Tuesday, January 31, 2017

State of the Church by Rev. Jim Poinsett Part 1

St. Mark Presbyterian Church Congregational Meeting January 29, 2017

(If this is too small to read on your email, click on the link and go to the web-site)

It is the beginning of a new year, and 2017 promises to be an exciting year in the life and ministry of St. Mark. We begin the year with a sense of hopeful expectation that God’s spirit will be at work in our church and in our lives. Friends, I’m here to report that signs of the Holy Spirit’s activity abound. The state of the St. Mark Presbyterian Church is good.

A majority of my work during 2016 was to help guide the congregation through the process of creating a vision for the future ministry of the St. Mark Presbyterian Church. That work produced the Mission Study Report, which was delivered to congregation in June. Many thanks to the Mission Study Team members: Jan Boehme, Debbie Brown, Bob Lienneman, Kim Michael, John Northrip, Jean Steward, and Sharon Yoder. And of course, I want thank the over 200 church members that provided input throughout the Mission Study process.

At some point this year, St. Mark will welcome a new installed pastor and begin a new season of ministry. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been hard at work since October 2016. The PNC consists of Mark Caplinger, Joyce Blackwell, Lauren Arnet, John Buckhorn, Lili Hostetler, Shelley Lathem, and Jean Steward. St. Mark’s Ministry Information Form (MIF), which is essentially the church’s job posting, has been active since December 2016, and the PNC has been reviewing resumes and sermon samples from interested applicants. They will begin conducting interviews very soon.

As a church, the Spirit has gifted us with a bright financial outlook for the coming year. The congregation generously responded to our stewardship campaign for 2017 themed, “Building Our Future Hope.” Our season of stewardship resulted in the over $767,000 in pledges for the year, the highest total in 11 years. The average pledge was just over $3,500 the second highest average pledge in the past 10 years. As a result, the congregation will be presented with a balanced budget at the Congregational Meeting on January 29, for the second consecutive year. I am grateful for all those who pledged and feel this is a sign of enthusiasm about St. Mark’s future.

In preparation for the arrival of a new pastor, the Session has been hard at work examining our ministry structure. The elders are studying ways to become more effective in balancing the energies required to pursue the new things God is calling St. Mark to do while maintaining church life and ensuring all programs produce positive results. Their purpose is to better align the church’s structure with congregation’s strengths, passions, and purpose as identified in the Mission Study Report so the new pastor can hit the ground running upon her/his arrival.

With all of that accomplished, we have recently entered into new phase of interim ministry time. As the Pastor Nominating Committee continues its work, there is a sharper focus, and perhaps even a greater sense of urgency, for us to get on with some significant interim tasks that must still be tackled.

I am sure that all of us want to do everything in our power to properly prepare ourselves, and this church, for the next installed Pastor. For we want her or his ministry and leadership and service here at St. Mark to be significant and meaningful and purposeful and faithful. We want an installed Pastor who will be our partner in sharing God’s love, in offering God’s compassion, in furthering God’s kingdom, and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ here in West County.

Part 2 will appear tomorrow

Monday, January 30, 2017

Deacon's Doings

Calling all golfers! Calling all called to help fight hunger!!

The Circle of Concern’s 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament is coming up: MONDAY MAY 8 AT ABERDEEN GOLF COURSE IN EUREKA. A new golf course but the same great cause: Improving every life in our community by reducing hunger and poverty (Circle’s Vision Statement).

What can you do? Help is needed to coordinate the tournament, sponsors are needed, and of course players are needed!

So please contact Kathleen Maas-Stokes or Wayne Brent if you can:

  • Be a sponsor 
  • Find sponsors 
  • Register to play 
  • Donate silent auction items – suggestions: Cardinal baseball tickets, Rascals tickets. Other entertainment event(s), Free round of golf for four at area courses, Wine tasting events, Weekend getaway(s) to hotel or time share 


Day of Event Help

  •  Setup/teardown 
  • Deliver beverages around course 
  • Hole monitors for Hole-in-One contest 


So please pitch in wherever you can and help make this year’s event another profitable fundraiser for this fabulous organization.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Worship Prayers for Jan. 22

PRAYER IN PREPARTION:  O God, Jesus announced the nearness of your kingdom and called disciples to be fishers of women and men.  Illumine our minds, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as Scripture is read and your Word proclaimed our eyes may see your kingdom, and our ears may hear the call of Jesus, so that our lives may bear witness to the good news of your kingdom come near.  Amen.



