Running with Mark 98


Day 98 – April 4th, 2020



Mark 15:6-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.


Who was Barabbas?  He was in prison for being part of an insurrection in which people were killed. 


The name Barabbas drips with meaning.  Bar means son.  Abba means father.  He is the Son of the Father.  Bat is the Hebrew word for daughter.  You and I are all bar abba or bat abba, sons and daughters of God. 

Brabbas represents all of us.  Like him, we have all sinned.  We have all failed to live into Christ likeness and fullness of grace.


Matthew’s gospel makes his name even more significant.  In Matthew he is known as Jesus Barabbas.  The crowd could choose to follow Jesus Barabbas or, as Pilate calls him sarcastically, Jesus the King of the Jew

Why would they have chosen Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus?  As a Zealot, he had fought against the Roman oppression and this would have made him popular with the Jewish people. 


Pilate is in a very awkward spot.  He realizes that the High Priest was jealous of Jesus and wants him crucified, but Pilate doesn’t like being manipulated.  There is a battalion of soldiers in Jerusalem to keep the peace during this Holy Week.  Pilate doesn’t want the crowd to get out of control.  To placate the crowd, he hands Jesus over to be flogged and crucified.




“Behold the Man” by Antonio Ciseri



A God Like You – Kirk Franklin     A great hip-hop style song.



Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about what it means to be bar abba (Son of the father) or bat abba (daughter of God).  How does Barabbas represent you?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us –

Do you know the name Brene Brown?  
She is a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
She writes “The bottom line: I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck. I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is “Courage over comfort.”
The pandemic has made us all feel vulnerable.  In the past it may have been possible to not realize our vulnerability, to not process our vulnerability.  But this pandemic, with the sometimes predictable, but also completely random pattern of making people sick and taking lives, has made us all feel vulnerable.
Rather than trying to just push through it, ignore it, or stuff it, what if we took time to actually examine and sit with our vulnerability.
Attached is a link to one of the most popular  Ted Talks of all time, Brene Brown’s talk on VULNERABILITY.
I hope you’ll take the time to listen to it.  I think you’ll be glad you did.
One of my prayers for our church is that we will be connected in community, willing to be vulnerable with one another, and supported in friendship and prayer as we do.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 97


Day 97 – April 3rd, 2020



Mark 15:1-5 New Revised Standard Version

Jesus before Pilate

15 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.


This event took place on Saturday morning. 

  • On Thursday Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper with the disciples.
  • On Friday he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He was arrested in the Garden, with Judas identifying Jesus by kissing him.  From there he was taken before the High Priest, the elders and the scribes. 

  • On Saturday morning Jesus was taken to Pilate who hands him over to be crucified.

Here is a map of the events that took place over those days.  Jesus was moved again and again through the city, always under heavy Roman guard.  Did they do it to show the public who was in charge, to show just who the real king was?


Spend some time with your Bible.  Read chapters 14 and 15 of Mark.   Find the places mentioned on the map.



King of Heaven – Paul Baloche


Prayer Focus:

Spirituality in the Ignatian tradition uses imagination.  Imagine that you were a bystander watching Jesus be brought before the Chief Priest, scribes and the elders.  What do you hear?  What do you see? 


