Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Revisited

Easter Revisited

Growing up, Easter was a special time. My brother Doug and I would always get a new suit, haircut and shiny new shoes. We would get up early and rush around the house trying to locate our special Easter basket and Easter eggs. There would be a mad dash to finish our breakfast and off to Elmwood Presbyterian Church to listen to Reverend Rose bellow out his message of salvation. 

Easter also meant a big afternoon dinner. My Mom would bake a large ham with scalloped potatoes and green beans. After finishing dinner we would jump in the car and visit family.

During most of my church life, God to me, was that God formulated during those early years of Elmwood Presbyterian Church. Reverend Rose was a very large and imposing figure in his black robes and booming voice. He talked of sin and hell. To be honest I was afraid of him. My vision of God was definitely of the Old Testament with his servant Saint Peter standing at the gates of Heaven checking off good vs bad deeds to see whether you were worthy to enter. God in my mind resembled the English king of old, authoritarian and unreachable. It wasn’t until I really started reading the Bible and studying the New Testament that I began to formulate a new vision of God. I began to realize that by looking at Jesus, I could see God.

Reverend Hudson helped me to understand how God came to each of us in the Spirit which then becomes the microphone to God’s ear. Reverend Ranney showed me that God wanted to be in a personal relationship with me. I now understand that St. Peter stands at the gates of Heaven welcoming all who believe in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross rather than what shows up on a ledger book.

Reverend Steve talks about sitting upon God’s lap and putting your arms around Him. My vision of God is now that of the loving Father not of the authoritarian King. I understand that He does want to be in relationship with me and to do that I need to talk to Him. I know He hears me through prayer and I know that He loves and cares about me. 

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Printed for St. Mark Presbyterian's 2015 Lenten Devotional with permission of B. Cranston

Monday, March 30, 2015

Little Dresses

Sherry, Mary Beth, Teri packing dresses.

 Thank you to all who have donated money, pillowcases, trim and the time to sew the dresses. Last year 14 dresses were made at the retreat, with 38 being completed in homes. 50 of those went to India  with Teri Rider. 

This year at the St. Mark Presbyterian Women's retreat we completed 17 dresses. Many pillowcases were taken home to be made into the dresses. Mary Beth Powell knows someone who may take some to Uganda and we hope to mail some to Haiti. 

There are pillowcases with matching bias tape in bags on the table and also just pillowcases and a basket of trim. If you would like to take some home to make, please help yourself. When you finish them, please leave them in the office with Sherry Naylor’s name on the bag. Also if you would like to donate items, please leave in the basket in the Narthex. Money can be left in the PW mailbox or given to Mary Beth or Sherry. Instructions are on the table. If you have any questions, please call Sherry.

Romans 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Prepare Ye!

From Palm Sunday 2014 at St. Mark Presbyterian Church.  Click here if video does not appear.  Thanks to J. Northrip for the video.

PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP:  O God, we praise you for the Master who rode in triumph into the city of his fathers.  We thank you that he came not as a conqueror to destroy but as the Messiah to save.  Enable us in this time to cast the garment of pride before him, that in the right spirit every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to your eternal glory. 

Leader:        The Messiah comes riding on a donkey.
People:       Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Leader:        The Messiah comes offering His Peace.
People:       Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Leader:        The Messiah waits for us to receive Him.
People:       So we may be blessed by the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Leader:        Let us receive the King
People:       Who comes in the name of the Lord.
Lord, even though You have ridden into our lives, like the people of old we do not recognize You for who You are.  We see Your humility and assume that You are only a servant that has come to meet our needs.  We forget that in reality You are the King of Kings deserving of unfettered devotion and allegiance.  We fail to see that it is You we are to serve, not our own desires and wants.  Forgive us for our haughtiness and be patient with us as we learn how to make You the King of our lives.  In Jesus Name we pray, AMEN.

The Jerusalem Festival is this Sunday from 9:30 – 12:00 noon.  The children will meet in their classrooms at 10:20 am to costume for the processional.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

St. Mark's Lenten Children's Programs

  • Palm Sunday Worship 
  • March 29---8:30 am, 10:30 am    Children will meet in their classroom at 10:15 am for costumes, process into the sanctuary at the beginning of the service, and proceed to Gleason Hall to their learning centers.

