Monday, March 31, 2014

Mission Monday: Peru

Base of the Andes

From the rugged desert coastline to its majestic Andean mountains, God is at work among the people in Peru. Joining Hands is our link to the Peruvian people, supporting and connecting us to ministries among God’s people in one of the most culturally rich and ecologically diverse nations in the world — the land of the former Incan Empire.  
Jed Koball began his service as a mission co-worker in January 2009, when he was appointed companionship facilitator for the Joining Hands (JH) network in Peru.  (Joining Hands is an initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program that fights the root causes of hunger in developing countries.)  The Peruvian JH network is combating poverty through courage, perseverance and coordination in the face of corporate greed, political corruption, climate change, and the remnants of a violent past by partnering with NGOs (Non-governmental organizations), such as human rights groups, church-related NGOs, and churches.  Jed met his wife, Jenny, shortly after arriving; Jenny is from the high jungle town of Moyobamba, Peru.  Jed and Jenny were married on October 9, 2010,  in Moyobamba.  Today, Jed and Jenny coordinate the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program in Lima, Peru. 
Jed Koball

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Five and Following"

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Longview Park
139 Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lordyou know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What Is Really Important?

1 Corinthians12: 1-11
Passage:  1 Corinthians 12:10. . . . .to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits . . . (NKJV)

 Some time ago in a "Dear Abby" column, I read the following story entitled "How Rich Are We?"  I have thought about it many times, and think it is worth sharing.

One day a father and his rich family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing him how poor people can be.  They spent a day and a night at the farm of a very poor family.  When they returned from their trip, the father asked the son:

"How was the trip?"
"Very good, Dad!
"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.
"And what did you learn?"

The son replied: "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four.  We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden; they have a creek that has no end.  We have imported lamps in the garden; they have the stars.  Our patio reaches to the front yard; they have the whole horizon."

When the little boy was finished speaking, his father was speechless.  His son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

Friday, March 28, 2014


Revelation 3:22 
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” New International Version

I recently had my hearing checked. My wife Julie suggested this, and though everything came out fine for someone of my age and experience, it made me think about why she would have thought that there might be a problem in the first place. Our home is seldom a quiet place, and upon reflection I have to admit that with the distractions afforded by kids, dogs, computers, phones, tablets, televisions, and any combination of these at the same time, I may not have always been listening to her. I am now trying to think of listening in a different way, as an active participant looking for the message rather than just a passive receiver in the whirlwind of life that surrounds me.

I hope this conscious effort to listen will help me at St. Mark as well. Those of us who serve on the Communications Committee are faced with an exciting and awesome challenge these days. For the past five years or so the committee has worked to bring St. Mark into the wonderful world of new communication possibilities, and we are now looking at ways to make the next five (and fifty!) even better for the mission that we have and the community that we serve. To do this we have to learn to listen- not only to each other, but each to the Spirit.

Dear God, we ask for the wisdom to seek your direction, the heart to share your love, open ears to hear your voice, and the strength to do your will. Amen

Thursday, March 27, 2014

God's Promise

Colossians 1: 9-19

December 1977 Christmas service at my parents' church in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, the minister told the congregation of the recent death of his mother.  It was a very upbeat sermon, which told of God's promise of eternal life through Jesus. He created an analogy of a baby in a mother's womb warm, comfortable being traumatized through birth.  Pushed, shoved, pulled through the birth canal, exposed to bright light, slapped on the bottom, then embraced by the loving arms of his mother.

The mystery of death, he explained to the congregation, was exactly the same.  Now I understood.  It was perfectly clear. When comforting the bereaved over the past 20 years, this has been my message.

It wasn't until July of 1997, that my own faith was tested.  My mother was hospitalized with multiple health problems, each one complicating the other.  As the family gathered around her bed, the realization hit like a sledgehammer that my dear mother would not be leaving the hospital alive.

Her health deteriorated quickly, now was when the "rubber hit the road."  Now faith in God's promise, eternal life through Jesus, the Lenten story became personally important to my family and me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Announcements: Identity Theft, Missions, Flowers, Pizza

  • Presbyterian Women are selling pizzas through March 30.  Sign up at the PW Table or contact the church office.

  • The Rev. Dr. John McCall, a missionary serving in Taiwan will be speaking at March 29, 30 services.  Come to the Pot Luck on Sat. 6:00 with the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church.

  • From our Emergency Preparation Team:  Sometimes the best way to prepare for an emergency is to prevent it from happening.  See below for information on an event on March 29 on how to prevent identity theft.

  • To decorate our church on Easter Sunday, lilies are traditionally purchased through member donations of $7.50.  Please sign up on the form outside Pastor Steve's office or contact the church office.

"Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are."  Luke 12:27

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trusting and Doing

The piece that I wrote for a 1998 St. Mark devotional was re-published on March 20 earlier in this Lenten series. It was titled "Trusting The Lord" and was based on Proverbs 3:5-6. Now, sixteen years later, here is my post-script:

I still believe everything I said in that earlier devotional on trusting. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells me to “trust” in the Lord. And I do. But now I have had more life experiences, and the landscape along my journey has changed. To me, ‘trust’ now sounds much more passive than active. I have come to believe that I am called to not only trust God but to also ‘do good’ in an active challenging way.

To undertake a challenge requires intentionality. So, I find myself contemplating: is it worth hard effort? what if I don’t enjoy it? what if I can’t succeed? Do I want to expose myself to possible discomfort and fear of uncertainty? These questions and feelings create anxiety that can keep me from intentionally taking the challenge.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mission Monday: Plan Grande

In the fall of 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated parts of Central America, including many coffee farming villages in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua. A year and a half later, in the summer of 2000, 23 members of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery traveled to one of those villages, Plan Grande 2, helping to build one of many new cinder block homes for those in need.

Since then, Giddings-Lovejoy has sent at least one delegation to Plan Grande every year, developing a "hermanamiento", or brotherhood, with the community. Some trips have been work trips, constructing projects from pilas, or water cisterns, to a new baseball field used for community development with neighboring villages. A Vacation Bible School program for the children is usually run, as is a women's fellowship. Seven members of St. Mark Presbyterian have gone on these trips, most more than one time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Life as an Infant--Part 2"

Prayer in Preparation:
Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death.  Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ, and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days, through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Prayer of Confession:
Lord, because You love us deeply, it grieves You when we behave in ways that hurts Your image in us.  You weep when we act on sinful impulses and end up harming ourselves or others.  Please forgive us for the wrong we do to others, ourselves and You.  Through Your Spirit grow goodness in us, so that we can be the people we were intended to be.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

By a Quiet Pond

 Isaiah 40: 1-2 "Comfort my people, " says our God, "comfort them! Encourage the people of Jerusalem.  Tell them they have suffered long enough and the sins are forgiven.  I have punished them in full for all their sins."
Richardson, Texas

The sunlit pond glows blue and green
With edges deep ultramarine,
Where reeds and lilies dot the shore,
And rocks support the forest floor.

Birch, oak, pine surround the scene.
A silent, dark protective screen.
The calls of birds float through the trees
And butterflies dance upon the breeze.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Time Travel

" Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1: 17 NIV

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with time, and the idea of moving around in it. I can remember a very early conversation on a camping trip while looking at the night sky with my Father, who was an astronomer and physicist, about how the light from the stars we were seeing was actually thousands of years old in some cases, allowing us to actually look back in time. We had spent the day exploring ancient ruins at Bandelier National Monument, and what I really wanted to do was go back and meet the people who had lived in that place a few thousand years ago, a desire that has led to my life in archeology. But my interest in the more imaginative ways of time travel, through storytelling, books, and movies, has always remained strong.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trusting the Lord

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

I memorized this verse as a young adolescent.  That effort has served me well over the years.  When I can't figure things out, when things don't happen as I had envisioned, this verse tells me to trust God with the final outcome.  I don't have to understand all of the mysterious circumstances of life.  I am called to TRUST.  I am not required to make sense of or find answers for everything.  My job is to recognize God in all aspects of my life, to ACKNOWLEDGE Him.  Then, when I have done my part, He will do His part-"direct my paths" (The New Revised Version says it another way-"make straight your paths.")  To me this is a covenant.  When I trust and acknowledge my need for and dependence on God, He then promises to guide me.  He gives me strength and wisdom to do His will and make right choices.  And my spirit is receptive for obedience to accept His ways.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Announcements: Red Tent, Saints

*Red Tent is studying ‘Bad Girls of the Bible’ by Barbara J. Essex.  Our gathering will explore lives filled with betrayal, deception, rejection, jealousy and exploitation. We will look beyond the notoriety at these women of exceptional boldness, courage, determination, and independence.

Please join us in Fellowship Hall from 10:00-11:00 am. All are welcome!

March 20 Job’s Wife: Foe or Foil?
April 10 Gomer: Vixen or Victim?
May 1 Herodias: Heartless or Hurt?
May 15 The Woman Caught in Adultery: Fallen or Forgiven?

