Saturday, December 31, 2016

Daily Prayer for Dec. 31

SATURDAY

God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.

Isaiah 26:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2; John 8:12-19

Eternal God, we praise you for your mighty love given in Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and the new life we have received by his resurrection. We thank you for the presence of Christ in our weakness and suffering, the ministry of Word and Sacrament, all who work to help and heal, sacrifices made for our benefit, opportunities for our generous giving. God of grace let our concern for others reflect Christ's self-giving love, not only in our prayers, but also in our practice. We pray for those subjected to tyranny and oppression, wounded and injured people, those who face death, those who may be our enemies. Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace. Keep us in joyful communion with them until we join the saints of every people and nation, gathered before your throne in ceaseless praise. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tea with the First Ladies

St. Mark Presbyterian Women request 
the pleasure of your company for 
Tea with the First Ladies 
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 1:00 and 6:30 p.m. 
We will celebrate the First Ladies who have created 
the White House China Collection. 
Tasty tidbits from White House cookbooks will be served. 
Reserve your place at the PW Table in the Narthex. 
Not for women only!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Go-Getters

 The Go-getters met at St. Mark Presbyterian Church Tuesday December 13 for lunch, games and fellowship.  This is a group of Senior women and friends who go out for lunch when the weather is good, but have an equally fun time in the winter by meeting at church.  Our next lunch will be January 10 at 11:30.  Please call J. Graves, S. Tharp or the church office if you plan to atten.











Monday, December 26, 2016

Deacons' Report

A s 2016 comes to a close, the St. Mark Presbyterian deacons would like to thank you, the congregation, for your continued support of our activities and missions.

With your help, the deacons have been able to donate money to the following organizations: St. Mark Businesspersons Between Jobs (BBJ), Bridge Bread (in addition to weekly Bridge Bread Sales). Board of Religious Organizations. Isaiah 58. Lafayette Industries. Mound Ridge, Peace Meal, Presbyterian Children’s Services, Ukirk.

 In addition there has been hands-on outreach done for Pagedale Community Gardens, Louisiana Mission Trip, We Care Meals and Leaf Raking for our members in need, to name a few. Your deacons are proud to be able to serve God, you and the community at large and look forward to more mission and outreach work in 2017.

Click here to read more about the Deacons Ministries.

Look for opportunities to help our deacon committees as “many hands make light work”. Most of our committees rely on congregation participation – there will be more info in future Deacons Doing

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

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.

  
           
CALL TO WORSHIP - Advent Wreath Lighting                                                   
                                                                                                                                        Dolson Family (10:30)
   Lord God, help us always to remember that we are redeemed through our belief in your Son.  No matter how far we stray, you're always right there waiting for us, loving us.  We rejoice in your steadfast love for all the people of the world, fulfilled in the birth of your Son, Jesus.  Amen.


PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Come, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly into our lives and into our hearts.  Renew us with your love.  When there is hatred, heal us with your love.  When 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. 

These were the worship prayers for Dec. 18, 2016 at St. Mark Presbyterian

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Child


Isaiah 9:6-7New International Version (NIV)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Glory

FRIDAY December 23

God is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for God's good pleasure.

Isaiah 33:17-22; Revelation 22:6-11, 18-20; Luke 1:57-66

God our creator, yours is the morning and yours is the evening. Let Christ the sun of righteousness shine forever in our hearts and draw us to that light where you live in radiant glory. O Lord, our creator, by your holy prophet you taught your ancient people to seek the welfare of the cities in which they lived. We commend our neighborhood to your care, that it might be kept free from social strife and decay. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create here a community of justice and peace where your will may be done God of glory, you see how all creation groans in labor as it awaits redemption. As we work for and await your new creation, we trust that you will answer our prayers with grace, and fulfill your promise that all things work together for good for those who love you. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Grace

A
fir
stood
proudly
in the wood
outlined by sky.
A child cried, "Look,
The stars are all caught
in 
it.

