Saturday, November 30, 2019

Scripture for Dec. 1

Romans 13:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

The Day Is Near

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.[a]


  1. Romans 13:14 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Daily Prayer November 29

Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, we press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Daily Readings for Friday, November 29, 2019

Holy God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ, and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days. By your power, great God, our Lord 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. O God, we pray for the church in the whole world. Sanctify her life, renew her worship, give power to her witnessing, and restore her unity. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of God's Son, Jesus Christ our 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.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Worship Prayers from Nov. 24


Into your presence we come, Saviour, Shepherd, and King, your servants with our offering of worship, thanksgiving, and song. Gifts from our riches and gifts from our poverty. Gifts to Jesus, Shepherd and King. Amen.

CALL TO WORSHIP – Jeremiah 23:1-6

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
And this is the name by which he will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."
Come. Let us worship our King together!


Holy God, we confess that we neglect to declare Jesus as king and model for our lives. We are quick to call on others to follow the ways of Christ , yet we are slow to do the same. We are bold in demanding generosity, mercy, and forgiveness yet quiet when it comes to offering inclusion, love, and compassion. Forgive us, O God. Restore in us, yet again, the commitment to be more like Christ in word, in deed, and in spirit. (Silent Confession)

For the sermon "Just Deserts", click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Giving Thanks Dinner

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, our Fellowship Committee prepares a wonderful turkey dinner immediately after worship.  At that time, they also collected money and canned goods for the two food pantries which we support---Isaiah 58 and Circle of Concern---36 bags of food weighing 600 lbs.

Thank you to all who set up, prepared, served and cleaned up this huge meal.  And to all of those who donated to the food pantries another thank you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Food left-over was then delivered to shut-ins who are very appreciative of a good warm meal and a friendly smile.

Monday, November 25, 2019


As we designate a special day and time of year to give thanks, it is also a great time to acknowledge the amazing commitment that St. Mark has made in support of others.

The Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery has recognized congregations that have participated in the four annual Special Offerings (One Great Hour of Sharing— Easter, Pentecost--May, Peace and Global Witness—October, and the Joy Offering— Christmas. St. Mark has participated in all four offerings for twenty-two years!

Additionally our congregation is one of twenty in the presbytery who has reached the designation as a Certified Hunger Action Congregation. Thank you to everyone for your commitment and participation

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Worship Prayers November 17

CENTERING PRAYER – St. Francis of Assisi

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, grant us the desire to do only what pleases you, and the strength to do only what you command. Cleanse our souls, enlighten our minds, and inflame our hearts with your Holy Spirit, that we may follow in the footsteps of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.


On this day we gather to give thanks to the Lord.
Surely God is our salvation; we will trust and not be afraid, for God is our strength and might.
On this day we gather to give thanks to the Lord, and call on the name of God.
We will make known God’s deeds among the nations, and proclaim God’s glory.
Come! Let us worship the Lord together.


God of peace, we confess we are a people of fear. We let anxiety rule our days and worry our nights. Distracted by nerves and focused on tensions, we hoard our blessings and overlook our neighbors in need.  We confess we ignore your command not to be afraid. Forgive us, O God. Calm our hearts, settle our stomachs, and renew in us the ability to find our comfort in you alone. (Silent Confession)

(All are invited to come forward and place your pledges for 2020
in the large offering plate located on the communion table.)

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.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Scripture for Nov. 24

Luke 23:33-43 New International Version (NIV)

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[b]
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


  1. Luke 23:34 Some early manuscripts do not have this sentence.
  2. Luke 23:42 Some manuscripts come with your kingly power
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.
Jan van Eyck - The Ghent Altarpiece - God Almighty - WGA07630

Friday, November 22, 2019

Daily Prayer November 22

Jesus said: You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit
that will last.

Daily Readings for Friday, November 22, 2019

Almighty God, Redeemer of all who trust you, heed the cry of your people; deliver us from the bondage of sin, that we may serve you in perfect freedom and rejoice in your unfailing love. Give us your peace, O God, that we may rejoice in your goodness to us and to all your children, and be thankful for your love revealed in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for people who reveal your truth and righteousness, courage to be bold disciples, those who show hospitality, surprises that have blessed us, the unity of the church of Jesus Christ. Give us your peace, O God, that we may be confident of your care for us and all your children, as we remember the needs of others. Especially we pray for friends and relatives who are far away, neighbors in special need, those who suffer hunger and thirst, and those who work at night while others sleep. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord in the power of his resurrection.

