Thursday, February 28, 2019

Divine Reversals

Lent arrives a little later this year, but its appearance is right around the corner. It is my favorite season in the liturgical calendar because it forces us all to focus on the essentials: life, death, and resurrection.

A divine reversal is at play over the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The world tells us life begins at birth and ends in death. Lent begins with examining our mortality and the reminder in the imposition of ashes, “you come from dust, and to dust you will return.” We continue on the hard journey with Jesus to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his betrayal, arrest, and conviction. The cross casts a deep and troubling shadow over the entire season, but death does not have the final word. God concludes the divine reversal on Easter Sunday in Jesus’ resurrection.

We always see an uptick in church participation during Lent. I attribute part of it to the better weather and the return of our snowbirds. I think the main reason is Lent forces us to be real and examine the meaning of our lives and the hope of our faith. I don’t believe church membership and The A Monthly Insight into St. Mark Presbyterian Church attendance dips because we demand too much. In fact, the opposite seems to be true: we lose disciples when we require too little. Lent does not let us off the hook. It stares directly into our eyes with the intensity of a drill sergeant and forces us to look at our hearts. It is a hard and beautiful 40 days.

Lent presents us with an uncomfortable truth. It is much easier to worship Jesus than it is to follow Him. The Lord does not call us to adore God from a distance but to travel the road Jesus walked, to serve the broken, and to love without reservation. It is not an easy task, but it is what this season demands. Rev. William Sloane Coffin speaks to this, “Faith is a matter of being faithful. It’s not believing without proof; it’s trusting without reservation. No easy task. But faithfulness is joyful.”

St. Mark is offering a number of opportunities to grow in faith throughout Lent. Everyone is encouraged to take part in “The Lenten Challenge” and drink clean filtered tap water for 40 days. All money saved will go to building clean water wells in Africa with our partners at Marion Medical Mission. We will also have a conversation on Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 in room 102. In addition to this class, there will be a live online discussion at noon on Wednesdays. I hope you will consider joining us as we explore this important book. Do not let Lent or life pass you by!

 In Hope and Confidence,

Pastor Dave

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

All Church Read

Good News for Ragamuffins! Pastor Dave is leading a 40-day discussion on The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. We will gather on Wednesday evenings during Lent, beginning March 6th at St. Mark to discuss the book and its hopeful message for the “bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.” In addition to the class, Pastor Dave will also host an interactive online video conversation every Wednesday at noon. This is an excellent chance to explore your faith and feed your spirit as we journey together toward Holy Week. Copies of the book will be available to purchase for $12 in the church office. Please contact Pastor Dave to reserve your copy or if you have any questions. 
For more than 15 years, Manning's bestseller The Ragamuffin Gospel has reminded us that Jesus did not come for the pretty, pious and powerful. Instead, he came for the "bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out" ragamuffins who desperately need his grace. Dispelling the myth that you must work to receive God's gift of grace and joy, Manning, a fellow ragamuffin, reveals the true nature of a freely-given and unrelenting grace that's available to all. Drop the burden of never measuring up and revel in the comfort of a God who loves you for who you are - not for who you think you should be. 
This 2005 release includes a new epilogue, "The Scandal of Grace: Fifteen Years Later," and a new section "19 Mercies: A Spiritual Journey" of reading, prayer, and contemplation.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Worship Prayers for Feb. 17

CENTERING PRAYER*          *J. Birch,

In my waking and arising, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my eating and drinking, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my walking and journeying, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my working and serving, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my sowing and harvesting, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my rejoicing and sorrowing, be the first thought that enters my head.
In my resting and sleeping, be the first thought that enters my head. Amen.

CALL TO WORSHIP (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green.
Its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Grounded in love, let us worship our God together!


