Saturday, February 29, 2020

Scripture for Feb 29 and March 1

Ruth 1:1-18 New International Version (NIV)

Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Footnotes:

  1. Ruth 1:1 Traditionally judged
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.
William Blake:  Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab (1795).

Friday, February 28, 2020

Prayers for February 28

"My word shall accomplish that which I purpose," says the Lord, "and succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

Daily Readings for Friday, February 28, 2020

Eternal God, as we are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ, so give us the grace of repentance that we may pass through the grave with him and be born again to eternal life, for he is the One who was crucified, dead, and buried, and rose again for us, Jesus our Savior. Eternal God, you sent us a Savior, Christ Jesus, to break down the walls of hostility that divide us. Send peace on earth, and put down greed, pride, and anger, which turn nation against nation and race against race. Speed the day when wars will end and the whole world accepts your rule. God of mercy, you are full of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in mercy, and always ready to forgive. Grant us grace to renounce all evil and to cling to Christ, that in every way we may prove to be your loving children. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Opening sentences, prayers, and blessings are from the Book of Common Worship. Readings are from the daily lectionary in Daily Prayer. Both are published by Westminster/John Knox Press.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Story Week 8 "A Few Good Men. . . .and Women"

There are two important points in Judges:
1.  God can lift up anyone
2. The need to remember
On Ash Wednesday, we are told, "You need to remember."  Remember you came from dust.  We all will return to the earth.  The Good News is the promise of resurrection.  The promise of eternal life.  The promise of God with us.
If the video doesn't appear, click here.

This discussion is based on Chapter 8 of The Story or Judges 2-4; 7-8; 13-16

Faith in Christ

Mark 8:11-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Demand for a Sign

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 

In today's world, it is quite easy to get caught up in the need to see something before actually believing that it is true.  Society is based on truths that are supported by evidence. Without this evidence our confidence is replaced by nagging doubts.  How ironic is it that our Christian faith, the foundation of our lives, in practical terms does not provide much concrete proof?  Still in each of our lives this proof can be found. ...in a smile from a loved one. . .a beautiful sunrise . . .an answered prayer.  God does not give us one "sign" of His existence and power.  He gives us many.  He is with us in all we do and reveals Himself in countless ways.  Unfortunately, often our eyes become clouded to seeing His works as we struggle with simply completing the necessary tasks of the day.  When we make time for God in prayer and fellowship our faith is strengthened and our eyes are opened to God''s will.  Truly, He does not need to give us a sign of His power and glory, because the evidence of His power, mercy and love continually surrounds us.
Lord,
Please be with me as I try to remember You in all I do today and everyday.  Open my eyes to seeing You, as You work in my life and guide me as I do my best to follow Your will for me.  Lord I thank You for the gift of faith which enables me to find evidence of You in all things.  In Jesus' precious name,
Amen

Re-published with the permission of the author, J. Corlett, from St. Mark Presbyterian's 1998 Lenten Devotional.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Shattered Circle


The bright sunshine is deceiving. It beckons and promises warmth, but the thermometer challenges it at the 22* mark.  I’m not very good with hot and cold, my best range is mid 70’s to low 80’s, so I huddle up, putting on my warmest robe, getting another cup of hot tea, then reheating it as it gets cold. The clear blue and white sky streaming in through the window, while the cooler air swirls around my feet.
I contemplate going back to bed. Crawling under the covers, still warm from earlier, until the day gets warmer, yet knowing that it will be days before it gets warm enough that it would entice me out of bed if I did that.  A hot shower might help, but then again, I need to wash my hair and cold wet hair will only make me feel colder.
Mike cleans out the fireplace ashes from last night’s fire and relays it, ready for the next fire wearing a short sleeve T, not seeming to feel the cold that envelops me, as he pours another cup of tea which I greedily cup my hands around to warm them.
I know the cold is necessary.  I remember well the years in Miami, where bugs flourished and tulips and daffodils didn’t exist because they needed the cold to set the bulbs before they could bloom. The years elsewhere when the insects and germs flourished and were bothersome because their natural enemy cold, never got harsh enough or hung around long enough to break their cycle of life.
There are those that say the bad things that happen to us in our circle of life events are to test us and make us stronger, that God won’t send anything our way that we cannot handle.  Having recently been part of a conversation with other Veterans about PTSD AND Sexual Trauma and Suicides, that rings false in my ears. Some survive, others don’t and others, like many WWI and WWII veterans simply bury it in layers so deep that their families and friends have no idea what they endured. Some do survive, and while none thrive, use their trauma as a means to reach others and help those they can.  For some their faith is strengthened, others shattered. Some return, others struggle to find new meaning to lives upended and devoured by what has happened to them.



