A Deep Dive Into the Gospel Of Mark with Rev. Karen Bruins


Welcome to “Running with Mark,” a 16-week deep dive into the Gospel of Mark.

This series will ask the question that is central to Mark’s Gospel, “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27).  Hopefully after spending these next few months discovering Jesus, his life, ministry, teaching and miracles, you will be able to answer that question for yourself.


There are daily readings that begin December 29. Pick up a bookmark at church of the daily readings or download one here.  Each week’s readings include the reading for Sunday, plus some supplemental reading in the Psalms or other books from the Hebrew (Old Testament) Bible. The Psalms are a collection of prayers in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus, as a first century Jew, was deeply steeped in the Psalms and we hear him quoting and interpreting the Psalms throughout the Gospels. 

Each day I will post a reflection on the assigned passage of the day. It may be a written reflection, a video, a piece of art or poetry. There will be places for you to interact with me and with the Bible text in the comments section. Please note that the comments section will be monitored to ensure positive and productive conversation, and to ensure no trolls take over the site.


Here are tools and resources to make your study of Mark more impactful:

1. A good Study Bible. If you are still using the Bible you received in 3rd grade, or you’ve never had a good study Bible, consider making this important investment. Study Bibles typically include maps, a concordance, topical index and commentary. It’s important to remember that the commentary is just one author’s or authors’ perspective on the Bible. Commentators are all along the spectrum from very conservative to very progressive in their theological interpretation of Scripture.

Here are a few options to consider:

Wesley Study Bible

New Revised Standard Version ©2017 Abingdon Press

Joel B. Green, (Editor) and William Willimon, (Editor)


CEB Women’s Study Bible

©2016 Common English Bible, publisher

Jaime Clark-Soles (Editor), Judy Fentress-Williams (Editor), Ginger Gaines-Cirelli (Editor), Christine Chakoian (Editor), Rachel Baughman (Editor)


2. Bible Dictionary is an alphabetical listing of major topics, people, and places found in the Bible. Here are two helpful dictionaries:

Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary


This book has maps and color illustrations.


Nan Merrill has re-written the Psalms into prayers in contemporary language. This is a great tool for personal devotions.


You may wish to purchase a new notebook or journal to record your thoughts and reflections on the daily readings, sermons, group discussions etc. 


I look forward to beginning this journey with you!


Grace and peace,

Pastor Karen Bruins


Running with Mark 106 – Easter Sunday – Listen to the music!


Day 106 – April 12th, 2020  


Mark 16:1-12



Hallelujah Chorus – Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Redeemer – Nicole C. Mullen

Glorious Day – Passion Music

Christ the Lord is Risen Today



Prayer Focus:

What does resurrection mean to you, especially this year amid the COVID


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 105


Day 105 – April 11th, 2020  

Today is Holy Saturday.  Not much is known about what happened on this day during Holy Week.  Jesus was in the tomb.  Because it was the Sabbath (from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday night), there was no “work” permitted.  The women who loved Jesus were not permitted to prepare and anoint his body for burial.


Sometimes this day is referred to as “Silent Saturday”, remembering the silence of the tomb.  Protestant churches do not hold worship services on Holy Saturday, but our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox tradition hold a vigil.  You can listen to some music you may hear in an orthodox church, including St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral of Minneapolis.



Mark 15:40-47 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.


The Burial of Jesus

42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.


Think about the picture painted in this Scripture.  There is a large group of women who remained faithful to Jesus. 


Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Jewish Council, the very group which had pronounced Jesus guilty.  Mark 14:55 says that “the whole council came together to find evidence against Jesus. (MK 14:55).  But Luke says that Joseph, “…had not agreed to their plan and action.” (LUKE 23:51).  Mark also tells us that Joseph is   


Earlier, Mark informed us that “the whole council” came together to find evidence against Jesus (14:55), and that “all of them condemned (Jesus) as deserving death” (14:64).  Taken literally, that means that Joseph was a party to Jesus’ death, but Luke tells us that Joseph “had not agreed to their plan and action” (Luke 23:51).  Mark tells us that Joseph is “waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43).  Matthew 27:57 and John 19:38 identify him as a disciple. 

Pilate was in for two surprises.  The first was learning that Jesus had already died.  Crucifixion as a horrible death that sometimes took days. 


The second surprise came when Joseph of Arimathea goes “boldly” to Pilate to ask to take Jesus’ body for burial.  I wonder what Pilate thought that, one of the council members who had condemned Jesus, had now come to bury his body.  This is a risky move on Joseph’s part, to ask for the body of a man who had been convicted of treason.  He put his reputation on the line.