God has made us
a Christmas tree!

Ephesians 2:8-10New International Version (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Reprinted from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1985 booklet "Thoughts on Advent"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love

Candle of Love

Reader 1 - God’s chosen people often turned away from the Law and were less than faithful,
yet, they were still God’s chosen people.

Reader 2 - Long before Christ was born, God made a promise to King David that his throne
would be established forever through God’s faithful love.

Reader 1 - On the night Christ came to earth, that promise was fulfilled – out of the house of
David the savior arose, a savior given to redeem the whole world.

Reader 2 - God’s love for us truly does endure forever, and in remembrance of God’s mighty
acts through Jesus Christ we light the Candle of Love. 

Let us pray:
Lord God, help us always to remember that we are redeemed through our belief in your Son. No matter how far we stray, you’re always right there waiting for us, loving us. We rejoice in your steadfast love for all the people of the world, fulfilled in the birth of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Please join us on Wednesday, December 21:  The Longest Night is a quiet, reflective worship service on the longest night of the year. Scripture, music and meditations will focus on the comfort God offers during dark times. This is a community worship experience, please bring along a friend, neighbor or family member who needs the comfort of God’s healing

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Come

Join us for Worship

Psalm 100New Century Version (NCV)

A Call to Praise the Lord

A psalm of thanks.

100 Shout to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with joy;
    come before him with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
    He made us, and we belong to him;
    we are his people, the sheep he tends.
Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving
    and into his courtyards with songs of praise.
    Thank him and praise his name.
The Lord is good. His love is forever,
    and his loyalty goes on and on.
Christmas Eve Worship
– Saturday, December 24: Family Worship at 5:00 PM in the Sanctuary
– Saturday, December 24: Traditional Candlelight Worship at 7:00 PM in the Sanctuary
– Saturday, December 24: Candlelight Communion Worship at 9:00 PM in the Sanctuary
Christmas Day Sunday Worship
– Sunday, December 25, A Service of Lessons & Carols, at 10:30 AM
(one service only)

There is no 5:00 PM worship on Saturday, December 31
New Year 2017 Sunday Worship
– Sunday, January 1, Worship with Communion, at 10:30 
(one service only)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:11-16New International Version (NIV)

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Joy


Luke 1:39-45New International Version (NIV)

Click here for Advent reading

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Abide

SATURDAY Dec. 17

God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.
Isaiah 10:20-27; Jude 17-25; Luke 3:1-9

Eternal God, we praise you for your mighty love given in Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and the new life we have received by his resurrection. We thank you for the presence of Christ in our weakness and suffering, the ministry of Word and Sacrament, all who work to help and heal, sacrifices made for our benefit, opportunities for our generous giving. God of grace let our concern for others reflect Christ's self-giving love, not only in our prayers, but also in our practice. We pray for those subjected to tyranny and oppression, wounded and injured people, those who face death, those who may be our enemies. Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace. Keep us in joyful communion with them until we join the saints of every people and nation, gathered before your throne in ceaseless praise. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Listen


Christmas Almost Cancelled

I've had Christmases when I was pregnant (twice) and ordered all gifts by mail order.  I've had Christmases when I was recovering from surgery (twice), but still managed to decorate and send cards.  But last year, it just wasn't coming together.  Having had shingles for several months prior to Christmas, then a large crowd at Thanksgiving followed by being gone from Dec. 8 until Christmas Eve, I announced that I was canceling Christmas.  My grandchildren looked like I had lost my mind.

For the first time ever, other than Hallmark ornaments for the grandkids and some old home videos that I'd converted to DVD's for our daughters, I bought nothing.  I did not send out one Christmas card. I jokingly announced to the neighbors I was removing myself from the neighborhood decorating competition.

