I came to my current congregation in June 2020 in the height of the pandemic. At the time there were no in person worship gatherings, and in addition to a livestream of Sunday worship, the congregation had started small groups meeting on Zoom. One of those was a Thursday evening vespers service, with scripture, prayers, and music. It was a lovely respite in the midst of uncertainty.
In 2021 we read through the gospel of Mark (the gospel for lectionary year b) in vespers and I paired each reading with a piece of artwork for reflection, an adapted process of visio divina. Each week we used guiding questions as an opening into group reflection, including:
- Breathe deeply as you continue to gaze upon the image.
- What catches your eye?
- What draws your attention in the passage?
- Notice colors, movements, imagery, relationships.
- What questions does the image or the story invoke for you?
- Does the image or the passage remind you of an experience, person, or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession?
- Do you sense an invitation from God?
I am not an art historian and the artwork I’ve chosen reflects my own interests and often includes pieces of art I’ve encountered myself. It was a great journey through Mark and art, and I’m looking forward to 2022 as we dive into the gospel of Luke.
Here are the readings and the works of art for the year 2021.
Mark 1:1-13 – The River by John August Swanson. See also, this video of the artist describing the piece.
Mark 1:14-28 – The Calling of Andreas by Dick Tulp
Mark 1:29-45 – Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald and Isenheim Field by Darren Waterston (using a photo of the artwork I took in 2015 that can be found in the appendix of my paper, The Revealing Gaze.
Mark 2:1-12 – The Palsied Man by James Tissot
Mark 2:13-22 – The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
Mark 2:23-3:6 – God Reposing on the Sabbath by Vasiliy Koren
Mark 3:7-19a – Sermon at the Seaside by Nyoman Darsane
Mark 3:19b-35 – Christ Cleansing the Temple by Bernardino Mei
Mark 4:1-20 – Seeder by Morfai
Mark 4:21-34 – The Parable of the Mustard Seed by James Paterson
Mark 4:35-41 – Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt
Mark 5:1-20 – The Possessed by Fritz Eichenberg
Mark 5:21-34 – The Healing of the Woman with a Flow of Blood by Julia Stankova
Mark 5:21-24,35-43 – The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Gabriel Max
Mark 6:1-13 – There will be no Miracles Here by Nathan Coley
Mark 6:14-29 – Beheading of John the Baptist by Caravaggio
Mark 6:30-44 – Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Francesco Bassano II
Mark 6:45-56 – Christ Walking on Water by Bro. Julius Olsson Nordfeldt
Mark 7:1-23 – Christ and the Pharisees by Anthony van Dyck
Mark 7:24-30 – Crumbs of Love by Michael Cook
Mark 7:31-37 – Healing of the Deaf and Dumb Man by Julia Stankova
Mark 8:1-9:1 – Jesus Healing the Blind Man by Eduourd Léon Edy-Legrand
Mark 9:2-13 – The Transfiguration by Theophanes the Greek
Mark 9:14-29 – The Exorcism in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 166r, the Musée Condé, Chantilly
Mark 9:30-50 – Christ Blessing the Children by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Mark 10:1-16 – The Lovers II by Rene Magritte
Mark 10:17-34 – Composite Camel with Attendant attributed to Iran, Khurasan
Mark 10:35-52 – Christ Healing the Blind by Domenico Fiasella
Mark 11:1-11 – Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 by James Ensor
Mark 11:12-19 – Christ and the Money Changers by Anthea Craigmyle
Mark 11:20-33 – Jesus Curses the Fig Tree by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib
Mark 12:1-12 – The Exploiters by Diego Rivera
Mark 12:13-34 – The Tribute by Jacek Malczewski
Mark 12:35-13:2 – The Widow’s Mite by William Artaud and Jean Marie Delattre
Mark 13:1-37 – The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez
Mark 14:1-11 – The Ointment of Nard by Arcabas
Mark 14:12-31 – Café Terrace at Night by Vincent van Gogh
Mark 14:32-42 – Christ’s Agony in the Garden by Walter Hancock (see video at 4:50-6:50)
Mark 14:43-52 – The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio
Mark 14:53-72 – Denial of St. Peter by Caravaggio
Mark 15:1-20 – Jesus Mocked by Soldiers by Édouard Manet
Mark 15:21-39 – Crucifixion by Renato Guttuso
Mark 15:40-47 – The Entombment by Rembrandt
Mark 16:1-8 – The Women Going to the Sepulchre by Robert Anning Bell