  • Jerusalem Festival
  • March 29—9:00 am—12:00 Noon
  • Come and experience a 1st Century Jerusalem Market-place! 
  • Visit a Jewish temple, shop in the local market, visit the petting zoo, and more!   Please join your St. Mark Presbyterian  family as we begin our walk together through the Holy Land.

  • Bunny Breakfast
  • April 4--9:00 am-11:30 am  Please join us for the St. Mark's annual Bunny Breakfast.  The breakfast will run from 9am-11:30am offering pancakes, sausage, applesauce, juice, milk and coffee.  Cost is $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for children $15 Family.  There will also be children's egg hunts, games, crafts and pictures with the Easter Bunny!  Sign up in the Narthex or call the church office 636-394-2233.

  • Resurrection Eggs
  • A meaningful way to countdown the days to Easter.  Each day has an Easter symbol inside the egg and a Bible verse to prepare children for Easter.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Easter Experience: Peter

If the video above doesn't appear, click here.
There is an excellent opportunity for adults during the Education Hour in Fellowship Hall at 9:15 am on Sunday March 29.  Adult Class Description:  Passover, which this year begins Friday night, April 3, is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar.  

Alan Nemes, a participant in the Jewish Community Relations Council and a frequent speaker on Judaism and Israel, will be talking about the history of Passover, as well as traditions associated with the holiday, and its importance to the Jewish people.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Friendship Blessed

A friend of mine who touched my life
Has left this room called "life on earth",
And is a rest beyond life's strife.

Now in the void are memories
Of warmth and love; of joy and mirth.

Does God exist?  Here's my reply.
I've seen His grace through my friend's faith.

Reprinted with permission of J. Miner from St. Mark Presbyterian's 2002 Lenten Devotional

Give us your power to let our lights shine
As they reflect your love, peace and righteousness
To the rest of the world.

Give us your power to pray for the ones we pass
On the street that we see who may need
Your help and love.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Refining Friendship

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"  Matthew 5:44

Friendship is a precious gift.  I have been very blessed to have made very good friends in the varous stages of my life.  When we get together it feels like time has stood still.  It's a wonderful thing.  This chapter (from A World Worth Saving) calls us to reach out and expand our friendships by extending hospitality and extending support.

I think we are called to interact in a positive way with whoever we meet.  Not to be afraid of differences but to broaden our own horizons by being exposed to new ideas and people different from ourselves.  God loves us all and he gave hs Son, Jesus, to save us all. He commanded us to love our neighbor.  Pray for all people in our world.

St. Mark Presbyterian Adult Education Committee has sponsored an All Church Book Read with A World Worth Saving by George Hovaness Donigian.  Thank you to B. Larez for sharing her thoughts.  

Come to Fellowship Hall 6:15 to continue in the discussion of Chapter 6.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Do More Than Just Pretend

A small sign hangs in a co-worker’s cubicle, “Just Pretend You Care.” Of course, there’s a story behind it.

One day a supervisor came into our office and my staff expressed concern for some other employees in our division who were dealing with a situation that seemed unfair to us. We were hoping for a solution or some advice on how to help them. If there was nothing that person could do, then at least we thought s/he would express sympathy for the employees’ situation. We hoped for too much.

After the supervisor left, one co-worker lamented, “Is it too much for us to expect them to care? Just pretend you care! How difficult can that be?”

The other co-worker typed up the phrase, “Just Pretend You Care,” and placed it so everyone who walks in our office sees it. People often ask us about it and our simplified version of the story has become rather amusing. In reality though, it is quite sad. We were willing to settle for false concern in place of apathy. This is not a healthy work environment. When we work in close quarters with a variety of different people we need to respect each other and yes, genuinely care about them.

During this Lenten season take time to show a loving concern for those around you. It could be listening sympathetically to their problems, thanking them for their assistance, helping them in time of need, simply greeting them with a smile, giving them a compliment, or asking about their day. Do more than just pretend you care.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Printed with permission of Julie N for St. Mark Presbyterian's 2015 Lenten Devotional. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

God Rides a Motorcycle

This is from an e-mail from Terri Rider, a missionary in India, who attended St. Mark Presbyterian a few years ago.

God Rides a Motorcycle

hmmm - sounds like a catchy title for a book

It has been appreciative and sometimes a grin and chuckle to see where the Father shows up when needed.   Every so often a need will arise, a small prayer is lifted up, and of course He will provide.

