Sunday, September 29, 2019

Worship Prayers September 22


CENTERING PRAYER

Faithful God, we give you thanks that in Jesus Christ you entrust us with the richness of your glory and the treasure of your grace. Make us faithful stewards of your good gifts, that we may show your love to this generation and welcome us into your eternal home, where we will worship and serve you forever; through Christ our Savior. Amen.


CALL TO WORSHIP

Praise the Lord, O servants of the Lord!                   
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.
Come! Let us worship our God together.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Gracious Father, you know our sin: Running away like prodigal children, we squander the gifts you give us. We fail to forgive one another and ourselves. We are unfaithful and dishonest in small and great things alike. We are shrewd in seeking wealth and foolish in following your way. Forgive our sins, O Lord, for your name’s sake. Make us faithful stewards of the grace you give and generous in our forgiveness. We continue to pray in Jesus’ name. (Silent Confession)

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – The Apostles’ Creed

For the sermon, click here.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Scripture for September 28, 29

1 Timothy 6:6-19 New International Version (NIV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Final Charge to Timothy

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Daily Prayer Sept. 27

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the
promise: I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness.
Faithful God, your promises stand unshaken through all generations. Renew us in hope, that we may be awake and alert watching for the coming of Jesus Christ, our judge and savior. May we boldly proclaim the good news of his coming, by the words of our mouths and the deeds of our lives, rejoicing always in your powerful presence. We thank you, Lord God, for brave and believing people who brought your message to this place, may we follow as they followed, in the way, truth, and life of Jesus Christ, the head of the church. Loving God, you want us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except losing you, and to lay all our cares on you, knowing that you care for us. Protect us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds in this mortal life may hide from us the light of your immortal love shown to us in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord in the power of his resurrection. Alleluia!

(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, September 26, 2019

This I Believe




This I Believe

Although Jesus has always reflected my understanding of God, how I have understood Jesus has changed throughout my life.  My earliest conviction was that Jesus met me in a decisive moment and set me on an inevitable path of daily improvement.  I thought a single encounter with Jesus would be a turning point that eternally transformed me. 
What I have learned by struggles with disbelief, marital strife, failing health, and fallen idols is that while God is always reaching out to me, I am not always reaching out to God.  I am “prone to wander,” and God’s grace is what brings me back.
I remember a moment of despair in a hospital chapel when I was thirty-six. My uncle was dying of cancer, my marriage was breaking up, and my trust in a religious community was shaken by personal strife. Until that day my uncle had believed he would be healed from cancer. He died two days later. Until that moment I thought that God would save my marriage by divine intervention. I learned I would have to choose to climb out of that hole. Until that moment I thought the truth would be clear from the guidance of my spiritual community and mentors. I  realized that I would learn God’s will by taking small steps of faith— that faith involved groping in the darkness as often as following a lighted path.
I believe in the relentless grace of God. I knew grace when I received a sabbatical to complete my doctoral studies, when I found  the ideal teaching position half way across the country, when my late wife was freed from addictive medication, when we reveled in three weeks in Hawaii the year before she died,  when I met my current wife on an impulse date my first time in St, Louis. Some may call these events luck, the result of determination, or a deserved reward. I call them grace.
I had only looked for God in expected places like an evangelistic rally, in the pages of  the Bible, or in a miraculous event. Today I find Jesus in everything I read, write, believe or learn from people with or without spiritual credentials. It is not because every person is a prophet or every statement is a prophecy. It is because I have so much to learn.   In vulnerability and hope I am drawn, and wish for others to be drawn, to Jesus.

Monday, September 23, 2019

I BELIEVE

 by Judy Richardson
September 17, 2019

I am pondering what I believe and it challenges me to put it into words. I have always thought of my beliefs as a private matter, rarely shared except when I attended Church, which I just didn’t do from my mid-20’s until my late 60’s.

Now I contemplate the end of my days and so I return on bended, humble knees, since replaced with new ones.

I believe that God has watched over me all these years even when I didn’t deserve his love and consideration. My heart cries out when I consider the great gift of his son who had to die to provide salvation for my poor, selfish, sad soul.

I believe in the power of love and its ability to help me every day.

I believe in the love of my husband, my daughter, my grandsons, my son-in-law and all of his family.

I believe that when I die I will join my father, mother, grandmother and grandfather in heaven.

 I believe that it is not my job to judge my neighbors for what they believe. Only God can judge our relationship with him, whatever name we use to pray to him.

I believe in the ideals that my great country has stood for and fought for and I believe in welcoming newcomers to add their talents to this great nation.

I believe that there is evil in this world and that we have to fight against it every day. It takes the form of cruelty and dehumanizing words and actions against our fellow men.

