Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PRAY (God and Country) Program

As a supplement to Sunday School, St. Mark is again offering the PRAY (God and Country) Program.

 God and Family for grades 4 & 5 will begin on January 2, 2016 and last 6 weeks. God and Me for grades 2 & 3 will begin January 9 and last 4 weeks. Each class is on Saturday morning from 9:00 to10:15, or as decided by the group. Conflicts can be resolved. The cost is $20 to pay for the book, medallion and patches.

 For more information or to register, contact Diana Johanning  or pick up a registration forms from the God and Country mail box in the church office.

This program is for both boys and girls. It is supported by all youth programs, is open to youth from all faith backgrounds, and satisfies the “Duty to God” advancement requirements for Cub and Boy Scouts. Please help us share this information with others who may be interested.

Programs for Middle School and High School youth are also offered. They run at the student’s own pace. For more information, contact Wray Johanning.  For more information on this program, click here.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Worship Prayers from Nov. 22

In our worship we are called to bring all that we are, all that we have, all that we hope for, all that we can be, in grateful thanksgiving.
         We commit ourselves anew to God’s purposes, grateful that God has given us life and filled our lives with fullness and with joy.
Come, let us worship; let us praise God’s holy name. 
God who creates us, Christ who redeems us, Spirit who renews us, hear our confession.  As we gather on this Thanksgiving weekend we know that others are in need.  We live in a world in which a few take advantage of many, the rich take advantage of the poor, the full take advantage of the hungry.  We give thanks for food and then eat too much.  We give thanks for your love and then forget that we are gifts of love to others.

Enable us to be the thankful people you would have us be, O God.  And open our lives to thankful action.  Amen

Note:  These have been delayed due to special Advent readings.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

12th Annual Circle Of Concern Charity Golf Tournament

Please Note the change to Spring

When:  Monday, May 9, 2016

Where:  The Country Club at the Legends, Eureka, Missouri 63025

Why: Reducing hunger and poverty in West St. Louis County.

NEEDED:  Sponsors, Donations and Volunteers

Stay tuned as more blog entries will provide information on this rewarding charity event in the weeks and months to come.  All proceeds go to Circle Of Concern Food Pantry. 

Click here to go to the Circle of Concern Web Page

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Good News

Luke 2:8-20New International Version (NIV)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christ Child

Call to Worship
The light of the star shines again in the darkness.
The song of angels echoes again around us.
We have hoped for this night.
We have waited for this night.
We have prayed for this night.
We come not knowing what to expect, yet we come just the same.
To see the child, to witness his birth, to ponder in our own hearts what God has done.

Lighting of the Christ Candle
Preparing the Light
During Advent, we have hoped for God’s wondrous gift.
O come, let us adore him.
During Advent, we have waited upon fulfillment of God’s promise
O come, let us adore him.
During Advent, we have prayed for God’s glorious arrival.
O come, let us adore him.
Tonight, our waiting is over, God’s light shines in the darkness, we hear the Christmas angels.
We behold God’s promises fulfilled in the birth of a child. O come, let us adore him.
Sharing the Light – 

Responding to the Light
O God of Wonder, at the darkest time of the year we burn candles to remind us of the coming of a great light. We search the sky for the light of a luminous star. On this holy night, we look toward Bethlehem to see the radiance shining from a humble stable. Open our hearts to your gift to us of Jesus Christ. May the light of his life be born in us tonight, God with us, God for us, God in us. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Luke 1:46-49New International Version (NIV)

Mary’s Song

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.

Click here if the video of Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven" doesn't appear.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Hebrews 10:5-10New International Version (NIV)

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”[a]
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Micah 5:2-5New International Version (NIV)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace
    when the Assyrians invade our land
    and march through our fortresses.
We will raise against them seven shepherds,
    even eight commanders,

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Prayer of Preparation: O God, we give you thanks for coming to make all things new, and we rejoice as we open ourselves to you this Christmas season. Light our lives with your imagination. Show us the creative power of hope. Teach us that peace comes from justice. Fill us with the kind of joy that cannot be contained, but must be shared. Magnify your light within us. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you. Amen.

Lighting of the Advent Candle

Voice 1: In Advent, we wait upon the Lord: awaiting signs of hope, peace, love, and joy. We gather this morning in hopeful expectation. We gather to give praise to God for the promise that the Christ child will be born to us again this year.