CALL TO WORSHIP
God calls us by name, in word and silence.
         We are listening for Christ's voice in this place.
From the beginning of time, God has formed us for service and love.
         Come and see, for Christ is shaping us still.
Christ is present within and around us, inviting us to follow in faith and hope.
         Here we are, for God calls us still.
Come, and be temples of God.
         May we become the body of Christ.


   PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Almighty God, you speak and the earth trembles, yet you call us in a still, small voice.  We allow ourselves to be distracted by the goings-on in the world, we are not sensitive to your call upon our hearts.  Forgive us for the many things that keep us from becoming the people you created us to be; forgive us for the ways we neglect your presence in our lives.  Clothe us with your grace; reform us into your likeness once again; reclaim us as your own.  Mold us, remold us, hold us close, give us the courage to hear and respond to your call for our lives.


SCRIPTURE READING                                                1 Samuel 3:1-11, p. 245 and John 1:43-51, p. 92

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Daily Prayer for Jan. 28

SATURDAY
Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Isaiah 51:1-8; Galatians 3:23-29; Mark 7:1-23

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. You have given us the light of day that we might see your wonders in all we say and do; you give us the gentle darkness of the night that we might rest from our burdens and be refreshed in body and spirit. How great is your love, Lord God, how wide is your mercy! Never let us board up the narrow gate that leads to life with rules or doctrines that you dismiss; but give us a Spirit to welcome all people with affection, so that your church may never exclude secret friends of yours, who are included in the love of Jesus Christ, who came to save us all. Almighty God, by the love of Jesus Christ you draw people to faith, and welcome them into the church family. May we show your joy by embracing new brothers and sisters, who with us believe and with us will work to serve you. Keep us close together in your Spirit, breaking bread in faith and love, one with Jesus Christ our Lord and Master. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(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, January 27, 2017

Super Bowl of Caring

More than 25 years ago, the Souper Bowl of Caring began with a simple prayer from a single youth
group:
"Lord even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those without a bowl of soup to eat"

Our students at St. Mark Presbyterian will once again challenge the congregation to bring their game faces to tackle HUNGER for the Souper Bowl of Caring! Plan on bringing Canned Goods before or on February 5!

We will wage a competition between the teams playing for the Lombardi trophy! Our goal is to raise $500 and collect 250 cans!

We know St. Mark can score more than a touchdown with all the proceeds going to Circle of Concern! With one in four children being food insecure, it is so very important we TACKLE HUNGER! Bring your cash and cans February 5!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stephen Ministries

Stephen Ministry expands the care St. Mark can offer by equipping and organizing lay members to provide Christian care. This gives us a larger pool of people with the gifts, skills and calling to bring Christ’s love and care to those who most need it.
Stephen Ministry provides one-to-one confidential care to anyone who wishes to receive it and offers training and on-going support to those who desire to serve as Christian caregiver. While the majority of this Christian caregiving is from church member to church member, they are available to provide support to anyone in the community.
Some of those whom Stephen Ministries walk beside are: those who are hospitalized, terminally ill, bereaved, in a job crisis, home-bound, lonely, going through divorce, new church members, new mothers, persons who are looking for a caring, Christian friend.
Stephen Ministry also has 2 on-going programs open to the public:

Cancer Support Group

February 9, 2017  6:30 PM
    Stephen Ministry has started a cancer support group. All who have been touched by cancer are welcome to attend. Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursdays of the month at 6:30 PM in the church library. This support group will be facilitated by Pastor Susan Hayes. For more information contact the Church Office (636) 394-2233.

    GriefShare Support Group

    January 31, 2017 6:30 PM

      Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:30 PM January 10 thru April 4 Help and encouragement after the death of a loved one. GriefShare is a special weekly seminar and support group designed to help you rebuild your life. We know it hurts and we want to help. For more information contact Debbie Hames, Bob Linemann, or the Church Office (636) 394-2233


      Wednesday, January 25, 2017

      Humane Society Collection

      The Wednesday Night Children’s Fellowship children are busy working on their mission
      project for Franklin County Humane Society.  Their donation barrels and donation list are located in the Narthex.  Please help the children fill up their barrels.  Thank you.

