Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

On January 17, Pastor Dave conducted a Third Wednesday Discussion which focused on the "Hymn of Promise" by Natalie Sleeth.  The last stanza reads:

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

To watch the video of the discussion click here, if it doesn't appear.

Don't forget to come tonight!  Potluck 5:30 Program 6:15

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Luke 17-19

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


James 5: 15-16 This payer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven. So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed.  The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.

The prayer of the righteousness is powerful and effective.

It is Advent as I'm writing this.  thinking about Lent during Advent is curious.  In December, Dan Hudson wrote in the Newsletter about Advent being a time of anticipation and hope as we await the celebration of the birth of Christ.  It occurs to me that Lent is a similar time of anticipation, preparation and hope as we await the celebration of Jesus' resurrection after his crucifixion.

It also occurs to me that in a different context, we spend much of our time waiting---in traffic, at the check-out lines, for elevators, and a myriad other ways.  Frequently, these times are at least annoying, if not frustrating or infuriating.  A total waste of time, we say, and time is such a precious commodity in our busy lives.

Perhaps we can re-frame these frustrating moments and use them more constructively.  Take the opportunity to say a prayer or two for a sick friend, or one who is going through difficult times.  Maybe a prayer of thanksgiving to a loving God who supplies all our needs, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Perhaps listening for an answer to previous prayer.  These opportunities occur every day, and we might find ourselves growing closer to God by using them more positively.

Our Father, help us to use these moments in each day to draw closer to you.  In your Son's name we pray.  Amen.

Printed with permission of Nina Fish from St. Mark Presbyterian's 2000 Lenten Devotional.

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Luke 14-16

Monday, February 19, 2018

Marion Medical Mission: Elizabeth

St. Mark donated $3275 to MMM with Christmas Alternatives, which will fund 8 new wells in Africa this year.  Kimberly Richey is coming to speak to St. Mark’s Adult Sunday School class on Palm Sunday on March 25th at 9:20.  Today, Kimberly shares some of her memories.

A well installation with Marion Medical Mission is a life-changing moment, as much for the volunteers as for the villagers who will use the well.  Every single time a well shares its first drops of clean water, the village breaks into cheers, tears and singing. 98 year-old Elizabeth overcame pain of severe arthritis to walk down a steep hill to celebrate when her village's well was installed. Even though the terrain was rough and it took her a long time to reach the well site, Elizabeth wasn't about to miss this special occasion.  This well answered prayers of her entire lifetime! She's prayed over several generations of children who were ill from drinking unclean water -  she's attended too many funerals!  She's lived to see a major change for the entire village!

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Luke 11-13

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Worship Prayers for Feb. 11

CENTERING PRAYER:  God of glory, I greet you at the dawning of this day.  Let my life proclaim Christ Jesus and the good news of the gospel from the rising of the sun to its setting; to the glory of your name.  Amen.

The glory of God shines like a consuming fire.                    
         We have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The voice of God thunders like a mighty storm.
         Out of the cloud, God speaks: This is my beloved Son; listen to him!
Come! Let us worship our living God together.

God of all glory, beauty, and grace, we have tried to hide from you—to hide our faces, to hide our sin—yet you have never hidden your love for us.  We have tried to search for you—in temples, in clouds, on mountaintops—yet you have already revealed yourself to us in the face of Jesus Christ.  Forgive us, and transform us so that our lives may shine with your glory, beauty, and grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (Silent Confession)

† AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (Apostles’ Creed)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.


SCRIPTURE READING                                             Mark 9:2-9

For Pastor Burgess sermon "Glimpses of Glory", click here.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What Would We Do?

Luke 9:48 Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, also welcomes the one who sent me.  For the one who is least among you is the greatest.

What would we do if Jesus came to town? 
Would we believe his preaching or tear him down? 
What would we say about this man we see? 
Would we compliment his ideas or doubt his ability? 
And if he called on us to help his plight,
Would we have excuses or join his fight?

Is not each new person we meet a child of God-a reason to be kind when we speak?

Perhaps we are called in a more subtle way to follow our Lord, to let him stay.

Dear Lord, help me be kind to those I meet; help my life reflect your ways.

Reprinted with permission of Renee Vetter from St. Mark Presbyterian's Lenten Devotional 2000

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Luke 9-10

Friday, February 16, 2018

Feasting on the Word: Never Again!

This Adult class with Candyce Cranston, meets Sunday, 9:30-10:15 AM in Fellowship Hall.  Join us.
February 18 ‘Never Again!’

Genesis 9:8-17New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.[a] 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”


  1. Genesis 9:10 Gk: Heb adds every animal of the earth
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Luke 6-8

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Are We There Yet?

