Gospel of Mark, Holy Saturday, Lent

The stone (Mark 15:42-47)

If you have ever lost someone you loved a lot, it’s not hard to imagine how the women felt on that Saturday, that Sabbath day. They woke up in the morning, if they slept at all, having to remember something they wished they did not know. Their teacher, their leader, their friend was dead. No doubt they woke up thinking about where Jesus’ body had been taken by Joseph of Arimathea.

He rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was buried. (Mark 15:46b-47, CEB)

I picture them picturing the stone, the entrance, the tomb, the path that would get them to it. I picture them planning anything at all that might feel useful, important, healing. I picture them feeling like any people do who have lost a treasured friend or family member to violence.

I picture them, and I think of the grandmother of Stephon Clark and the mother of his children, and the family of Alton Sterling, and the girlfriend of Philando Castile, and the Mothers of the Movement. Like the women who followed Jesus’ body to his tomb, they have lost dear ones to state violence.

So add to the grief a natural fear of what might come next for those who had been seen with him.

Imagine being grieved beyond measure and also afraid that the same forces responsible for executing the one you loved might be coming for you next. Imagine feeling that there is no safe place to be. Imagine wondering if your lament will draw unwanted attention. Imagine wondering if you can every trust anyone again. Imagine wishing the stone could seal you in, too.

“My God, my God,” he said, “Why have you forsaken me?” My God, my God, how can we trust you?   

Gospel of Mark, Lent

Presente (Mark 14:32-72)

At the rally before March For Our Lives here in Harrisburg, a Latinx college professor spoke of the tradition in which the dead are named aloud, and those who are witnesses respond, “Presente,” to indicate that although those we knew and loved are gone in body, they are not forgotten. The names of the students and teachers killed at Margery Stoneman Douglas High School were read, and after each one we did as he instructed and responded, “Present.”

He came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay alert for one hour? Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38, CEB)

Peter and the others were present in body, but their minds had gone to sleep.

There are times when emotions are heightened and life is fraught, and just going to sleep feels like the safest, even the sanest, thing to do. But Jesus is asking more from us. (It only gets harder for Peter; by dawn he will be denying Jesus altogether.)

In ministry, and especially if we serve a congregation, this day may be full of obligations, logistics, and technical difficulties. Are the slides ready for worship? Is the gluten-free communion bread in the house? Have we visited all the homebound folk who only wish they could attend a service in person, and will we be counting up the parents and children who have taken a vacation instead of spending Holy Week with their church family?

My hope for you all today, whatever your situation, is that you can find a little time to sit and watch and pray with Jesus. Be awake to what happened then, and feel it happening now. The world wants to rewrite him into a representative of the powers and principalities, but we know better. We know the powers and principalities were the ones who wanted him dead, the ones who killed him.

Find your moment. Say his name – Jesus! – and declare him “Presente.”

Ah, Holy Jesus, may I be awake to you and declare your presence. Amen.


This is both my Lenten blogging and a devotion for the RevGalBlogPals Weekly e-Reader.


I’m reading and blogging about Mark for Lent and using the Common English Bible because it messes with my expectations of familiar passages. I also sometimes refer to NRSV-based resources including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, and the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, as well as the online Greek interlinear Bible.

You can find the full schedule here, including links to earlier posts.

Gospel of Mark, Lent

And they all said the same thing. (Mark 14:12-31)

One out of twelve betrayed him.

Eleven out of twelve denied him.

We may think of Peter as the great denier; after all, four out of four gospels give us a building narrative ending with the cock crow.

But I think there is a more universal truth contained in this parable about faithfulness.

In Mark 14, they have eaten dinner and had a conversation about betrayal, and now they have gone out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus said to them, “You will all falter in your faithfulness to me. It is written, I will hit the shepherd, and the sheep will go off in all directions. But after I’m raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else stumbles, I won’t.” But Jesus said to him, “I assure you that on this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But Peter insisted, “If I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” And they all said the same thing. (Mark 14:27-31, CEB)

But, but, but … they all said the same thing.

In Mark’s gospel, no one gets it right. They all disperse. Even the women who come to the tomb run away, frightened. We needed three more gospels to put the pieces back together, to give people a sense of hope, to tell a story that people want to believe and hold and share. No wonder the early church folk chose more than one!

And no wonder they kept this one.

Because we all say the same thing: we will never leave you, Jesus, we will die for you, Jesus, there is nothing we care about more, Jesus.

We are the eleven out of twelve, constantly. We can only hope to never be the one.

Jesus, for all the times I say I will be there, yet I am not, forgive me. 


I’m reading and blogging about Mark for Lent and using the Common English Bible because it messes with my expectations of familiar passages. I also sometimes refer to NRSV-based resources including The Jewish Annotated New Testament, and the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, as well as the online Greek interlinear Bible.

You can find the full schedule here, including links to earlier posts.