Thursday, March 31, 2016

Congregational Conversation

The Mission Study Team will host a Congregational Conversation on Sunday, April 3 at 11:30 am (immediately following the 10:30 worship service) in Gleason Hall.  This is an opportunity for church members to provide direct input to the Mission Study Team about St. Mark’s core values and hopes and dreams for the future.  The Mission Study Team will be leading intentional conversations about St. Mark: “Who are we?” “What is our purpose?”  This Congregational Conversation will last approximately 90 minutes, with lunch and childcare provided.  An alternative time will be offered on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:00 pm in Gleason Hall.  Please sign up in the Narthex or call the church office at 636-394-2233.
For more information on the Mission Study Team and the process, click here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Midweek Presentation on Death and Dying

You Only Die Once – Preparing for the End-of-Life with Grace and Gusto”Dr. Gary Ferbet will offer a three-part series on the difficult subject of death. It eventually touches every family and can come unexpectedly. To be prepared by planning ahead is to leave behind a significant gift to your loved ones.

Over the next three weeks, Gary Ferbet will be presenting at midweek.  He will be sharing information about advanced funeral planning based on the book You Only Die Once by Margie Jenkins.  We invite everyone to join us on 3/30, 4/6, and 4/13 at 6:15 p.m.  Transportation will be available from Meramec Bluffs if there is interest. 
The three-part series will include:
– Organizing financial, legal & household information and making end-of-life decisions for yourself rather than others deciding for you
– Saying Good-Bye
– Bodacious living in the present

Click here for more information on Midweek

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Letter from Pastor Jim Poinsett

“But God raised [Jesus] on the third day and allowed him to appear ... to us who [are] chosen by God as witnesses ...” Acts 10:40-41

After the long Lenten journey, after the breaking of bread and the pouring of wine, and after the crucifixion, we come to Easter morning. And what a glorious morning it was! With brass and bells, in the sanctuary brimming with flowers, and with a mighty “Hallelujah!” we gave praise to God, declaring the amazing good news that indeed Christ is Risen!

Many people view Easter as one day, a one-time event when the church celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Like Lent and Advent, Easter is not limited to one day, but it is a season. We have journeyed through the past forty days of Lent, a quiet reflection on our priorities – reaffirming our calling as Christ’s disciples and preparing for and anticipating the new things God will do.

The Easter season moves us from Lent to the most glorious time for the church. It is in this season made up of 50 days that we celebrate God’s gift of new life given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Easter season is a time for watching and listening for those things within us and in the world that have died and come to life again.

During this Easter season, we will start to see the stirrings of the new thing God is doing in our church.
On April 3 and April 5, the Mission Study Team will host Congregational Conversations as we prepare for the next season of ministry at St. Mark by seeking to clarify our core values and identify our hopes and dreams for the future.
On April 22-24, the church will leave the building as we gather for an All Church Earth Day Retreat at Mound Ridge. Even if you can’t make the whole retreat, gather with your church family for an amazing outdoor worship experience led by Pastor Susan on that Sunday.
On May 18, we will bless Amy Ratzki’s decision to retire with a pot-luck dinner celebration. And we will also bid fare-well to the Mid Week Meal that has been a consistent part of life at St. Mark for so many years.
Also on May 18, we will consider our call to bring the good news of new life to our community by joining in a conver-sation about race relations with Dr. Leah Gunning-Francis, which is particularly relevant given the Justice Depart-ment’s settlement with the City of Ferguson.
And in May we will welcome new members to our family of faith, including the Confirmation of 8 young people on May 15.

The Easter season is a time for the good news of the Risen Christ to propel us to a wider awareness of our lives, to re-discover the sacred in ourselves and in our world, and enter that risk-taking place where God offers new life and a re-newed purpose. We embark on a journey towards our common future in which God’s reign truly becomes new life for all.

If the joy of Easter seems absent in our lives, this is also a season to let ourselves be held tightly by our church community, allowing them to walk with us, until Easter becomes a reality in our individual world.

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Pastor Jim

Monday, March 28, 2016

Lafayette Industries North Groundbreaking

 After more than six years of planning, Lafayette Industries North officially broke ground in February during a ceremony for the addition to the existing facility in Berkley.  As part of the ceremony, Lafayette Founders (and St. Mark Presbyterian members) Bob, Ethel and Kenny McLuen were introduced.  Kenny (6th from the left) even took part in the ground breaking as a Lafayette Industries West Employee of 40 years.
Lafayette Industries began in 1973 with a discussion between St. Mark elder Kirby Hook and St. Mark Pastor Howard Gleason on the difficulties in finding meaningful work in West County for adults with developmental disabilities.  A Taskforce formed Community Mark Workshop which later merged with Western Workshop to become Lafayette Work Center. They opened its first building in Valley Park in 1976.  Many St. Mark members have served on the board of the years and this wonderful organization benefits from our continued support and prayers.

