I wrote in the worship Sheet for Sunday 31st January about ‘Butterflies, Books and Beginnings’, conveying that just as reading a factual or fictional book may start introducing a situation, setting and characters, before leading us on a journey, so do each of the gospels. Through reading we may gain new insights, and find our perceptions changed, influencing our choices and actions, and most profoundly, sometimes our beliefs.
The reality is that we treat different books in different ways. Some we may dip into, for example, a dictionary, whether motivated to look up a meaning, or if I’m honest – check a spelin 😊. Other books, particularly novels, are typically read from the beginning, and if the writer engages us, through to the end.
My personal reading is quite eclectic. I particularly enjoy books on nature. Some nature books, typically those by nature writers, I read from cover to cover, and gain a feeling of journeying with the author and their subject. The reader can leave with a big picture of their chosen subject, punctuated by a variety of episodes along the way. I also read more factually-based natural history books, typically by someone who is primarily a specialist in that field, rather than a professional author. Such tomes are often weighty in content and volume, and cover a range of aspects of the subject, which I value dipping into, but rarely read from cover to cover.
I reflect that my typical reading of the Bible is usually the ‘dip-in’ mode, whether to explore a particular issue, read as a devotional or particularly as a worship leader, exploring the readings given in the cycle that we follow, Sunday by Sunday. But such a pattern of reading may miss something of the big picture, and the journeying aspect of reading a book.
Consequently, I have chosen that my reading in Lent will include a whole gospel, in order, from Chapter 1 verse 1, in one go. My chosen gospel is Mark. It is the lead gospel that we’ll be looking into Sunday by Sunday, through 2021, until we reach Advent. Our diet isn’t wholly Mark’s Gospel, particularly either side of Easter when we’ll encounter John, but it is the book that we’ll be spending most time exploring this year. It is also the shortest gospel, and the first to be written, so Mark feels a good place to start.
Perhaps you may like to join me in my lockdown lent read? If so, I have jotted a piece on page 12 in this magazine with some notes about Mark which may variously give some background, act as a guide, pique your interest or give some pointers or facets to look out for along the way.
If you choose to join with me in reading Mark’s Gospel between now and Easter, feel welcome to share with me any insight that you gain along the journey’s way.
Take care, keep safe, God bless,