2021 – A year with Mark in art, prayer, and group reflection

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.

opening page of Mark’s gospel in the Lindisfarne Gospels, circa 700.

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 1:1-13The River by John August Swanson. See also, this video of the artist describing the piece.
Mark 1:14-28The Calling of Andreas by Dick Tulp
Mark 1:29-45Isenheim 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 2:1-12The Palsied Man by James Tissot
Mark 2:13-22The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
Mark 2:23-3:6God Reposing on the Sabbath by Vasiliy Koren
Mark 3:7-19aSermon at the Seaside by Nyoman Darsane
Mark 3:19b-35Christ Cleansing the Temple by Bernardino Mei
Mark 4:1-20Seeder by Morfai
Mark 4:21-34The Parable of the Mustard Seed by James Paterson
Mark 4:35-41Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt
Mark 5:1-20The Possessed by Fritz Eichenberg
Mark 5:21-34The Healing of the Woman with a Flow of Blood by Julia Stankova
Mark 5:21-24,35-43The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter by Gabriel Max
Mark 6:1-13There will be no Miracles Here by Nathan Coley
Mark 6:14-29Beheading of John the Baptist by Caravaggio
Mark 6:30-44Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Francesco Bassano II
Mark 6:45-56Christ Walking on Water by Bro. Julius Olsson Nordfeldt
Mark 7:1-23Christ and the Pharisees by Anthony van Dyck
Mark 7:24-30Crumbs of Love by Michael Cook
Mark 7:31-37Healing of the Deaf and Dumb Man by Julia Stankova
Mark 8:1-9:1Jesus Healing the Blind Man by Eduourd Léon Edy-Legrand
Mark 9:2-13The Transfiguration by Theophanes the Greek
Mark 9:14-29The Exorcism in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 166r, the Musée Condé, Chantilly
Mark 9:30-50Christ Blessing the Children by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Mark 10:1-16The Lovers II by Rene Magritte
Mark 10:17-34Composite Camel with Attendant attributed to Iran, Khurasan
Mark 10:35-52Christ Healing the Blind by Domenico Fiasella
Mark 11:1-11Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 by James Ensor
Mark 11:12-19Christ and the Money Changers by Anthea Craigmyle
Mark 11:20-33Jesus Curses the Fig Tree by Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib
Mark 12:1-12The Exploiters by Diego Rivera
Mark 12:13-34The Tribute by Jacek Malczewski
Mark 12:35-13:2The Widow’s Mite by William Artaud and Jean Marie Delattre
Mark 13:1-37The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez
Mark 14:1-11The Ointment of Nard by Arcabas
Mark 14:12-31Café Terrace at Night by Vincent van Gogh
Mark 14:32-42Christ’s Agony in the Garden by Walter Hancock (see video at 4:50-6:50)
Mark 14:43-52The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio
Mark 14:53-72Denial of St. Peter by Caravaggio
Mark 15:1-20Jesus Mocked by Soldiers by Édouard Manet
Mark 15:21-39Crucifixion by Renato Guttuso
Mark 15:40-47The Entombment by Rembrandt
Mark 16:1-8The Women Going to the Sepulchre by Robert Anning Bell


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