For more information and an opportunity to donate, Click here.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

PRAYER IN PREPARATION:  Alleluia!  We praise you, O God, for the power of your saving love revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Open our eyes to see the new light of this day.  Open our lips to tell of the empty tomb.  Open our hearts to believe the good news.  Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP (based on Psalm 118)
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
         Alleluia! Christ is Risen indeed!
O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good, God’s steadfast love endures forever.
         The Lord is my strength and my might; God has become my salvation.
Ring the chimes, make a joyful noise; join the dance of merrymakers!
         This is the day that the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
         Alleluia! Christ is Risen indeed!
Holy God, our hearts ache for hope, our souls crave some fresh word of grace.  Yet we are sophisticated people, and we are not easily surprised.  We come this Easter morning neither frightened nor amazed.  Our conclusions about the way the world works have long been made up, closed up, and sealed tight.  Have mercy on us, O God, forgive us.  Shake us with the astounding goodness of this day.  Crack open our hearts and minds to fresh possibilities of life made new.  Astonish us with your forgiveness.  Grant that we may come to know the depth of joy this day holds forth.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Sunday Scripture

Luke 24:1-12New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believethe women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

Daily Readings for Friday, March 25, 2016

1   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?           
     Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2   O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
          and by night, but find no rest.

3   Yet you are holy,
          enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4   In you our ancestors trusted;
          they trusted, and you delivered them.
5   To you they cried, and were saved;
          in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

6   But I am a worm, and not human;
          scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7   All who see me mock at me;
          they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8   “Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver —
          let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

9   Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
          you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10  On you I was cast from my birth,
          and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11  Do not be far from me,
          for trouble is near
          and there is no one to help.

12  Many bulls encircle me,
          strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13  they open wide their mouths at me,
          like a ravening and roaring lion.

14  I am poured out like water,
          and all my bones are out of joint;
     my heart is like wax;
          it is melted within my breast;
15  my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
          and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
          you lay me in the dust of death. 
16  For dogs are all around me;
          a company of evildoers encircles me.
     My hands and feet have shriveled;
17  I can count all my bones.
     They stare and gloat over me;
18  they divide my clothes among themselves,
          and for my clothing they cast lots.

19  But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
          O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20  Deliver my soul from the sword,
          life from the power of the dog!
21       Save me from the mouth of the lion!

     From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22  I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
          in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23  You who fear the LORD, praise him!
          All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
          stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24  For he did not despise or abhor
          the affliction of the afflicted;
     he did not hide his face from me,
          but heard when I cried to him.

25  From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
          my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26  The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
          those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
          May your hearts live forever!

27  All the ends of the earth shall remember
          and turn to the LORD;
     and all the families of the nations
          shall worship before him.
28  For dominion belongs to the LORD,
          and he rules over the nations.

29  To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
          before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
          and I shall live for him.
30  Posterity will serve him;
          future generations will be told about the Lord,
31  and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
          saying that he has done it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday

Daily Readings for Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday Re-enactment
1   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?

2   When evildoers assail me 
          to devour my flesh — 
     my adversaries and foes — 
          they shall stumble and fall.

3   Though an army encamp against me, 
          my heart shall not fear; 
     though war rise up against me, 
          yet I will be confident.

4   One thing I asked of the LORD, 
          that will I seek after: 
     to live in the house of the LORD 
          all the days of my life, 
     to behold the beauty of the LORD, 
          and to inquire in his temple.

5   For he will hide me in his shelter 
          in the day of trouble; 
     he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; 
          he will set me high on a rock.

6   Now my head is lifted up 
          above my enemies all around me, 
     and I will offer in his tent 
          sacrifices with shouts of joy; 
     I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

7   Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, 
          be gracious to me and answer me! 
8   “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” 
          Your face, LORD, do I seek. 
9        Do not hide your face from me.

     Do not turn your servant away in anger, 
          you who have been my help. 
     Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, 
          O God of my salvation! 
10   If my father and mother forsake me, 
          the LORD will take me up.

11  Teach me your way, O LORD, 
          and lead me on a level path 
          because of my enemies. 
12  Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, 
          for false witnesses have risen against me, 
          and they are breathing out violence.

13  I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD 
          in the land of the living. 
14   Wait for the LORD; 
          be strong, and let your heart take courage; 
          wait for the LORD!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Living Last Supper

For ten years, the St. Mark Presbyterian worship committee has been sponsoring a dramatic presentation called "The Living Last Supper" as a part of the Maundy Thursday Worship service at St. Mark (601 Claymont Dr  Ballwin MO). 

 You won't want to miss this year's chance to witness a portrayal of Christ at the last meal he shares with his beloved disciples.  Hear how each disciple met Christ, how they chose to follow Him, and how their lives were changed forever.  

This year the Maundy Thursday Worship Service will be held on Thursday, March 24 beginning at 7:30 PM and will be dismissed in silence following the discipline of tenebrae.  You will want to invite your family, friends and neighbors to this special worship service that promises to provide inspirational time for silence and spiritual reflection during the holiest of weeks.      

