life stirring in yourself?

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