Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Through Intention and Love, We Can Create Positive Change


Throughout Jesus’ time on Earth, he stood with those who were hurting and those who were silenced. Jesus showed us how to love one another and we are called to do His work today and every day.

I know I have much work to do to walk in His ways. I have blind spots where I don’t understand what others have gone through or I don’t have accurate information to be an ally. But I have a desire to learn, to become a better ally, and to help guide my children to a more equitable future.

It’s important that we have open conversations, no matter how uncomfortable, to address racism and white privilege. I believe that by becoming informed about systems, gaining understanding of communal experiences, and then putting that knowledge and our resources into actions, we can dismantle racism.

As a parent, one of my most important roles is to educate my children by laying a path that leads to better days ahead. While digging into a variety of resources to educate myself, I’ve also been seeking resources that are kid-friendly that can help me have conversations with my kids. 

Our presbytery has a team called “Dismantling Racism and Privilege,” which helped share many kid-friendly resources that help explain systemic racism and how kids can recognize and stop racism. I’ve been sifting through many of them myself so that I can have meaningful conversations with my 5 and 8-year-old. Whether you have begun to have these conversations, or have been waiting for the right time, I hope you’ll take some time to check these out.

Resources for Working with Your Kids
Resources to Get Yourself Started: 
· Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources – Find tailored resources to meet you wherever you are on your journey to becoming an ally. 
· The History of Elijah Lovejoy – This shares the history of our presbytery’s namesake, Elijah Lovejoy, a Presbyterian who published editorials condemning slavery and was killed by an angry mob. 
· Implicit Bias Test – In this site, you can you report your attitudes or beliefs in a test to assess your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics.

Other Ways Your Family Can Support Our Black Neighbors: 

Books:
· Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson
· The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
· Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
· We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Kates
· Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Find a list of more age-appropriate books in this article “Anti-racism Resources for Parents and Kids” by Healthline. There are also a variety of excellent books about diversity.

Our community is blessed with some bookstores doing amazing work in sharing leading books focused on dismantling racism and justice for all. 

One of the best ways to build empathy and a willingness to listen to diverse people’s stories is through intentional exposure to diverse books, movies, and stories. Consider how you are connecting with others through social media, your work, and your community. And may we all use these resources and tools to discover and learn, and to take actions to dismantle racism and white privilege so that all of God’s children can be created as equals.

Shelley Lester
Elder of Children’s Ministry and mother of two

Monday, June 29, 2020

Membership Committee Reaches Out

When the St. Louis area began ‘staying-at-home’ for health reasons about the middle of March, St. Mark Church leadership quickly complied with the orders and suspended our group gathering activities. The Membership Committee soon realized that this distancing might easily result in lack of awareness of how people within our St. Mark family were handling this strange and often alone time.

By the end of March, a phone calling campaign (yes, voices and ears talking and listening – not just texting and e-mailing) was created for checking on the well-being of our members. Volunteer callers were recruited to inquire about how people were doing: Did they need help with errands, help with shopping for groceries, and help dealing with this new way of living? Another team was ready stand to answer any requests. So far, our members have seldom requested help, but have appreciated the outreach.

The calling program began 12 weeks ago with 29 volunteers calling each week, thus contacting 288 households. By mid-May more callers were recruited. Over the weeks, based on feedback from the chats, the number of contacted households has been reduced. Now the team, 35 strong, is placing just a handful of calls per person, reaching about 145 families. Because a new list is given to each caller weekly, the interactions stay fresh. Our calls have enabled the church to broadcast the news of the church, to identify those members watching the virtual services, to identify those without access to a computer, and to update our information with cell phone and landline numbers. We have also identified 23 members who especially find joy in receiving cards and notes, and we are being responsive. Several members requested a written sermon. The Deacons are looking into this.

The callers report they are enjoying their chats with people they have never met face to face as well as talking with friends they miss seeing on Sundays. They have been told our calls are anticipated and appreciated. We plan to continue our calls until church resumes in the sanctuary.

Photo by 
Quino Al@quinoal

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Worship for June 28

June 28, 2020 
ORDER OF WORSHIP

CENTERING PRAYER

Your glory and power, O God, surrounds us in the sanctuary, our homes, and the world. We lift up our hands and call on your name. We are your people, thirsty for the living water you along give. When we consider how you help us, giving us a spring gushing up to eternal life, we cling to you, singing praises with joyful lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

PRELUDE    Meirionydd    Balderston 

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS

CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 95)

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.

