Thursday, November 30, 2017

(Just Like) Starting Over

We will begin a new lectionary year this weekend at St. Mark Presbyterian with the first Sunday of Advent. This is a season of active waiting and hopeful anticipation, but outside of a few candy calendars, it is almost entirely overlooked in our culture. My biggest (liturgical) new year’s resolution is to provide congregation members and guests with the opportunity to engage the text in new and creative ways throughout the week. Too often, we hear the biblical passage and sermon on Sunday and quickly forget the words and message as other responsibilities fill our minds and calendars.

I look forward to providing a “review and recap” story every Tuesday and a “coming attraction” post every Thursday. Please feel to share your thoughts as we keep the worship service going during Advent.

I am preaching from Mark’s gospel over the next several weeks, but there are several moving lectionary passages from other parts of the Bible that are worth exploring throughout the week. This passage from the prophet Isaiah is particularly rich as we look forward to Christmas and to Christ’s triumphant return.

Isaiah 64:1-9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

64 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
    so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
[a] as when fire kindles brushwood
    and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
    so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
    you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
    those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
    because you hid yourself we transgressed.[b]
We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
    or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have delivered[c] us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
    and do not remember iniquity forever.
    Now consider, we are all your people.


  1. Isaiah 64:2 Ch 64.1 in Heb
  2. Isaiah 64:5 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  3. Isaiah 64:7 Gk Syr Old Latin Tg: Heb melted
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Questions to Consider
1. The images of “tearing open the heavens” and “mountains quaking” are particularly intense. Why do you think the prophet chose these words and images? Where else in the Bible do we hear about tearing?1 What does this say about God’s relationship with humanity?

2. We are in a leaf raking season here in St. Louis. Do you ever feel like a faded leaf carried away by the strong winds of sin? Why are we more likely to sin when we don’t feel like God is close? What can you do over the next month to be more intentionally holy?

3. The passage ends with several familiar and comforting images for God. Do the images of Father, Potter, or Lord resonate with you? Why or why not?

4. Read through Mark 13 for this weekend’s sermon. What similarities does it have with Matthew 24-25? What differences? Does it fill you with fear or hope?

Pastor Dave Burgess

Monday, November 27, 2017

Advent Music Schedule

Here are plans for Music in December:

Chancel Bells on Sunday, December 3. This is the first time in awhile the Chancel Bells have been able to play during the Advent/Christmas Season. We are excited to play the Prelude and Anthem on December 3. Also on that day, a beautiful duet, Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord will be presented by Patty Livesay and Amy Shelton. Children and Youth on Sunday,

December 10. Pastor Susan is working with our young singers to prepare music for the anthem. AND several of our youth will be playing carols on their instruments during that service. Let the children (youth) lead them!

 Bethlehem’s Joy, a new cantata, by Johnson and Lloyd will be presented on Sunday, December 17 at the 10:30 AM service by our Chancel Choir, accompanied by guest musicians. It is exciting to see so many congregants joining our choir for this special event. The music is beautiful, the readings thoughtful. Invite someone to join us for this special service.

Christmas Eve worship:  10:30 AM, 5 PM, 7 PM 9 PM
On Christmas Eve night, the choir will sing at the 7 pm service, and Mardy Castro will sing “O Holy Night” at the 9 PM service. We are also planning to have some youth instrumentalists involved in one or more of our services. Thanks to all who participate in the music programs, and to all who offer encouragement.

Serving God the Best I Can, Marsha

There will be no  Saturday evening service December 23 or 30 and  no 8:30 service December 24 or 31

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Worship Prayers for Nov. 19

CENTERING PRAYER - I give thanks this day for the gift of Christ and the privilege to follow in his way.  This is the greatest life-giving treasure that I am called to steward; may I share this as freely as I have received it from the One who gave himself for the life of the world.  May I be continually awakened to your love this day.  Amen.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations;
         you have been our home throughout all the ages.
You were there before the world was made and will be forever.
         From everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Come, let us worship the Lord.

Loving God, we confess that we have sinned against you by not honoring you or one another.  When we place our iniquities before you, it is your love that sheds light on our wayward deeds.  As we stand in awe of your constancy for us, we ask your forgiveness through the mercy of Christ, in whose name we continue to pray.  (Silent Confession)


   PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD’S PRAYER                                     
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.  [Prayer requests may be given to one of the pastors before the service.]

† AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (Apostles’ Creed)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.


SCRIPTURE                                                                                     Matthew 25:14-30

For Pastor Dave's sermon "A Charge to Keep", Click here.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Daily Prayer for Nov.25

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever. Because I live, you also will live.
Nehemiah 7:73b-8:3, 5-18; Revelation 22:14-21; Matthew 18:21-35
O God of grace, you have given us new and living hope in Jesus Christ. We thank you that by dying Christ destroyed the power of death, and by rising from the grave opened the way to eternal life. Help us to know that because he lives, we shall live also; and that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come shall be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. By your power, great God, our Lord Jesus healed the sick and gave new hope to the hopeless. Though we cannot command or possess your power, we pray for those who want to be healed. Mend their wounds, soothe fevered brows, and make broken people whole again. Help us to welcome every healing as a sign that, though death is against us, you are for us, and have promised renewed and risen life in Jesus Christ the Lord. (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, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Expressed

Isaiah 12Amplified Bible (AMP)

12 And on that day you will say,
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord;
For though You were angry with me,
Your anger has turned away,
And You comfort me.

“Behold, God, my salvation!
I will trust and not be afraid,
For the Lord God is my strength and song;
Yes, He has become my salvation.”

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the springs of salvation.

And in that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name [in prayer].
Make His deeds known among the peoples [of the earth];
Proclaim [to them] that His name is exalted!”

Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done excellent andglorious things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.

Rejoice and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.;NCV

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas Cards for USO

St. Mark Caregivers are again asking you to sign Christmas cards for our military men and women, to be distributed through the USO at Lambert Airport.

It’s easy for you to take part. Look for the red, white and blue box in the Narthex and select a card or cards from it. Sign it from your family or St. Mark, put it back in the envelope and leave it in the box.

We will do the rest!

Suggested messages for the cards include: “Holding you in our prayers,” “With gratitude for your service,” or “Praying for your continued safety.” That’s up to you.

Thank you for your help with this project. We will conclude our collection at the end of the month.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Giving Thanks Dinner

 The Giving Thanks Dinner was held Nov. 19 in Gleason Hall.  250 members of the congregation brought canned goods for Circle of Concern which was their "payment" for the meal.  10 members of the Fellowship committee prepared the food, decorated Gleason Hall and served the meal. After grace by the Joyful Noise choir, everyone enjoyed a festive dinner.  The Property Committee helped with set ups and clean up.  Left-overs were taken to the Ballwin Fire Department.

Thanks to Dale W, John N and Jaclyn M for the photos.

Worship Prayers for Nov. 12

CENTERING PRAYER - I give thanks for the gift of life this day and for the privilege of loving you by serving others.  Give me an opportunity to grow in right relationship with you by promoting justice in the world today though my life, my choices, and my witness.  Amen.

Rejoice and be glad!
        For God is our salvation.
Rejoice and be glad!
        For God is great.
Let us worship the Lord!

Holy and gracious God, you are all light and wonder and glory.  You are our strength and our delight; you give us all we need to live.  Yet we are distracted by all that glitters, continually grasping for more.  Rather than trust in your provision, we chase after our own happiness. Forgive us, Lord, and turn us back to you.  Overwhelm us with your goodness and cover us with grace, for we know you are the source of life, the fount of all that is good.  We continue to pray in Jesus’ name.  (Silent Confession)


† AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (Apostles’ Creed)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.


   SCRIPTURE                                                                       Matthew 25:1-13

Let us give praise to the Lord, who is good. God’s love is everlasting.
        Let us come to God with thanksgiving, let us complete our promises to the Lord.
We praise you God, for the many gifts of this church.
        We celebrate the wonders and signs of grace in our midst;
        we dedicate ourselves as Christ’s faithful disciples.
Make us instruments of your truth, O God, enable us to proclaim your kingdom.
        Where there is injury, let us be healers.  Where there is hatred, let us share love.
Encourage us in the tasks before us, for talking and moving and thinking together,
for enacting of the gospel.
        Where there is darkness, let us bring light.  Where there is sadness, let us bring joy.
Bless these gifts, gracious God, and bless all those who are served by them.
        We bring these gifts and offerings and our promise of giving in a new year
        because we hope for more in the days ahead.
We hope for a stronger church, and a more compassionate world.
        Shape us, through our giving, make us a people of true discipleship.  Amen.

