Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Battle Begins, Chapter 7

The book of Joshua is bloody, and it's a challenge to read because of the blood shed, because of the gore, because of the difficulty reconciling these battles with the God of the New Testament.


If the video doesn't appear, click here.

If you don't have The Story, you may read this in Joshua 1-2; 6; 8; 10-11; 23-24

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Discover Mission Sunday

This hasn’t been the coldest or wettest winter, but it feels like it’s been the darkest in some time. I
know the sun is still here, but the clouds are thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. I think we are all ready for spring and the promise of new life all around us. We all long for brighter days, shorter nights, and the hope of resurrection. Easter is just around the corner on the calendar, but we know there is quite a journey to get there. Before we celebrate with lilies, we are marked with ashes. Lent is my favorite liturgical season of the year because it’s the most honest, and it requires something of everyone who A Monthly Insight into St. Mark Presbyterian Church dares make the 40-day journey to Jesus’ cross and tomb. The one who invests little in Lent receives a small return at Easter. However, if we are bold in our commitment over the next month and a half, we will gain something far greater at the journey’s end.

We are excited to announce our first Discover Mission Sunday on February 23. We are welcoming our mission partners to participate in our 10:30 worship service and to provide information at tables set up in the narthex between services. This is a fantastic way to learn more about how our congregation blesses our neighbors across the street and around the world. This is also an opportunity to become more involved in this meaningful work. This will be our third year participating in the Lenten Water Challenge, and it is wonderful to see this program grow. Discover Mission Sunday is our opportunity to take the next step together.

In Hope and Confidence,

Pastor Dave D

The mission partners scheduled to present are: 1. Circle of Concern 2. Isaiah 58 3. Lafayette Industries 4. Marion Medical Mission 5. Mound Ridge 6. Peace Meal 7. Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services 8. UKirk

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Worst Road Trip EVER

"When will we get there?"  "I'm hungry." "I'm thirsty." "We need to stop." "I'm going to throw up."  "He is bothering me."  "She won't share." "I am bored."  "I asked to stop and you didn't.  My brother asks and you stop!"

In Sunday School class last week, we were reminded that Moses wandering in the desert was like the worst road trip ever. The children of Israel were not much different than most children on a road trip.  The beach (like Canaan) is a wonderful destination but the journey there can be boring,  annoying, stressful, and even perilous.

Chapter 6 of The Story, "Wandering", began with the Israelites following the cloud and pillar which God was using to guide them through the Wilderness--- the ultimate GPS, God's Positioning System.  God thought the people would trust Him, but instead the "Children of Israel" complained about the hardships. "If only we had meat to eat. .. .we never see anything but manna."  " We were better off in Egypt." Even Moses says to God, " .. ..the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me."  God delivered quail. . . .and a plague to those who had no faith.

Next came the sibling squabbles with Aaron and Miriam wondering why God favored Moses over them.. Like many exasperated parents, God paused the trip, took the siblings aside, admonished them, and punished Miriam until Moses begged God to forgive her.

Then, God commanded Moses to send representatives from each ancestral tribe to Canaan to see that it was the land of bounty which God had promised.  But these representatives came back reporting that the people were big---they felt like grasshoppers.  They could never take this land from these people.  Only Caleb trusted that God will give them strength and would provide!

I'm reminded of a road trip in my childhood.  After riding in a hot station wagon with siblings on roads that were not interstates, the end of the day had us hunting for a hotel room.  Dad would stop and Mom would assess it from the front seat, "Too shabby looking."  "Too expensive".  Finally she saw one that looked reasonable, Dad went in and there were no rooms available.  So, we were back on the road again looking for the perfect hotel room for 5 of us within our price range.  Sadly, the perfect one was probably 30 miles behind us when Dad said it was too soon to stop.  Turn back or settle for something less than perfect?

Like an exasperated parent on a road trip, God declared, "None of you, but Caleb  and Joshua, will see the Promised Land.  Turn back and head to the Red Sea. " And, like any family road trip, this was followed by complaints, and tears, and threats and rebellion and fears.  Nothing is worse than realizing, you have to add miles to your trip due to a detour, making a wrong turn, or forgetting to get off the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit with a screaming child---add to that God's anger and 20 more years was not just 20 miles.