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Leader, the Follower and the Intrepid Adventurer

“Mom, was Julia excited when she found out she was going to have a little brother?”

A better mother would have lied to her 7-year-old son, but with my 12-year-old daughter sitting within earshot, I knew it was pointless.

“No, she had her heart set on a little sister,” I admit.

“What?! Well, here you go, Julia, here’s your big ‘gift’!” my son yells as he points at his 4-year-old sister sitting next to him in the back of the van, his voice filled with sarcasm and indignation.

And so the bickering begins, quickly escalating to full-on shouting amongst the three siblings, dashing any hope I held of enjoying an hour of quiet reflection at our favorite county park. We arrive a few minutes later at a busy playground, where my children split up and head to their favorite spots, the eldest swinging from a tire, the middle taking to the slide and the youngest climbing anything within reach (in a pink tutu, as usual).

In spite of the unusually mild summer weather, the sun gets the best of them, and we decide it’s time to venture down to the quiet creek bed. My son, who’s never been to a beach, marvels at the sandy path that winds through the woods down to the quiet stream.

Though we’ve been to the creek several times, its beauty still strikes me as if I’m setting eyes upon it for the first time. The water’s only a few inches deep at this spot. A lush forest canopy provides ample shade and the magic of streams of sunlight filtering through its leaves. I can’t help but picture Laura Ingalls Wilder playing on the banks of Plum Creek.

We sit down on the rocky stream bed and pull off our shoes and socks. My children dip their toes in the water; it’s chilly, but not too chilly for them. They venture out. I try to follow, but quickly notice that even smooth rocks hurt your feet more when said feet are carrying the weight of a full-grown mama as opposed to a young child. I sit down and put my shoes back on.

“You guys go on out a little bit, just stay where I can see you, okay?”

My children nod. I watch as my 12-year-old turns over rocks, examines tree limbs, looks for minnows. My 7-year-old son frets over his pant legs being wet, worries that he’ll fall, screams that he might have gotten dirty stream water in his nose, and questions how long we can stay and what we’ll do next. And my 4-year-old is, quite simply, lost in the moment. Of course, as mom, I sit on the side of the creek and try to capture the moment with as many photos as I can without dropping my iPhone in the water.

Later that day I scroll through photos from our morning at the park; mostly nondescript scenic lake shots, with a few of my 4-year-old trying to ride a large frog statute like she’s in a rodeo. But one catches my eye. The youngest daughter, my intrepid explorer, stands just ahead of her older siblings, curious, fearless and ready to explore. My pensive, thoughtful son stands back, carefully considering his next move, wondering whether it’s safe to keep walking. And my oldest daughter stands between them, her hand outstretched, reaching for his, helping him to move forward. And it brings tears to my eyes.

Only moments before these same three children had been at war with one another. But somehow, here, in this quiet little creek, it was as if they were the only three people in the world. And each of them had everything they needed in their two siblings. I love my children with all my heart, but just as importantly, each one of my children loves one another with all their hearts. No matter what lies ahead on that muddy, uncertain path, the leader, the follower and the intrepid explorer will never wander that path.

 "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4

Kathy Deters

Monday, March 21, 2016

One Great Hour of Sharing---Seed Money

Published on Feb 25, 2016  Click here if photo does not appear.
Following the tsunami that devastated much of southern Asia in December 2004, Pak Yadi received a $400 seed grant from One Great Hour of Sharing partners. Documentary filmmaker David Barnhart followed him as he rebuilt his life and community. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday Worship Prayers

PRAYER IN PREPARATION:  Gracious God, as we enter this Holy Week, strengthen us to move beyond the festive parade of palms and to follow Jesus into the way of the Cross.  By the power of the Holy Spirit and through the story of the passion, may we have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus and follow him into the suffering of this world.  Amen.

Christ is going before us, even now, on the road to the cross.
         As we tell your story, O Christ, as we follow in your footsteps, lead us into Holy Week.
Christ goes before us as the way, the truth, and the life.
         As we walk towards the city, as we wait in the garden, lead us onto Holy Ground.
Let us feel the light of his love, even as we enter the pain and difficulty of this Holy Week.
         As we journey towards death, as we hope for resurrection, lead us into joy.

Faithful God, today we shout “Hosanna” and proclaim Christ our King.  We welcome him with shouts of joy, but tomorrow we will reject his ways of healing and compassion.  We will join the crowd and crucify him once again.  Our faith can be shallow, our hope too easily abandoned, our understanding too often confused.  Forgive us when we betray you, when we deny you, when we deride you or mock you.  By your Holy Spirit, open our hearts.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


                                                      “It Was On . . . The Story of Holy Week”
         Based on Mark 11:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
 Mark 11:15-19
15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[a]?But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[b]
18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[c] went out of the city.
(Click on the links for the rest of the liturgy)
                                 Mark 14:32-52; Mark 15:1-39
Matthew 27:57-56:  

The Burial of Jesus

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.