Will you follow me? Exploring the Gospel of Mark review

Will you follow me? Exploring the Gospel of Mark, by Leith Fisher (2003)
Scottish Christian Press, £11.99     ISBN 1904325033


INTRODUCTION
Actually published in 2003, this book is just what you need for the Vision4life Bible Year. So if you already have a copy, dig it out again, and if not – get one!
 
You see it happens that during Vision4life Bible Year the lectionary gospel is Mark. That means you need at least one or two good Mark books to get you through. But which ones? If you like ones with loads of footnotes, you’ll hate this. There are none. If you want an energetic, relevant and down to earth look at Mark’s gospel in a highly readable and applicable style, then choose this.
 
Leith is an experienced Church of Scotland minister and member of the Iona Community. Both of these facts shine through the book. His own experience of ministry and his commitment to discipleship through the Iona Community inform it all. This makes the book highly relevant for people trying to do ministry and discipleship during Bible Year.
 
He begins by stating the central question of Mark’s gospel: Who is Jesus? Having begun with that he follows it up with: So what? In other words, who we think Jesus is will inform both ministry and discipleship. It matters who we think Jesus is because it shapes what we do in response. Each section of the gospel is presented in a bite-sized chunks; good for sermons, for talks for discussion groups or individual reflection.
 
STRUCTURE
Leith provides plenty of ideas about what to do with Mark’s gospel. Indeed this is one of the best things about the book. It’s like a Bible Year Menu in one cover. Both individual and group study activities based on Mark’s gospel are provided at the end of each short chapter. These could easily become the Nibbles and Starters (in Bible Year menu language) that you will want to use in your own context. There is also additional material entitled ‘Pauses’ which explore in more detail a particular issue or theme relevant to that section of the text.
 
EVALUATION
Overall, Leith’s book is ideal for the Bible Year. As he says ‘We believe the church is always in need of reform and renewal. Share together what you think might need to be changed today to make the church true to its calling and relevant to our times. Begin with the local. And be bold!’ (page 104).
 
With this book you will be in good company all year as you respond to the question ‘Will you follow me?’
 
Janet Lees
10.12.2008
 
Prayer
Loving God, take our hands, take our lives,
ordinary as wheat or oatmeal, daily as bread –
our stumbling generosity, our simple actions,
and find them good enough to help prepare the feast
for all your people.
Amen.
Christian Aid, from page 113 Will you follow me?

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Images

Click on the images below from the bible year to download and use

 
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A Personal journey to V4L

A personal journey to V4L


Paul Snell

At the end of November 2005, I was invited to be a part of a small group of people from the URC representing a wide range of theological positions. We met at Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire for a 2 day consultation on the theme of "Evangelism and Spirituality in the URC".

Facilitated by the Life and Witness Committee of the URC and GEAR (Group for Evangelism And Renewal), the meeting was an initial part of the next stage of Catch The Vision (CTV). Much of the structural change part of CTV was already in process and the church generally was itching to get to the heart of what CTV was originally about-a transformation of the heart of the church to make it equipped and relevant in a society that had lost confidence in the church in the West, and yet was interested in pursuing spirituality in a variety of ways.

That meeting began a process which enabled us to open up to each other in different ways as we learnt to appreciate different theological stances and to be willing to listen to how God was speaking to us and using us in different contexts and diverse ways of worshipping and working together in our church communities. We were always open and straightforward, even in tackling thorny issues such as human sexuality, yet keen to hear the Spirit in each other and desiring to operate in grace rather than retreat into theological ghettos.

At our second meeting together we drew together the strands of previous discussions and eventually came to a dream! I can't remember exactly how we got there-which probably says something about the unity of vision we shared-but we dreamt of a 3 year period in the life of our church that would transform its heart through an emphasis in worship, preaching and teaching, home groups, and many other ways on the three themes of

Engaging again with the Bible

Rediscovering the power and value of Prayer

Finding confidence in Evangelism

The underlying theme was one of storytelling and the need for us to learn to share our stories with each other and the world. We went away from the meeting inspired and challenged-excited about the possibility that this just might be a way forward for the whole church. Could it be that we had hit on a way through the  issues which face the URC? Would the sense of "it seemed right to the Holy Spirit and us" catch on throughout our denomination?

