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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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Chapter & verse: Mark 6: 4-11

Chapter & verse: Mark 6: 4-11

Alex Clare-Young finds a new kind of family in Jesus

In a remarkably human pair of stories, Jesus is first made to feel unwelcome in his hometown, and then tells his disciples what to do if they, too, are made to feel unwelcome in the places that they visit. The humanity of these verses is all the more extraordinary given the miraculous nature of the final third of Mark 6 – where Jesus feeds the thousands and walks on water. If Jesus is fully human and fully divine, the opening of chapter 6 depicts the wounded, scarred, marginalised and oppressed human Jesus.

I have always been drawn to this image of God cloaked in flesh. God who is born in a poor house. God whose mental health is questioned by religious leaders. God whose parents try to hide him away. God who distances himself from his parents and siblings and creates a new, chosen family – of which we are members. God who tells us to leave and not look back when we are not welcomed, or our voices are not heard. This human God is ultimately condemned simply for being himself. We can empathise, can we not?

Part of my ministry involves ‘queering the lectionary’. ‘Queering’ is a term with a complex and diverse history and academic usage that includes attempting to question or disrupt the norms of ‘traditional’ readings. It is also important for me, and some other queer theologians, to bring insights from LGBTQ+ lived experience. Queer is a controversial term, arising in part from the reclaiming of a word that has been used to attack LGBTQ+ people. Queer is a word that should never be used about another person unless they choose to use it themselves. There is no one way of being or thinking as an LGBTQ+ person. Queering the lectionary is simply a practice of reading, and writing about, scripture in ways that question ‘the way that we have always done things’, and stem from my lived experiences and understandings of scripture as a trans and queer person…

Alex Clare-Young is a doctoral researcher, and Minister of Churspacious


This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2021 edition of Reform

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