Merciful God, your call to discipleship is demanding. You call us to reorder our lives by the kingdom you are bringing through your resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. We still pass by the ones you especially notice: people who are poor and hungry; people who weep. We have not stood with those who are vilified, mocked, hated, bullied, and excluded. Comfortable with the way things are, we are far too complacent and even complicit with actions of injustice and prejudice. Forgive us, O God, and turn us back to your gospel. We pray this now, for our sake, and for the sake of the world; through Jesus 

For the sermon "Here and Hereafter", click here.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Scripture for February 24

Resurrection of Christ by Noël Coypel, 1700

1 Corinthians 15:35-52 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is[a]from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will[b] also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters,[c] is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die,[d] but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 


  1. 1 Corinthians 15:47 Other ancient authorities add the Lord
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Other ancient authorities read let us
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:50 Gk brothers
  4. 1 Corinthians 15:51 Gk fall asleep
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.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Daily Prayer February 22


If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us the desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. God of all times and places, in Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, you opened for us the path to eternal life. Grant that we, being born again of water and the Spirit, may joyfully serve you in newness of life and faithfully walk in your holy ways. God of all joy, fill our souls to overflowing with the fullness of your grace. Lord, remind us of your triumph over the tragedy of the cross, and your victory for us over the powers of sin and death, so that we may reflect your glory as disciples of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
With God's help and love may your lives be blessed and your labors fruitful as you offer yourselves gladly in the service of our common Lord.

(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, February 20, 2019

Church Management Software Upgrade

In January, we went on-line with our new Church Management software, called SimpleChurch CRM.
G. Schindler
We are now using the new software for:

  • Recording 2019 donations and 2019 pledge progress 
  • Recording attendance at worship services 
  • Emailing information to the congregation 

On the weekend of January 12 and 13, we used the notification capabilities of SimpleChurch to notify church members of the cancellation of services due to inclement weather. We sent out three emails and two text alerts that weekend.

If you didn’t get the emails, we don’t have your correct email address in the system. If you didn’t get the text alerts, we don’t have your cell phone in the system, or it is not properly listed in the system. If you want to get text or emails and didn’t, please send an email to to update your information. If you don’t do email or text and want to be added to our voice call list, contact the church office, 636-394-2233.

Session members and other early adopters are logging onto the system and helping the Technology Committee work out any implementation issues. We will be offering access to the software and its online church directory to the full congregation by the end of February. We are excited about the new capabilities that SimpleChurch gives St. Mark as we move forward!

Technology Committee

Monday, February 18, 2019

Music Notes: Between the Headlines

Christmas is long gone. Easter is coming.

These are the “headlines” of the Christian faith. But what happens in between? I was sharing with some friends, using Ferguson as an example, that to understand what is going on in a community or with a social issue, you need to read and watch for the “little stories” in between the headlines. It is these stories that provide a full picture and real understanding of what is going on in the world.

So it is with the Christian Faith. The headlines are great, but what influences me the most is the “in between “stories. In January, we always have the Baptism of Christ, an incredible scene, and the beginning of Christ’s ministry through his first miracles and teachings. In February, there is the beautiful Corinthian “love is patient” reading and from Luke “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Because these “in between” stories are so important to understanding the Christian message, I do my best to reinforce them through the Anthems and Special Music I choose for each particular weekly service.

Christmas is sweet. Easter is glorious. It is the “in between” that makes them so.

Looking forward to seeing you “in between.”

Soli Deo Gloria 


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Worship for February 10

***Worship was cancelled due to ice, but Pastor Dave Burgess gave the sermon live on Facebook---see below***

CENTERING PRAYER God, I give you thanks this morning as I watch the beauty of the world and see your love displayed all around me. Help me to listen to your creation sing, ponder the miracle of my own breathing, and celebrate your presence in it all. Holy, Holy, Holy! Increase my strength of soul today, and wherever I see a need, help me to respond, “Send me!” Amen.

CALL TO WORSHIP We come from different backgrounds on various roads to get here, But we are all here seeking an experience of the holy. Listen for the promise of God’s steadfast love and God’s faithfulness. We are listening for God’s call in our lives. Come! Let us worship the Lord!

PRAYER OF CONFESSION God of the universe and Creator of all that is, we admit we fail to be honest about our lives. We are not always trustworthy or loyal. You call us to be kind and obedient, but pettiness and anger leads us astray. Touch us with your grace and dispel our fear. Help us to follow you with our words and our deeds. We continue to pray in Jesus’ name. (Silent Confession)

SERMON “The Only Thing” Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess Click here  (sound gets better)

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – Heidelberg Catechism Question One What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by the power of his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Scripture for Feb. 17

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13 God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
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.
Photo by Kate Williams on Unsplash

Friday, February 15, 2019

Daily Prayer February 15

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord. I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life.