One of our group is Revd. Dr. John Campbell, principal of Northern College in Manchester, and as we drew that meeting to a close he mentioned that he had some months of sabbatical set aside in 2007 and would be willing to give considerable time to researching and formulating the beginnings of material and resources for such a plan. And so the beginnings of what was to become known as Vision4 Life were set in place.

The result so far is that we agreed a name and logo, and have devised a programme which begins with an introductory period on into the summer of 2008. Churches will then be asked to "sign up" through use of 4 sets of material for use in worship, church and elders meetings or house groups next summer. The main programme will begin with a focus on the bible from Advent 2008. The following year we will focus on prayer, and in 2010 we will look at material on evangelism.

That seems a long way away, but there is a real feeling that this is not just some flash in the pan programme. Indeed we are seeing this more as a 'process' than a programme. The V4L team's vision is to see a radical transformation of the church-hence the strap-line in the logo. If we are to become relevant to the society in which we are set, it will take more than a programme. Hearts need to be changed-lives transformed-habits altered-vision encouraged. The plan is not to offer proscriptive materials, but a set of resources that local churches can use and adapt to suit their own context. For some they will want to simply use the materials which the team and others will produce. But for many they will already be focusing on these themes as part and parcel of who they are. We want to learn from each other and share ideas. In short, we want to see the URC excited again by the God who loves us and confident about the faith we share.

So do you have a Vision for life? 2008 will be the chance to embark on this radical step forward in company with tens of thousands of others around the country. I hope you are going to join in!

Paul Snell                    [803 words]

Note to Magazine editors and publicity people in churches -
Please feel free to 'clip' the Vision4Life LOGO from the top of the Vision4Life fact sheet 1 to use in your magazine or wherever else you are presenting Vision4Life in your local setting.

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A Guide to using this site

A Guide to using this site

This guide is designed as a help to anyone wanting to find their way around this site.

Generally links which lead to another page or a document are in blue and underlined. Sometimes there will be no underlining such as in the Bible Year menu on the right of the page. This may display differently in other browsers and will work adequately in Internet Explorer and Safari, but the recommended browser is Firefox. You can get a copy free here The home page is laid out into several main areas, and the top and right hand side areas remain throughout the rest of the site except when you click a pdf document.

Below the top Vision4Life banner is the Main Menu. When you hover your mouse over these headings you can click to that main page heading. One some headings, a further drop down menu will appear and you can slide your mouse pointer down that list and click any sub heading. On some, such as the Bible year menu, a further set of headings will appear to the side which you can also click on.

On the right you will find another menu for this years materials. This will be added to as new materials appear so you can do a quick scan to see if there is anything new that you have not seen yet.

Below this there are two further boxes. The contents of these may vary from time to time but may contain such things as Recent News, coming events, information about Forums and signing up, and other special announcements.

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Great Escape

Great Escape

To explore our response to the theme of Climate Change by reflecting on the story of the Exodus

Download Great Escape pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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Called to be peacemakers

Called to be peace makers

The call for Christians to be peacemakers is one that is emphasised by the United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship. In this material they invite us all to consider our calling as peacemakers from a biblical perspective and see how we might be more faithful to this aspect of our discipleship.

Download Peace starter pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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4 Gospels

4 Gospels

In the New Testament we have four written down version of Jesus' life we call the Four Gospels. We usually identify these by the name of the writer to which they are attributed. Each gospel has its own character and content, and whilst there is obviously some overlap of the key aspects of the story like Jesus' death and resurrection, some parts of the story are specific to one gospel only. In this starter we get an opportunity to explore what we think about these similarities and differences.

