Tag Archives: biblical storytelling

Mark 3:20-35, and trouble

The first verses of Mark 3:20-35 set up conflict. First off, Jesus and the disciples are hungry and prevented from eating! Then there is the conflict with Jesus and his family of origin. And finally, Jesus and the scribes from Jerusalem. And the possibility of conflict between the demonic and the human is raised.

And this is pretty much life, isn’t it? We’re going to be hungry; the daily toil is going to take its toll. We’re going to have family trouble or misunderstandings now and then. We’re going to have trouble with those in authority if we don’t, for example, pay our income tax or get our proper car tags or all sorts of things. Or we could have trouble with authority in terms of the workplace, if you think things should be done differently at work. Jesus was basically having workplace trouble, yes?

So sometimes the trouble is righteous – Jesus is right about God’s love being the way forward to heal a broken world (or so we trust). It is still trouble.

Sometimes, as I would guess with demons trouble just falls on you (lets just roll with this for now, I don’t really know what to think about “demons”, but I hesitate to say it is all metaphor, that feels wrong to do somehow). And certainly with illness mental or physical, trouble just happens to you.

This just is not a perfect world, then or now.

In the previous blog I noted how the structure of this scripture mentions the conflict between Jesus and his family but immediately goes into the situation with the scribes before circling back to family. Why this “wrapping” structure? Perhaps one truth is that family drama is pretty much horrible; we want our family to be fine and in harmony. So that conflict being most important, for most of our hearts, it wraps around the conflict between Jesus and the scribes from Jerusalem.

As far as I can tell, however, Jesus and the disciples remained hungry during all of this.


Mark 3:20-35, structure

You know how a really good storyteller or comedian will set up a story at point a, circle around to b, c, d, and at the wrap up, hit point a again, but with a twist, usually funny? It is, to me at least, always a delight when a story comes back around.

This passage of Mark is just like that – one of the first things we hear is that Jesus’s family is concerned about him because they have been told that he’s “gone out of his mind.” And that’s then dropped entirely for a story about the scribes from Jerusalem who thought Jesus was being controlled by a demon. (Which might be another way of saying the same thing back then; the point is Jesus called the scribes to him. We do not know what is going on with his family or where they are or what they are doing. There is even — isn’t there? — just a little tension because why isn’t Jesus sorting out his family first?) This goes on for a while and you might even have forgotten about Jesus’ family. But verse 31 – there they are again.

What’s unclear at this very start of learning the text is why these stories wrap together; what the connection or “zinger” is. Is something lost to history, some sort of inside joke or context? Is something perfectly obvious going on and I just don’t see it yet?

There is so much going on in these 15 verses! This is going to be fun to get my teeth into.


Next Storytelling Sunday June 10

So I have about 6 weeks to prepare for this, and there is no knowing which of the lectionary choices will be the reading. The “lectionary” is a shared interdenominational system of readings for Sunday morning — generally an Old Testament, a Psalm, a Gospel reading, and a New Testament, but it can vary. I’m not sure who this created this or when, but the idea is that pastors need a structure or they will preach willy-nilly. And apparently we don’t want that! So thus the lectionary.

So — the Prophet Samuel’s warning about kings….looking very wise eh?

Psalm 138

Genesis 3:8-15 which is the part where God catches them post-apple….

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Mark 3:20-35 — the story of people thinking Jesus was crazy or had a demon and he had to be like “no Satan doesn’t banish Satan, this is from God”, and his mother, brother and sisters show up.

Since I seem to be building up quite a lot of the Book of Mark, and I have just about finished reading a book about it, I think I should concentrate on the Mark reading. I feel a bit daunted honestly, because it seems long. It seems to me to have two parts, as I noted above, before his family show up and afterward. And there is room in this story to wonder about stuff:

Jesus is at home — apparently Capernaum, maybe his own house or maybe Peter’s house? And the crowd — were they desperate or joyful or something? And the scribes from Jerusalem show up — those “elites” no doubt! It was crowded, yet they heard him speak. You can imagine his mother being worried, and his brothers and sisters.

And perhaps when Jesus opens up his definition of family to include anyone who does the will of God — I can imagine the look of love on his face. I can imagine him spreading his hands open. I can imagine the murmur that went through the crowd, of amazement, of hope, of belonging. Or even in some cases, some arms crossing over chests like, what is this guy, what is he trying to pull, what sort of trick is this?

There’s a lot in this passage. It’s going to be fun! Will I also find some connection between the lectionary choices? Sometimes you do and sometimes it is a mystery to me. No doubt there will be something surprising along the way.