† HYMN    “Fairest Lord Jesus”    Hymnal #630

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Merciful God, you love justice, but we persist in wrongdoing and harm our neighbors. You call us to follow you, but we prefer making our own plans and following our own paths. You offer to fill us with living water, but we spend our time and money on superficial things that leave us empty. Forgive us. Heal us. Restore us. We pray in the name of the one who came to save the world. (Silent Confession)

ASSURANCE OF GRACE

 † SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST 
The peace of Christ be with you. 
And also with you

SCRIPTURE    John 4:1-30 

SERMON    “Deeper Wells”    Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism Question One Q. What is our chief end? A. Our chief end is glorify God and to enjoy God forever

OFFERING SPECIAL MUSIC Make Your Life a Song to God Cool 
    Emmersen Douglas, soloist 

† THE DOXOLOGY 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER 

† HYMN    “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore”    Hymnal #721 

† CHARGE AND BLESSING POSTLUDE    Baroque March    Ruhl 

†You are invited to stand, as you are able. 

For more Sunday worship activities, click here.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Scripture for June 28

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

"Woman the the Well" By Carl Heinrich Bloch - http://masterpieceart.net/carl-heinrich-bloch/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18138698

Friday, June 26, 2020

Daily Prayer June 26

Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is near.

Daily Readings for Friday, June 26, 2020

Eternal God, your kingdom has broken into our troubled world through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son. Help us to hear your Word and obey it, that we may become instruments of your saving love. God Most High, your only Son embraced the weakness of flesh, to give us power to become your children; your eternal Word chose a dwelling among us that we might live in your presence. Grant us a spirit of wisdom to know how rich is the glory you have made our own and how great the hope to which we are called in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh. Give us the courage and faith to accept life as it comes, confident that the future is yours and that we belong to you forever. O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Look with compassion on the whole human family, take away the arrogance and hatred that infect our hearts, break down the walls that separate us, unite us in bonds of love, and, through our struggle and confusion, work to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne. (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.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Surely It Is God


First Song of Isaiah

Surely it is God who saves me

I will trust and not be afraid

For the lord is my stronghold and my sure defense

And God will be my savior

(paraphrase Isaiah 12:2-6)

Many of the Psalms and songs of the prophets of the First Testament carry this message of dependence on God. It may seem a quaint message for some, because we are not sure how to explain why God saves some, but not others in the modern world.  We don't like the idea that God prefers one tribe over another or  that some should perish without reason.  If God is "my stronghold and my sure defense" then who will be battered to protect me? What if the desperately needy are storming my stronghold? How does God remain just?

Since the Ten Commandments were instituted, we have assumed that God was just. The law was established to negate privilege and power as the basis for justice. The uneven enforcement of the law does nothing to undermine the ultimate justice of God, in the view of most religions.  The tide of injustice will eventually withdraw, and God's justice will prevail.

God's protection has nothing to do with justice.  We assume God's justice when we appeal for protection. We believe that "God is good-- all the time." It is a simplistic faith based on unconditional love. Faith does not complicate love; it assumes it. With Isaiah we can assert "God will be my savior," and stop fretting about who is saved and who isn't.
It turns out that believing in your own security frees you to consider the security of others.  That is why thriving churches reach out to those beyond their walls with food and services. That is why social services are full of workers who are grateful for their own deliverance. They are not generous merely out of privileged guilt, but out of the sense they have been delivered from disaster. They are part of the arm of God's justice to those without benefits.

Saying that "God is my savior" does not mean no one else should be saved. It means that all should be saved by the outreach of all.  Through those who are "saved" the hand of God reaches to those who struggle. Salvation is an endless cycle of sharing the love of God among all people. And so we realize the kingdom that is coming, the kingdom of heaven. We see it only with the eyes of faith.

Bill Tucker

Monday, June 22, 2020

Virtual ABC Sale



Sadly, due to the Covid-19 virus, the Attic Basement Closet Sale, which was scheduled for June 26-27, was cancelled. The Deacons had budgeted to raise $14,000 from the 2020 sale based on the amount generated in the 2019.

