Friday, August 31, 2012

Reform School

Sinners or Debtors?

You may have attended services away from your own home church - for weddings,funerals or just worship in general - and when the time came to pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, everyone else said something you didn't!~ 'trespasses' instead of 'debts'. Or 'sins' instead of 'trespasses'. Why the variation? Which version do you prefer?

Read more here:The Lord's Prayer

What version is in your Bible?

  • Matthew 6:9
  • Luke 11:2

Monday, August 27, 2012

"A Mission of Harmony in a World of Discord"

 Although many of us at St. Mark Presbyterian walk by this beautiful portrait of a child in Peru, this past weekend we heard about the community where she lives: La Oroya, Peru.  Her face is discolored by the pollution in her environment.
 Jed Koball, a missionary in Peru, first preached "A Mission of Harmony in a World of Discord"on the conditions in Peru and the work being done "to effect change for families, such as working to clean up the Andean town of La Oroya, which has been identified as one of the 10 most polluted places in the world."  For more on the pollution of La Oroya, click here or google it and hundreds of articles on the pollution there will appear.
Jed's mission benefits from the sale of our Lucinda pins.
 Another aspect of his mission is to work with fair trade artisans and the US network of congregations that helps market the products.   A booth was set up behind Carol, Julie and Loren with their handiwork.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ceramic Symbols at St. Mark

 We are very fortunate at St. Mark to have several members who have enhanced our Sat. PM worship space.  John crafted this beautiful oak communion table and Pat created this ceramic cross made of Christian symbols.

 She also created Christian symbols to add details and dimension to  our colored glass windows and our communion plate and chalice.

Most recently she added ceramic banners depicting the Six Great Ends of the Church from the Presbyterian Book of Order which was studied by the Hannah Circle the past two years.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Love God: Acts of Service

How To Love God:
Acts of Service
Matthew 25:31-40

            After seeing in Luke 10 that the one thing that God longs for from us is that we love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, we have been looking at how to love God using the five love languages described for us in the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. So far have we looked at Words of Affirmations, how to say to God how much we appreciate what God has done and is doing for us, and Quality Time, spending time with God. Last week we looked at the language of Gifts and what is on God’s list. Today we look at the love language of Acts of Service.
            On Monday, as I drove to church, a discussion came on the radio about an article with a list of things that men and women do when they want to show their love for their spouse. The top item on the list for women was to “resist the urge to nag and be grateful for the things that their husband has done.” top on the list for men was ????, they vacuum. Both of these items are an example of how this love language works. The person who vacuums is serving another by doing a chore that improves the home and frees up time for their partner. The person who chooses not to nag opts to allow the person who will do the chore in their own time and receive that as an act of love.
            These acts of service can range across the spectrum. They can be doing someone else’s chores for them, like emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, or washing the car. They can be doing a project that makes someone’s life easier, like building shelves in the basement for better storage or painting a room. They can be doing something for someone that they do not have the skill to do themselves, like when Kim makes me a rhubarb pie or loads songs on my ipod.
            One of the important things to remember in this is that these acts of service that we do for another need to be something that they actually want.  We all know the stories of a relative that comes for a visit, maybe to help after the birth of a child and decides to reorganize the cabinets in the kitchen so that things will be more efficient and easier to find, leaving major work and frustration when they leave. Or the story I shared with you a while back of the man who had spent the morning cleaning the kitchen, left for a short time only to return to a big mess, flour everywhere, eggs broken on the counter, and in the midst of it stood his young daughter who looked up and proclaimed “I’m makin’ somfin for you Daddy.” She could get away with that, because she was young an cute, but say - I - did the same thing for Kim, leaving the kitchen a mess, she would be underwhelmed with my act of service.
            I can tell you that we know this is one of God’s love languages because, like last week, we have a list of those acts of service that God would like for us to do. In our passage, Jesus sets the scene as the end of time when we are brought before him for our final reckoning. It is here that we will come before him and learn how well we demonstrated our love for him. In our passage we see the criteria that he will use to evaluate our actions.
            Notice what is not there. He does not say that they -were members of the right church, or voted for the right political party, or lived in the right neighborhood, or went to the right schools, or joined the right clubs, or kept all the rules or have the right view of the atonement. These are all criteria that we use to try to keep out the people we don’t want to be in heaven. Other people do the same to us. The great news is that those other people are not going to be the judge on that day. It is Jesus. So we should pay attention to what is on his list, not ours.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Love God: Gifts