Mark 8:31-38 and the cross

After I have shared a scripture in storytelling form (by heart), afterward there is this beautiful peace in my mind and heart. It can last a week or so. It is just the most quiet calm feeling. My brain, heart, body was working so hard to learn the passage and after, suddenly, a welcome silence.

Last Sunday I shared Mark 8:31-38 and it went well (I think). For the first time I used a lapel mic and that gave me more freedom to turn, although I kept my feet planted. (Some storytellers move all over of course, and maybe some day for some story I might. But I like to feel grounded.) I turned first as Peter taking Jesus aside to rebuke him; then turned the other way to show that Jesus, when rebuking Peter, was not doing it in front of everyone. Their argument was in private. In verse 34, Jesus calls the crowd and the disciples back to him (and Peter) and says, that to follow him, you have to deny yourself, and pick up your cross and follow him.” So I tried with my turning to show the various movements of the story.

Now what is “your cross”? What is my cross? What does that even mean? Does it mean face your fears? Or maybe find your joy? Or speak truth to power? Or change, move, learn, grow, do … something? Something unique to us or something everyone can do (if only we all would), like just … what? The cross was an extremely painful death, and one with shame in it. I read this murder mystery a couple weeks ago and there was a scene of the death of a death row inmate. Painful. Justice? In this particular mystery it wasn’t justice. And the inmate had a family member there, who was deeply shamed and deeply grieving a life lost, “wasted”. Her life too was shamed and wasted. Perhaps Jesus’s death on a cross was intended by the Romans, rather like our death penalty, not just to deter crimes of rebellion against the state, not just to inflict a terrible death, but to shame the “criminal” and the criminal’s family? How did that work out for the Romans?

The cross then for me – should I expect to be facing something equally painful, equally hard?

Which, you know, I don’t want to especially.

And I wonder if too many of us hear “pick up your cross” to mean “pick up your cross like a sword and swing it at people”.

I feel that it is Easter that changes me, you, the world…. Hold on to your cross and feel it, and sorrow. Envision what things would be like without that to bear, without that sorrow. Envision how to create that world, full of love and joy and hope and trust. Easter is coming.

My Story 8, and Biblical Storytelling

It was about 10 years ago that a miracle happened. I was home alone; my guys were at some sports ball practice and for some reason I didn’t go and didn’t have chores. I was just home. So I got the mail — the snail mail. And a publication called “Faith at Work” was in my mailbox for no reason that I know about. I sat down and skimmed it and got hooked in an article about Tracy Radosevic. She was a professional Biblical storyteller and her story was amazing. And she was going to be teaching a class at a Seminary fairly nearby and in a Friday-Saturday pattern. I could take the class by using just a little vacation! I went to the web site and signed up as an auditing student before my guys were even home. I never did stuff like that. I literally felt a push on my back; this, do this.

My husband has been very supportive about the storytelling from the beginning, which is great because he had to teach me how to drive to the school, in the city, in the dark, in the rain. So the second miracle is that I did learn to drive to the school. (“I meant your other left, honey,” he might have said, perhaps with tiny bit of sharpness in his voice.)

I’ve never had good first-day-of-schools and this was no exception. I drove there just fine and found the parking but then could not find the building and had no idea what to do. I might have been crying a little bit, when an angel appeared and knew where I belonged and got me there. By angel I technically mean a very kind woman, a stranger to me; but I’m pretty sure she was an angel.

The class was wonderful. (The reading, the classmates, all wonderful. The process of learning a story by heart, of imagining the story. The whole thing was wonderful.) On the last day (as best I recall) Tracy had us each tell the scripture of our choice (that we had been prepping all through out the course).

I was so deeply relieved when that was over.

But Tracy said, “That was wonderful! Now do it again! And this time try….”

And honestly I nearly fainted; I had little black spots in my vision. I was completely calm doing it once. I never dreamed I would have to do it again.

Thank God, Thank God, Thank God that she had me do it again. That I could do it again. That the words hadn’t just left my brain instantly. That I could improve. That I could feel some or a lot of stage fright and still do it. That I could do it again, to an audience that had already heard it, and have them again lean forward, listening to the word of God. It wasn’t me.

It was the glory of God.

Maybe I can’t drive very well, maybe I fall asleep during meetings, maybe “mission” always goes wrong around me (don’t even ask), maybe children take one look at me and misbehave but suddenly I had something to give, some spiritual food for others that I could enjoy and share.

For the glory of God.