From Fear to Bravery
St Mark’s Day is on 25 April
by Gill Hartley (revised, originally published in 2002)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect upon how Mark changed as a result of getting to know Jesus.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the following Bible passages:
- Mark 14.27-52, available at: https://tinyurl.com/24zdcyyy
- 2 Corinthians 11.25-27, available at: https://tinyurl.com/2xxux7j3
Optional: you may wish to use readers for these passages.
- Optional: you may wish to light a candle for the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly, in which case you will also need the means to do so.
- Ask the students whether they can define the word ‘saint’.
You may wish to listen to some suggestions or allow discussion in groups.
- The Oxford Dictionary has two definitions for the word ‘saint’: ‘a person that the Christian Church recognizes as being very holy, because of the way they have lived or died’ and ‘a very good, kind or patient person’.
Saints are generally thought to be people who believe in God and know him especially well.
Point out that many religions recognize special people in this way. Most of us will have heard of St Nicholas (Santa!) or the patron saints, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick and St David.
- Ask if there is anyone present called Mark.
Explain that St Mark’s Day, the day on which many Christians remember one of Jesus’ disciples, is celebrated on 25 April every year.
- Tell Mark’s story of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14.27-52 or read the version below.
Jesus Is Arrested
Jesus had just eaten his last meal with his close 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 most of 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 discovered that the three of them 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 and clubs. There was a lot of shouting and noise. A man ran forward from the crowd and Jesus’ friends recognized him as Judas, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. They didn’t 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 left, a young man of about 17, wearing only a loincloth, ran out and then stopped dead. It was too late! Jesus had already been arrested and was being led away. One of the armed men grabbed at the young man and caught hold of his loincloth. However, the young man twisted out of his grasp and ran away naked, leaving the loincloth behind.
- Explain that many people believe that the young runaway in the story was the Mark who people remember on St Mark’s Day.
In this story, he doesn’t seem particularly brave, given that he ran away, but he did 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 that he faced in a letter that he sent to some Christians in a place called Corinth.
Read Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 11.25-27: ‘Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.’
Time for reflection
Optional: you may wish to light a candle.
Introduce a guided reflection by saying, ‘This is St Mark’s special day, so we are going to light a candle to help us think of him.’
Ask the students to think about the young man, Mark. He started off frightened, but he ended up being brave.
Ask the students to think about being brave. It’s not easy to face danger. Sometimes, it can seem easier to run away. Mark ran away in the garden when Jesus was arrested, but later, with his friend Paul, he faced ‘danger from bandits . . . in the city . . . at sea . . . and from false believers.’
Ask the students what might have changed Mark.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Ask the students to consider some of the things that frighten them. Emphasize that at some point, all of us feel fearful or anxious.
Encourage the students to think of steps that they might take as they overcome their fears.
Mark worked alongside Paul and that helped him to overcome his fears. Are we people who can help others to overcome their own fears? How could we do this?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Some slow, peaceful music. An example is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBqUVcbBZxs (6.37 minutes long)