  • Morning Psalms 51; 148
  • Gospel Reading Mark 10:32-45
  • Evening Psalms 142; 65
  • God of our forebears, as your chosen servant Abraham was given faith to obey your call and go out into the unknown, so may your church be granted such faith that we may follow you with courage for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. God of love, as you have given your life to us, so may we live according to your holy will revealed in Jesus Christ. Make us bold to share your life, and show your love, in the power of your Holy Spirit. Mighty God, sovereign over the nations, direct those who make, administer, and judge our laws; the President of the United States and others in authority among us; that, guided by your wisdom, they may lead us in the way of righteousness. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
    Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

    (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, February 14, 2019

    Joy, Happiness and Hope

    As it is for many couples, gift-giving never came easily to my husband and me. At most holidays we were so preoccupied with what to give our kids, parents, siblings and teachers, that our gifts to each other were typically an afterthought; the low point was the year he gave me the movie “The Ringer” on DVD for Mother’s Day. To this day, I don’t know what that was about.

    But the year after my husband had his first heart attack, I remember spending weeks trying to figure out the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to give him. With medical expenses and unexpected time off work, money was tight. A heartfelt note that expressed how much I truly loved and appreciated him probably would have been best, but at that time, it was difficult to say those words out loud. To tell him how much he meant to me would have required admitting to myself just how much was at stake if I lost him.

    Valentine’s Day arrived and alas, I was still empty handed; cupid’s arrow of inspiration had yet to arrive. Jeff, on the other hand, had found a large Garfield the Cat pop-up card that somehow managed to perfectly capture our marriage and his devotion to me. Which made me feel like an even bigger shmuck for not having anything for him.
    It was a typical Valentine’s Day in a family household, with school that day, a kid’s ballet class that evening and some form of totally uninspiring salad hastily consumed in between. As I drove my daughter home from her dance class late that night, red glowing hearts from a nearby White Castle caught my eye.
    I remembered how passionately my husband had lobbied to get me to eat there with him one Valentine’s Day. For those who are unfamiliar, this unassuming, greasy burger joint transforms itself one night a year with candles and decorations. Jeff, who was a life-long slider devotee, had always dreamed of sharing a romantic candlelit dinner there.
    I impulsively pulled into the drive-thru line and ordered him a couple of sliders and a tiny sack of fries. When I saw the look of joy on my husband’s face when I walked in carrying that bag, I thought of the eight long months that had passed since his heart attack. All the times that I denied him his favorite foods. All the moments that I kept him from doing the things that he loved, like running on a trail or carrying one of our kids. All out of fear. All out of a desire to add days to our time together. Ultimately, I had been robbing him of those days instead.
    I wasn’t simply looking for a way to take care of him; I was looking for a way to assure myself that he would be okay. That I could sleep at night because he was safe. That he would wake up the next morning. That he would come home from work the next night. That he would make it through the next run.
    n the midst of all this, I came across a photo of our last trip to Walt Disney World. A look of carefree joy beamed from my husband and daughter’s faces. And I wondered how we’d ever feel that type of happiness again. I remember someone telling me, “You might not be happy again in this life, but maybe in the next.” As a Christian, I understood and appreciated what he was trying to tell me. But as a human being who somehow had to get out of bed every morning and take care of a husband and three kids, it was devastating to hear.
    But somehow, day by day, I loosened my grip on those fears, and laughter and new adventures took their place. There were more happy moments. There were happy weeks. There were happy months. There were even happy years.
    Since the second heart attack that claimed his life two years ago, I have found myself facing those same questions again. I have a thousand fears, but perhaps the greatest one is that we’ll never be completely happy again.
    For the first year after his death, I spent countless hours every week pouring through photos that I had taken of the kids before they lost their father and comparing them to photos we’ve taken since. I kept asking myself, “Do they look as happy now as they did then?” Honestly, no. But as time passes, I realize there were hundreds of moments of happiness after his first heart attack that were completely unexpected. And I am certain that there are more to come.
    I read an article this week that postulated that as Christians, we have become too preoccupied with being happy, pointing to the story of Job as evidence, and that we should be striving to be better people, not happier people. Perhaps that’s true, to an extent; the loss I’ve experienced has certainly made me more aware of the suffering of those around me, and more motivated to do something about it. But in the long term, to continue to care for one another the way God calls us to do requires happiness, or at least faith that we will be happy again one day. While the Bible is rife with stories of people who endured suffering, it is also filled with passages like, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” God gives us ample reasons to be joyful, from the beauty of our earth to the love and support of our friends and family. I believe that God gives us the necessary tools to fulfill his plan for each of our lives, and perhaps the most powerful of those tools are joy, happiness and hope.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Go-Getters Valentine Party

