During worship a few Sundays ago, I announced a theme we will be leaning into in 2021. Those of you who have been around a long time may know that this is a milestone year for St. Mark Lutheran Church. Our congregation will be 60 years old in April. You could call this our diamond anniversary. By total chance, the lectionary just so happens to be focused on the Gospel of Mark this year. With a major anniversary and a focus on our namesake, what more reason do we need to declare 2021 to be The Year of St. Mark?
Each of our four gospels has its own unique voice in approaching the good news of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Mark is the oldest and shortest, and it was most likely intended to be performed in its entirety by a storyteller. There is no birth narrative, as it begins with Jesus’ baptism by John. Jesus is framed as one who follows up his teachings by acting on them.
We will spend time this year studying this namesake gospel of ours to see what we might learn about ourselves. How might the Gospel of St. Mark inform who we are, and who God is calling us to be?
For decades we have used the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of readings used by the majority of the world’s mainline churches. One of the quirks of this lectionary is that there are many portions of scripture that aren’t used, due to time constraints and relevance. Though Mark’s Gospel is the shortest, there are whole sections that rarely, if ever, are read aloud in worship. Some stories we hear in other years from the perspective of Matthew and Luke. Other verses are trimmed out completely. This year, though, every verse of our namesake gospel will be read at least once, either on Sunday mornings or during Wednesdays in Lent.
In addition, Bible studies are encouraged to spend time in The Gospel of Mark this year. We will have a number of events and other group study opportunities, especially as pandemic restrictions fade. On April 25th, the official Feast Day of St. Mark, we will celebrate our 60th anniversary and look forward to what the future holds for St. Mark Lutheran Church. While this theme won’t run through every single thing we do this year, much of our ministry together will be influenced by it. I, for one, am eager to celebrate 60 wonderful years, even as we focus our vision toward the future.
Pastor Chad McKenna