(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, November 19, 2019

This I believe

This I believe 
by Nikki Douglas

So many thoughts entered my mind with how I could approach writing my Credo. What I realize is I do believe in a lot of things. I believe in always saying, "I love you," to my girls just before closing their bedroom door at night, despite how frustrating bedtime can sometimes be. I believe in holding doors open for people and saying "thank you" when someone holds a door open for me. I believe in turn signals - they are on a car for good reason! I believe in energy and the possibility of passing it along. 

I believe in trying again. The many times I have sat down at a computer, ready to write. I begin tapping at the keyboard with a thought, then frantically pecking at the backspace button when the thought doesn't come out quite as I had hoped.  And then I try again until what I am trying to say begins to form and becomes clearer. Trying again is how I found myself seated in a pew in the back of St. Mark a few years ago.

In Anne Lamott's book, Almost Everything, she writes, "Christians say, whatever you think you need to be happy is where the devil gets in." I was tired. So crazy tired the exhaustion was a constant hum through my core. The cross I chose to bear was impossibly heavy and yet, I was terrified what might happen if I decided to put it down. I thought, if I just got stronger and armored up, I could bear the load I thought was mine to carry and everything would be okay. I believed if I tried hard enough; if I read enough parenting books, dressed my girls fashionably, and did my best to do what Pintrest & Facebook told me a good mom was; I believed I had the power to protect my daughters from disappointment and unhappiness. I also believed if I appeared to others as if I had it all figured out; if I could keep our house perfectly presentable, made home cooked dinner most nights, exercised to keep myself at a socially acceptable weight, and took on most (all) of the responsibilities of raising our girls; I thought if I did it all, life would pan out as the fairy tale I expected. But trying to manipulate and control pleasant outcomes for others, especially those you love most, is work in vain. Eventually, grace creeped its way to remind me I was not God. As Anne Lamott says, "Grace helped me throw in the towel."

You can't save those who don't want saving no matter how deeply and desperately you want them saved. Grace is what met me when I finally got too tired of trying to control. Grace is what met me when I was on my knees asking for help from a God I wasn't entirely sure existed, because I was failing at doing everything I thought I needed to, in order to be happy. Grace is what grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me square in eyes and told me to start by saving myself.

So, on a random Sunday, after 15 years of turning away from church, I showed up at the church where my daughters went to preschool. It was a place I felt was safe for my daughters; maybe it would also be a safe place for me. I don't remember much of the service except a video that was played. The message had to do with being loved and loving others, just as we are. I remember ducking out of the service after the video ended, not wanting to be noticed since tears had smeared mascara under my eyes. That's all I remember. It was enough, though. Love is enough. And sometimes love doesn't look like we are told it should. Sometimes love is letting go, even when holding on feels like the safest and most right option, and letting the God of my understanding pick up.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Worship Prayers November 10


Holy God, you command us not to be afraid and assure us of your presence. In the midst of trials and joys, sorrows and dreams may we know your presence and rejoice. Grant us courage, O God, to take delight in your spirit in all times and all places. Grant us faith, O God, to see the myriad of ways you give life. Grant us hope, O God, to participate in your work in the world. Grant us love, O God, to welcome, respond, and act with compassion in all we say and do. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.


Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
Come, make a joyful noise, sing praises! 
Come, let us worship the Lord!


Holy God we come before you a broken people in a broken world. We confess we have ignored, yet again, your assured presence. We have forged our own paths and charted our own waters. In the name of independence we have ignored your aid, your comfort, and your peace. We have called upon you in desperation rather than recalling your mighty and faithful acts in all times and places. Forgive us. You have been with us in exile and liberation; be with us even now. (Silent Confession)


In celebration of the God of life
who sustains, upholds, saves, and watches over us,
let us continue our worship
through the offering of our gifts, tithes, and offerings
to almighty God. Please pray with me.

For the gifts offered this day and every day
we give thanks, O God.
Make us good stewards of all you have entrusted to our care.
May these gifts be used to serve your beloved creation,
to sustain your children in all they say and do,
and to build up your kingdom throughout the earth.


Holy God your loving-kindness knows no ending.                Hag. 2:5
Out of the depths of slavery you heard the cry of
your people
and responded with liberation.
Hear us from the depths of our captivity.
For your people held captive by addictions that ravage body,
mind, and spirit we affirm:
your Spirit abides among us, we will not fear.
For your people held captive by violence, abuse, and
exploitation we attest:
your Spirit abides among us, we will not fear.
For your people held captive by illness, weakness, and
vulnerability we recall:
your Spirit abides among us, we will not fear.
For your people held captive by economic or
vocational poverty we proclaim:
your Spirit abides among us, we will not fear.
Holy God your loving-kindness knows no ending.
Hear our prayers and keep us faithful
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whose name we pray. Amen.