While the cycle of life moves on, it passes them by as they live in a world apart from others and at times apart from reality. Struggling to make sense of what has happened to them, of what they’ve seen and endured. Often forgotten and marginalized by the world around them.  While some seek counseling, others fear it.  Afraid to dredge memories to the surface and start talking about what happened, would cause it to be relived. Afraid that letting others in would cause them to become more vulnerable than they already are. Ashamed and deep down believing that what happened is somehow their fault, or that they could have, should have done something that would have changed the outcome.
It is hard to know what to do. Well meaning efforts on our part are often wrong, so often we do nothing. Ashamed of our own inaction, yet worried that misguided steps will cause more pain and suffering.  Believing that each person’s journey is their own and cannot be shared.  Instead, losing track of the person they were, and the person they are now. We may help out at food pantries or serving food at shelter, delivering blankets in the winter, but these are not really addressing the root problems, only the symptoms.

There are safe places, programs that can help, but the starting point is often to just be there. Listen, sit in silence, sit beside them, hugs when allowed and gentle encouragement to seek the help they need from the many programs the VA and others have available.  But first be there, acknowledge that their path is difficult, but they are loved for the person they not only were, but are.
Dale Weir
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Monday, February 24, 2020

UKirk St. Louis

UKirk St. Louis began in January 2015 as a ministry of the Presbytery of Giddings - Lovejoy. UKirk or “university church” is a worshipping community that sings, reflects, prays, and celebrates communion together. UKirk serves together, plays together, and rejoices in Christ together. And you are welcome to worship, play, and serve with us!


UKirk St. Louis – what we do:
· Sunday Dinner & Worship with Communion: We gather in community from 6PM to 8PM on Sunday evenings for dinner and worship with communion

· On Campus Small Groups: UKirk gathers mid-week for Bible study and discussion

· Service & Fellowship Events: UKirk gathers during the semester for fellowship and service events, as we learn more about St. Louis and the ways that we can love our neighbors in this space


Several St. Mark college age members are active with UKirk and St. Mark members also provide meals.

UKirk
c/o Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy,
1001 Craig Road, Suite 170, Creve Coeur, MO 63146
Rev. Max Hill, Executive Director (Bill Tucker, St. Mark Liaison)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Worship Prayers for Feb. 16

CENTERING PRAYER
Most astounding God, you lead us through deserts (Josh. 3:17) and grant us safe crossings. You save us from trouble and deliver us from distress. You satisfy our hunger (Ps. 107:9) and quench our thirst with righteousness and mercy. When we lose our way, you pull us back to you (Matt. 23:8) and overwhelm us with love. All honor and glory are yours, our master, our teacher, our friend. Amen. (Matt. 23:9–11)

CALL TO WORSHIP (Ps. 107:1–2)
One: O give thanks to the Lord, who is good.
MANY: God’s steadfast love endures forever!
One: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so:
MANY: God’s steadfast love endures forever!

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Lord God, only you are holy. Yet we imagine that are righteous, excusing our own faults while pointing out those of others. We are quick to lay burdens upon our neighbors (Matt. 23:4) but slow to help with their own. We take credit and give blame. In spite of the grace you have shown us, we are slow to show mercy. Forgive us, O God, and wash us clean, that we may serve with joy and thanksgiving. (Silent Confession) Amen.


For Rev. MP Panco's sermon,  "Seeking God in it All", click here.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Scripture for February 22, 23

Judges 6:11-16 New International Version (NIV)

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
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.
Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bildern", 1860. Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Friday, February 21, 2020

Daily Prayer February 21

You, O Lord, are full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and rich in kindness.

Daily Readings for Friday, February 21, 2020

God our creator, you made all things in your wisdom, and in your love you save us. We pray for the whole creation. Overthrow evil powers, right what is wrong, feed and satisfy those who thirst for justice, so that all your children may freely enjoy the earth you have made, and joyfully sing your praises. Take all our doubts and uncertainties, O God, and fill us with such faith that we may be confident of your love and loyal in the service of him who died and yet lives for us, Jesus Christ the Lord. Merciful God, you bear the pain of the world. Look with compassion on those who are sick; cheer them by your word, and bring healing as a sign of your grace. God of comfort, stand with those who sorrow; that they may be sure that neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, shall separate them from your love. (Add your prayers,) Amen.
As God's own, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, and patience, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, and crown all these things with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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.