      Items:

      Dog or cat food, beds, toys, collars and leashes, stainless steel non tip feeding bowls, cleaning supplies, office supplies.  A complete list is provided in the narthex or on the website below

        http://www.fchsmo.org/WaysToHelp/WishList/default.html


      Tuesday, January 24, 2017

      A Word From the Pastor

      “For surely you know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

      It is the beginning of a new year, and 2017 promises to be an exciting year in the life and ministry of St. Mark. We begin the year with a sense of hopeful expectation that God’s spirit will be at work in our church and in our lives. The signs of the Holy Spirit’s activity abound.

      At some point this year, St. Mark will welcome a new installed pastor and begin a new season of
      ministry. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) has been hard at work since October 2016. St. Mark’s Ministry Information Form (MIF), which is essentially the church’s job posting, has been active since December 2016, and the PNC has been reviewing resumes and sermon samples from interested applicants. They will begin conducting interviews very soon.

       As a church, the Spirit has gifted us with a bright financial outlook for the coming year. The congregation generously responded to our stewardship campaign for 2017 themed, “Building Our Future Hope.” Our season of stewardship resulted in the over $762,000 in pledges for the year, the highest total in 11 years. The average pledge was just over $3,500 the second highest average pledge in the past 10 years. As a result, the congregation will be presented with a balanced budget at the Congregational Meeting on January 29, for the second consecutive year. I am grateful for all those who pledged and feel this is a sign of enthusiasm about St. Mark’s future.

      In preparation for the arrival of a new pastor, the Session has been hard at work examining our ministry structure. The elders are studying ways to become more effective in balancing the energies required to pursue the new things God is calling St. Mark to do while maintaining church life and ensuring all programs produce positive results. Their purpose is to better align the church’s structure with congregation’s strengths, passions, and purpose as identified in the Mission Study Report so the new pastor can hit the ground running upon her/his arrival...

      Indeed, 2017 promises to be an exciting year for our church and for our lives. In what ways do you anticipate God’s spirit to be active in your life this year? I would love to hear how you are feeling God’s call to you for 2017. I am praying that you will feel God’s presence alongside you through all of the adventures of the coming year. Grace & peace Pastor Jim

      Sunday, January 22, 2017

      Worship Prayers for January 15


      PRAYER IN PREPARTION:  Faithful God, be with us in this time of worship that we may be nourished by your Word and that we may hear your call to us.  Strengthen us, we pray, that we may answer your call to work for justice and reconciliation in the world.  Amen.

        

      CALL TO WORSHIP
      God calls us by name, in word and silence.
               We are listening for Christ's voice in this place.
      From the beginning of time, God has formed us for service and love.
               Come and see, for Christ is shaping us still.
      Christ is present within and around us, inviting us to follow in faith and hope.
               Here we are, for God calls us still.
      Come, and be temples of God.
               May we become the body of Christ.

         PRAYER OF CONFESSION
      Almighty God, you speak and the earth trembles, yet you call us in a still, small voice.  We allow ourselves to be distracted by the goings-on in the world, we are not sensitive to your call upon our hearts.  Forgive us for the many things that keep us from becoming the people you created us to be; forgive us for the ways we neglect your presence in our lives.  Clothe us with your grace; reform us into your likeness once again; reclaim us as your own.  Mold us, remold us, hold us close, give us the courage to hear and respond to your call for our lives.


      SCRIPTURE READING                                                                                            1 Samuel 2:1-11, p. 245

      For the sermon "Inaugural Calling", Click here

      Saturday, January 21, 2017

      Daily Prayer for Saturday Dec. 21

      SATURDAY

      Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.

      Isaiah 46:1-13; Ephesians 6:10-24; Mark 5:1-20

      God, our creator, you have given us work to do and call us to use our talents for the good of all. Guide us as we work, and teach us to live in the Spirit who made us your sons and daughters, in the love that made us sisters and brothers. Remember, O God, your church. Unite it in the truth of your Word and empower it in ministry to the world. Remember the world of nations. By your Spirit renew the face of the earth; let peace and justice prevail. Remember our family and friends. Bless them and watch over them; be gracious to them and give them peace. Remember the sick and the suffering, the aged and the dying. Encourage them and give them hope. Rejoicing in the communion of saints, we remember with thanksgiving all your faithful servants, whom you have called from this life. We are grateful that for them death is no more, nor is there sorrow, crying, or pain, for the former things have passed away. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

      Go forth into the world, rejoicing in 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, January 20, 2017

      Youth Events



      Dessert Auction and Lunch
      Our St. Mark Presbyterian Youth will hold a Dessert Auction and Lunch January 22 from 11:30-1:30 pm.

