Monday, November 30, 2015

Promise


Jeremiah 33:14-16New International Version (NIV)
The oldest complete Jesse Tree window
 is in Chartres Cathedral, 1145.

14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[a] will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’


As a genealogist, the Jesse Tree and genealogy of Jesus have always interested me.  The scripture today states that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise made to the people of Israel and Judah.  Re-reading that passage reminded me of a quote on Facebook I saw the other day. The Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan said, "Walking.  I am listening to a deeper way.  Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.  Be still, they say.  Watch and listen.  You are the result of the love of thousands."

We are all the fulfillment of a promise made to our ancestors who struggled with a life not as comfortable as ours is.  Just knowing that their struggles, hardships, hopes and love brought me where I am, gives me the urge to be the right kind of fulfillment of their promise.  I may not save the world, but I can certainly "do what is just and right in the land."  I owe them.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hope


Prayer of Preparation: O God, during this season of Advent, we wait upon you to lead us from death to life, from despair to hope. Lead us from hate to love, from unrest to peace. Let your promise of peace fill our hearts and world. Open our eyes to see beyond what is in front of us, to see you entering our world in a new way. May we live into your expectation that our lives will demonstrate your teachings, from the prophets to the present. Amen.

Lighting of the Advent Candle

Voice 1: Advent means “coming” or “arrival” – this is a time of hopeful expectation and preparation marked by waiting.

Voice 2: In Advent, we wait upon the Lord: awaiting signs of hope, peace, joy, and love. It is a time to remember the wonders of our faith as we await the new thing God is about to do.

Voice 1: God promises us a savior who acts with justice and righteousness. God promises us, wherever we are in our lives, whatever situations we are dealing with, whatever problems we face, God’s light will come to us.

Voice 2: God is about to do a new thing. God is entering our world in a new way. God is entering our lives in a new way. God will be with us in a new way. We light this first candle with the hopeful expectation that God is doing something new. Open your eyes to see the signs of God’s light in your life now.

Call to Worship

The days are surely coming when God’s promises shall be fulfilled.
When our love for one another and for all God’s children will increase.
The days are surely coming when God’s promises shall come true.
When God will strengthen our hearts, and heal the world.
The days are surely coming when God’s promises are realize in us.
When we will walk the paths of discipleship.

Prayer of Confession

Almighty God, You warn us to read the signs for the coming of you glorious light – in the sun, the moon, the stars, the roaring seas and the waves, the distress among the nations. We have seen it all before. Nothing seems to change. Forgive us, O God. Forgive our doubts and hopelessness, our sense that nothing ever really changes.

Help us to live with courage in this age of ambiguity. Teach us your ways when we have lost ours. Teach us to wait with patience, that we may be ready as our redeemer draws near. Amen.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Advent: Waiting For Light

Pastor James Poinsett

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” says the prophet Isaiah. 

This quote is from one of the texts we will be focusing on in worship during the season of Advent. I believe the spirit of hopeful expectation in this quote captures the joyous sense of preparation we share in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the Advent season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in his first Advent. And it also points to the promise that God will continue to come to us again and again. Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000-year-old event in history – it is a celebration of the truth about God.

Advent is marked by a spirit of hopeful expectation, of anticipation, of preparation. In its double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of each of us as individuals and as a congregation. We affirm the hope once anticipated that Christ has come, and we anticipate anew the ways God will be revealed among us in the coming year.

This time of hopeful expectation and preparation is marked by waiting. Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting by Israelites for the birth of the Messiah, and the waiting by Christians for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Our theme as we journey through this Advent season is “Waiting for the Light.” Through our worship and work we will be watching for the signs of God’s light in our world, and actively anticipating the light of Christ to enter our lives in a new way.

Advent is about hope. It is not just hope for a better day or hope for the lessening of pain and suffering, although that is certainly a significant part of it. Advent is more about hope that we have meaning and possibility beyond our present circumstances, a hope that the limits of our lives are not nearly as narrow as we experience them to be. It is not that we have possibility in ourselves, but that God is a God of new things and so all things are possible.

If our hope is only in our circumstances, as we define them to be good or as we want them to be to make us happy, we will always be disappointed. That is why we hope, not in circumstances, but in God. God has continually been revealed to be a God of newness, of possibility, of redemption, the recovery or transformation of possibility from endings that goes beyond what we think or imagine.
Yet, it all begins with the hope that the light of God will once again shine to reveal new things and new possibilities. This time of year we contemplate that hope embodied in a newborn baby, the perfect example of newness and potential. During Advent, we pray for that newness with the hopeful expectation, indeed the faith, that God will once again be faithful to see our circumstances, to hear our cries, know our longings for whole lives, for a stronger church, and for a better world.

