find a wonder-full christmas with a more honest advent.

For the forty days of Lent, FUMC Austin is following Jesus through the Gospel of Mark. The shortest and earliest of the four Gospels, Mark moves through the Jesus story with an urgent focus on action. Mark writes for a world that is shaped by violence and fear, one desperate for the revelation of God’s kin-dom and the reign of love. Use the daily reading plan linked below and take in the Jesus story according to Mark from beginning to end. Choose a familiar or favorite translation of the Bible, or experiment and read from several. What we will find is good news for Mark’s contemporaries and for all of us, good news that can shape our lives, good news that can transform the world.


From Ash Wednesday through Holy Week, we are posting a daily devotional here. These brief messages might include a snippet of scripture, a prayer, poem, song, or short exercise to help you examine your relationship with God and center yourself for a few minutes as we walk through the Gospel of Mark and follow the Jesus story from beginning to Easter.  Read along each day or pick and choose the ones that speak to you as part of your practice of spiritual disciplines in this season. If you prefer to get these daily devotionals delivered by email straight to your inbox, use the button below to subscribe.

Ash Wednesday

Genesis 2:4b-7
Mark 1:1-13

What if Ash Wednesday isn’t about a pronouncement? What if, instead, Ash Wednesday is ASK Wednesday, a time to create space for the elemental questions that we all have, imperfect creatures made of soil and star dust as we are, for the God who made us? Miren C, Tirabassi’s poetry explores this idea.


Day 2

Mark 1:14-28

The root word of translation mean “to carry across.” If you have a chance, read this passage from the beginning of Mark in a more familiar translation of the New Testament and then reread the scripture from this First Nations Version. What are the gifts of language that each translation carries across time and culture to you tonight?


Day 3

Mark 1:29-45

Pastor and writer Nadia Bolz-Weber writes, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Kingdom of God is like a ‘no leper left behind’ program.” What does that mean? Who would you stand in solidarity with? Explore how your own personal “purity laws” might shape who you want to wash your hands of and who you will embrace.


Day 4

Mark 2:1-13

Receive this “Blessing For When You Realize Everyone is Struggling,” from historian, podcaster, and writer Kate Bowler, author of Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved


Day 5

MARK 2:14-22

. The invitation to God’s table is always a gracious one. When we are lonely, hurting, heartsick, pushed to your limits or marginalized, stuck in a cycle or unable to find your way, the good news is that there is a place for us. Take three minutes to listen to The Many sing “All Belong Here.”


Day 6

MARK 2:23-3:12

Again and again in the early chapters of Mark’s gospel, Jesus rejects the binary nature of what is permitted or not permitted, what is socially acceptable and what is not. How is the Spirit calling you to dance with her in this Lenten season? 


Day 7

MARK 3:13-35

“Come and be still,” says the Holy. Linger in Love’s presence. Let striving cease. Accept what is, for what is. Read on for the rest of the poem/blessing called “Be Still” by M Jade Kaiser.


Day 8

MARK 4:1-25

It is tempting to think that we are always the good soil. But if we are honest—and Lent is a season for honesty—we, too, are capable of answering the hospitality of strangers with violence. We, too, sometimes listen attentively to the good news and then run the other way. How will we let it take root in us?


Day 9

MARK 4:26-41

At Lent, the church often asks people to slow down, to quiet their lives, to listen intently for God speaking to them. Yesterday we confessed that we don’t always even try to do that deep listening. But when we do, how do we know when we are hearing from God? Take three minutes to listen to spoken word poet Amena Brown offer her own answer to that question.


Day 10

MARK 5:1-20

Have you ever gone home again after a long absence and found that your family is expecting you to be who you were when you left? Jesus also turned to chosen family. Read the linked poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, the daughter of a Palestinean refugee. How is Gate 4-A an image of the kin-dom of God?


Day 11

MARK 5:21-43

Read “The Scandalous Gospel According to a Bleeding Woman: A Retelling,” written by scholar and womanist theologian, Wilda Gafney. In what ways does this retelling reshape the scripture for you? What have you or would you risk for a chance to heal that brokenness?


Day 12

MARK 6:1-13

God, today both the beautiful and the terrible are so intensely present. This blessing by Kate Bowler speaks to that reality. Whether your day is beautiful, terrible, or both at the same time, read and be blessed.


Day 13

MARK 6:14-32

Simply put, hermeneutics is the interpretation of language, either spoke or written. The folk etymology of the term says that it is related to the Greek god Hermes, who was the messenger of the gods and an inveterate inventor of language—an interpreter, liar, thief, and trickster. How does interpreting scripture sometimes feel like the work of a trickster?


Day 14

MARK 6:33-44

The creators of the King James Bible offered a translation of the Bible that intentionally told the Jesus story with care not to disrupt certain norms and power structures. Enter Herodias, the “bad guy” in Mark’s account of the death of John the Baptist. But why might she be angry? And who benefits from portraying her as irrationally vindictive and cruel? 


Day 15

MARK 6:45-56

Who can you think of that reminds you of a modern day John the Baptist? Who are the wild ones of faith? How comfortable are you with the life and witness of someone who lives their faith through resistance? 


Day 16

MARK 7:1-23

We have linked alternate words to the traditional Lord’s Pryaer. As you pray at meal times or bed times or any time you can make to pray, work this prayer into your practice. Try these words on with intention. How do they feel? What resistance do they raise in you? What freedom do they offer you?