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St Mark (St Mark's Day - 25 April)

To reflect on how Mark changed as a result of getting to know Jesus.

by Gill Hartley

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect on how Mark changed as a result of getting to know Jesus.

Preparation and materials

  • A modern version of the New Testament from which to read 2 Corinthians 11.25-27. The Good News Bible version is included below.

Assembly

  1. Ask if there is anyone present called Mark. Tell the children that today is a special day for everyone called Mark as it is St Mark's Day, the day on which many Christians remember one of Jesus' special followers. If there is a child called Mark present, you may like to tell them briefly of the practice in some other countries of 'name days', where a saint's day with the same name as yours is regarded almost as another birthday.

  2. Ask the children if they can name any other saints. If there are any Cubs or Brownies, etc., they may have heard of St Andrew, St David, St George and St Patrick.

  3. Ask the children if they can explain what a saint is. Summarize the variety of answers you receive by reminding them that saints are generally thought to be men and women who believe in God and who know him specially well. Point out that many religions recognize special people in this way. You could also say that the Bible says that all Christians are supposed to try to be saints. Does that mean they should all be old and dull and boring? The children might find an answer to that by the end of the assembly.

  4. Tell the children you are going to read them a story about St Mark. Tell the story of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane from Mark 14.27-52, or use the version below.

    Jesus is arrested
    by Gill Hartley
    (based on Mark 14.27-52)

    Jesus had just eaten his last meal with his special friends. They got up from the table and went outside to a quiet garden so that Jesus could be alone to think. He knew what was going to happen to him and he needed time to pray to his father, God.

    When they reached the garden, Jesus left his friends sitting on the grass and walked on a little further with his three closest friends, Peter, James and John. He asked them to keep watch while he went off a short distance by himself to pray. When he came back, he found his three friends had fallen asleep. He woke them up and asked them to keep watch again while he went off to pray, but the same thing happened again. In fact it happened three times altogether!

    When Jesus came back for the third time, a crowd of men suddenly appeared, all armed with swords or clubs. There was a lot of shouting and noise. A man ran forward from the crowd and Jesus' friends recognized him as Judas, who had been one of his special followers. They did not know that Judas had arranged to betray Jesus to the crowd.

    Jesus stood quite still as the crowd grabbed hold of him. They were all talking and shouting at once. Jesus' friends were terrified and in the noise and confusion they slipped away unnoticed through the trees. As they went, a young man aged about 17 ran out. All he had on was a simple cloth around his middle - a loincloth. He stopped dead. It was too late! Jesus had already been arrested and was being led away. One of the armed men tried to grab the young man. He reached out and caught hold of the loincloth, but the young man twisted out of his grasp and ran away, leaving the loincloth behind, while he ran off down the hill - with nothing on!

  5. Ask the children where Mark was in that story. They might guess that he was the young man. Ask them if he was brave in the story. Hopefully they will agree that he was not!

  6. Explain that Mark did in fact become brave when he was older. He travelled all over the Roman empire with another Christian called Paul, telling people about Jesus. Together they faced all sorts of dangers. Paul wrote about some of the dangers he faced in a letter he sent to some Christians in a place called Corinth. Read Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 11.25-27. Did these saints lead dull lives?

    Three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from fellow-Jews and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. (2 Corinthians 11.25-27, GNB)

Time for reflection

Introduce a guided reflection by lighting a candle. If a candle is not a regular part of an assembly, you may like to explain its use by reminding the children how they light candles on their birthday cakes on their special days. This is St Mark's special day so we are going to light a candle to help us think of him.

Think about the young man, Mark.
He started frightened ... and he ended up brave.
Think about being brave ...
It's not very easy to face all kinds of dangers.
Sometimes it seems easier to run away.
Mark ran away in the Garden when Jesus was arrested.
But later with his friend Paul he faced 'dangers in the cities,
dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas,
dangers from false friends …'
What changed him?
Think of your own answer in a moment of silence.

Song/music

'The journey of life' (Come and Praise, 45)

Acknowledgements

Scriptures quoted from the Good News Bible published by The Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

Publication date: April 2002   (Vol.4 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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