Thursday, May 31, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

“The more I think about it, the more I wonder if God and neighbor are somehow One. ‘Loving God, Loving neighbor’ – the same thing? For me, coming to recognize that God loves every neighbor is the ultimate appreciation.” – Rev. Fred Rogers

Our world is always spinning forward, but we have a nostalgic fascination with the past. Fashions and fads arrive, bloom, depart, and resurrect every twenty years or so. Our television sets and movie screens are filled with reboots of previous comedy and drama hits. Even popular music seems to skip back like a scratched record every couple of decades. The Bible clearly gets it right when it tells us, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NRSV.)

 I am not a big fan of restarting old trends, and I am generally pretty happy to live in the now. However, there is one program (and person) I am happy to see back in the limelight. America is rediscovering Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a new feature length film is coming out called, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Like many of you, I fondly remember Fred Rogers coming into my home every morning through the magic of television to tell me how special and unique I was. He changed his sweater and his shoes, but he never changed his message on loving our neighbors and our neighborhood.

I believe we need Mr. Rogers’ words in our world now more than ever. Too often, we look at others as different and dangerous, strangers to be feared or even hated. Many lament how neighborhoods are changing for the worse. The past couple of years have seen the sparks of discontent and division fan into a consuming wildfire of angst and animosity. Instead of engaging others, we are quick to talk about them and dismiss their needs, hopes, and wants. 

I believe our country is longing for a return to civility, and this is where the renewed fascination with Mr. Rogers comes into play. There is something reassuring about the consistent message delivered in a gentle voice that we are loved, and we are special. We will have a special sermon series in June focusing on neighbors, neighborhoods, receiving, and giving love. It is more timely now than ever before, and I hope you will invite someone to hear this good news!

So let's make the most of this beautiful day, 
Since we're together, we might as well say, 
Would you be mine? 
Could you be mine? 
Won't you be my neighbor?

In Hope and Confidence,
 Pastor Dave

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hands-On with a Mission Partner


In mid-April, St. Mark member, Dr. Clarice Hutchens was elected President of the Board of Directors for Partners for Just Trade (PJT), a mission partner of PCUSA and St. Mark. (PJT was our Mission Partner Spotlight in the April Messenger).





Clarice has been engaged with PJT in a very hands-on way for almost ten years. She was a member of the early mission trips to Peru as part of the PCUSA Hunger Program's Joining Hands Network. Clarice has served in numerous volunteer and leadership roles with the organization.


Clarice recently staffed the PJT booth at the Earth Day events at Forest Park and Chesterfield Mall, promoting PJT products and educating others on issues of justice and social responsibility in global trade. https://www.partnersforjusttrade.org/
L-R Victoria, Angela, Debbie, Clarice Hutchens



Sunday, May 27, 2018

Worship May 20 Pentecost


CENTERING PRAYER:  God of newness and delight, you greet your world again with light and life. I awaken to your presence behind, before, beneath, above, and within me.  I thank you for another day and ask only that you keep me so firmly in your care that I can move gracefully through all I have to do.  Guard my family, my friends, and all my brothers and sisters in faith.  Let me be a peacemaker today; in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

  
     
CALL TO WORSHIP
God declares: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.
        Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.
The young shall see visions.
        The elders shall dream dreams.
Both men and women shall prophesy.
        And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Come!  Let us worship our God who makes all things new!


   PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Holy and Merciful God, we do not know how to pray as we ought, and we know too well our constant failures to do as you have commanded and to hold fast to your word.  Forgive us for the divisions we nurture, guide us to your way, keep us in your care, and lead us into faith.  We trust your word that the Spirit of truth will show us all things and grant us courage and peace.  We continue to pray in Jesus' name.  (Silent Confession)


SCRIPTURE READING                                                               Acts 2:1-21

  

† 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.