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us – 04.02.2020

Hello Friends,
It’s almost Friday and you’ve been stuck in the house all week.  If you are a parent, there probably was a temper tantrum…..and your kids may have had one too LOL!!!!
Rev. Sally Johnson is a retired Deacon in the MInnesota Annual Conference.  She is a writer and blogger.  .
Sally has written a book (available on Amazon) called:
She recently posted a piece called, “Temper Tantrum” that was so good that I asked if I could share it with you.  She agreed.
Temper Tantrum
Posted on March 18, 2020
I have not written in these pages for some time. There are many reasons for this on which I may elaborate at some time in the future. But over the last few days I have been drawn back to this place I named “Pause” over a decade ago. It seems these days we are living are bringing their own pause, a stopping point none of us anticipated or planned to take. A pause that is filled with a tapestry of emotion and much anxiety. A pause that has many in a heightened state of fear and feelings so raw that sometimes we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Listening to the news and the rapid fire changing landscape that swirls around us provides what we feel is the information that we need. At the same time, taking all this in can have us walking in circles trying to figure out what we should do next, worrying for our future health or that of those we love or have never met, watching well laid financial plans roller coaster up and down. It is unnerving and perplexing to feel so out of control. It is as if the very air around us is pulsing with an uncontrollable energy…an energy that threatens to overwhelm us.
During all this, for some reason, I have kept thinking of the times when our sons would be in a state of frustration or anger that led to what might be called a temper tantrum. I can honestly say this did not happen very often but when it did I always felt as if I wanted to do something…anything…that would make them stop. Their tears, their hurt, their behavior was so painful to watch. The first time it happened I remember allowing my own frustration to rise with theirs as I tried everything I could think of to stop their crying or halt their tiny fists from pounding. I learned quickly that my entering into their frustration and anger only seemed to escalate what was happening. Over time I realized that the best way to help them and to keep my own heart from breaking as I watched them work out whatever it was they needed to do was to simply sit quietly and hold space for them, making sure they were safe and knew they were loved, allowing them to take control of their own emotions, their own frustrations and come to their own peace.
These memories have brought me a certain calm over the last days. I have asked myself what good it will do if I enter into the anxiety of the moment, whipping myself into a frenzy. There are so many elements of this global crisis and I have no control over any of them. What I do have control over is my own emotion, my own reactions, and the energy I put into the world. What I can do is hold the space. I can breathe deeply and send that breath into the world. What I can do is call people and offer kindness. I can walk outside and notice the change of seasons that is arriving without knowledge of the whirlwind we are experiencing. I can listen for the geese making their homing call as they return and watch for the early push of green from the earth. I can smell the earth returning to itself.
During these times which we continue to call unprecedented, we each will find our role to play. Many people are working countless hours to mend what has been broken, to heal what needs to be healed, to right the ship of our world. For this I am thankful beyond words. Some have chosen the role of hand wringing and hoarding. Perhaps it will always be so. Others are using their gifts for caring and compassion, for offering what they can to be of help. The truth of it is that we are all in this together and at times our role may be to simply hold the space, quietly, deeply, bringing calm as best we can.
The poet Pablo Neruda says this:
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much…
…Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

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Running with Mark 96

Day 96 – April 2nd, 2020



Mark 14:10-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.



In almost every sentence he is referred to as “one of the twelve”.

In a few others he is referred to as “the betrayer”.

How does Judas go from one of the twelve to the betrayer?  Barbara Brown Taylor wonders if “he had fallen out of love with Jesus”. 

Author Frederich Buechner wonders about Judas too.

Nobody can be sure, of course, why Judas sold Jesus out, although according to John’s Gospel, he already had a reputation for dipping into the poor box from time to time, so the cash may have been part of it. If, like the other disciples, he was perennially worried about where he stood in the pecking order, he may also have been reacting to some imagined slight. Maybe he thought his job as treasurer to the outfit was beneath him. Another possibility is that he had gotten fed up with waiting for Jesus to take the world by storm and hoped that betraying him might force him to show his hand at last. Or maybe, because nothing human is ever uncomplicated, something of all of these was involved. Anyway, whatever his reasons were, the whole thing went sour for him soon enough.

–originally published in Peculiar Treasures


Have you ever been betrayed?  Someone once went behind my back and talked about me in an unkind way to someone I trusted.  I was very sad, angry and disappointed. 


And as much as it hurts to admit it,  I have done the same thing she had done.

I have gone from trusted friend, to a betrayer.


Before we demonize Judas, let us pause and see where each of us is Judas.


I wonder what happened after he betrayed Jesus?  Here’s Buechner again:

There are several versions of what he did instead, of which the most psychologically plausible seems to be that he tried to give the money back to the ones who’d given it to him and went out and hanged himself. This time there doesn’t seem to be any ambiguity about the motive.

There is a tradition in the early church, however, that his suicide was based not on despair but on hope. If God was just, then he knew there was no question where he would be heading as soon as he’d breathed his last. Furthermore, if God was also merciful, he knew there was no question either that in a last-ditch effort to save the souls of the damned as God’s son, Jesus would be down there too. Thus the way Judas figured it, hell might be the last chance he’d have of making it to heaven, so to get there as soon as possible, he tied the rope around his neck and kicked away the stool. Who knows?