Click here for the sermon "Renewed: Treasure"

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Daily Prayer Nov. 18


Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Lamentations 5:1-22; Revelation 7:(4-8) 9-17; Matthew 13:31-35

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, November 17, 2017

Library Corner

Books on both the Reformation and Thanksgiving are on display for November.
Click here for more information

Martin Luther: a man who changed the world by Paul L. Maier is a biography written for the middle grades but has good information for adults. Martin’s life story sparkles with color, adventure and high drama. Most of us know his name and that he started the Reformation, but what kind of man was he? This book is a simple story of the man. Also on display is A Compend of Luther’s Theology edited by Hugh T. Kerr an in depth study of Luther’s theology.

Thanksgiving Tales: true stories of the holiday in America edited by Brian D. Jaffe. 48 writers share their individual stories and memories of earlier Thanksgiving celebrations. – Adult

Thank You for Thanksgiving by Dandi Daley Mackall tells about Thanksgiving through the eyes of the youngest child who is trying to think of something he is thankful for to add to the Thanksgiving prayer. – Children

 Thanksgiving at Our House by P.K. Hallinan describes what happens during Thanksgiving Day in P.K.’s house. The story ends with “I’m grateful for blessings that just never end. But mostly I’m thankful for all of my friends.” – Children

These books and more are on display on the book carts outside the Adult Library.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Third Wednesday and Midweek

November 15   5:30 Potluck Dinner (Gleason Hall)
                         6-7 500 years in 50 minutes---The Reformation with Pastor Dave
December 20   5:30 Potluck Dinner (Gleason Hall)
                          6-7 "Incarnation:  Grasping God with Us"

Midweek Children's Fellowship
Join us on Wednesday evenings from 6:45-7:30 PM for Children's Fellowship (Fellowship Hall).  We are studying the Old Testament with the Holy Moly series, a mission project and of course games and a snack.

Children's Choir Rehearsal 6:15 in Music Room (Downstairs)

Middle School Fellowship (Downstairs) 6-7:30 with Bible Study at 6:45 PM

Adult Music Rehearsals
Celebration Ringers 5 PM Sanctuary
Chancel Bells 6 PM Sanctuary
Chancel Choir 7 PM Music Room (Downstairs) 7:45 Cantata Rehearsal

Call the Church office for more information.  636-394-2233

Monday, November 13, 2017

Music Notes

Hopefully, you have noticed and appreciated the wide variety of music the Chancel Choir has worked
hard to prepare for you each Sunday. In order not to become a stagnant or narrow church, it is important to know and understand the whole Bible and how God relates to us through it. Expressing faith musically in a wide variety of styles and texts encourages us to think about our faith in different and nuanced ways.

The choir grows in their musical skills, and everyone grows in faith. The Chancel and Celebration Ringers are also hard at work. The Celebration Ringers is an entry level Bell Choir, while the Chancel Choir is better for more experienced and confident ringers. They will start playing in worship the end of October.

Flute players: I might try to get a group together in mid-November. I am thinking we might rehearse around 5:30 PM on Wednesdays for a couple of weeks. Let me know if you are interested.

We would love to have more singers join us (especially men!). We are in need of tenors for our Chancel Choir. I am considering looking to hire a tenor to support the men’s section on a per service, per rehearsal basis. If you know someone qualified (past experience in choir or voice lessons, good sight -reading skills, strong voice but not necessarily a soloist), please pass the information to them to contact me.

Serving God the Best I Can.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Worship Prayer for Nov. 5

CENTERING PRAYER - Thank you for waking me up this morning; each day is a gift from you. Let your Word be at work within me today that I may be faithful to you and every breath be a prayer of gratitude.  Amen.


CALL TO WORSHIP - Psalm 107:1-2
O give thanks to the Lord, who is good.
        God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so:
        God’s steadfast love endures forever!
Let us worship the Lord!