Click here for the sermon "Holy Harmony"


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Daily Prayer May 26

SATURDAY
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Proverbs 8:22-36; 2 John 1-15; Matthew 12:15-21

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.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Confirmation

For those who aren’t familiar with the Presbyterian church, confirmation is a process through which young people meet weekly, typically the length of a school year, to study Christianity and Presbyterian theology in depth (as I remember my own confirmation from a long time ago — like, a long, long time ago), to help determine their own faith and beliefs.
Typically confirmation is a process students start in middle school. When most of her peers were being confirmed, Julia’s father was deployed, and I wasn’t sure I could get her to church weekly, since I would be handling single mom detail with two younger kids in tow. We’d wait till he got home, I thought, when things would be easier logistically. But things didn’t get easier. He died shortly after he returned home, and somehow I went from being a temporary single mom to doing it on a permanent, full-time basis.
Shortly after her father passed away, I reminded Julia that a new confirmation class was forming, and she could jump in a little late if she wanted. She declined, and who could blame her? We didn’t talk about faith or God much that year. I was afraid my children would ask questions that I couldn’t answer — still can’t answer, in fact.
Perhaps some parents wouldn’t have presented their daughter with the option. It’s time to be confirmed. End of story. But whatever my children believe, however they choose to worship (or not to worship at all), I’ve always wanted it to be their choice. Faith that’s viewed as a chore isn’t faith at all.
Last summer, just before starting her sophomore year of high school, Julia told me that she was ready to start confirmation classes. After all that she had been through—all that she had lost—I was surprised that she was willing to invest so much time and energy trying to build a stronger relationship with God. But I supported her decision, and promised her that we could get her to class every week (except for the occasional winter storm).
Though it’s a significant undertaking at any age, attempting it in high school has added challenges, like juggling it with driving lessons and college-level classes. Plus there’s the awkwardness of being quite a bit older than your classmates, which is why she earned the nickname “Billy Madison” (okay, I admit, I’m the only one who called her that). But more than all of that, viewing God through the lens of cynicism and heartbreak that come with age and experience no doubt makes the process more difficult—but also more meaningful.
On Pentecost Sunday, Julia was confirmed. I would say it happened on her schedule and not mine, but perhaps it’s really on God’s schedule. As with most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it, and because she has put so much heart and soul into this process, I hope that what she gains from it will nourish her spirit for a lifetime.
To all those who have helped her on this journey----thank you for leading her, and for walking beside her.

Kathryn Deters

Monday, May 21, 2018

Isaiah 58

Last Saturday the Deacons at St. Mark Presbyterian went to Isaiah 58 to help them re-organize their food pantry.



Isaiah 58 Ministries is a non-profit agency that has been in existence in South Saint Louis since 1970.  It was established to meet the needs of low-income individuals in our community through direct services including a food pantry, thrift store, healthy lifestyles programming, and women's group.  After 40 years of service. For more information on Isaiah 58, click here

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Worship Prayers for May 13

CENTERING PRAYER:  Holy One, thank you for the ability to begin my day in prayer.  Guide my path today.  No matter what happens, help me to feel that I belong to you, and bring me home to you at the end of the day.  Amen.

  
     
CALL TO WORSHIP
Happy are those who do not ridicule and scoff                     
     but who delight in God’s teachings and meditate on them day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water.
     They yield fruit in due season, and their leaves do not wither.
Come!  Let us worship our God together!


   PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Loving God, though you call us to delight in your teachings, we can become cynical and full of doubt.  Do not judge us, we pray, but heal us and restore us to you.  Guard us and protect us from evil, and sanctify us in your truth.  We continue to pray in Jesus’ name. (Silent Confession)

SCRIPTURE READING                                                             John 17:6-19

  

† 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.

Rev. Dr. Julia Allen Berger preached on Sunday, May 13th, 2018 at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Ballwin, Missouri.  "Exploring a Stained Glass Word: Sanctified", Click here for the sermon.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Daily Prayer May 19

SATURDAY


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

Ezekiel 36:22-27; Ephesians 6:1-24; Matthew 9:18-26

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, May 18, 2018

Feasting on the Word

Acts 2:1-21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Pentecost icon depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit
 upon the Apostles and Mary

 in the form of tongues of flame above their heads.