*Saint’s Fellowship (grades 3, 4, 5) is traveling to Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri on Sunday, April 6. Families and children are welcome to join us. We will tour the ranch and “meet & greet” the Clydesdales. Registration Deadline: March 30 Questions?? Dr. Patricia Rouff or Ellen Hynes

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Becoming a Holy People

Our Presbyterian Women's Bible Study this year is An Abiding Hope.  Last month's lesson was on 
"Becoming a Holy People".

The "key idea" was "In the covenant relationship, God offers us abundant blessings.  We honor this covenant through the choices we make each day."  The study concluded with a story about a Jewish gentleman who was questioned about his kosher eating habits. "I am free to eat anything.  I choose to eat only that which declares my loyalty to God."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mission Monday: Terri Rider

TERRI RIDER, pictured here at a Christmas celebration for AIDS patients, serves as a missionary to the Dalit (“untouchable”) people of India.  Terri, who has brought her story to St. Mark twice, deeply appreciates support for her ministry through the prayers of our members, mission funds, and contributions to Christmas Alternatives. Working with the International Development and Education Association (IDEAS) of Littleton, CO,   Terri’s efforts in India embody the IDEAS mission:   “To demonstrate love, serving forgotten and overlooked people by meeting social, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs.”

In a recent email update to the St. Mark Presbyterian Mission Committee, Terri reported that the “AIDS Facility is going well!  We once again have a regular core group. Even though physical death lurks around the corner for everyone there, there is still much life. People are caring for one another, compassion is shared to those with tears, new people are warmly accepted and smiles are becoming a regular sight.”

Matthew 25: 40  And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

C. Yost, St. Mark Mission Committee

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Life as an Infant"

Part of the Lenten Sermon Series Grow Up

Prayer in Preparation for Worship:

Loving and Beloved God:  You sprinkle signs of your mercy along our wandering way.  Keep us from faint heartedness and despair, that we might find firm faith as we journey through this Lenten season  through Jesus Christ our Companion, to whom with you and the Spirit, one holy God, be honor and praise, now and forever. Amen

Prayer of Confession:

Lord, we know that your love for us is like that of a perfect parent, eternal and complete.  We also know that to be made one of your children is the greatest gift that you could possibly give us.  But Lord, you know that we turned our backs on you choosing to live in slavery to our own selfish desires rather than as free children of God.  Help us to remember, that because of what Jesus has done, and the work of the Spirit in our lives, we are free to live as you intended; and once we remember, help us to choose to live as children of God.  AMEN.

To listen to the sermon on March 9, click here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Be Still, Be Six

I took my green plastic dollar-store sand bucket and kitchen sieve and walked over to the beach. My intention: to gather a pail of small, broken shells for my craft project, rather than using my store bought bag of shells. When all laid out, the shells I’d purchased, as lovely as they are, simply look too… ‘perfect’! 

Probably over fifty years have come and gone since I last shoved a sieve into the sand, raised it and shook it to reveal fragments of small shells.  With each scoop, I watched the sand fall through the sieve, and be quickly carried off by the breeze.

 I was six years old again.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Future

It was a little more than a week ago that we gathered in the sanctuary on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent.  We received a cross of ashes to signify our inclusion, as children of God, in this journey through the season of prayer, penitence, and thoughtful consideration of those things in our lives that create distance between us and the love that we are given.  We took bits of cloth and nailed them to a cross, each one representing an individual concern and a commitment to doing something about it.

I have to admit that my concern was a bit vague, a need to improve an attitude that I still don’t know how best to address.  I’ve often used Mark Twain’s explanation of his white suits to illustrate it- when asked why he wore them, he replied “to help fend off cynicism.”   But cynicism is only symptomatic, just a way to avoid addressing the real issue.

I think the real issue is fear.  And much of my fear lives in the future.

Two years ago our church celebrated 50 years of service and worship.  The stories of just how this unfolded are inspirational, and when I hear them, and think of all the people whose work and dedication made it so, it always makes me glad to have discovered St. Mark when we moved here 6 years ago.  I want to keep building on what they have given me and my family, but the world is changing in ways that are hard to fathom.  Who can imagine what things will be like 50 years from now?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Seeker

"If you seek him, he will be found by you."  1 Chronicles 28:9

I sought God today at work,
And found Him in the kind support of a co-worker.

I sought God today in a store,
And found Him in the patient smile of a tired clerk.

I sought God today in a park,
And found him in the happy laughter of children at play.

I sought God today at home,
And found Him in my wife's tender hug.

I seek God every day in every place;
And, if I look hard enough, I find He is always there.

And slowly it occurs to me that long before I began seeking God,
He was seeking me.

Reprinted with permission from D. Boyd from St. Mark Presbyterian's 2006 Lenten Book.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bunko Night

Not too late to buy some fun stuff!