      Come and see the delicious delicacies baked up for auction! Whether it is your favorite dessert from the Christmas Boutique, or one you’ve never tried, come and bid on pies, cakes, cookies, and more!

      Admission is $8, $20 for a family, and will be taken at the door. ALL ARE WELCOME!




      Trivia Night
      Mark your calendars for March 3. Doors open at 6 pm. Trivia from 7-10 pm at St. Mark Presbyterian.

      Reserve your table of 8 for $200 or $25 per person. BYOB. Raffle, 50/50, and “Dead or Alive” will be available as well as beautiful baskets to be auctioned off. Prizes will be awarded to the top two teams and the best Board Game themed table.

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

      Wednesday, January 18, 2017

      Presbyterian Women Winter Events

      St. Mark Presbyterian's Women’s Annual Retreat February 24-25, 2017

       To everything there is a season… This will be a time to walk with God, the Master Gardener, through the seasons in the garden of life. 

      Please reserve your place at the Retreat by February 8, 2017.

      Reservation forms will be available at the PW Table in the Narthex January 14.

      Don't forget other PW Events coming up:

      January 18 Rachel Circle and Martha Circle

      January 19 Ruth Circle, Hannah Circle, Judith Circle

      January 25 Book Club My Antonia , 9:30 am
      PW Tea with the First Ladies 1 pm and 6:30 pm

      February12 Red Tent 9:30

      Contact the Church office 636-394-2233 for more information or the church website http://www.discoverstmark.org/ministries/adult/

      Tuesday, January 17, 2017

      Worship Prayers from Jan. 8

      PRAYER IN PREPARTION:  Creator of the universe, our minds cannot comprehend your greatness.  We try to understand the ‘whys’ of life, but still are puzzled.  Your ways are so much higher, your compassion so much wider, your forgiveness so much deeper, your love so much purer than our own.  Open our minds to your mind, our hearts to your heart, we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen


      CALL TO WORSHIP
      In mystery and grandeur
               we see the face of God.
      In earthiness and ordinary
               we know the love of Christ.
      In heights, in depths, in life and death,
               the Spirit of God is moving among us.
               Let us praise God!


         PRAYER OF CONFESSION
      Gracious God, you have baptized us with your forgiving love,
               but we are slow to offer forgiveness when we are wronged.
      You redeem us despite our hurtful acts,
               but we keep careful count of injuries done to us.
      You send your Spirit among us that we might act with wisdom and generosity
               but we have been too often cramped and narrow.
      Wash over us again with your holy love.  Send again upon us your Spirit of holy joy.  Give us new birth as children faithful to you, that we may be truly named followers of Christ, in whose name we pray.



      SCRIPTURE READING                                                                                                Matthew 3:15-17, p. 3

      Monday, January 16, 2017

      Deacons Doings by Amy Shelton

      Amy "working" at the ABC Sale
       “Will you consider being a deacon?” I heard this question for years ~ actually decades. And most of
      the time I truly thought “are you kidding me?!?” Mom. Wife. Daughter. Sister. PTO Secretary. Band Parent. Handbell ringer and Choir singer. Part-time employee. And now you want me to be a deacon too?!? SERIOUSLY??? So I kept saying “no” for years ~ too much on my plate. But the empty nest hit and I realized now is the time.

      As a member of the Class of 2017 I am on my last year of my threeyear term. So how has it been you may wonder? Being a deacon broke me out of my church music only bubble to see a lot more of what our church does. As a deacon I’ve had a front row seat for the generosity of this congregation and the hard work of the people “behind the scenes”. From folks taking donations weekly to Circle of Concern to the Miraculous Transformation of the entire church into an awesome Giant Rummage Sale (ABC Sale), I’ve seen Christian charity up close and personal. I’ve helped deliver meals just because “We Care”. I’ve delivered flowers to folks who couldn’t make it to church but are so happy to have a visitor and a chance to chat. I’ve learned about some fabulous organizations that I’m proud St. Mark supports like Presbyterian Children’s Homes & Services, Lydia’s House, and Lafayette Industries to name a few.

       I’ll always be a church musician, but thanks to my deacon term I’m so much more. I feel my journey with Jesus is much fuller and deeper thanks to my new involvement and friends. So if you get asked to be a deacon, go ahead and jump in! The benefits far outweigh the risks or concerns. You’ll understand your church more, make some fabulous friends, and deepen your spiritual journey. As a commercial once said: “You’re worth it”

      Saturday, January 14, 2017

      Sermon for January 15: Inaugural Calling

      Worship has been cancelled for January 15 due to inclement weather, but here is the sermon.

      Inaugural Calling
      Rev. James K. Poinsett
      St. Mark Presbyterian Church
      January 15, 2017
      Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
      4Then the LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
      6The LORD called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
      7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8The LORD called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”
      Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
      10Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”11Then the LORD said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.
      1 Samuel 3:1-11 (NRSV)

      This is a momentous week in the life of our nation. We honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. as we say farewell to our first African-American President. And on Friday, we will celebrate the Inauguration of our 45th President.

      In 2009, I was able to witness this revered event, the hallmark of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected President to the next. It is truly magnificent. This week, I’ve been trying to imagine what it will be like to hear President-elect Trump add his voice to the 229 years of inaugural speechmaking -- though, I won’t be totally surprised if he just tweets it out.

      And, of course, the old political speechwriter in me has been thinking of past Inaugural speeches and the words spoken: words that make the ears tingle.

      * Thomas Jefferson in 1801, conciliating inflamed political passions of the fledgling country, saying: “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle . . . we are all republicans, we are all federalists.”

      * Abraham Lincoln telling a nation descending into war in 1861 that “we must not be enemies” and calling on “the better angels of our nature.”

      * And a victorious Lincoln in 1865 pledging “malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right” and vowing to “bind up the nation’s wounds . . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

      * Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, amid the Great Depression, candidly acknowledging the nation’s troubles while asserting that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

      * John F. Kennedy in 1961 challenging Americans, “ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

      * In 1981, Ronald Reagan took over amid an economic crisis and as the Iranian hostage crisis ended. He conveyed optimism, dismissing the idea of “inevitable decline” and urging, “Let us begin an era of national renewal.”

      Donald Ritchie, a historian for the U.S. Senate, says that the most memorable addresses were given in uncertain times: “Inaugural speeches aim at themes that make emotional connections . . . people need something that’s uplifting, that gives people hope, and calls [people] to get involved.” Indeed, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word “inaugural” means, “marking a beginning” and includes the notion of being the “first in a projected series.”

      Our story today, the story of Samuel’s call, is also an inauguration. This is a story of endings. And it is a story of new beginnings. God has promised to do a new thing. Something so large, that it will make both ears of anyone who hears it tingle.

      The twelve tribes of Israel are settled in the Promised Land. The judges – Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Samson – and other military heroes of Israel’s early history who led them against the Philistines are gone. The only things that unify the fledgling nation now are the menacing presence of the Philistines and the priesthood.

      But the priests have become corrupt. Eli is the high priest. His sons are also priests, but are abusing their position and the people. Eli is unable to do anything about it. He even seems resigned to it.

      The Israelite people are calling for a king to lead them. The word of the Lord is rare. Visions are infrequent. Eli’s eyesight is dim. But the lamp of God had not yet gone out.

      Enter the boy Samuel. Samuel had been dedicated to God by his mother Hannah. He has been serving in the temple under Eli.

      In the middle of the night, God’s inaugural call comes. Samuel, tossing and turning, hears the call, “Samuel, Samuel,” but has no idea it might be God. He gets out of bed, thinking it is Eli who is calling. “I didn’t call you,” Eli says, telling Samuel to go back to bed. God calls again: “Samuel, Samuel.” Again Samuel thinks it is Eli; again Eli sends him back to bed.

      Then a third time God calls: “Samuel, Samuel.” This time Eli realizes what is happening. Eli tells Samuel, if he hears the voice again, he should answer: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” -- which is exactly what happens. God tells Samuel that there is a new direction for Israel, and that Samuel will be the prophet who will lead Israel in that new direction.

      When was the last time you felt a “tingle” about the word of God to you? It would be a lot easier if God spoke to us in an immediately recognizable voice, preferably in the middle of the day -- though not while interrupting a football game. But that’s not the way for most of us. As many of you know, this wasn’t the last time God’s call ever caused a sleepless night.