The Rancher
Malachi 3:6-12

After seeing in Luke 10 that the one thing that God longs for from us is that we love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, we have been looking at how to love God using the five love languages described for us in the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. So far have we looked at Words of Affirmations, how to say to God how much we appreciate what God has done and is doing for us, and Quality Time, spending time with God.
Today we look at the love language of Gifts. While this is pretty self explanatory, one of the questions that comes to mind is first what can we give God, given that God has given us all that we have, and why do we need to give to God. I have a story that I have written that I have shared with you before that answers these question and I would like to share it with you today.

A while back, a wealthy rancher owned a large spread about the size of Montana.  He had developed it over the years so that it was one of the most efficient, fertile and productive ranches in the entire country.  It was so well designed and managed that the owner had little to do except enjoy it's beauty.
One day, as the rancher was riding across his land to check on one of the herds, the thought flashed across his mind, "I wish I had someone to share this with."  All of the sudden a question hit him.  "Why couldn't I have someone to share this with?  This ranch more than supplies my needs, I could get along on just a fraction of what this land and my herds provide." 
So the rancher had an idea.  He would divide his land into workable plots, making sure that each one had plenty of natural resources and it's own herd of cattle.  The rancher also made sure that there was a wealth of hidden treasures in each plot.  These treasures were designed to make life easier and the work more fruitful and exciting. As each of these plots was fashioned, because each one was unique, the Rancher made notations as to the best way to care for and manage each plot.
When all was ready, the Rancher took out ad's in papers all over the country.  He let it be known that he had land to give to special people who would care for it as he had cared for it.  People came from all over to take advantage of this wonderful offer.  They came, were interviewed and given the plot that was just right for them. 
As each plot was awarded, the recipients were also informed of three requirements that went with the gift.

1.  That they care for the land as the rancher cared for it, treating it with respect and not abusing it for momentary gain.

2.  That they share any treasure they found on their land with their neighbors.

3.  That they honor him by bringing him 10% of the produce from the land and the herds, which the rancher would use to supply him, his hired hands and to help people in need.

In return, they got to keep the other 90% of the produce from the land and the herds and unlimited access to the Rancher.  If they wanted, he would even help them discover the treasures hidden with in their plot.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reform School- The Lord's Supper

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper   

The Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion or the Eucharist (from a Greek word meaning ‘grateful’) is one of only two sacraments observed by the Presbyterian Church - PC [USA]. But before we explore The Lord’s Supper, just what is a sacrament, and why does the church ‘observe’ them in the first place?

A sacrament has been described as ‘an outward sign of an inward grace.’  Donald McKim, in his book “Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers”, defines a sacrament as ‘God’s gracious gifts given by Jesus Christ to the church to establish and nurture faith.’ A sacrament is both a ‘sign’ of what Christ has already done for us, and a ‘seal’ of God’s covenant and authority in our lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Most Christian churches, if not all, recognize some type of sacrament in their worship service.   For Presbyterians, sacraments must 1) have been instituted by Christ and 2) be available to all people. That is why the PC [USA] does not consider marriage, for example, a sacrament: not all people are married, or will marry.

Sacraments are an integral part of the way Presbyterians come together to worship Christ.  In addition to prayer, confessing, preaching from Scripture, sharing our gifts, and singing praises to God, we also recognize God’s presence and Christ’s gift of grace to us in a special - yet ordinary -way:  a simple meal of bread and juice we call Communion. Baptism- to be explored in a separate post- is the other sacrament celebrated by the PC[USA].

Even with many eloquent definitions, sacraments are still, all-in-all, a bit of a mystery! Something wonderful happens beyond the common, physical act of eating bread and drinking juice or wine.  But it is here that Presbyterians part company with our Roman Catholic and Lutheran brothers and sisters.

As Pastor Sean Butler so eloquently explained in his August 5 sermon (click this link to listen) - different churches understand different things about what communion means, and what the actual elements that make up Communion represent.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lughnasadh  One of our members found this web site with an explanation of Celtic traditions and Christian liturgy through out the year.

During this, our Lughnasadh or Harvest Season, we should remember to bring food for Circle of Concern, our local food pantry.  Put food on the collection table outside Pastor Steve's office at St. Mark Presbyterian Church.