     The Go-getters is a fellowship group at St. Mark that meets for lunch once a month.  Sometimes they go out for lunch but when the winter months are so unpredictable, they meet at church.  A HUGE thank you to Nancy Sutch, Sharon Tharp and Jan Graves who organize, feed and entertain this lovely group of ladies.

    Monday, February 11, 2019

    Save the date for the Golf Tournament

    The 15th Annual Circle of Concern Golf tournament sponsored by Orthopedic Specialists and presented by St. Mark 
    Presbyterian Church, is right around the corner.  This year it will be held on Monday, May 20th at Aberdeen Golf Club in Eureka.  Over the last 14 years, this event has raised more than $100,000 to help Circle of Concern provide assistance for families in need throughout West County.  We are asking you to join again with our tremendous group of donors to help support this year's tournament.

    How can you help?

    1.)  Register to play in the tournament as an individual or as a foursome
         This event is open to EVERYONE.  Ask family members, friends, and neighbors to come out and play.  If you don't play, please mention this event to golfers you know.  They can register their own foursome or play as an individual.

    2.)  For those that do not play golf, consider a monetary donation or tournament sponsorship (5 levels of sponsorship are available -all at varying dollar levels).

    3.)  Donating an item for our live auction.  Do you have season tickets to the Blues, the CardinalsThe Muni, The Fox or other special event?  Do you know a restauranter or own a business that could donate an "experience" or an item?   We would love to have donations such as these to add to our live auction at the tournament.  

    4.)  Volunteer to help at the event on May 20th.

    Please save the date and plan to come out and play!  Spring is right around the corner and this event promises a fun day outside, while helping contribute to a wonderful charity.  Shotgun start will begin at 9:30 AM. Brochures and registration will be available at the beginning of March.  For more information call Circle at 636.861.2623.  Click here for more information.  To register, click here.

    Sunday, February 10, 2019

    Worship Prayers for Feb. 3

    ***Due to icy conditions, Worship for Feb. 10 has been cancelled---video chat on Facebook at 10:30 AM ****

    CENTERING PRAYER – Francis J. Grimke (1850-1937)

    “Dear Lord, take out of our hearts all bitterness, hatred, and even indifference, unconcern, as it respects others. Help us to feel kindly toward others, to be sincerely interested in their welfare and happiness. The Lord Jesus was interested in everybody, felt kindly toward everybody. There was never any bitterness, or hatred, or indifference towards those with whom he was daily thrown into contact. Love, true love, unselfish love, love that suffereth long and is kind, was ever to the front, was ever actively in evidence. Grant that it may also be true of all of us in all our relations and contact with others. It is his beautiful spirit that we need to catch, and carry with us all through life.”

    CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 71:1-3)

    In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
    In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.
    Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,
    For you are my rock and my fortress.
    Come! Let us worship our God together!


    God of life, we admit to you and to each other that we have not always lived lives of love. We have lost patience and been rude. We have been irritable and insisted on our own way. We have even stopped loving altogether. Forgive us and heal us, dear God. We continue to pray through the name of your loving Son, Jesus Christ. (Silent Confession)


    Q. What is our chief end?
    A. Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy God forever.

    For the sermon "Love, True Love", click here.

    Saturday, February 9, 2019

    Scripture for February 10

    1 Corinthians 15:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

    The Resurrection of Christ

    15 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,[a] of the good news[b] that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
    For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.[d] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.


    1. 1 Corinthians 15:1 Gk brothers
    2. 1 Corinthians 15:1 Or gospel
    3. 1 Corinthians 15:6 Gk brothers
    4. 1 Corinthians 15:6 Gk fallen asleep
    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.

    Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash