Monday, February 29, 2016

Christmas Shoebox Thanks and Update

Thanks to everyone who helped us collect and make items to pack 189 shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child last year! In December I had the privilege of volunteering at an OCC processing center in southern California and inspected thousands of boxes packed by churches and individuals. It was interesting to see how well (or not) some boxes were packed. I am glad to say that our boxes were filled with quality items and included all the basics as well as fun, WOW toys. I know the children in Mexico are enjoying them right now!

We'd like to share suggestions on what people could be collecting throughout 2016. Below is a list of monthly ideas. Items can be dropped off in the Narthex at the Children's Ministry table or in Ellen's office. Thank you again for helping with this outreach project! For more information, contact Julie Northrip.

Year-Round Ideas for Operation Christmas Child Donations 

Christmas Sale Items (i.e. candy canes and stuffed animals)

Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Valentine Sale items(i.e. candy, fun pencils and toys)

Toys (i.e. dolls, cars/trucks, jump ropes, soccer balls to deflate, small balls), Stuffed Animals

Soap (bar soap, not liquid), Washcloths

Clothing items (shirts, socks, underwear)

Toys, Games, Puzzles

Coloring books, Small flashlights, Batteries (AA)

August & September
School supplies (pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, paper, spiral notebooks, crayons, colored
pencils, pens, scissors, pencil cases)

Candy (hard candy and tootsie rolls)

Donations for postage costs

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Worship Prayers from Feb. 20, 21

PRAYER IN PREPARATION:  Most Holy God, as we continue our Lenten journey, we await the touch of your Spirit with eagerness.  We ask that you enter the lives of each one of us today, refreshing and renewing and healing us with the power of your love, so that we may live with purpose and enthusiasm and courage, following the path of Jesus our Lord.  Amen. 
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
         The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
God will hide me in God’s shelter in the day of trouble;
         God will conceal me under the cover of God’s tent.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
         We will wait for the Lord, we will take courage in our hearts and wait for the Lord.

O God, we admit that all too often you are not the center of our lives.  We find shelter in all the false securities the world offers, rather than grounding ourselves in your promises.  Our emotions drive our fears, and so we wind up making foolish choices, rather than being guided by your word in our heart.  We turn to the politicians, the celebrities, the commentators to give us guidelines for living, rather that following the One who comes in your name.  Forgive us, O God.  Show yourself to us, turn to us with forgiveness and hope. Open our hearts, as well as our eyes, to see the One who comes to gather us up and lead us into your kingdom.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scripture readings for Feb.27, 28

Luke 13:1-9

Repent or Perish
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Friday, February 26, 2016

Trivia Night and Youth Events


Mark your calendars for March 5. Doors open at 6 pm. Trivia from 7-10 pm here at St. Mark. Reserve your table $200 for a table of 8, or $25 per person. BYOB. Raffle, 50/50, and “Dead or Alive” will be available as well as beautiful baskets to be auctioned off. Some prizes include: Blues Hockey Tickets, a Round of Golf at Four Seasons, and tickets to the Muny!

If you are interested in donating an item for a basket, contact S. Caplinger. To register an individual, or a table of 8, contact C. Brewer  or call the church office. Proceeds benefit Youth Ministries Missions both local and national.

Other Youth Events Coming Up:  
February 27th 12-2  Youth are invited to make PB&J sandwiches at St. Mark and distribute them at The Bridge.  Let Katie know if you can be there.
February  28th Guest Speaker Brian Kuhn M.E.d will be here for Parents and Students to talk about making good choices
March 2nd: Feasting on the Word & Lenten Practices
March 5th: Trivia Night 6-10 p.m.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Perfect Light

I John 1:7
St. Mark Presbyterian Church

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanest us from all sin.

Last fall my mum plants were outstanding, as large and full of blooms as those I've seen at the Botanical Garden.  Reflecting on the reason for their flourishing, I decided it was because they were in perfect light.  I had given them some care, but not an abundance of fertilizer or sprays, either organic or chemical.  The soil they were in was basically Missouri subdivision clay with a little mulch on top.

It occurred to me that the growth of these plants was similar to humans.  Children who are raised in the warm light of love and security usually thrive, even if they don't have eery material possession we sometimes think they must have.  As adults we may be required to sacrifice time, money or something else important to us to moe toward the radiance of God's perfect light and way, but in doing so we will almost certainly experience inner peace and significant spiritual growth.

Dear Lord,
Gie me the courage today to try to walk in Your way and to help someone else moe toward Your light.  Amen.

Re-printed from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1998 Lenten Devotional with the permission of P. Marshall

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

St. Mark Lenten Season Events

Click here for the story of "Jesus and the Woman at the Well"

Midweek Program –Wednesday evenings 6:15, Fellowship Hall
“Water, Mud, & Light: A Lenten Experience of Worship and Reflection”
Feb. 24 – Water: Jesus and the Woman at the Well (cancelled today due to weather)
March 2 – Mud: Jesus and the Blind Man
March 9 – Truth: Jesus and Pilate

Midweek Youth Program –Wednesday evening 6:00-7:30
Feb. 24 and March 2 “Feasting on the Word and Lenten Practices”

Palm Sunday and Jerusalem Festival
March 20 9AM--noon

Maundy Thursday Service – “Living Last Supper” drama
March 24 7:30 PM

Bunny Breakfast on Saturday
March 26, 11:30 AM

Saturday Worship Service of Reflection
March 26, 5:00p.m.
Easter Sunday Services
March 27, 8:30a.m., 10:30a.m.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


“This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!” Psalm 118:24 – Common
English Bible translation

A few months after my husband died I heard Dr. Jill Stratton of Washington University speak about joy and flow. She earned her PhD by studying the growing field of positive psychology. She reported that the field of research on happiness is derived from three components of our lives. Our general disposition or outlook seems to come from inherited DNA (a ‘set point’) and that accounts for 50% of our degree of happiness. The present circumstances in which we find ourselves – either favorable or unfavorable – is another 10%. The remaining portion – 40% - comes from our own intentional acts (From Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness)

Following Dr. Stratton’s modeling, I began a practice of writing on Facebook a weekly TILT – Things I Love Thursday. Some may call this a gratitude list. It often is but is really bigger than that. Every Thursday morning for over three years now, I sit quietly and think about what makes me smile, feel good, soothes me, makes me excited, tastes good, or what I find interesting. I think about my five senses, my past week, my upcoming plans, the beauty around me and the goodness that I experience in my life. I do not deny nor ignore pain or problems. They are still there and need to be named and acknowledged. But in this TILT practice, I stay still and mindful, reflecting on this moment that God has given to me. I am able to hold joy and pain in the same hand. I am blessed by the acts of God, and it is well with my soul.

I wrote the following on December 6, 2012:
Today I am beginning a new practice of gratitude - "TILT: Things I ♥ Thursday". Here goes! A peaceful beautiful backyard, hands that can sew and knit, belonging to the same congregation over 25 years, being a "squeeze machine" with my grandchildren, memories of a partnership with a man for almost 4 decades, eating rum cake for breakfast while drinking strong coffee, friends and family who will walk and run with me.

Lent is a time to remember we are made of dust as was so clearly said at our Ash Wednesday service a few weeks ago. It is also a time of prayer and reflection. Thursdays are my best reflection days. Circumstances do not need to not perfect. I can still find joy, celebration, and peace. I am acting with gratitude each day.

I Thessalonians 5:16-21

Victoria Sherman

Monday, February 22, 2016

BRO Needs

Matthew 25:40 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
BRO box Preschool Entrance

In February we will be collecting layette items for newborns. 

During 2015 about 500 layette bags were given to mothers of newborns, who have been referred to BRO by social service agencies in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

BRO is looking for a person or two, who can work on broken toys. We also are looking for volunteers who can give some time during our working hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9:00 – 2:00.

For information call S. Boeker or L. Groethe.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Worship Prayers from February 14

PRAYER IN PREPARTION:  Loving God, as we begin our Lenten journey, toward the wild and dark places, and toward the hope of resurrection, we gather in your house to dwell in the shelter of your love.  We gather in grateful worship seeking to know your ways, and to be led in your truth.  Reveal yourself to us this day – in spirited song, in joyous children, in grieving friends, in challenging scripture, in meaningful prayers, in repentances and forgiveness, in love and grace.  Amen.
Come, let us share the Lenten journey; let us open our hearts to God’s presence.
         To you, O God, we lift up our souls; in you, O Lord, we place our trust.
Make us to know your ways, O God; teach us to live according to your truth.
         Guide us on the paths of righteousness; lead us in the ways of justice and love.
For you are the God of our salvation; you are our heart’s true home.
         Come, let us share the Lenten journey; let us open our hearts to God’s presence.

O Holy God, it is difficult for us to face our sin.  You call us to journey into the shadows of our souls, to wrestle with the evil without and within.  You call us to struggle with who you would have us be and what you would have us do.  But the path is hard and we are weary. We want our journeys of faith to be devout, but not too daring; comfortable and not too threatening.  Forgive us, O Lord.  Give us courage to face our fears and faith to place our trust in your guiding mercy.  Bathe our weary souls in the cooling waters of baptism.  Wipe the dust of the wilderness out of our eyes so we can see your kingdom.  Teach us the ways that offer each of us new life.

For Pastor Jim's sermon, click here.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Scripture for February 20, 21

Luke 4:31-35New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Attention All St. Mark Chefs and Bakers

2015 Winners
It's time for our annual cook off, but with a twist this year. Along with our soup cook off we're having a pie bake off!

Join us on Sunday, February 28 following the 10:30 ser-vice. For $4 you will have tastes of all of the soup and pie that you want. Drinks are included. Hot dogs and chips are also available for $1.

Soup chefs, bring your tasty creations in a crockpot. Pie bakers, please bring 2 pies of your mouth-watering delicacies for sampling. Decorations and extras such as cheese, etc. are optional, but add fun to this event. Tasting cups and serving plates will be furnished.

Please join us for fun and fellowship along with outstanding soups and pies. Look for signups in the Narthex by the coffee table.

Proverbs 15:17 It is better to eat soup with someone you love than steak with someone you hate.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Lord Builds the House

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."  Psalm 127: 1
Missouri Botanical Garden

It was a steamy Sunday morning late in August, the kind of summer day we all dread, with high humidity and high temperature.  It was the type of day when even church going is perfunctory, but those not on vacation or occupied with late summer activities had gathered for worship.  Little did I suspect that my entire perspective of my relationship with God would be changed that morning.  Now, I am not sure what the title of the sermon was that morning, nor if I got the intended message.  But what I did get was an inspiration to reevaluate  my faith and my commitment to that faith that would keep me thinking for many days ahead.

As the sermon began, the preacher asked us to think of the three most important things in our lives and then "mentally" write each on index cards we would hold in our hands.  This wasn't too difficult---after all, I was in church---and the obvious answers were my family, job and religion.  Early on, we were told to toss one of those away, leaving only the two most important.  Again, this wasn't too hard and I found myself "holding" the cards for family and religion.  The sermon continued, and as we came to the end, we were told that now would come the hard part---we must make a decision between the two remaining cards, and only keep one.  Which one would it be?

At other times, many of us have been heard to state that nothing is more important to us than our family, and I have been no different in that regard.  However, on that lazy summer morning, as I was presented with the hypothetical need to prioritize and choose between the two, I came to the realization that when I had mentally written "religion" on my card, I should have written "faith" instead, for it was not the trappings of religion, nor the specifics of one religious practice or another that is important to me, but my faith in God.  And in that moment, I knew that the stark reality was that my faith would be the card I would hold onto and that I would actually cast away the card that read "family".

I understood that without my faith in God I would have nothing and would be nothin.  If God in His infinite wisdom decided to take my family away from me, faith would be the only thing that could sustain me through such a terrible crisis.  However, on the flip side, if my faith was taken from me, I could never be the mother or wife I aspired to be.  How could I raise my child in this time of social and moral conflict without my faith? If this realization has changed my relationship with my family, it is only for the better as I am relying more on my relationship with God to guide me in my day-to-day activities and interpersonal relationships.