After many years (and aggravations),  God finally instructed Moses to go  Mount Nebo where he was able to see the Promised Land.  God said to him " I will give it to your descendants.  I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you will not cross over into it."  Moses died in Moab.

So, after the world's worst road trip with crabby children, detours, hunger, thirst, arguments, Moses was able to see where his children would live.  But, that wouldn't be "a day on the beach at a luxurious resort."  Chapter 7 is entitled, "The Battle Begins" and I can only imagine what faces Joshua who has been chosen to lead.

Photo by Tabea Damm on Unsplash
Jaclyn Morgan

Monday, February 17, 2020

RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE

St. Mark is hosting our first 2020 Blood Drive on Sunday, March 1 from 8:30 - 1:30 pm in Gleason
Hall at 601 Claymont Dr. Ballwin, MO. Please mark your calendar and give. The need is always very great to ensure blood is available during emergencies when every second matters and to ensure blood is available so needed surgeries are not delayed.

Please help us help others by calling 1-800-733-2767 or by making an appointment today at http://www.redcrossblood.org/Donate/Blood and entering: Saintmarkpres.

Did you know that there is no upper age limit for blood donation?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Worship Prayers for February 9

Centering Prayer

Holy God, you gave the law to show your people the way of righteousness. Help us to receive your commandments as grace and live as your obedient children that your goodness may shine through us, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Call to Worship
One: Give thanks to God with your whole heart.
Many: Steadfast love belongs to the Lord.
One: Great are the works of the Lord.
Many: Give thanks to God with your whole heart.
All: May the word of God be fulfilled among us.

Prayer of Confession Unison
Holy God, we confess that we bow down before other gods; we have turned our hearts away from you. Our worship of work and devotion to consumerism disorders our love of you and one another. Forgive us, God, and mend what is broken, that we may be one with you.
(Silence for personal confession)

Prayer for Illumination
Lord, open our understanding by the power of the Holy Spirit, that as the Word is read and proclaimed we may receive holy wisdom to understand the gifts you have bestowed upon us. Amen.

For the sermon "Wandering Home", click here.

Affirmation of Faith from A Brief Statement of Faith
In life and in death we belong to God. We trust in this God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love, God created the world good, and makes everyone equally in God’s image.
In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people to bless all
families of the earth.
Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate
us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Scripture for Feb. 15, 16

Joshua 3:7-17 New International Version (NIV)
Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan (Gustave DorĂ©)

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priestswho carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”
Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites,Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve menfrom the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
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, February 14, 2020

Daily Prayer February 14

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and
follow me.

Daily Readings for Friday, February 14, 2020

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.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Chapter 6 The Story: Wandering

Chapter 6 finds the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness and in their relationship with God.  Last chapter we learned about the 10 Commandments.  This chapter finds them breaking those commandments and not trusting God. Click here if the video doesn't appear below.



Deuteronomy 6:4-9 New International Version (NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 6:4 Or The Lord our God is one Lord; or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; or The Lord is our God, the Lord alone
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.

If you are following along in your Bible:  Numbers 10-14, 20-21,25,27; Deuteronomy 1-2, 4, 6, 8-9, 29-32, 34

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Knight of North Castle VBS

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

 Save the Date for VBS - July 20 - 24. We're going on a quest this year and we need you to join us on our way to Knights of North Castle! Join us as we explore the Quest for the King's Armor!

We are seeking a Decorating Leader, Publicity Leader, and station leaders including science, craft and recreation. To learn about these roles and how you can be a part of making this a special VBS for the knights, attend our VBS Kickoff in, February.

Team Leaders Needed for a Quest to Knights of North Castle! VBS Kickoff - 2/16 at 11:30 a.m.

Crew leaders are also needed to stay with a dedicated group of Knights as they move from station to station each day.

Contact Latisha Gilliland (lgilliland@discoverstmark.org) or Shelley Lester to sign up for opportunities to serve, lead, and most of all, HAVE FUN, on an adventure at Knights of North Castle!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Rules and 10 Commandments

Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law
(1659) by 
Rembrandt
Last Sunday, the sermon was on laws and rules and that we should “Follow the law with Joy” in keeping them. Pastor Dave discussed the reasons for rules – preventing chaos, making order out of
chaos, keeping people safe, right vs wrong, etc. he also covered Grace overflows and Love forgives us when we break rules. We are saved From the law and saved For the law.

