Monday, December 4, 2023

Christmas Joy Offering

What child is this? Jesus Christ, a perfect gift from a gracious God.

Through the Christmas Joy Offering, we reflect God’s perfect gift to us, with generous support of church leaders among us—past, present, and future—who have pointed us to God.

We honor and celebrate leaders like retired pastors, church workers and their families who have faithfully guided and led us but who now find themselves in critical financial need. We honor and celebrate emerging leaders like students in schools and colleges equipping communities of color, who develop leadership skills as they pursue their education and prepare to bring their gifts in service to the world God loves so much.

Let’s continue St. Mark’s tradition of strongly supporting the Christmas Joy Offering. Use the envelope in your packet or simply designate the Joy Offering in the memo line on your check made out to St. Mark.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Worship Prayers Dec. 3



God of power unexpected, we want you to tear open the heavens and come down; to make mountains quake, water boil, and starts to fall until all nations tremble at your presence! We know you will not perform according to our wants and whims. Instead, you come like the sound of sheer silence: Thin. Quiet. Instead you are born among us as an infant. Instead you show us how love is made perfect in weakness. So, we will stay alert, or at least we will try, because we are your people and there is no other God besides you. Amen.





Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday in which we recall the hope we have in Christ. The prophets of Israel all spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a savior would be born, a king in the line of David.  They spoke of how he would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.

On Christmas day the Christ of our hope was born.  On Good Friday the Christ of our hope died.  On Easter day the Christ of our hope rose from the dead.  He then ascended into heaven.  On the last day, the Christ of our hope will come again to establish his kingdom over all things on earth.

As the follower of Christ, we await his return. We light this candle to remember that as he came to us as humbly in the manger at Bethlehem and gave light to the world, so he is coming again in power to deliver his people. We light this candle to remind us to be alert and to watch for his return.

(Light the First Candle)





God-with-us, even in Advent, we confess you can seem too far away. You are hidden when we need you near. In our hurt, doubt, and fear, we do not try to draw close to you; instead, we lash out – against you, our neighbor, even those we love. Forgive us, we pray, and come to save us! Let your face shine until our tears are dried, our sins are faded, and our hope is restored. After all, we belong to you, and in your hands, we can be made new. We pray this in Jesus’ name. (Silent Confession)






Invitation to the Offering


God enriches us in every way – in speech, knowledge, and spiritual gifts. From the fellowship of Jesus Christ, we are sent out to share with thanksgiving what we have received.


Prayer after Offering


Let us pray. Faithful God, we thank you that Christ is being revealed in every time and place until he comes again in the fullness of glory. Strengthen our testimony and spiritual gifts; increase generosity in us, we pray, as we wait for the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Scripture for December 2 and 3

 Isaiah 64:1-9

64 [a]Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
    and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
    and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
    who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
    you were angry.
    How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
    and have given us over to[b] our sins.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
    do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all your people.

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 Photo by Iraj Beheshti on Unsplash

Friday, December 1, 2023

Daily Prayer December 1

I appeal to you, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and

acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Daily Readings for Friday, December 1, 2023

Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord. Keep the church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace; bring all creation to worship at his feet, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Clothe us with the power promised from on high, and send us forth to the ends of the earth as heralds of repentance and witnesses of Jesus Christ, firstborn from the dead. Merciful God, strengthen us in prayer that we may lift up the brokenness of this world for your healing, and share in the saving love of Jesus Christ. We pray for those in positions of authority over others, the lonely and forgotten, children without families or homes, agents of caring and relief. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

May God in endless mercy bring the whole church, the living and departed, to a joyful resurrection in the fulfillment of the eternal kingdom.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Jingle Mingle and Christmas Musical

 Our Musical this year is called "Christmas County Spelling Bee" and will be presented on December 3 @ 4 pm. For more information, contact

Jingle Mingle with your St. Mark family on Sunday, December 3rd from 5 pm to 7 pm! Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share, Fellowship will provide a delicious punch! If you are attending the Children's Musical at 4 pm, we hope that you will join us for a mingle after the performance! There will be plenty of food and treats for children and adults!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Worship Prayers for November 26



God of majesty, you love us with an everlasting love and show us the way to justice and peace. In Jesus Christ you reconciled the whole world to you and claimed us as your own, that we may live as his body on earth and, with all the saints, enter your glory on the last day. Amen.





The Lord God is our shepherd.

We are the people of God’s pasture,

the sheep of God’s hand.

God will seek the lost,

feed the hungry,

and strengthen the weak.

But the proud and power-hungry

will be fed with justice.





Sovereign God, we confess we are not ready for your holy realm. You guide us toward right paths, but we refuse to follow where you lead. You love, feed, and care for us, but we fail to love and serve others. Forgive us, merciful God, so that we may return to your fold and rejoice in your presence. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Lamb upon the throne. (Silent Confession)



AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – The Confession of 1967 9.54


Biblical visions and images of the rule of Christ, such as a heavenly city, the household of God, a new heaven and earth, a marriage feast, and an unending day culminate in the image of the kingdom. The kingdom represents God’s triumph over all that resists the divine will and disrupts God’s creation. Already God’s reign is present as a ferment in the world, stirring hope in all people and preparing the world to receive its ultimate judgment and redemption.





Invitation to the Offering


In gratitude for the immeasurable gift of Jesus Christ, let us bring our tithes and offerings to God.


Prayer after Offering


Let us pray… Holy God, use us, and these gifts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and honor your presence in all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Scripture November 25 and 26

 Matthew 25:31-46

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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One of a series of photos by Nick Thompson of a set of mosaic panels in the church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. The panels are high up and not well lit. A tip my hat to the Nick for what he achieved. See the full set here:

Friday, November 24, 2023

Daily Prayer November 24

 The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send

out laborers into his harvest.

Daily Readings for Friday, November 24, 2023

God, you are the well-spring of life. Pour into our hearts the living water of your grace that we may be refreshed to live this day in joy, confident of your presence and empowered by your peace. Protect your people, O God, and keep us safe until the coming of your new dawn and the establishment of your righteous rule. By your Holy Spirit, stir up within us a longing for the light of your new day, and guide us by the radiance of Jesus Christ your Son, our risen Lord. Almighty God, guide the nations of the world into ways of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Compassionate God, your Son gives rest to those weary with heavy burdens. Heal the sick in body, mind, and spirit. Lift up the depressed. Befriend those who grieve. Comfort the anxious. Fill all people with your Holy Spirit that they may bear each other's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, remain with you always.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)