Friday, January 31, 2014

Mister Rogers

1977 Premium from PBS
When I was pregnant with my first child, I started watching "Sesame Street", a fairly new show on PBS.  As a high school teacher, I loved the wit and the pace.  While visiting a friend who was a new mother, I saw "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and turned my nose up---so boring, so ordinary---none of the snap of "Sesame Street".

My friend assured me that it grew on her, and her son obviously loved it.  Shortly after that we moved to Pittsburgh, PA where Fred Rogers lived and filmed his show.  My daughter watched the show and it  started to grow on me:  I started listening to what Mr. Rogers said, the messages he was sending to our children.

Recently on Facebook, I've seen several references to Mister Rogers.

From Mashable:  "10 Mister Rogers Quotes to Remember on Bad Days". 

From Mental Floss:  "20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers"


"Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
Forty years later, I value "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" (and now "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood") more each day.  Click here for a previous post on Fred Rogers. What was "boring" is now calming.  What was "ordinary" is now comfortable.  With endorsements from Buzzfeed, Mashable and Mental Floss, Mister Rogers is epic, boss, awesome, or as my daughter says "da" .

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Invite a Friend to Church

From one of our members who has moved out of state:

"The other Sunday, we visited a church for the first time.
 During the sermon, the relatively new minister shared thoughts on his observations of his first seven months.  What caught my attention was his listing of sources for new members at mainline churches.  Here’s what he shared:

  • 3% came through evangelistic crusades or revivals
  • 4% came through church programs
  • 4% came through Sunday school
  • 5% came as walk-ins
  • 8% came because of the pastor
  • 76% came through friends or relatives"
Do you think this applies to St. Mark Presbyterian as well?  You have probably noted that "Discover St. Mark" has become our "brand".  Our church is not easy to find, but once people find it, they have found a treasure.  Don't you want to share this "treasure" with your friends and family?  Invite them to an event, to worship, to your small group.  Let them discover the warmth, the caring of our church.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Psalm 67


1   May God be gracious to us and bless us
         and make his face to shine upon us,
2   that your way may be known upon earth,
         your saving power among all nations. 
3   Let the peoples praise you, O God;
         let all the peoples praise you.

4   Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
         for you judge the peoples with equity
         and guide the nations upon earth.
5   Let the peoples praise you, O God;
         let all the peoples praise you.

6   The earth has yielded its increase;
         God, our God, has blessed us.
7   May God continue to bless us;
         let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Church and Social Media Part 2


Social media allows members to share information and receive responses almost immediately.  Of course we already have several ways of doing this, including Small Groups, Sunday School Classes, Adult Education and phone calls, but social media enables our church family to reach out beyond the walls of St. Mark Presbyterian. 

Social media is a form of online interaction and sharing. Our website has four buttons on the right under the "Connect With Us" tab.   Those buttons are B (blog), F (Facebook), T (Twitter) and P (Pinterest).  If you click on those buttons, you will be taken to the corresponding page (provided you have an account for the last 3, probably).  These are all considered social media.

Blog chose to create a blog because it costs nothing but the time the volunteers put into it.  It is smartphone friendly (our website isn't yet), easy to revise, reaches out to the world and enables comments and interaction among members.  It is more like the newsletter on steroids, as it has more photos, is updated several times a week, includes announcements and event coverage, has inspirational pieces and links to interesting websites.  If a person subscribes to our blog, he receives regular updates via e-mail. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Women in St. Louis 250 years

CCL…A Bicenquinquagenary Event...Wednesday, January 29…

Once again it’s time for the annual Presbyterian Women’s Winter Tea at St. Mark.  This year we invite you and your friends to join in celebrating 250 years of women making a difference in St. Louis.  The program will be from Katharine Corbett’s book, In Her Place: Women in St. Louis.  

The tea table will take you on a tasty tour of St. Louis food and beverage.  We will have tea at 1:00 and again at 7 p.m. in Rooms 304/305.  This event is NOT for women only.  Please make your reservation at the PW Table in the Narthex.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Wiggly Tooth Parable

The Wiggly Tooth Parable

My son, Joshua, suffers from a permanent case of the squirmies, i.e., a chronic inability to sit still quietly anywhere for any length of time (except at school, though despite repeated questioning from his father and I, he still won’t explain how he maintains a squeaky clean reputation there).