I believe in listening more and speaking less so I can benefit from the knowledge of others.

I believe that it is God’s miracle that we enjoy our beautiful planet which is really just a large rock constantly rotating around a huge ball of fire. How can I not believe in God the Creator?

 “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so…...” I believe.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Worship Prayers for September 15

CENTERING PRAYER


“Look upon us, O Lord, and let all the darkness of our souls vanish before the beams of thy brightness. Fill us with holy love, and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom. All our desire is known unto thee, therefore perfect what thou hast begun, and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer. We seek thy face, turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory. Then shall our longing be satisfied, and our peace shall be perfect.” (St. Augustine, 354 - 430)

CALL TO WORSHIP

Rejoice with me, people of God.       
God gathers us in from the wilderness.
Rejoice with me, people of God.
God sweeps away the darkness of the night.
Rejoice with me, people of God.
What once was lost is now found.
Come! Let us worship our God together.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Creator of the universe, we imagine we are in familiar territory, that we know what to expect this hour, that we will leave much the way we came. Do not abandon us to our foolishness. In your righteous judgment, illumine our darkness. In your never-ending mercy, bear us home – until we recognize your presence wherever evil is confronted, truth is spoken, and life is restored. We continue to pray in Jesus’ name. (Silent Confession)

For the sermon, Click here.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Scripture for Sept. 21, 22

Luke 15:11-32 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Daily Prayer Sept. 20

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

Daily Readings for Friday, September 20, 2019


Eternal God, Author of our life and End of our pilgrimage: Guide us by your Word and Spirit amid all perils and temptations, that we may not wander from your way, nor stumble in the darkness; but may finish our course in safety, and come to our eternal rest in you. Eternal God, your hand shaped our lives by grace and your hand rescued us from sin by love. May your hand guide us through this day, shielding us from all evil, strengthening us to do justice and love. Enable us, O God, to do all things as unto you; that small things may be filled with greatness, and great things may be crowned with humility. O God, whom we cannot love unless we love our neighbors, remove hate and prejudice from us and from all people, so that your children may be reconciled with those we fear, resent, or threaten; and live together in your peace. (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, September 18, 2019

YOUTH AT ST. MARK


YOUTH BIBLE STUDY. Join us on Wednesday from 6:30 - 8:00 pm in the Youth Lounge. Youth are welcome to bring friends for fellowship, snacks, and Bible study.

CONFIRMATION RETURNS. Confirmation is one of the most important things we do as a church here at St. Mark. All Middle School students (and High School students who haven’t completed the class) are encouraged to attend this eight-month course. It’s a great time to explore belief, learn about the Christian faith and the Presbyterian Church, and grow in community. We will have an orientation meeting on Sunday, October 6 in rooms 17-19 at 9:30 AM, and the classes will begin the following week. Please help us in spreading the word about this important offering. Contact Pastor Dave to register your youth and if you have any questions.

FELLOWSHIP and SERVICE FUN:  Sept. 22---Help with Blessing of the Pets 2:00 PM
Sept. 29---Swing-Around-Fun-Town in Fenton with other youth in the Presbytery
Oct. 13---Fall Festival at St. Mark 11:30- 2:30 Click here to see photos from previous years.

Confirmation Class 2018


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Thoughts about VBS 2019

It was the Sunday before VBS started the next day. I attended training and worked with many
volunteers to finish bringing Liz Oglesby and Ellen Hynes vision to life at St Mark. The sanctuary was the last to be prepared. The sound was checked for the puppet EP320 (stands for Ephesians 3:20) played by Mary Beth Powell.

Ephesians 3:20 was the bible verse which we all read and recited together each day of Vacation Bible School. “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.”

We were ready? Anyway all would begin bright and early the next day. I arrived at 8:15 with my grandsons Nathan and Connor in tow. We checked the children in as they arrived but all were not there by 9AM when we were to proceed to the sanctuary to begin the day. By about 9:15 all were assembled. There were three groups amounting to 17- 4 and 5 year olds. Sanctuary time did not begin until late because we were not the only late arrivals. Our new check-in procedure was taking a little more time and helpers were provided after Monday to check in stragglers so the majority of our groups could start on time in the Sanctuary.

 My grandsons were excited. Connor who is just 5 was assigned to my group and Nathan who is 7 was assigned across the hall from Connor. Their favorite song was the theme of VBS, “To Mars and Beyond.” Some of the words include “Faith is gonna lead the way, Guide us every step we take...We will learn to trust God’s power at work in us.” There are many references to Mars as well and the tune is very catchy. We all sang this song every day with our leaders including Sarah Burgess. The dance moves delighted the children who had trouble following along except when they got the “to Mars and Beyond” part where they would put one hand on a hip and raise the other one like they were pointing to Mars.