      One of the reasons this story means so much to me is that it took four times for God to get through to Samuel. One of the occupational hazards of being a minister is that you are expected to have a “call story”: the more “Damascus Road” dramatic, the better the call story. And I confess, I have always been bashful, or reluctant, about saying that “I have been called by God.”

      God’s call for me to go to Divinity School came while I was living in Washington, DC. When one decides to be a Presbyterian minister, one starts by getting the blessing of the church’s session. It is the first of several examinations to assess one’s call to ministry.

      The session asks you to describe why you feel called. It was not a moment I was looking forward to. To make matters worse, when I met with the session at my church in Washington, there was another candidate also being examined that evening.

      The other candidate went first. He leapt to his feet, and gave an eloquent, passionate answer – complete with a plan of how it would all work out. On the other hand, I mumbled something about making a difference in the world, and said some vague words about helping people deal with questions about faith and God and Jesus.

      The session went ahead and voted to approve me. But I was so discombobulated by my inability to have a stellar answer that I deferred my enrollment to divinity school.

      It took another year, and some help from those session members, who were like Eli, for me to figure out that I was hearing God’s call. Even then, it was another couple of years, which included many sleepless nights, before I figured out that God was truly calling me.

      The Samuel story is about inauguration: new beginnings, with the notion of it being the first in a projected series. Maybe God calls us through the questions and struggles that haunt us at night – through the sense that we are not here for our own amusement, but to do God’s work. Perhaps it is God’s voice calling us when you can’t sleep at night because you are disturbed that even in West County there are people without a warm place to sleep at night, or without enough food to feed their families. Maybe it is possible that God is calling in the still, small voice that prods us to be open to new thoughts and to be brave enough to be in a lifelong search for meaning and purpose.

      It does not necessarily mean dropping everything and going to seminary. God’s call is to everyone: mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends, doctors and lawyers, aunts and uncles, investment bankers and brokers, teachers and students, deacons and elders. The list is as endless as each of you here. People who can say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

      God speaks and continues to speak to us through that man we can’t seem to ignore, that compelling man Jesus, God’s word to us, spoken clearly, eloquently and powerfully in Jesus’ birth and life and teaching. In Jesus, God speaks to you and me and to our church and calls us to be his faithful disciples.

      God is going to do a new thing, so large that it will make us tingle. God is calling each one of us to something new, and unexpected. It can be scary. Remember, in our story, the word of the Lord was rare and visions were infrequent. God’s call does not come to Samuel – or to us – in general circumstances. But this passage reminds us that, contrary to the evidence, the lamp of God has not yet gone out.

      It is especially easy in times full of sleepless nights to think the word of the Lord is rare. That the only tingle we have experienced is the tingle of fear. We have heard plenty about the seemingly malevolent spirit that is pervades the land. We heard the doctor say the cancer was back. We heard that the church is dwindling and will never be what it once was.

      We are put on full body alert at the possibility that our health insurance was going to be taken away. We are scared that our job will become obsolete, or we will no longer have a job, or that the next job won’t provide the kind of living we have grown accustomed to. When we hear of the Russian espionage or the possible threats to our civil liberties, civil rights, and voting rights, fear got our full attention. We tingle with fright.

      What this story recommends to us, I believe, is that we begin to make decisions based on the tingle of hope. Oddly, the passage assures us that what God is going to do will make both ears tingle. Since I don’t want to make us out to be more heroic that we really are, I offer this: let one ear tingle with fear. Fear is legitimate under most of the circumstances of our lives. Fear is spiritually legitimate. A lot can go wrong. A lot of danger lurks.

      But listen now with the other ear. Hear what Samuel was reluctant to hear: God is going to do a new thing, which will make both of our ears tingle. Give the other ear a little exercise. Let it tingle too. Imagine what God will do:

      * Imagine hearts changed, lives transformed: where fear and suspicion are gone, replaced with a boldness of spirit.

      * Imagine our church being a place that demonstrates God’s abundance and welcome as we confront scarcity, hatred and suffering rather than retreating into our self-affirming bubble.

      * Imagine actually seeing one another rather than looking past each other, and in some small way, begin to find common purpose and common ground.

      *Imagine good things and then believe that they are coming. 

      *Imagine that something better awaits us, would we only have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it.

      God has plans to do good things, plans that have already been shared with us in Jesus. Look for the lamp of God: look back to the Scripture, look forward in hope. Open both of your ears. Soon they will tingle.