We all break rules and laws – most of us on a daily basis. Sometimes because we don’t believe in the validity of the law, sometimes because we think “no one” will catch us, sometimes because we are distracted and missed that stop sign, and as anyone who has ever dealt with a toddler knows, sometimes to push our boundaries to find out what they really are. There are laws and rules that we break because we don’t know they exist.

Some rules and laws are written in ink and are punishable under a court of law. Others are formed by societal norms and the penalty for breaking them can be anything from “banishment” and “being disowned” by our family and friends, to our mother, with a sigh, telling us once more to be polite and nice rather than picking on our sibling.

But when we look at the world and start considering the laws and rules in different countries, we often find that regardless of the religion and societal norms currently in place, the rules and laws have a common denominator in that they essentially follow the 10 Commandments and the “Golden Rule”, even in countries where those have never been known.

We live in a world filled with laws and rules. But while we try to justify some of them by saying they prevent chaos or make order out of chaos, they keep us safe and help us ensure that right and wrong are properly dealt with, flat and simple, there are laws and rules that need to be broken. Rules that go against the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule. They not only need to be broken, but we need to shout it from the rooftops and make people talk about why they need to be broken.

Often the laws were written at a time when the societal norm said that this or that action is “right” and will prevent Chaos, later we look at it through a different lens and think to ourselves, “NO”. But then we look at ourselves and say, “I better stay out of this”, “This isn’t MY fight”, “I don’t have a dog in this fight”, “that might reflect badly on me if I do anything”, so we walk away. In hindsight, from 10-20 years later (or longer), we regret our inactions, but still justify them based on societal norms. We weren’t the ones who made the rule or law, after all, we just abided by it, like a good citizen should.

BUT, if rules and laws were meant to be stagnant and never change, why would we have a supreme court? Why would we have legislators that propose new rules and laws and the removal of old ones?
Do you know what the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia was about? A white man married a woman of color which was against the State of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924. In 1958, they were both sentenced to a year in prison for getting married. It wasn’t until 1967 that the US Supreme Court ruled in their favor and overturned their convictions. What about Jones vs Mayer, which happened in St Louis in 1965, when a St Louis builder, the Alfred H Mayer company refused to sell them a home in North St Louis county. It wasn’t until 1968 that the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that no one could refuse to sell a home because of the buyer’s race, though the Fair Housing Act was passed a month earlier than the court ruling after Martin Luther King was assassinated.

While both those cases dealt with racial issues, there are many cases that dealt with other issues – from women not being allowed to own property and to have a voice in the rules that governed their lives. Do you realize that women could not vote in Switzerland until 1971, over 60 years after most of the other first world nations changed their laws to allow women to vote.

We all know of laws and rules that we think are unjust and wrong. Laws and rules that go against the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule. It is up to us to step up and say “NO”, and start the discussion, when we see something that is wrong, even if the societal norms and the legal rules and laws allow it.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Local Food Pantry Needs

CIRCLE OF CONCERN. February Spice Drive. Spices are often over looked during regular food drives, but can make a world of difference for people as they prepare meals for their families. Please visit the cooking aisle in your grocery store and pick up some seasonings to share with our sisters and brothers served by Isaiah 58 and Circle of Concern. Donations may be placed on the table in front of Pastor Dave’s office.

Suggested spices include: salt free seasoning blends, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, basil, sage, paprika, ginger powder, cinnamon.

ISAIAH 58 CRITICAL NEEDS: FEBRUARY. In addition to the spice drive, the critical items needed are: canned pasta sauce, sardines, mac-andcheese, razors, and toilet paper. Please place your donations on the table in the pastors' office hallway and they will be delivered by St. Mark volunteers to Isaiah 58. Thank you for your continued support and generosity!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Worship Prayers February 2

CENTERING PRAYER
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14, NRSV.)