My easiest activity was the playground. The first day we had rain so the children spent the day inside. It is a very nice play area with rubber mulch and sidewalks to ride on, a full jungle gym, a sand box to play in and a couple of small playhouses. It made me want to be a kid again. I was impressed by the creativity shown by children who wanted to walk up the slides or go down with more than one kid at a time or linger at the bottom with the risk of being hit from behind. We only had one skinned knee with no bleeding but a lot of drama over which bandaid to choose.

All of us were amateurs because this is only done once a year. Many of us haven’t worked like this for a very long time. Some of us are grandparents and these kids are fast!! One little boy had been through two tonsil surgeries over the summer and arrived crying and clinging to his Mom the first day. After a while he allowed me to take his hand whenever we moved from one place to the other. Sometimes he wanted to participate and sometimes he wanted to just watch. I let him. He began to smile and I was grateful to see his cheeks dimple. I didn’t know his medical history until the last day when his grandmother picked him up and told me I was glad that I had given him extra attention. After the second day he came in with a smile and began to be a little bit mischievous like the other children. He was a reminder that we never know what people may be going through that may be influencing their interactions with us-both child and adult.

We also had a runner. On the days her parents were not volunteering she would run after her Mom or to her siblings rooms. One day she had to be taken home. She stayed with us pretty well whenever her grandmother was present and on days that her parents volunteered. She was so fast that the teen helpers couldn’t keep up when she got it into her head to run.

The children particularly enjoyed their crafts, especially their robots and their wind chimes. They also enjoyed their bottle projects and their bubbling alka-seltzer tablets in their bottles and the outside science where the baking soda made the glass beaker overflow.

Their favorite bible story was Daniel in the lion’s den. They loved to roar like the lions and pretend to be them.

One day we had a very exciting story time when several children decided to sit and pull the cloth dividers down in the story room. The cloth drapes were held together with clips so it took a little work to get them re-hung.

All in all it was a glorious week topped off with a program on Friday night where the children performed some of the songs they had learned and families attended a buffet dinner with the gym decorated with space themes echoing the “To Mars and Beyond” theme of VBS. Kudos to all the wonderful decorators who made the atmosphere so exciting for the children.

I provided transportation for my grandsons Nathan and Connor. Connor told me he liked having me as his “teacher.” Both boys want to return next year. What a blast!

Judith Richardson

Monday, September 16, 2019

Gratitude for ABC Success

 Once again the St. Mark community came through and gave of its treasures, time and last bits of
 energy to guarantee that others might feel our love throughout 2020. By gathering up what you could give to the sale, helping to sort and price during the week leading up to the two big days, and being ambassadors to the many, many guests who came through our church, you showed that St. Mark cares about those outside our congregation who might need us in our area.

A "thank you" is not enough, but please realize how grateful we are for all of you. In the past, we sometimes listed everyone who helped in some way. We have discovered that somehow someone gets left off, so we will simply send out to you a 'virtual hug' because you know who you are. You are the best! Listed below are the mission partners who have received funds from our Board of Deacons in 2019.

We will look at how best to divide the $12,700+ that resulted from our recent sale:  BBJ, UKirk, Isaiah 58, Lafayette Industries, Presbyterian Children Homes & Services ,Lydia’s House, Mound Ridge, Peace Meal, Stephen Ministries

In addition, these groups received goods from the sale: Funds to Organizations (shoes for breast cancer research), Remains (recycles additional unsold goods), Assistance League of St. Louis, Federal Probation Officers, The Salvation Army, Isaiah 58.

In Christian gratitude,  ABC Sale Chairs


See photos below for the wonderful treasures we received.




Sunday, September 15, 2019

Worship Prayers Sept. 8

CENTERING PRAYER


Weaver of life, framer of the ages, we marvel at your artistry and the trust you place in us. From our first cries to our final breaths, we are your own. Bind us now to each other in ways beyond our choosing, that your purpose might find fulfillment in our common life and service, for we pray in the name of Jesus, the firstborn of all creation. Amen.


CALL TO WORSHIP

Give thanks to the Lord!
We will sing God’s praises!
Seek the Lord and discover God’s strength.
We continually seek God’s presence in our lives.
Remember all the wonderful things God has done.
Let us worship our God together!

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Holy God, we confess we fail to put our trust in you completely. Instead, we calculate our gains and losses,hoarding the things that do not lead to abundant life. Forgive us, and help us to treasure only you, that we may follow you faithfully and discover the blessings only you can give. (Silent Confession)