Download the Gospels pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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U turn for climate change

U turn for climate change

Climate change has become an important subject for all the world’s people. It is therefore particularly important that those of us who live in the substantially richer Western countries spend some time thinking about it and acting on what we discover. It is with this need in mind that this Bible study is offered here.


Download u-turn-for-climate-change

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Encounters in Mark

encounters in Mark's gospel a BRAND NEW resource by John Campbell

encounters in Mark's Gospel' brings you suggestions for a series of up to fifteen small-group conversations based on particular stories in Mark's Gospel. These conversations all share the same basic shape. They aim to help you, and everyone else in your group, to:

  • build up your confidence in actively exploring bits of the Bible
  • make connections between the biblical story and your own life story
  • find fresh vision for the business of being human today

all from watching and talking freely with each other about encounters between Jesus and those he meets - as we find them recorded in Mark's Gospel.

The first 13 studies and an introduction to the whole series are avalable below

Acknowledgements:

The core ideas of contextual Bible study as used in these materials come from Gerald West, notably in his book The Academy of the Poor, published by Sheffield Academic Press in 1999 and later republished by Cluster Press of Pietermaritzburg – see especially chapter 6.

A worked example of the contextual approach, using the story of the widow’s mite in Mark 12.40-45, can be found in a web article, ‘Structural Sin: a South African Perspective’ by Gerald West at:

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading for Bible Year

Why not let the Bible Year and Reform inform your summer time reading this year?There are an interesting number of books recently mentioned in Reform that link with the Bible Year which make good reading this summer.
Featured in a recent Reform, Jesus and the Eye Witnesses won the Michael Ramsay prize for 2009. It considers the role of eyewitnesses in the forming the written gospels.
In this months summer time Reform for July and August there’s an interesting article by Eric Eve on Jesus as a healer, linked to his book The Healer of Nazareth.
Another popular and rather different book is Sisters of Sinai. Janet Soskice writes the first to two articles about it in this month’s Reform. It is about the life and work of the two women who founded Westminster College, Cambridge and who were well known biblical scholars. It traces their journeys across the Middle East hunting for early biblical manuscripts. A real page-turner!

So why not spent some time reading this summer and plan some book group discussions linked to the bible Year this autumn.

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Making a Video Diary

One popular feature of reality TV is the video diary through which ordinary people are able to record their experiences and responses to being minor celebrities for a short time. In this activity we combine a number of things to record our ordinary experiences of Holy Week as Jesus disciples, our memories of then and our thoughts for now, using the medium of a video diary. This activity can be done by an individual or a group.

Create your own diary using video or other media to think through the events of Holy Week, Pentecost or any other time of the year

Download the video diary worksheet (pdf)
The sample video diary below is based on the cross - press the play button

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Bible Picnic

Bible Picnic

Would you like to explore the Bible outdoors for the end of the summer – or even the autumn. This could be anything from extreme Bible-ing, where you read the Bible in a range of highly inaccessible places (like extreme ironing but don’t take the clothes, the ironing board or the iron) or something as straightforward as a Bible picnic. After all, eating together outside often features in the Gospels, so why not try it your selves.

Download the pdf document bible-picnic

Download picnic-booklet-a5-low-res an example of a Picnic in the Park, organised by Waverley URC

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The Four Friends

This all age study explores the theme of friendship and inlcudes work-sheets for colouring in.

Download The Four Friends pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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Getting Creative with Creation

Getting Creative with Creation

This all age session makes use of multi-sensory techniques to discover new things about creation and is an alternative way into the main course "In the Beginning".

Download the Getting Creative with Creation pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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Bible smells

Bible smells

In this all age study we explore the variety of smells we encounter in the Bible and in our lives as a focus for sharing in faith and prayer.

This bible study is in three possible parts. You might want to do all three parts or just one or two parts. This might depend on the ages and abilities of the group members taking part. It would all fit into about 2 hours, with breaks for refreshments.