Lord God, only you are holy.  Yet we imagine that we are righteous, excusing our own faults while pointing out those of others.  We are quick to lay burdens upon our neighbors but slow to help with their own.  We take credit and give blame.  In spite of the grace you have shown to us, we are slow to show mercy.  Forgive us, O God, and wash us clean, that we may serve you with joy and thanksgiving.  We continue to pray in Jesus’ name.  (Silent Confession)

† AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – Westminster Confession Shorter Catechism Question One
Question One:        What is our chief end?
Answer:                  Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever.

   SCRIPTURE                                                                                        Matthew 23:1-12

Click here for Pastor Dave's sermon "Renewed: Talent"

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Daily Prayer for Nov. 11


Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Ezra 6:1-22; Revelation 17:1-14; Matthew 14:22-36

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.)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

World War I, St. Louis Women, and BRO

When we at St. Mark think about BRO, we think of the women like Shirley Boeker and Louise Grothe and all the others who for decades have helped collect, sort, and distribute toys to children in need across our area. The organization’s origin and history though, does not start with spreading holiday cheer to children.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a reference to The Board of Religious Organizations of St. Louis while working at the Old Courthouse downtown. I knew that many organizations used space in the former courthouse during the 1930s but was still surprised to learn that BRO occupied two different rooms for their toy storage and workshop. I didn’t know the organization was that old and so did some further research on when and why they began.

During World War I women from religious organizations (Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic) formed a woman’s committee of the Missouri Council of National Defense to combine their efforts and help in winning the war. They organized a war savings campaign and sold approximately 1 million dollars in war saving stamps. Most of these were sold from the “Little White House” they set up near the main post office downtown. The women established Red Cross units in many houses of worship. They also raised funds for French and Belgian orphans and participated in the “sewing of the comforts committee”.

After the armistice was signed, the women wondered what would become of their active and successful organization. At a preliminary meeting to discuss their future, more than 500 women gathered. Eleven religious bodies, Protestant, Jewish, and also the Ethical Society, were included. The Board of Religious Organizations was created and their purpose as a social service organization was outlined in their constitution.

“The aim of this association shall be to stimulate the activities of the various religious organizations and their members, to coordinate their work and to unify their efforts in behalf of a better city and the community welfare. The association shall stand solely for the spirit of service and cooperation. Creed and doctrine shall play no part in its management or its work.”

They organized themselves into denominational units that were represented in different departments of work. In the early years after the war their focus was on Americanization, child welfare, community service, family welfare, institutions, protection and delinquency, publication, social hygiene, and social legislation.

“Americanization” was a term that became popular after the war. The women of the Board of Religious Organizations enrolled in training courses so they could teach English in their own homes to immigrant women and help them in other capacities. It is interesting to note that even in 1924 their efforts were acknowledged in a social services journal that stated, “The contacts that have been made have proved helpful not only to the foreign women and their families, but to the many benighted Americans who had no idea of the problems which our immigrants face or the conditions under which they are living.”

These women recognized that millions of dollars were invested in church and religious buildings that were used just a few times a week. They advocated for greater use of these buildings for various social service programs. The Board was aware that their efforts might conflict with the pastor or other “leading members of a church” but they told their members to continue working to secure use of church buildings, for their programs were essential. During the early years of the Board of Religious Organization, the women realized that some of their programs needed to be more active than others and so they prioritized their work. One of their most important early committees dealt with social legislation. They had great success in working on behalf of child welfare measures and the public schools of St. Louis.

In 1924 the Board of Religious Organization acknowledged the importance of a trained and paid staff in enlisting and training volunteers for social service. They knew they had much work to accomplish before their organization’s programs were fully successful, but they had confidence that they would continue to strengthen their efforts to do all possible for the betterment of the St. Louis community.

Mangold, George B. “The Board of Religious Organizations of St. Louis: A Co-operative Venture of Women’s Groups in Social Service” in The Journal of Social Forces, Vol. 2., No. 3 (Mar., 1924), pp.422-424
Stevens, Walter Barlow. Centennial History of Missouri, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1921.
“Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the St. Louis Ethical Society” The Standard, volume 8, number 3, 1921, pages 85-86.

Written and Prepared by Julie Northrip in recognition of BRO's many years of service. Click here for some of the ways St. Mark Presbyterian has contributed to BRO.