Dear Lord, be my constant companion and collaborator.  Help me acknowledge Your importance in my life with the recognition that without You, our physical accomplishments are nothing.  Guide my steps so that my house will be Yours, and we shall not labor in vain. Amen

Re-printed with permission of  Mary Lewis from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1999 Lenten Devotions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Water, Mud & Light: A Lenten Experience of Worship and Reflection

On Wednesday evenings during Lent (February 17-March 9) at 6:15 pm, join us in Fellowship Hall for a time of meditation and reflection, prayer and worship as we look at selected Gospel accounts of Jesus’ pilgrimage towards the cross.

Join us for dinner at 5:15, too.  For more information, Click here.

Through learning, reflection, and fellowship we can enter into a closer communion with Christ and one another.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Darkness into Glorious Light

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

There is nothing more poetic than watching a sun rise... Darkness into the glorious light. But this morning we are chasing the sun and racing towards its glow. It makes me feel optimistic that I can do anything, be anything if I just reach out and catch it... Pictures just don't capture it... I see the ripple of the clouds below each little peak rising to get a piece of the light. There is a crescent moon and neighboring star which are reflected on the wing of the plane which too reflects the Suns glow.  The plane turned and then the horizon was blood red. Then all of a sudden... A spark, a flare! The sun is rising! Climbing up into the sky as a beacon for all of us. No matter where you are in the world, this phenomenon occurs every morning... Darkness into daylight. We marvel at its beauty. What can this say about how global this is?  Each of us are given a new life each day... A new chance to do better, live more fully and it is up to us to shine our face to the bursting glow of the sunrise and say "Yes! I will change the world today!".  In a world filled with so much pain, I wish more people would stop and comprehend what a blessing each day can bring.

Now the sun and sky are a surprising teal blue... Isn't that how life is? Just when you think you know, it changes. This is how we learn... We are faced with the ambiguity each minute of the dreaded "How do we know what we don't know?!"  That can make you fearful of not knowing something that you then think you should have.  What an awful state of mind.  One could get lost there and live a whole life of "Should have".  There can emerge a powerful phrase... "I wonder..." What a giant leap to discovering "what is"!!  I wonder where I'll go today? I wonder who I'll meet? There are literally endless possibilities that can answer that inquiry... All we have to do is be brave enough to ask... 

Heidi Nuckolls

Monday, February 15, 2016

One Great Hour of Sharing

“Therefore, let all who are faithful offer prayer to you. At a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.” --Psalm 32:6, NRSV 

During Lent and especially on Easter, we have the opportunity to participate in the One Great Hour of Sharing. 

This is one of the Special Offerings during the year and it provides funding for the Presbyterian Hunger Program, the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the Self Development of People. Watch for the special envelope in your packet or the pew racks.

For more information on One Great Hour of Sharing, click here.

Loving God, we pray that our gifts through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering will continue to witness to your amazing grace. Amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Worship Prayers from February 7, 2016

PRAYER IN PREPARTION:  God of light and love, we come to our time of worship today and discover that you are transfigured, changed, and made radiant.  Touch us with this holy mystery so that we, too, may be transfigured, changed and made radiant through our time together with you.  Amen

Welcome to this ancient place:
         house of prayer for many nations; home to all who come.
Welcome to this gathering place:
         friend and stranger, saint and sinner in all who gather here.
Come with hope or hesitation; come with joy or yearning; all who hunger, all who thirst for life in all its fullness.
         Generous God and generous Savior, touch us through your Spirit.

Holy God; your Spirit-filled One brings good news to the poor,
         but we are silent.
Proclaims release to the captives,
         but we do not act.
Brings recovery of sight to the blind,
         but we refuse to see.
Sets the oppressed free,
         but we continue our dominating ways.
Holy God; your Spirit-filled one proclaims the coming year of your favor.
         Set us free to participate in the new life of your shalom.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Psalm 147

Psalm 147

Praise the Lord.[a]
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
    how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.
12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.
13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
    and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
    he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
    his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
    they do not know his laws.[b]

Praise the Lord.