Download the Bible Smells pdf

Select from the menu on the right or view the Bible Year Menu Card

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24/7 Holy Week Prayer event

NEW! - Download pdf posters for use during 24-7 prayer event by clicking the images below

 

 

247 cross tree1

 

 

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Seasons - Harvest and Remembrance

In preparation for the autumn, here are a number of resources for Harvest and Remembrance.

Harvest

Agape Meal prayer

This provides a prayer that invites God to our communal/celebratory meals. It was written for use at a TLS weekend away. Instead of taking communion together at the end of the weekend, we combined our final meal and act of worship together.

Download HarvestRememb-agape meal prayer.pdf

Fresh Prayerful Harvest

The aim of this piece is to restore integrity to prayer in the context of harvest thanksgiving and to save it from being either a guilt flavoured extension to Christian Aid week or a warm-up for One World week later in the Autumn.

Download HarvestRememb-fresh prayerful harvest.pdf

Green Pastures meditation

This provides a meditation that can be used by individuals or groups at any time

Download HarvestRememb-green pastures.pdf

Harvest Resources from the Arthur Rank Centre

The Arthur Rank Centre at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire supports Rural Mission. Here are some of their resources for Harvest that you might find useful. They can also be downloaded from http://www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk

Download HarvestRememb-harvest resources from ARC.pdf

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Seasons - Ascension and Pentecost

Eagle Soaring Prayer

To provide some reflection and meditation on the theme of Eagle Soaring Prayer for use by individuals or small groups.

Download Eagle soaring prayer.pdf

Prayers from Holy Island

Occasionally there is a numinous quality to the air on Holy Island and the sense of it brings an apprehension of the Spirit who pervades all created things.

As this piece developed the idea of the Pentecost Spirit as the prodigal father took shape. Scandalously throwing aside all dignity he welcomes the home comers after thousands, maybe millions, of years of dwelling at a distance.

Download prayers from Holy Island.pdf
There are 3 photos to accompany this item below. They are all in jpg format. To download, left-click the thumbnail below and then right click the picture and select "Save image as" or "Save picture as" and choose the folder where you wish to save the image.

[nggallery id=3]

Prayer and the Holy Spirit

A biblical reflection and prayer on the Holy Spirit as the agent of prayer, for use by individuals or small groups.

Download prayer and holy spirit.pdf

Prospects for Ascension

Here are three items for use with people of all ages and abilities based around the bible story of the man lowered through the roof: some ‘let me tell you’ stories, a bible study and some suggestions for prayer.

Download Prospects for Ascension.pdf

Understanding our Father

To help us understand better that the One we are praying to is a loving Father who delights in us and wants the very best for us. You can use this with a group or individually.

Download Understanding our Father.pdf

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Prayer Year Menu

The selections below will take you direct to the downloadable resources but it is recommended that you first visit the Prayer Year pages using the main menu above or by clicking the images to find summaries of each resource and links to additional items needed for some of the resources
 
Looking towards Advent
NEW Download Advent Candles.pdf
Prayer Stations - Gospel Beginnings
Prayer Stations - Gospel Beginnings set up
 
 
Prayer and the Bible
Jesus and the church at prayer study1
Praying with the bible
Bible storytelling
Lords prayer
Praying with psalms
Prayer Station including
Pieces for Life and Prayer Stations for Climate Change
Prayer station1
Patterns of Prayer including
Daily prayer and A simple pattern
Prayer Crafts
Prayercrafts 1
Prayer garden
Prayer Year and Art
Other Prayer Toolkit items
 
Prayer walk Growing with Jesus
Prayer walk - Love
Prayer walk - Stillness
Gateways into Prayer
Booklet of Every Day Prayers
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Prayer Station Resource

Click the thumbnails below to download the graphics to go with Prayer Stations. Please note that these files are between 4 and 8Mb.

Barley
BBC
Beach
Butterfly
Hills
Kings Cross
Maths
Mist
Shadows
Shepherd1
Shepherd2
 
Clouds
New Prayer 1
New Prayer 2
 

Town 2

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