The Sunday School Class "Feasting on the Word" will be meeting in  Fellowship Hall at 9:30 to discuss this passage from the lectionary.  This will be the last week of the class.


The Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Spirit#/media/File:Абраз_%22Сашэсце_Святога_Духа%22.JPG

Monday, May 14, 2018

Peace Meal

Tzimmes
Since the program’s founding in 2006, St. Mark has been part of this free fellowship meal prepared and served every Saturday from 4 – 5:30 PM in the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church which is located on Arsenal across from Tower Grove Park.

This program is called the Peace Meal Project because a meal is only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing poverty, inequality, and loneliness. Sharing a fellowship meal together brings us closer to the Reign of God that we hope for – a community of justice, peace, and dignity for all people.

From just one congregation involved, the program has grown to eleven congregations; most Episcopal, but also Roman Catholic, Mennonite, and Presbyterian, that serve on a rotating basis. St. Mark’s “peace mealers” are coordinated by Bruce and Candy Cranston and serve 4-6 times each year.

On the Saturday before Easter, St. Mark volunteers prepared and served a menu consisting of fresh greens, mixed vegetables, ham with pineapple, Tzimmes*, bread and butter, along with ice cream, cake, and cookies for dessert. All ingredients and equipment were ready upon our arrival. Tables, chairs, and food preparation activities were supervised and directed by an experienced St. John’s member.

The food was nourishing and enjoyed by the diners. The volunteers were blessed to serve our neighbors. Neighbors that ranged in age from toddler to silver senior, different shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds. Conversation topics were as varied as the participants and ranged from weather, food, politics, health, diet, prayer requests for family members, as well as personal joys and concerns. After the meal, attendees are able to receive information about support services and are invited to participate in a brief evening prayer service.

 The St. Mark Mission Committee thanks the congregation for your ongoing support. A portion of the funds raised through the Board of Deacons led ABC sale benefit the Peace Meal Project. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Bruce or Candy Cranston. For more information, please visit: https://www.towergrovechurch.org/serving/peacemeal-project *Tzimmes is a traditional Jewish roasted vegetable dish with a honey-apple sauce. This was a hit for the diners including the St. Mark volunteers. Many came back for seconds and there were no leftovers. The source of the recipe may be found at: https://chosenpeople.com/ site/tzimmes/

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Worship Prayers May 6

CENTERING PRAYER:  Holy One, I begin today breathing in your love for me, for others, and for the world.  Keep me mindful of all the marvelous things you are doing around and within me.  Help me to feel my friendship with Jesus and his confidence in me.  Maintain in my heart the image of myself as a tree, bearing the fruit of Christ’s love everywhere I go today.  Amen.

       
CALL TO WORSHIP
Sing to our God a new song.
         God has done marvelous things!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord!
         Break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Let the sea roar and all that fills it.
         Let the world and its people sing together for joy!
Come!  Let us worship our creative God together!


   PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Loving God, we confess we have not loved you or each other with our whole hearts.  We have ignored the discipleship road and followed the path of least resistance.  Forgive us, we pray, and lead us toward wholeness, that we may be filled with your joy.  We continue to pray in Jesus name.  (Silent Confession)


  
SCRIPTURE READING                                                                          Acts 10:44-48

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


For the sermon "Where Did You Go to High School", click here

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Daily Prayer May 12

SATURDAY

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.

Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Matthew 7:28-8:4

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.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Feasting on the Word

The Sunday School Class "Feasting on the Word" will be meeting in  Fellowship Hall at 9:30 to discuss this passage from the lectionary.

Acts 1:15-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
https://earlychurchhistory.org/beliefs-2/casting-lots-in-the-bible/

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers[a] (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends,[b] the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 1:15 Gk brothers
  2. Acts 1:16 Gk Men, brothers

Acts 1:21-26 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place[a] in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 1:25 Other ancient authorities read the share
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.