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: Happy are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord.
MANY: They meditate on it day and night.
One: They are like trees planted by streams of water,
MANY: which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.
One: In all they do, they prosper
MANY: Let us worship our God together.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Rescuing God, you brought us out of the land of captivity, out of the house of slavery. Forgive us when we willingly return to the old chains, making divine the machine of production, crafting idols from the excess of consumption. Forgive us when we consider ourselves so grand that we do not rest and enjoy your presence, defining ourselves by our ability rather than your love. Forgive us when we esteem ourselves so little that we dare not rest and sit with ourselves, exposed, without the cloak of productivity. Forgive us when we deem ourselves so central that we do not rest. Forgive us through Christ, who redeems us from the brokenness of slavery that we might enjoy your presence, creation, and community. (Silent Confession)

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Scripture for Feb. 9

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 6:4 Or The Lord our God is one Lord; or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; or The Lord is our God, the Lord alone

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
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, February 7, 2020

Daily Prayer February 7

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

Daily Readings for Friday, February 7, 2020

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 6, 2020

The Story: Week 5

New Commands and a New Covenant, Chapter 5 

The Israelites are trying to discover who they are---what their identity is.  Moreover, it is the story of God who is trying to provide them guardrails---trying to give them sign: These are the things that will lead to a productive lie---a life that is filled and bountiful.  And, conversely, these are the mistakes to avoid that will cause harm to yourselves and cause harm to others and offense to God.

Click here if the video doesn't appear.

In the Bible:  Exodus 9-20; 24-25; 32-34; 40

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A Prayer: Waiting

Lord of Time and Mercy:


 As usual, I am starting the conversation, instead of centering or patiently waiting.  It’s not that I don’t value silence or trust you to initiate a dialogue, it’s more a problem of “wait time.” How long is long enough? And what is supposed to be happening while waiting?

In education, “wait time” is the time between the teacher’s question and the first student’s answer. Theoretically, the more tolerance you have for wait time, the better your teaching.  Most teachers break down and answer their own questions after just a few awkward moments of silence. This reminds me of my comparable inability to wait in prayer. I usually short-circuited, while you waited.

I was not very good at extending the wait time as a high school teacher, but I was much better with the students I knew could answer the question than the ones I thought could not. I had confidence the wait would be rewarded. I am not so confident as I wait for you.

As a college teacher, I learned to lengthen my wait time, because I was supposed to be modeling good teaching for prospective secondary teachers. I discovered that their discomfort was far greater than mine as wait time lengthened, so I could depend on somebody finally taking a stab at the question. Besides, I realized that my willingness to wait was more important than the forthcoming response. New teachers needed a good model of waiting, more than any information about teaching we might stumble upon. Ironically, I was their model.

This is where you remind me how impatient I am, and that all my past accommodations to “wait time” prove nothing about my willingness to wait. I am still waiting for the payoff, the reward for waiting. That’s my bottom line, Lord. You have the patience of the Creator and Sustainer of life, and I have the patience of an early adolescent.

Just recently, it was suggested that if I am waiting, I’m not living in the moment. Rather I am living in suspense, waiting for an expected revelation, because who ever waited for nothing?  No one in my church, I might be bold to say.

Yet apparently, a host of medieval mystics have mastered waiting for nothing, not to mention many of my Quaker friends who attend un-programmed or semi- programmed meetings. They are all very keen on waiting for nothing.  They think the answer to impatience is learning patience.  In fact, Father Richard Rohr is pretty sure our rather contentious society would be improved by patient silence.

If we can see silence as the ground of all words and the birth of all words, then when we speak, our words will be calmer and well-chosen.  Our thoughts will be non-judgmental. Our actions will have greater integrity and impact. 
(Center for Action and Contemplation, January 9, 2013)

But since you are the Lord of time and mercy, I would like to address your merciful side for a moment. You’ve always been willing to work with me in the past, and maybe, in your mercy, you will shorten my wait time. Or maybe you will teach me how to wait for nothing. Or maybe you will show me why it is not for nothing, but maybe for some of those benefits Father Rohr mentioned. Or maybe you have a lesson that I can hardly imagine in my results-oriented mind. I’m not trying to tell you how to wait.

So I’m waiting, Lord, but not for results. Just for a bit of courage and that strengthening of the heart, you mentioned (Psalms 27:14).

Did I mention I’m waiting?

Bill Tucker
https://unsplash.com/photos/qbTC7ZwJB64