Voice 2: We gather this morning with anticipation, awaiting God’s newness in our lives, awaiting God’s light that comes to the dark places in our hearts and in our world. This is a day of rejoicing, as our season of waiting is nearly over. We marvel that God would step into our broke and hurting world; and we rejoice that God is accomplishing something new, shining the light of hope into our lives.

Voice 1: Today, we light four candles, with joy and expectation, confident of the immanent birth of hope and light that will be born again into our world and into our lives. The pink candle is lit as we rejoice in God our Savior, who has come to make all things new. These candles remind us that God’s love surrounds and fills us at all times, even as we still live in a world with sorrow and pain.
[Light the pink candle, then the three purple candles.]

Call to Worship

Rejoice in the Lord always, pray without ceasing and give thanks.
We will greatly rejoice in the Lord, our whole being shall exult in God.
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice.
The time is coming when the weak will be made strong and the lowly will be lifted.
The time is coming when God’s people will come together singing.
Rejoice, the time is coming when we will celebrate the birth Christ, the light of the world.

Prayer of Confession
Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly into our lives and into our hearts. Renew us with your love. Where there is hatred, heal us with you love. Where there is discord, calm us with your peace. Where there is sin, cover us with your grace. Where there is despair, strengthen us with your hope. Help us to proclaim your good news in our words and in our actions, that we may be Your light in the world. Amen.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The True Meaning of Giving

The True Meaning of Giving
"When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Matthew 2:10-11 (NLT)

Our culture, unfortunately, misunderstands giving. We think of it, honestly, as trading. I get you something, you get me something—hopefully we spend about the same amount of money so no one feels awkward. We all know that panicked feeling when a friend shows up at our door in December with a wrapped package in her hand, and we realize we didn't get anything for them. We now feel we "owe" them a gift. I've read articles in women's magazines that suggest keeping a wrapped stash of generic gifts in your front closet for such unexpected occasions. Kind of takes the meaning out of it, doesn't it?
Imagine if the wise men had thought this way: "I wonder what Mary and Joseph will give us. Do you think they'll know we got this frankincense on clearance at TJ Maxx?" Of course not. And did Mary, seeing these strange gifts, think, "Okay, gold, that works for me. But spices you normally use for burial? What kind of baby gift is that? And it's so awkward that I have nothing to give them in return!"
Jesus and His family simply received their gifts without any concern for what they would give back. The Magi likewise seemed unconcerned with reciprocity—it was enough to find and worship a king they'd seen declared in the night sky years before.
In the same way, we can never give something equal in value to God's Christmas gift—Jesus. He is a gift we must humbly receive.

Acts 20:35 I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Repost from "Guideposts, by Keri Wyatt Kent.



Luke 6:38-39New International Version (NIV)

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?

Friday, December 18, 2015


Titus 2:11-14New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The Friendship Tree

"Please take my house plants home with you until we get settled in our new home."  Loaded into our van were Doug's prize-winning coleus, Harry's plant from his office, Jane's poinsettia (bought to lift their spirits while preparing for a move after Christmas) and a lovely little Norfolk pine.

After we got home, we put them all into our sunroom and forgot about them in our frenzy of Christmas decorating.  One afternoon, I sat out in the sunroom reading our Christmas cards.  With each card came a wave of memories shared with each sender.  While reflecting on these memories, I glanced into the family room at our beautifully adorned Christmas tree.   Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that little Norfolk pine looking like the lovely but sad Cinderella next to her fancy step-sister.

My mind, still filled with memories of friends, wandered briefly to that Norfolk pine which seemed to need some cheering up.  I glanced back at my Christmas cards and saw a photo of a high school friend with her family.  Inspiration send me running in all directions for a pencil, ribbon, scissors, cookie cutters, a hole puncher and all those photos saved from Christmas cards over the years.

After tracing the shape of the cookie cutter on the back of each photo, I cut it out, put a piece of ribbon through a hole and tied it onto the Norfolk Pine Soon, we had our "Friendship Tree"---a visual reminder of loved ones far away.

Now when we receive a card from my cousin in Minnesota, whom the children don't remember meeting six years ago, we can go to our Friendship Tree to see his photo.  Once a forlorn, homeless tree, now the pine is the center of our holiday attention as we remember our friends and family scattered all over the world.

Prayer:  We thank thee, Lord, for this time to remember the warmth of our friends, our glowing memories of Christmases past, and our love which reaches friends and family everywhere.  Amen

Postscript:  the tree has long since died, but I still had some of the ornaments.  All of these children are grown-up---some with children of their own.

Reprinted with permission of the author from St. Mark's booklet from 1985 Thoughts on Advent.