I remember going on long road trips with my family when I was a child. Normally, my parents would
wake up all the children around four in the morning, lead us to our big blue Dodge van, and encourage us to go back to sleep. I would wake up somewhere in the middle of Tennessee or Indiana and ask the familiar question, “Are we there yet?” The answer I received is the same one I give to my children when we travel, “No, but we’re getting closer.”

We are starting this Lenten Journey together as a congregation this week, and we know we are nowhere near the destination, but I hope the travel brings us closer together and closer to God. Part of today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel traces Jesus’ lineage on his earthly father side all the way back to the first man, Adam. If you remember reading this passage from the King James Version, you’re likely to recall a lot of “begetting” going on. One might wonder why both Matthew and Luke include Jesus’ very extensive family tree, and there are a lot of theories about this. I think it is enough for us today to see God had a salvation plan in place from the very beginning. Jesus’ arrival time on this earth is part of the much larger divine message that God will not let anything separate us from God’s love (Romans 8.)

Over the next few weeks, we will certainly wonder, “Are we there yet?” The answer will be, “No, but we’re getting closer.” More than this, may this season remind us all that we are not the ones at the wheel. God is driving, God knows where we need to go, and, ultimately, God will bring us home. This season starts in the ashes of death and concludes in the lilies of resurrection. May we all trust that the Lord is God of it all.

In Hope and Confidence,

Pastor Dave

Read the Gospels in 40 Days:  Luke 3-5 (click the link for the scripture reading)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Hopes and Fears

“Hopes and Fears”
“When you plant a seed in the ground, it does not sprout to life unless it dies.”
1 Corinthians 15:36

The ancient tradition of Ash Wednesday carries with it an interesting twist of symbolism. The ashes, representing the penance and contrition – the bankruptcy of human attempts for salvation, are derived from an interesting source.

In Roman and Orthodox churches, some of the palms from the prior year’s Palm Sunday celebration are saved and burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. It is a symbolic way of saying that even the highest and best aspirations that we have are ultimately “fit for fire.” Palm Sunday, after all, is our attempt at celebration and exultations. It is our highest aspiration for welcoming the reign of God in human life.

During Holy Week, It took only five days to see that our aspirations do not make the stuff of salvation. The crowd’s cries of “Hosanna” needed less than a week to turn into cries of “Crucify Him.” We, with our best intent, cannot accept God.

Ash Wednesday reminds us of all that. It reminds us that we, of our own power, fail each time. Yet in God’s plan for salvation there is a pattern; in the words of the creed, “life, suffering, death, burial and Resurrection.” That is the path for Jesus and for us.

Several years ago as I prepared to participate in his funeral, I was trying to remember the gift a friend had given me. In the end, what I thought he did for me, was that he stood by my side while dreams died. I thought and do think that to be the holiest of tasks for a human – to see another through the path laid out by Jesus in Holy Week.

Ash Wednesday calls us not just to give up excess, not just sin or evil It calls us to give up completely – even our dreams and aspirations. It is through this pattern, along the path and not around it, that God accomplishes Resurrection. Surely God’s promise of new life exceeds any hope or goal we might generate on our own. We reach that goal by staying on the path He set out for us.

Printed from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1998 Lenten Devotional with Larry Jackman's permission

Read the Gospels in 40 Days:  Luke 1-2  (Click on the scripture for the link)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lenten Challenge

We all know February 14 is Valentine’s Day, but it also kicks off the Lenten Season this year as Ash Wednesday falls on the same day. It will be a delicate balance between cards, candy, and flowers on one side and sackcloth, ashes, and penitence on the other. I believe this “double-booking” allows all of us to examine the true meaning of love. The biblical witness tells us love is more of a lasting commitment than a fleeting emotion. It is far more about sacrifice than sugary treats or saccharine Hallmark cards.
  • “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another” (John 15:9-17, NRSV.)
I want to challenge you to do something different this Lent. Lots of people give something up like sugary sweets or meat on Friday (it’s Filet-O-Fish Season.) Others do something extra like volunteering with children, writing letters to the homebound, or reading the Bible every day. For the past decade, I have encouraged members to drink only clean tap water for the 40 days of Lent. Giving up the morning trip to Starbucks or the evening glass of wine might be a tall task for some, but it will help us comprehend how much money we spend on beverages. Moreover, we can use the money we save to support agencies like the Marion Medical Mission who dig wells across Africa. We are blessed to have clean water in our community, and this challenge helps us to understand the needs of those who have less and support groups who are working to provide living water for all God’s children.
We will present our gifts the Sunday after Easter and have a special celebration. I hope you will join me and the St. Mark family as we take the Lenten Challenge together.
In Hope and Confidence,
Pastor Dave

Monday, February 12, 2018

Read the Gospels in 40 Days

There are a few small typos---Day 4 and Chapters 14-16 are missing for the Gospel of Luke. Each day on the blog, we will have a link at the bottom which will take you directly to the passages for the day.  But, if you wish to print this chart, please make those corrections.