One afternoon, a colleague and I were riding in an auto rickshaw.   Our plan was to drop a colleague at location 1 and me at location 2.  The rickshaw driver was much confused with having 2 drops.  I was trying to explain in simple words where to go.  Comprehension was not happening.  While stopped at a traffic light (yes, sometimes locals actually follow rules of the road) a motorcycle pulled up next to us.  He must have seen the confusion our driver was having.  He turned to us and asked what we wanted the driver to do.  The motorcyclist relayed the information in local language and off we went.  God rode a motorcycle that afternoon  ( :

While traveling to a friend’s out of state wedding, a bus connection had to be made after the 15 hour train journey.  A few of His helpers made the trip possible. The bus depot which had to be found, easily had 100 buses staged there.  The bus company needed was nowhere to be seen.    Great  ) :     While circling the area once more, searching for the company, prayers were lifted up.  Almost immediately a bus cleaning worker stepped out from a parked bus and asked where I needed to go.  He started walking me towards the bus company when a police officer approached us. He listened to the story and told me to get on the back of his motorcycle.  He would drive me to the needed location. Once again Praises for answered prayers! And once again God rode a motorcycle, in addition to cleaning buses.                                                                                                                                                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of my neighbors invited me to their youngest son’s wedding. I had not heard of Yarpal city and was not familiar with it, how to reach there, where the function hall was located …   A friend was able to direct me which bus to ride for Yarpal.  Off I went.  The bus conductor, who sells the on-board tickets, told me where to get down and gave general directions to the function hall for the wedding.  The road had a split, do I go left or right? Thankfully a coconut vendor was nearby.  I asked for his help.  With limited communication skills, he said take left road, then left.   Ok, no problem.  Left and left led me to an interior village.  This is not the function hall.  I looked around and could see nothing, nor hear a band or large gathering of people.  So I returned back to the main road.  The coconut man looked surprised to see me back so soon.  I told him left and left is village.  No No No go back left and left.  I said no – it is village.  Prayerfully he had 3 customers at his coconut cart. He strongly encouraged one of his customers to drive me to the function hall – on his motorcycle.  I simply smiled and said, "Thank You."  
God sold coconuts that day, and one of His helpers drove the motorcycle.    

Matthew 18:10 - Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.                                                                                                                                                           

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Prayers from Worship March 15

St. Mark Presbyterian, Ballwin MO

PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP: Patient God, It is to you we come with our questions: Who are you? Who are we? What are we to be about in life? Where is meaning? What is truth? How can we be born anew? As we open to you our seeking spirits, curious minds, and needy hearts, help us remain steadfast in faith as we await your answers. Make us willing to have challenged the knowledge we think we have and brace us for surprise. Receive the worship we bring, O God, in the confidence that you do hear us, and are even now responding in your love. Amen

In the beginning before time, before people, before the world began,
God was.
Here and now among us, beside us, enlisting the people of earth for the purposes of heaven,
God is.
In the future, when we have turned to dust and all we know has found its fulfillment,
God will be.
Not denying the world, but delighting in it, not condemning the world, but redeeming it, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
God was. God is. God will be.

Holy One, we confess that though we are sheep who know the shepherd’s voice, we fail to listen attentively to the one who alone can lead us safely through all that tempts us. We are besieged by the voices of the world, by the barking of powers that tempt us to buy what we do not need and to prove our power by exerting it over others. To our sorrow, we learn that pride in our own ability to resist only makes us more vulnerable. We confess the sin of our wandering and willfulness. Forgive us, we pray. Amen

For the sermon on March 15, click here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Circle of Concern / St Mark Charity Golf Tournament

Circle of Concern feeds the hungry and provides long-term and emergency assistance to low-income families living in western St Louis County.  St Mark supports this cause numerous ways through dry donations from our congregation of food, school supplies, birthday items, adopt a family, etc.  Another way to support Circle of Concern is through financial donations.  This coming September, St Mark Presbyterian will again host the 11th Annual Circle of Concern Charity Golf Tournament.  The entire proceeds generated from this tournament goes to Circle of Concern.  This is a premier event in Circle’s September “GO ORANGE” campaign to raise awareness of hunger.  This charity golf tournament has netted the following revenue over the last five years:  $5,507, $5,685, $7,484, $9,819, and $8,099.  Cash contributions allows Circle of Concern to purchase items that cannot be generated through dry donations; i.e. dairy products, meat, frozen food, vegetables, and fruit to name a few.