Joseph, or likely Joseph’s servants, take the body, wrap it in linen cloths and quickly lay it in a borrowed tomb because the Sabbath was approaching.




Byzantine Hymns for Holy Saturday

Canon of Holy Saturday – St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral of Minneapolis


Prayer Focus:

Sit in silence before God on this holy day.


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 104


Day 104 – April 10th, 2020  

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day in which we remember the events of the Friday of Holy Week.  On Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, pouring out his heart to God.  Peter, James and John, whom Jesus had asked to stay awake while he prayed, could not keep their eyes from closing.  Judas, one of the beloved disciples, will betray Jesus with a kiss.  Roman guards will arrest him. 


Now it is Friday and the horrible series of events are already in motion.  Jesus will be brought before Pilate.  He will be betrayed by Peter.  He will be beaten horribly. Suffering great physical pain, he will be made to carry his cross to a hill known as Golgatha.  There he will be nailed to the wooden cross. 


Christians remember this day with solemn worship,  Often candles are extibguished as each of the seven last words of Jesus are read.


Jesus’ 7 Last Sayings in Scripture

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34

“Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” — Luke 23:43

“Woman, behold thy Son.” — John 19:26

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” — Mark 15:34

“I thirst.” — John 19:28

“It is finished.” — John 19:30

“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” — Luke 23:46





MARK 15:16-39 New Revised Standard Version


Watch this scene from the 2000 film Jesus Christ Superstar

The Last Supper – Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 version)




Take a few minutes to listen to the beautiful voices of Minnesota’s own Saint Olaf College Choir.

What Wondrous Love is This – Saint Olaf College Choir


Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about the events of Good Friday.


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 103


Day 103 – April 9th, 2020  

Today is Thursday of Holy Week.  It is known as Maundy Thursday.  Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “commandment”.  It was at the Last Supper that Jesus gives a new commandment, “that you would love one another as I have loved you.”  John 13:34




Mark 14:12-42 New Revised Standard Version


Watch this scene from the 2000 film Jesus Christ Superstar

The Last Supper – Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 version)




Remembrance (The Communion Song) Matt Redman and Matt Maher


Prayer Focus:

Have you experienced grace like Peter did after you denied Christ?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 102


Day 102 – April 8th, 2020  



Mark 14:66-72 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Peter Denies Jesus

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.[a] Then the cock crowed.[b] 69 And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.


I talked about Peter in my sermon on Palm Sunday. 

One summer, when I was in high school, I worked at a camp in northern Minnesota.  Several of the other staff were from the south.  They had these accents that were so strong and they used really different expressions than I had heard.

  • Ya’ll – they said Y’all a lot. And then they made fun of the Minnesotans because they thought we sounded like “YUZZ GUYSS”.
  • There was a pop machine on site. All of the pop came from Pepsi.  But the southerners called it all Coke.  “Y’all want a coke?” they would say. 
  • “I’m a fixing to go to the dining hall.” Were they getting tools out to go do some repair work?
  • They called a drinking fountain a
  • Did you know that people from outside of MN play a game called, “Duck, Duck, Goose”? What?????? Everyone knows it’s duck, duck, grey duck.


I’ve always been fascinated by people with accents. People on the national news seem to have the same accent we have in Minnesota. 


I have a friend who is from Nigeria.  When he speaks his speech is so melodic, I could listen to him forever, same with a former teacher who was from Ireland.


Peter was from Bethsaida, a fishing town in the region of Galilee.  He spoke like the other fishers.  There were words and expressions and a dialect that set them apart from other places. 


Peter loved Jesus.  He was usually the first disciple to volunteer for anything Jesus asked, and he was quick to answer any question Jesus asked.  Peter promised Jesus that he would stand up for him and fight for him.


They had one last Passover meal all had together. After the meal, they sang a hymn, and went out to the Mount of Olives.    It was there that Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters”. 


Peter said, “No Lord, they may all desert you, but I never will.” 

Jesus told him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

Later that night, Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers.  And all the disciples that had been with him fled. 


Jesus was taken before the high priest, the scribes and Pharisees to be questioned.

 Peter came to the temple courtyard, hoping he might see what is happening to Jesus.


One of the high priest’s servants saw Peter standing there by a fire warming himself.  She says to him, “You were with him”.  “

I don’t know what you are talking about” says Peter.  


Peter kept moving closer and closer to the front of the courtyard.

He heard a rooster crow.

The same servant girl saw him again.  This time she said to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” Peter denied it again.


Then after a little while the bystanders said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”  Peter’s accent had given him away.

 Peter curses and says, “I do not know this man you are talking about”.

 Just then the rooster crowed again, and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him.