May the luck of the Irish be with you……

BUNKO NIGHT returns!!! Saturday night, March 15, 6 p.m.—join us for a St. Paddy’s Day themed Bunko Night. Wear your most outrageous “green” outfit and bring a small “green” appetizer or dessert/candy to share. It doesn’t cost much “green” to play, only $2/person. If you don’t know how to play Bunko, we will teach you in 2 short minutes…it’s that easy.

So…get your “green” on and let those beautiful “green” Irish eyes be smiling on you….join us on March 15. Sign-up in the Narthex. Questions? Call L. Sprague.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just in Case

Isaiah 7:9
"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."

While in the city of Smolensk in the Soviet Union in 1983, my husband and I were on our tour bus listening to our guide Nadia speak to us on the history of the city as she was pointing out the various parks, monuments and the churches (90% of which were closed. . .due to repairs. . .we were told).  So imagine our surprise and curiosity when, on passing the beautiful green and white Assumption Cathedral with the Epiphany Cathedral below, we saw a long line of parents with little children waiting to enter.  We asked Nadia what was happening and she told us they were all waiting to have their children baptized.  This was surprising as we all knew that the Communist Party barely tolerated any religion.  But Nadia said the parents were doing this. . . "not that they necessarily believed, but just in case."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mission Monday: John McCall

Each of the six Mondays in March will feature a mission that is directly connected to St. Mark Presbyterian in some fashion.

The Rev. Dr. John McCall, a Presbyterian missionary to the Christian community in Taiwan, will be a guest speaker for our worship services on March 30 and 31. A long time friend of our Pastor Steve Ranney and his wife Pastor Kim Skilling (of Affton Presbyterian Church), John spoke previously a few years ago at St. Mark.

Here is a glimpse of John’s work in his own words from his Winter 2013 letter published in the Presbyterian Mission Agency newsletter:

“This past semester I taught 60 students a course on “The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life” at Tainan Seminary in the south of Taiwan. The role of the Holy Spirit is an important topic in the Taiwanese Church and often a Taiwanese Christian’s questions about the Holy Spirit can be very different from an average American Presbyterian’s questions. Every Tuesday after class a different student would volunteer to take me to the train station on the back of a motor scooter. And I quickly discovered that they wanted to use the time on the road to talk about the Holy Spirit. Often at a red light they would turn, their helmet hitting mine, and ask some question that was burning within them about the way the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives, in the life of the church, or in the world. One student bought a platform ticket at the station so he could accompany me to the train to keep talking about his questions. Nothing thrills a teacher more than students who want to keep pondering what we talked about in class.”

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How It Begins

The Sermon on February 22-23,  focused on "The Prodigal Son" as a message for our own spiritual growth.

Luke 15: 11-32

Prayer of Confession:

Lord, because You love us so deeply, it grieves You when we behave in ways that hurt Your image in us.  You weep when we act on sinful impulses and end up harming ourselves or others.  Please forgive us for the wrong we do to others, ourselves and You.  Through Your Spirit grow goodness in us, so that we can be the people we were intended to be.  In Jesus' name we pray,  Amen.

Click here to hear the sermon "How It Begins" from Feb. 22-23, 2014.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Renew Our Mind?

Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2

What does this mean?  Christ came into this world to show us how to live.  He came to serve, not to be served.  Do we live as He has shown us?  It is so easy to get bogged down with the every day pressures of life and focus inward, unaware of the needs around us.  We get wrapped up in our own world and ignore our neighbors who may be hurting.  Our selfish minds are focused on ourselves, not on what God has asked.

Friday, March 7, 2014

40 Days, 40 Acts of Generosity

G. Nuckolls shared a link with some of us which is one way to begin Lent.  This is an English Web site so the date is written a little differently:  3/5/14 is written as 05/03/14.  Each day has an idea on how you can make a difference each day.  Hover over each day and it gives a little more information.  So "Start a Journal" also has "Make lists, remember the awesome bits, and take note of needs around you.  Read more on 05/03/14" or March 5. 2014.  Although you can subscribe to their site, you don't have to. Click here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cultural Images

Missouri Botanical Garden
"The Lord is far from the wicked; but He hears the prayer of the righteous." Proverbs 15:29

When I was teaching a high school course about History of the American West, (some students called it "Cowboys and Indians") I was always struck with the similarity of some of the religious views of the Plains Indians' tribes about their Great Spirit, our Christian views about God and the human relationships within both groups.  Both cultures viewed humans as children of God, often imperfect and always seeking support from a higher power to improve themselves.  Despite historians' recent analysis of the history of the American West as a time and place of cultural conflict, some cultural ideals and practices were remarkably similar.