In any case, it’s a scene to conjure with. Once again they met in the shadows, the two old friends, both of them a little worse for wear after all that had happened, only this time it was Jesus who was the one to give the kiss, and this time it wasn’t the kiss of death that was given.[1]





You Are My Hiding Place  -based on Psalm 119:114



Prayer Focus:

How have you been both “chosen” and a “betrayer”?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins



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God is with Us – 04.01.2020

Tonight’s devotion comes from Janet Bomar, Director of Children and Family Ministry.
She is reading one of my favorite books – When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner.  The illustrations, done by David Catrow are amazing.  
Click on the link below to hear and see the story. 

When God Made You
Tonight Janet asks you to pray for the people of New York, as that are has been hit so hard by Covid 19.
Always remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who loves you!!!!
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
Psalm 139:14
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 95


Day 95 – April 1st, 2020


Read: Mark 14:1-2

The Plot to Kill Jesus

14 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”


I have something to admit to you friends.  I have spent days trying to write today’s Running with Mark.  Every time I come to it, I find my mind drifting to the events of the world.  Maybe that’s where God needs me to be for now, sitting with the fear and anxiety with which we are all dealing.


This is a time when people’s true colors are seen. 


Maybe that is where Jesus would be in this passage too.  He was able to see all that was happening in the disciples, in the Romans and in the religious leaders.  He sees what’s happening today.  Here are some parallels I see:

  • Governmental leaders who are like Herod, puffed up and wanting to appear that they have all the answers. Herod was always worried that the attention would be drawn away from him.
  • Religious leaders like the pastor in Florida who refused to comply with the Stay-at-Home order and held religious services, putting hundreds of people at risk. His reply was that they would “lay hands on the sick and heal them” which is taking a Biblical imperative way out of context. 


Yet I also see things that Jesus also saw:

  • People leading with grace and humility, like our own Governor
  • Medical professionals putting their own lives on the line to love and serve their neighbor in need
  • Acts of compassion practiced by ordinary citizens


It is indeed a strange Lent this year.  To be stuck inside most of the day, when the sun is shining, and early spring flowers are starting to pop up through the soil.
We worship the God who, for three days, was contained in a dark, cold tomb. Yet, the tomb could not contain him.  Glorious life burst forth from that grave.  
We may feel like we are stuck in the dark, stone, tomb.  Yet, even there, God is present.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God!


How is it with your soul?  I’d love to hear from you.

If you want music on today’s Scripture passage, check out this scene from Jesus Christ Superstar.  If you need something calling out your best self, click on the True Colors video.

This Jesus Must Die – Jesus Christ Superstar 2000 –   

True Colors





Prayer Focus:

I will speak for myself only here.  I need to work on praying for the leaders of government both the ones with which I agree, and those I do not.  What about you?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us – 03.31.2020

On Sunday, March 29th I shared this video at the beginning of the worship service.  I am sharing it here because it continues to stick with me.  
We talk a lot about the virus and how it is carried from person to person.  It is very contagious.
But so is hope.  
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Romans 12:12
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God who has promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.  Psalm 33:22
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
My friends, be carriers of HOPE!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 94


Day 94 – March 31, 2020



Mark 13:14-23 New Revised Standard Version

This is another difficult reading about persecution and suffering. 


One of my heroes is a man who was persecuted and suffered by an evil regime, yet his faith remained strong.  His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He was a German pastor and theologian who spoke out against the Nazi dictatorship and especially against Hitler’s euthanasia and persecution of the Jews.  Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for trying to overthrow Hitler.  He was executed just two weeks before Germany was liberated.

To learn more about him, check out this introduction to the last 12 hours of his life –

Jim Belcher on Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Listen to Bonhoeffer’s words in his poem “Who Am I?”

Who Am I? a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer



He Never Said a Mumbalin Word



Prayer Focus:

Heroes of the faith


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us 03.30.2020

March 30, 2020
Blue Bike Prayers
I’ve been riding my bike around my neighborhood and the city.  As I have been riding, I am praying for people and things I see. 
Click on this link to see and hear my blue bike prayers.  
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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