Anyway, in spite of the chronic squirmies, my seven-year-old likes visiting church. And though he enjoys chatting with his choir director and eating delicious donuts in the lobby, his favorite part is his brief encounter with Pastor Ranney, whom Joshua refers to as “Mister Baxter” (minister pastor), as we enter the building. He likes this part of the visit because Mister Baxter inevitably asks him his favorite question: “And how are you today?”

Pastor Ranney
AKA Mister Baxter
My son, not unlike his mother, loves sharing the sordid details of his life, but without access to social media, sometimes lacks an outlet. So he particularly relishes this opportunity to share all that has happened to him within the past month: Who’s celebrated a birthday, which classmate threw up in a trashcan at recess, what major plot twists have revealed themselves on the latest episode of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

And so it was, about a year ago, that Pastor Ranney asked my son this question: “And how are you today?” To which Josh responded that he was concerned two of his front teeth might be pointier than the others, and there was only one possible explanation: That he was turning into a vampire. Or, and this was slightly less likely in his estimation, a werewolf.

Of course Pastor Ranney, being both a learned man and a man of God, took time to explain to my son that God made his teeth like that to help him chew his food. They’re incisors. Everyone has teeth like that. In short, totally normal.

Because of this brief dental/spiritual exchange, it was no surprise to me when, as we prepared for church this week, the topic of God and oral care came up once again. This time it was the two wiggly lower front teeth that were a thorn in my son’s side—er, gums.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Psalm 40: 1-3

 PSALM 40:1-3
1   I waited patiently for the LORD; 
          he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
2   He drew me up from the desolate pit, 
          out of the miry bog, 
     and set my feet upon a rock, 
          making my steps secure. 
3   He put a new song in my mouth, 
          a song of praise to our God. 
     Many will see and fear, 
          and put their trust in the LORD.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Good Luck Soup for New Year's Day

In the cook book Taste the Best---25 years, St. Mark Spinnakers had a recipe for Bean Soup.  At that time they assembled and sold jars of mixed dried beans to fund their mission projects.  Pictured above is a variation on this recipe using a commercially bought 15 bean mix and using sausage instead of ham.

Good Luck Bean Soup

1  pt. mixed beans (6-8 varieties*)
2 qt. water
Ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 red hot pepper
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Wash beans; cover with water and soak overnight.  Drain
2. Cover with 2 quarts of water
3. Add ham hocks and 1 onion, or kielbasa sausage is also good.
4. Simmer 3-5 hours.
5. Add tomatoes, red hot pepper, garlic, juice of 1 lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.
6.  Simmer to desired degree of doneness.
7. Sit back, relax, eat and enjoy!

*Possible mix of beans:  Northern, Pinto, Lima, Black-eyed, Garbanzo, Split pea, Kidney, Cranberry Bean, Red, Pink, White, Lentil, Navy, White Kidney, Black

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Church and Social Media Part One

While we have had the church bulletin, newsletter and occasional mailings since the founding of St. Mark Presbyterian, the Communications Committee has been working on other ways to communicate with our members and the world community about God’s message and St. Mark’s missions.

There are many ways to communicate:  by phone, traditional mail, e-mail, blog, Facebook, Twitter, The Patch and other internet bulletin boards, newspaper, bulletin, bulletin boards, posters, yellow pages, face to face, annual reports, the website, fliers/brochures, billboards, message board in front, door-to-door, street signage and even our van when it is transporting people. . . 

All of these methods are important and we have used all of them (with the exception of billboards).  To use only one to publicize our church or an event would be extremely limiting. But, to use all of them for each event would be over-doing it.  When determining how to best promote a program or event, it’s helpful to consider:

Who do we want to reach? (Audience)
How much do we want to invest in publicizing the event?
How much bang do we get for our buck from various forms of advertising?
Why do we want to publicize it?  What is the purpose?
How timely is this method of communicating?
How widely do we want to promote this event?

Most of our traditional forms of communicating have some limitations to consider:

Audience:  Only to those who are on our mailing list
Cost: printing costs, mailing costs for those mailed, secretarial time to assemble
Benefit:  Can use names and phone numbers because the audience is limited
Timeliness:  Monthly, cannot be revised after sent out
Purpose:  To announce events, report events that have already happened

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"As the frigid days of January and February draw near. . ."