A recent visit by Pope Paul II to St. Louis, Missouri and his sermons, while here, brought to the forefront this notion of similarity of cultural and religious images and ideals.  All religions point to God, Paul seemed to be saying.  In that spirit, the following Sioux Indian Prayer is offered to you to reflect upon as you enter the season of Lent.  May it enrich your Christian spirit and thoughts as it did me in this Lenten season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday Worship

Join Us for Worship on Ash Wednesday
March 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM

An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 109-110) tells us that “The Lenten journey from ashes of death to resurrected life begins on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, which signifies a time to turn around, to change directions, to repent. This first day of Lent reminds us that unless we are willing to die to our old selves, we cannot be raised to new life with Christ. The first step of this journey calls us to acknowledge and confront our mortality, individually and corporately. This is symbolized through the imposition of ashes – placing a cross on the forehead or hand. By this act we are to remember that we are temporary creatures, always on the edge of death.”

On Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten trek through the wilderness toward Easter. Join us for worship on March 5, nail your “sins” to the cross and start the 40-day journey with your St. Mark family and God’s presence to guide you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What does the blog say about St. Mark?

Several weeks ago, someone asked what my vision is for the St. Mark Blog. In addition to serving our congregation, I want someone to go to the blog, look at the posts and determine who we are.  Many years ago, I attended a workshop in which someone said, “When you walk through the door of your building, what do you see? Visitors are going to walk in, look around and determine what kind of community this is.”  Look at the blog post titled "What do you see?" to see the St. Mark Presbyterian Church physical building a visitor might see.   Does this represent who the St. Mark community is?

The blog and website are virtual looks through the front door of St. Mark.  I have always considered St. Mark a balance of mission, worship, fellowship, study which has always been open to various points of view---a safe place.  That’s what I want our blog to be---a safe place with many contributors who feel free to share God’s word.  Although many churches have a blog which is totally written by pastoral staff, I see ours as more of a reflection of the people of St. Mark Presbyterian Church not just one person’s vision.  Click here for someone else's discussion of Social Media and Church Leadership.
See the list of topics on the right?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Worship Weekend March 1-2

Due to Winter weather, most of us missed Susan's sermon on "Bad Girls Club".  Her sermon was based on Luke 7:36-50 and John 4:7-29:  two unnamed women and their thoughts when encountering Jesus.  If the above video doesn't play, Click here. Susan ended worship by playing this video, a tribute to courageous women in 2013.

Call to Worship:  All who are thirsty, this is the place for water.  All who are hungry, this is the place to be fed.  Why spend your earnings on what is not food?  Why pay for that which fails to satisfy?  Here, without money, here, without price, all may enjoy the bread of heaven.  God speaks and all who listen will have life.

Prayer of Confession:

One:  Glorious God, your thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are your ways our ways.  You look at the ugliest soul and see, still unstirred, the wings of an angel.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Choice to Grow

How Old Are You?

According to Ephesians 4:15, the goal of every Christian should be to "Grow up in all aspects into Him (Christ)."  Click here for the entire passage. The Bible also talks about spiritual infants and people who are spiritually mature.  That is is why last Fall I preached a series of sermons about how we can grow up spiritually.  We all know, however, that we do not go from being infants to adults overnight.  That is why this Spring I will focus on what I call spiritual age groups and what it takes for each age group to mature.  The reason is so that each of us can identify where we are and take the steps necessary to grow in our relationship with God. Let me encourage you to try to hear each of these sermons throughout the spring.  If you miss one, please got to and listen.  It is vital for our life together as followers of Christ here at St. Mark that we all seek to grow up into Christ.  I look forward to conversations around this important topic.

Pastor Steve

Click here  to listen to the first sermon in the series "The Choice to Grow"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Shrove Sunday?

This event has been post-poned due to bad weather. . . .come on back March 9, 2014!
What is Shrove on Sunday, you might ask??? A history lesson for many of us is right here: Shrove
Tuesday (also known as Pancake Tuesday and Pancake Day) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. This year, Ash Wednesday is March 5.

The expression “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. The term “Mardi Gras” is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

This year St. Mark will hold its first Shrove on Sunday Pancake & Sausage Extravaganza— because we aren’t at church on Tuesdays!! Pancakes and sausage will be served in the Great Hall from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; and again from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Just to add to the fun, the pastors have agreed to participate in a pancake flippin’ relay!! Fellowship Committee is dreaming up other games to create a spirited atmosphere. Come prepared to “fatten up” before Lent begins. A free-will offering will be taken. Questions? Give Sally Shepherd a call.