Please keep on the lookout the next couple of months on how you can make a ‘cash donation’ to Circle of Concern that will support Circle through the charity golf tournament.  You do NOT have to play in the tournament to support Circle and this worthy cause; you can support Circle as a “Sponsor” or “Friend”.  You also will have the capability to spread your total donation out by making a couple of monthly payments to make it easier.

Proverbs 19:17; Whoever is generous to poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Thank you and please keep those ‘in need’ in our hearts and prayers.  Personal disasters can happen to anyone and at any time.

Bob Lienemann, Deacon Moderator and Golf Tournament Coordinator

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mary, Mother of Jesus, on the Easter Experience

Click here if video doesn't appear.  Another video reflecting on Mary, click here.

Philippians 1:29

When someone you know is suffering, you're affected by their pain.  If it's an acquaintance, you feel badly for them and hope things will return to normal soon.  But if it's a dear friend,someone you've shared life with, who is experiencing tragedy---you suffer too. You hurt too.  It's the same with Jesus:  the closer we get to Him, the more we share in His suffering.  But it is a privilege reserved for those who believe in Him.  We should rejoice in this fellowship.  It is something He has graciously granted to us, and it shows that we have access to God through Jesus, who gives us the gift of eternal life.

From Ministry Devotional for The Easter Experience.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Living in the Light of Faith

See I will not forget you.  I have carved you in the palm of my hand. Isaiah 49: 16

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14: 1-3

I am a supportive care nurse.  I care for people in their homes; patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, many of whom are still receiving chemotherapy or radiation.  I had to work last weekend and as I was driving to my first patient's home, I turned on the radio.  A church service was being broadcast.

The congregation was singing a familiar Epiphany hymn, "Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light!"  I sang along.  The sermon began:  the minister challenged his listeners by asking if they lived their life in the light of fairth or the darkness of fear.  I began to reflect on this question and my mind wandered to my patients.  It is a great privilege to care for God's people at the closing of their earthly life  It has been my experience that those who have a strong anchor tethered to God, weather the storm of terminal illness, not in the darkness of fear but live their days in the light of faith.  Their faces reflect the peace that passes all understanding.

They smile, they laugh, they cry, they suffer great indignities of the body. . . . but not the soul.

As we look forward to the celebration of the Resurrection, let us live our lives in the light of faith.  We have nothing to fear.  Christ has gone before us and walks beside us.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, to be my Sun, so that I no longer walk in the darkness of fear, but walk in the light of faith.  Amen.

Printed with permission of J. Hunt from St. Mark Presbyterian's 2002 Lenten Devotional.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Healing the World

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone that believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life"  John 3: 16.

God sent His Son Jesus to heal our broken world.  We all come to Jesus for healing but I always have to remind myself that my prayer may not be answered according to my time schedule or in the way that I propose.  When my husband Wayne died, I felt so lost my world was surreal.  I prayed "help me Lord!" and I asked my friends and family to pray for me.  The loss of my loved one is still with me but the comfort I feel from the Lord m God is very real.  I am so humbled by God's love.

I found that being of service---in church, for our family, or in our community---helps us heal.  "Even when wounded and needy, we can speak of God's love and grace and act with compassion, becoming conduits of God's healing love" (A World Worth Saving, p. 82).

Living a life of service doesn't mean a sober existence.  Loving life and living it to fullness is what Jesus spoke about in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly".  We can't all be Stephen Ministers, but we can all pray for all aspects of our broken world.

Reflections on Chapter 5 from our "All Church Book Read" by B. Larez, with her permission.  There is no Midweek today due to Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Christ With Me

I recently bought a new water bottle for work. It's pretty and I thought it might make drinking water more appealing. It also features a scripture passage that helps me through my day.
"I can do all things through Christ." Philippians 4: 13

We are undergoing major renovation and construction at work. The timeline and project details change constantly. Most of us don't know what to expect next or how it will affect us. With all the uncertainty comes anxiety and tension. We're packing up decades worth of resources and files and moving them to several different locations. Staff members are being displaced. A major source of stress is parking and safety now that our park garage is gone. My immediate supervisor is leaving and will be gone by April. We do not know who will be our temporary supervisor. Getting a permanent one may take a year or more. Who will "lead" us during this time of turmoil and change? How can I help my own staff when morale is so incredibly low?