 Help us to keep warm places alive within us,
Where in secret the bulbs of Springtime tulips are nurtured.
As we face the year ahead,
We thank you for one another
And for your grace in Jesus Christ.. . .

For the entire poem by Ruth C. Duck, click here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Make a Winter Survival Kit—Bob Lienemann, St. Mark Shelter Manager

With the recent snow fall this week and travel paramount - either local or out-of the area; I thought it would be nice to offer some suggestions on how to “Make a Winter Vehicle Survival Kit”. Everyone should carry a Winter Survival Kit in their car. In an emergency, it could save your life and the lives of your passengers. Here are some suggestions as to what you should have in a Winter Survival Kit:
  • a shovel 
  • windshield scraper and small broom 
  • flashlight with extra batteries 
  • battery powered radio 
  • water 
  • snack food including energy bars 
  • raisins and mini candy bars 
  • matches and small candles 
  • extra hats, socks and mittens 
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications 
  • blankets or sleeping bag 
  • tow chain or rope 
  • road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction 
  • booster cables
  • emergency flares and reflectors
  • fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention 
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Passing Through the Waters

Many of our circles at St. Mark Presbyterian are reading a study called An Abiding Hope:  The Presence of God in Exodus and Deuteronomy. If the video below doesn't appear, click here.

December's Lesson, "Passing Through the Waters" was about the parting of the Red Sea:  Exodus 13:17- Exodus 15: 21.  Our study leader, Donna, introduced the lesson with this video.  We discussed the helplessness the Hebrews must have felt.  We compared it to how helpless we often feel especially during this time of year.  The prayer below concluded the lesson:

Redeemer God, we thank you for the gift of your presence when life threatens to overwhelm us.  When we feel helpless and hopeless, grant that we may step forward in faith, trusting you to protect and deliver us.  We pray also for those who come to this country seeking to escape harsh realities at home.  Be with us as a nation as we consider those who cross our borders, and help us to discern fatithful responses to the issues that arise.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Monday, January 6, 2014

We Three Kings of Orient Are

Click Here if video does not appear. (Adobe Flash is needed)

What does this majestic hymn by John Hopkins have to do with Clement Moore's "Twas the Night Before Christmas?"  Click here for an explanation.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January 5 Worship is Cancelled

Although worship service is cancelled at St. Mark Presbyterian Sunday January 5 due to the weather, we did have worship Saturday PM. If you missed Sunday's service, there are several ways you can still worship God.

You can worship at home.  Here is a piece Kathy Deters wrote last year called "First Church of the Living Room" (Click here) which describes how we can worship at home when the weather is bad or we are sick.

Another suggestion is to go to the web-site for sermons which you might have missed one week or listen, again, to some of the music from the past. Click here, then choose to listen to a sermon or Special music.

This blog can be a source of inspiration any time. Click here, look on the right for one of Susan, Sean or Steve's sermons to re-read or select "inspiration".

Finally, you can follow along with the bulletin and hymns that we worshipped with Saturday night January 4. (Double click on the photos below to make them larger)

January Midweek Programs


8 Kick-Off Gathering for New Small Groups :  Bruce Cranston (postponed to a later date)

15 Preventing Identity Theft :  Douglas Roberts, Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service

22 Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: The Psalms, Jesus Christ and World Hunger :  Rev. Dr. Clint McCann, Eden Seminary

29 250th Anniversary of the Founding Women of the City of St. Louis :  Presbyterian Women of St. Mark
Join us after midweek dinner (5:30) and worship (6:30) in Fellowship Hall at 7 pm.  Click here for more information about Midweek at St. Mark Presbyterian.  Click here  to sign-up for dinner and to see the Spring menu.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Keeping the Mystery of the Magi

 Many years ago, when my children were young and WAY before the Elf on the Shelf, we had the mystery of the Wise Men (Magi) starting at some far point of the family room working their way closer and closer to the Nativity.  They would start on the books shelves, go to the mantel, then to the table and finally to the entertainment center where the Manger Scene was.
 It isn't easy keeping Christmas focused on the Birth of Jesus with children.  The success of Elf on a Shelf proves how much children like the mystery of the holiday.  Maybe once your Elf goes back to the North Pole, your family can focus on the mystery of Jesus's birth and the Magi by having them move each day getting closer and closer to their destination.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Day, A New Year

Sing to Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Psalm 96: 1-3