I even announced to our siblings, nieces, nephews and daughters' in-laws that there would be no packages in the mail and we didn't want any either. I didn't want my neighbors to have to constantly be worrying about what was on our front porch (mail can be held, but FedEx still delivers)

Instead we would be donating the money to charity and wanted our siblings to do the same for us.  For our siblings, we bought sleeping bags and pads for the homeless that a friend was distributing before Christmas.  I tagged them in the photos so they could see what we bought.  For our nieces, nephews and in-laws, we purchased items from the Alternative Christmas.  I then wrote each a card letting them know what was purchased in their honor.

On our travels, I thought what do I really need for Christmas (other than visiting family)?  I need a creche (I found a little wind up one), a lit tree, (about 4 ft tall no decorations) a ham dinner with Sister Schubert rolls, pie and ice cream.  But most important, I need to go to St. Mark Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve.

We started to leave Dec. 22 when I suddenly became ill.  So, Christmas Eve, when I was feeling better, we got up early and left Dallas before 5 AM.  After driving for 10 hours, I went to the grocery (getting the ham, rolls, pie), fixed dinner, got cleaned up and made it to Christmas Eve worship.  As I sat down in the pew with Sue Snyder on one side, Gwen Welch on the other, Nancy Sutch across the aisle and the Webers in front of me, I began to cry---I had made it surrounded by some of my St. Mark Family.  I was satisfied that I had what was important for Christmas---a Simple Christmas not a Cancelled Christmas after all.

Psalm 119: 169-176

Jaclyn Morgan

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wonder



2 Corinthians 4:6New International Version (NIV)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
A Tree in the Square
Christmas decorations glow on Main Street.  Lamp posts become special candles decked with evergreen and red ribbon bows.  Shop windows sparkle with tinsel and smiling Santas.  But, my
memories are with the Tree in the Square:
Villagers come to watch and seeThe lighting of the Christmas tree.In the town square it stands fifty years oldVelvet green branches glimmer silver and gold.
The Drummer Boy plays rum-a-pum-pum.Children with lighted candles come.
First the crowning star will glow
Spreading light through branches below.
In the background church bells ring.
Everyone begins to sing.
"Jingle Bells" the children shout.
From a  sleigh Santa jumps out. 
Popcorn balls, toys and candy hurts
He gives to all good boys and girls.
Santa vanishes out of night
To the chorus of "Silent Night."

Reprinted with permission of Vera Heard's estate from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1985 "Thoughts on Advent."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hope

Candle of Hope

Reader 1 - As a family here today, we come together in a celebration of hope. But what do
we hope for?

Reader 2 - As we head towards Christmas we often hope that we can find the perfect gift to
give, the perfect outfit to wear, the perfect tree to decorate. But the first Christmas was far from perfect.

Reader 1 - The Hope of the Nations came to us on a night of messy circumstances. The Light
of the World was born in a stable, laid to bed in a feeding trough and was
attended to by field hands. They were messy circumstances, and yet it was just
right for Jesus Christ, a perfect child, surrounded by all of the love two parents
could give.

Reader 2 - This morning we light the Candle of Hope, as we pray for Christ to come into our
hearts again:

Lord God, help us not to be so focused on finding perfection in this season that we miss out on the hope that only you can bring to us. Amen.

Join us  Dec. 14 in Fellowship Hall at 6 PMfor Midweek Advent worship and study: Ezekiel 37:1,3 — Jesus Brings New Life

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sing

Last weekend was one of the highlights of Advent---the children's musical.  This year's was "All About That Baby" seeing the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the shepherds, the sheep, the angels and a few out of town visitors.




After the musical on Sunday morning, Children's Ministry had Chris' Pancakes as a fundraiser with good food and fun.


Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Protect

On Saturday Dec. 3, the Deacon's at St. Mark Presbyterian sponsored a Table Top Tea benefitting Lydia's House which provides transitional shelter and support for abused women and their children.


Food Committee

Pastor Susan Speaking

Savory Trays
Entertainment 
Fun for all ages!
Teapots Ready

Jeremiah 22:3New International Version (NIV)

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.