As work pressures, chaos, and office politics threaten to overwhelm me, I know that Christ will see me through these stressful times. Now, I am not expecting Christ to turn me into some sort of superhero who can resolve all the conflicts. I know some people read the verse and the part after it that says "...who strengthens me," and think that means Christ is going to help them defeat their enemies, win the game, get a better job, or attain some other personal goal. 

"I can do all things" is not about me but rather about Christ being with me and supporting me through whatever my life brings. He will strengthen me so that I can accept decisions made by others, deal with frustration, and strive to make positive contributions. He will grant me wisdom so I can be encouraging and supportive of others. I will make it through this time of change (and all the other changes yet to come.) I will take comfort in that knowledge. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens.

Printed with permission of Julie N. for St. Mark Presbyterian's 2015 Lenten Devotional

Monday, March 16, 2015

Little Rock Stew

St. Mark Presbyterian Youth are headed to Little Rock July 26th-August 1st. We will be working with many organizations while we are there that include: Arkansas Rice Depot (food bank), Stew Pot, Our House (homeless mission), & Habitat for Humanity of Pulaski County. We are *hopefully* staying at Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock.

We are also headed to Montreat June 6-13th. Their theme is “This is our Story.” Here is the link to their website. www.montreat.org. Our days are chalked full of worship, recreation, small group time, and of course, energizers! It is a wonderful way for young people to discover their gifts and reflect on their Presbyterian identity.

Because we are again looking at 2 trips, we are trying to fundraise $12,000. We are going to try and hit that mark by: Flamingo Flocking, Trivia Night, the Money Wall, & a Car Wash in April.  Thank you to all who supported the Trivia Night.

What’s a money wall, you ask? The bulletin board outside Katie's office has 50 envelopes on it with dollar amounts from $1 to $50. A donor can take the envelope and place the amount of money that corresponds with the dollar amount on the envelope. (Is that clear to folks?)
This is one of the organizations we will be working with in Little Rock.

Click here if video does not appear.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Worship from March 8

PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP:  Lord, set your blessing on us as we begin this day together.  Confirm in us the truth by which we rightly live; confront us with the truth from which we wrongly turn.  We ask not for what we want but for what you know we need, as we offer this day and ourselves for you and to you through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Amen
CALL TO WORSHIP (Adapted from Psalm 103:10-13)
Leader:      God does not treat us as our sins deserve;
People:      or repay us according to our iniquities.
Leader:      For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
People:      so great is His love for those that revere Him.
Leader:      As a father has compassion on his children,
People:      so the Lord has compassion on those who revere Him.
Leader:      Let us worship our loving God. 
Lord, over the centuries You have called to the human race in so many ways.  You have shown us Yourself in the wonder of creation.  You have sent messengers to tell us of Your love and to call us into relationship with You.  Sometimes You have had to get our attention in dramatic ways.  Those attempts have had one main purpose, to prepare us to recognize and receive Your love through Your Son.  In spite of all You have done, we hold You at arms length and refuse to let Your love into our lives.  Thank You for waiting on the porch and forgive us for pushing away Your loving embrace.  This we pray in the name of Your Son, AMEN.

Click here for the sermon on March 8 .

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Food Safety During Blackouts

Loss of power can jeopardize the safety of the food stored in your home refrigerator or freezer.  The following information is taken from the FEMA E-Brief, February 25, 2015 edition.   In the event of a blackout, do you know how to determine if your food is safe to eat?  Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The USDA instructs setting your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the power is out for less than four hours and the refrigerator door is kept closed, your food should be safe.

Please click on this link "The U.S. Department of Agriculture"
to know more on how to prevent the loss of food and lower the risk of food-borne illness.

1 Corinthians 10:31; So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mary Magdalene's Monologue 3

Click here if the video does not appear.

John 7:37-52

If you've grown up in the church, or if you have been a Christ follower for a long time, you've likely grown accustomed to hearing such statements as, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," or "I am living water."  But when Jesus said these things, they were revolutionary thoughts.  "Never has anyone spoken like this," the police say in this passage (v.46).  As you contemplate the importance of the Cross, look at Scripture with fresh eyes.  Hear what Jesus said again for the first time, and embrace the revolutionary, life-changing power of His words.

From Ministry Devotional for The Easter Experience.