Following the sale each year, the Deacons allocate the funds to their designated missions. These missions are in need more than ever this year. The Circle of Concern Golf Tournament scheduled for May, with all proceeds going to the Circle of Concern, was also cancelled. For those reasons, we ask that if you are able to give monetarily the value of what you would have donated to the sale, we will be able to continue supporting our missions.


If you are able to support the “Virtual ABC Sale” with a donation, please address your check to St. Mark, with ABC sale in the memo line. This mission drive will go through the end of August. Thank you again for your continued support!

The St. Mark Deacons thank all who have been faithfully supporting the ABC Sale throughout the years. It has been a longtime tradition at our church, enabling members to donate items no longer needed which provide funding for our deserving mission partners. It also has been a wonderful time for members to work together all week getting ready for the sale. As many of you know, the workers begin on the Sunday before the sale and work diligently all week unloading the donations, transporting them to the correct areas of the church, sorting, pricing, conducting the sale, preparing food for the workers, then cleaning up and loading everything to transport to various resale shops after the sale concludes. Thank you to all who have so diligently participated during the many previous years of the sale!

The local missions supported by the Deacons are:

  •  Businesspersons Between Jobs
  •  Circle of Concern
  •  Isaiah 58
  •  Lafayette Industries 
  •  Mound Ridge
  •   Peace Meal
  •   Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Service 
  •   UKirk StL- collegiate congregation

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Worship Service June 21


June 21, 2020 


ORDER OF WORSHIP

CENTERING PRAYER

On this day, Gracious Lord, you come to us as Word, as light, as flesh. Teach us to know you so well that our lives may befriend this world you made, in the name of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
PRELUDE     O Come All Ye Faithful     Young 

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP

Christ is born! Alleluia!
Jesus is among us! Alleluia!
Shout with joy, give thanks, and sing!
Christ is born! Alleluia!

† HYMN    “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”     Hymnal #82

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Holy Incarnate God, by the light of your goodness and mercy, our failing to see your light is clear: we have not loved you, we have not loved neighbors, we have not loved ourselves. Our feet do not bring the good news to the poor and we do not defend the least among us. Forgive us, blind us with your holy honesty, so we may more clearly see your will and walk with sure steps into the way of wholeness and peace. (Silent Confession)

ASSURANCE OF GRACE 

† SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. 

SCRIPTURE John 1:1-14 

SERMON    “Half-Birthdays”    Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH The Confession of 1967 (9.07)
 In Jesus Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. Jesus Christ is God with humankind. He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became human and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation. He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission. This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, humanity, and the world. Therefore, the church calls all people to be reconciled to God and to one another. 

OFFERING 

† HYMN    “Angels We Have Heard on High”    Hymnal #113 

† THE DOXOLOGY

 PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER 

† HYMN    “Joy to the World”    Hymnal #134 

† CHARGE AND BLESSING 

BENEDICTION RESPONSE “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” (v.2) Hymnal #132 

POSTLUDE    Tango on In Dulci Jubilo     Lachenauer 

†You are invited to stand, as you are able.

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Scripture for June 21

The Adoration of the Shepherds (The Night)
Giovanni Lanfranco

John 1: 1-14

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Read full chapter

Footnotes

  1. John 1:5 Or understood
  2. The Adoration of the Shepherds (The Night)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Daily Prayer June 19

Through Jesus let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that acknowledge God's name.

Daily Readings for Friday, June 19, 2020

We give you thanks and praise, O God, for you are without beginning and without end; through your Son, you have created and preserved the world. Father of Christ and the giver of the Spirit, you rule over all creation. The day you have made for the works of light and the night for our refreshment and strength. You guide us through the day to the beginning of night; grant us, in Christ, an evening filled with peace and a night free from sin; and when at last we come to our own end, bring us into the everlasting life of your kingdom, where you live and reign with Christ, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. High God, holy God: you rule the ways of peoples, and govern every earthly government. Work with those who work for peace. Make every person in authority an agent of your reconciliation, and every diplomat an ambassador of hope. Bring peace and goodwill among all people, fulfilling among us the promise made in Jesus Christ, who was born to save the world. (Add your prayers.) Amen.
The grace of Christ attend you, the love of God surround you, the Holy Spirit keep you, that you may live in faith, abound in hope, and grow in love, both now and forevermore.


(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.)