Luke alone records this next verse – Luke 22:61 says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” 

Across the crowded courtyard, Jesus saw Peter.  Their eyes met. 


Eyes can convey so much…words aren’t necessary. 

The denier’s eyes, met the Savior’s eyes. 

The saved man’s eyes, met the eyes of one condemned. 

The Rock’s eyes, met the redeemer’s.  

In that moment,

of Peter’s deepest sin, his gravest failure,

God looked on Peter,

through the very eyes of God in the flesh,

…………and it was a look of compassion, forgiveness and hope.


 In that moment God’s grace became real to Peter, as never before, and he broke down and sobbed.




Peter Denies Jesus – Jesus Christ Superstar 2012


Prayer Focus:

Have you experienced grace like Peter did after you denied Christ?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 101


Day 101 – April 7th, 2020  



Mark 14:43-65 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.

51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.


Jesus before the Council

53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah,[a] the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and

‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.


Why didn’t Jesus say something?

What must it have been like for him to listen to all the false accusations they were making about him?  Clearly, they knew they had no crime of which to convict him.  They could not get their testimonies to line up.


In the Hebrew scriptures, in the book of the prophet Isaiah, these words are written:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

When the chief priests asks, him if he is the Messiah, he finally speaks.  “I am” he says.


Spend some time looking at the piece “The Betrayal of Christ” by Caravaggio, 1573-1610.

“Jesus’ face expresses both resignation and pain. He knows what is about to happen to him. Note how he holds his hands. Judas Iscariot greets him with a kiss, so the soldiers know whom to capture.

To better see the face, it is illuminated by a lantern. The man holding the light is Caravaggio himself.

Breaking a rule of his craft, Caravaggio started this painting on a dark ground. The typical composition with the soldier stretching his arm was derived from an Albrecht Dürer woodcut.

The painting was commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei, a brother of Caravaggio’s patron, Cardinal Mattei. Around 1800 the Mattei family sold it, erroneously attributing it to the Dutch master Gerard van Honthorst. It was rediscovered as a Caravaggio in 1990 while hanging in a Jesuit home in Dublin, Ireland.”



Messiah – Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs


Prayer Focus:

How are we like Judas?



Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

[1] https://www.artbible.info/art/large/429.html


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Running with Mark – 100!!!

The plant you see is called Spikenard.  The oil from this strain of plants was used in today’s passage.

Day 100 – April 6th, 2020  
100 days!  100 days!  We’ve been running with Mark together for 100 days!



Mark 14:3-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Anointing at Bethany

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


This is one of my favorite stories in Scripture.  It’s also full of scandal.

  • A woman should never have touched Jesus.
  • In Luke and John’s versions, she uncovers her hair and lets it down which was not allowed

To anoint someone had deep meaning and significance.

Anointing signified that the person had been selected for some special role or task.  Kings were anointed with oil by a priest as part of the coronation ceremony. This woman is doing for Jesus, what had been done for kings throughout time.


Jesus is often called Christ, which is a Greek word. The same in Hebrew is Messiah. Do you remember what it means? Anointed one. 


This woman is proclaiming him as the Christ!  How will you proclaim him Christ today?



Alabaster Box – CeCe Winans   This is a musical telling of the story.


Prayer Focus:

This woman sacrificed and offered Jesus an extremely extravagant gift.

How can you practice generosity in your actions, your giving, your attitude and your prayers?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 99


Day 99– April 5th, 2020  Palm Sunday



Mark 11:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Click on the link to hear it read by one of our students. Mark 11:1-11 read by Anna
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.


Want to learn more about Palm Sunday?  Check out these family-friendly videos.

Chuck Knows Church – Palm Sunday

The Skit Guys – Palm Sunday



Do a little comparison.  Here is the same story in other gospels. 

  • Matthew 21:1-11
  • Luke 19:28-40
  • John 12:12-19

What things are the same?  What things are different?  Why do you think the gospel writers recorded different details?


Think about the kind of transportation typically associated with people of power or royalty.

  • Air Force One
  • Fancy limousine
  • A tank
  • Royal carriage
  • Fancy parade float

At the time of Jesus, a conquering military leader would make their victory ride on top of a white horse.  It symbolized power and strength and victory.


Jesus rides into town on a donkey.  This humble animal is symbolic and represents peace.

Jesus came not to rule the world through violence and power, but through peace.



Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

Hosanna – Brooke Ligertwood


Prayer Focus:

What would it have been like to be part of the cheering crowd?

When in your life have you felt like cheering for God?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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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. 

Barabbas 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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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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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

[1] https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2016/7/20/judas


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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. karen.bruins@lakeharrietumc.org

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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