Let us journey through Advent together as a church family with the hope that continues to prepare us to see possibility, and with the faith that prepares us for the day when God will once again fulfill promises made.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Advent 2015: “Waiting for the Light”



Advent Calendar

December 2 Blue Christmas Worship
A service of Hope and Healing
Wednesday 6 pm Fellowship Hall

December 5-6 – Second Weekend of Advent
Waiting for the Light: Waiting with One Another
Worship: Lighting the Candle of Waiting
Communion by Intinction
Saturday 5 pm; Sunday 8:30 & 10:30 am
Rev. Jim Poinsett preaching
3pm(Sat) Christmas Table Top Tour
11:30 am (Sun) – Youth Group Christmas Party
5:30 pm(Sun) – Jingle Mingle

December 9
Advent Prayer and Meditation
6:15 pm in Fellowship Hall

December 12-13 – Third Weekend of Advent
Waiting for the Light: Children’s Pageant ‘Wrapping All the Way’
Worship: Lighting the Candle of Rejoicing
Children’s Pageant
Saturday 5 pm; Sunday 10:30 am
Service of Song and Light with Communion
Sunday 8:30 am

December 16
Advent Prayer and Meditation
6:15 pm in Fellowship Hall

December 19-20 – Fourth Weekend of Advent
Waiting for the Light: Canticles in Candlelight
Worship – Lighting the Candle of Love
Service of Song and Light
Saturday 5 pm
Chancel Choir Cantata
Sunday 8:30 & 10:30

December 24 – Christmas Eve
5:00 pm – Family and Community Christmas Pageant
7:00 pm – Traditional Candlelight Service
Rev. Jim Poinsett preaching
9:00 pm – Candlelight Communion Service
Rev. Jim Poinsett preaching

December 27 – Christmas Sunday
Worship Sunday 8:30 & 10:30 am
(no Saturday worship)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving



GOSPEL MATTHEW 6:25-33
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude

 “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.” 
― Anne LamottHelp Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Thanksgiving and reading Anne Lamotte's book, got me thinking about Gratitude. Several years ago, my daughter started a year-long journey of documenting on Instagram something she was thankful for each day.  She then had them printed in a book.  The idea came from Ann Vosskamp's book One Thousand Gifts.  Amazon says:
 In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted...a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved--by God. 
I shared this idea with my circle and two of us have taken that journey of finding something to be thankful for each day:  the song of birds, the color of a leaf, lunch with a friend, a penny found on a parking lot.  We used the hashtag #stmarkthankful and #stmarkthankfuljounal to chronicle our journey.


Recently Katie shared on Facebook an article explaining the huge benefit in seeking gratitude.  Click here for the entire article written by a neuro-scientist.  This article says that just seeking things to be grateful for and sharing with friends releases the dopamine that makes us feel better.

As we are approaching winter when many of us have a tendency to get depressed, look for something to be grateful for, share it with others. If you are on Instagram use one of our hashtags. But, if you don't do Instagram, express your gratitude to your spouse, a friend.  Write a note, make a phone call, send an e-mail or keep a written journal.  It's one of those times when science and faith agree being grateful will make you happier.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Giving Thanks Dinner


Giving Thanks Dinner St. Mark Presbyterian
Fellowship Committee




Sweet Potato Casserole 
(Servings 16-20) 

 4 1/2 c. sweet potatoes mashed 
1 c sugar 
1 egg 
1/2 c milk
 8 T butter, melted 
 Combine and pour into greased 9x13 casserole 


 Topping 

1 c brown sugar 
1/2 c flour
 8 T butter, melted 
1 c chopped pecans
 Combine & sprinkle over mixture

350 for 45 minutes or until it doesn't jiggle.






Sunday, November 22, 2015

Worship Prayers November 15


CALL TO WORSHIP
What does God ask of us in this place and time?
         To worship with our whole hearts.
What does God seek in our lives?
         To care for one another with compassion and mercy.
What service does God invite from us?
         To give what we have, with open hearts. 
   PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Great and faithful God, our self-focus causes us to imagine how poor we are.  We are convinced that we don’t have enough: enough honor, enough respect, enough recognition, enough to live on.  And so, in our poverty, we do not trust you, we do not see the emptiness of others, we cannot help but cling to more than we need.  But you bless us with all that we need, your wonders and signs never cease.  Forgive us, O God.  Help us to learn how to be more loving; whisper to us of how we can help mend and heal your world; sing to us of how we can share with others.  Amen.

For the sermon "Faithful Giving", click here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

St Mark AED and First Aid Kits


In case of a medical emergency . . . 
 
 

Do you know where the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is located at St. Mark Presbyterian Church?  No idea ???  Well, you are off the hook this time.  It is located in the Narthex behind the Sunday morning donut table, across from room 102.  Look for it the next time you walk by.  It is unlocked, has simple instructions and is ready for use.  The Deacon’s, Health and Wellness Committee will be offering a CPR-AED training class in 2016.  This is a skill that may save a life one day.
 
 
 
 
Also, there are two centrally located First Aid Kits where you can find a bandaid and other medical supplies when you need them.  Both locations are accessible in case rooms are locked where other kits are located.   The first is located above the AED.  The second is located above the water fountain in the lower level across from room 17.



Psalm 82:4   Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Circle of Concern Giving Thanks

We have been asked to bring food for Circle of Concern as our tickets to the Giving Thanks Dinner Sunday Nov. 22 at St. Mark Presbyterian Church.  But, we welcome donations any time.

Suggested items are cornbread mix/biscuit mix, stuffing canned fruit, dessert mix such as cake/cobbler mix, canned pie filling, gravy (canned or dry mix), canned vegetables (peas, carrots, mixed veggies), jello gelatin, yams/sweet potatoes (canned), broth or cream soup,  cranberry sauce,  canned milk.  Cash donations are also  used to purchase frozen turkeys.

Circle of Concern always needs everyday items such as canned chicken boxed potatoes, beans, rice cereal, tomato products, mac and cheese, dinner helpers and personal care items such as shampoo and soap.