      On April 4, 1968, the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, Robert Kennedy was in my hometown of Indianapolis. Shortly after learning the news of Dr. King’s assassination, Kennedy address a crowd that had gathered in a downtown park. He told them:
      “Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of [people] we are and what direction we want to move in. We can be filled with bitterness and fear.Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace violence and fear with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”
      On this week of inauguration, as we honor the past and look forward with hope, let us listen for God’s call, let us dedicate ourselves to that, and let us say a prayer for our country, our church, and our people. Amen.

      Church Services on an Icy Weekend

      Church services at St. Mark Presbyterian will be held today (1/14) as planned at 5:00 p.m. Break the cabin fever, come hear Rev. Jim Poinsett's sermon: "Inaugural Calling," and great music from Mark Reynoso. Be sure to check with KMOV and KSDK websites for updates on the status of Sunday morning worship on 1/15.

      Friday, January 13, 2017

      Daily Prayer Friday January 13

      FRIDAY

      You, O Lord, are full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and rich in kindness.
      Isaiah 42:(1-9) 10-17; Ephesians 3:1-13; Mark 2:13-22

      God our creator, you made all things in your wisdom, and in your love you save us. We pray for the whole creation. Overthrow evil powers, right what is wrong, feed and satisfy those who thirst for justice, so that all your children may freely enjoy the earth you have made, and joyfully sing your praises. Take all our doubts and uncertainties, O God, and fill us with such faith that we may be confident of your love and loyal in the service of him who died and yet lives for us, Jesus Christ the Lord. Merciful God, you bear the pain of the world. Look with compassion on those who are sick; cheer them by your word, and bring healing as a sign of your grace. God of comfort, stand with those who sorrow; that they may be sure that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, shall separate them from your love. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

      As God's own, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, and patience, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, and crown all these things with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

      (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.)

      Wednesday, January 11, 2017

      Red Tent Begins

      Facilitated by Pastor Susan.Meets at St. Mark Presbyterian  in Fellowship Hall from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM.
      Red Tent Women’s Bible Study will meet January 12, February 9, and March 9.

      Our study will be from Namesake: When God Rewrites Your Story by Jessica LaGrone. We will be exploring the transformational power of God through the stories of people in the Bible who encountered God and whose lives and names were never the same.
      Jan 12 – Abraham and Sarah
      Feb. 9 – Jacob
      Mar. 9 – Naomi

      Monday, January 9, 2017

      Mission Committee Corner


      Marion Medical Mission continues to offer 2017 calendars as a thank you for supporting the Malawi Famine Relief Fund.  Click here for more information on this mission which shows the love of Christ through projects that directly impact the African people, stressing self-help and sustainability.

      Just $20 pays to feed one family for a month.  Please stop by the Welcome Center and pick up a calendar.  A donation box will be available through January 22nd or put a donation in an envelope in the mission mailbox.  Thank you for all your support!  Contact Clarice Hutchens if any questions. 

      Sunday, January 8, 2017

      Worship Prayers from Jan. 1

      Prayer of Preparation:  You call us to be your children; you gift us to serve all people; you send us to proclaim your good news to all: Glory to You, Creator of all that is new!  When you are lonely, we have a chance to visit you; when you are hungry, we can share our food with you; when you are naked, we can give you the clothes off our backs; when you are sick, we can nurse you back to health; Glory to You, Savior of the World!  You whisper in our ears, so we may praise you; you fill our souls, so we may serve you; you lead us into the kingdom, so we may live with you; Glory to You, Spirit of Gentleness! Glory to You, God in Community, Holy in One!  Amen

      Call to Worship
      We wake up in the morning and see the sunrise:
               How majestic is your name in all the earth!
      We are warmed by the sun; the rain cleanses all creation:
               How majestic is your name in all the earth!
      We watch the moon light up the night, we fall asleep to the lullabies of the stars:
               How majestic is your name in all the earth!


      Prayer of Confession
      We admit that we always find the time to fill our stomachs, God of every moment, but not our souls.  We spend hours watching television, but not the wonders of your creation.  We arrange outings with our friends, yet ignore your invitation to sit and talk.  We make resolutions to change every aspect of our lives, except for that which pertains to you.  Forgive us, God of Glory, and make us new.  In the moments to come this year, remind us that if there is indeed a time for everything, then we do have those moments for grace, for hope, for joy, for a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen

      Scripture Reading                                                                                                          Matthew 2:13-23, p. 2