Sunday, February 28, 2021

Worship for February 28, 2021


February 28, 2021 
10:00 am Virtual Service 

God, your Son Jesus Christ bore the cross for our salvation and was raised from the dead for the redemption of the world. Give us the courage to take up our cross and follow him. By your grace, may we accept the cost of faithful discipleship and receive the joy of everlasting life with Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

PRELUDE      Aria      Mahnke 


O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. The hour is coming and is now here. In spirit and truth, let us worship God. 

† HYMN      “Be Still My Soul”      Hymnal #819 

Merciful God, we confess we are not sincere Christians. We claim to follow Jesus, but we do not take his path of sacrificial love. We profess to be disciples, but we are not willing to bear the cost of discipleship. We affirm the virtue of self-denial, but we indulge our selfish desires and seek earthly gain. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for sincere repentance through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Silent Confession)


The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. 

SCRIPTURE      Mark 8:31-38 

SERMON      “The One You Feed”      Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess

Westminster Confession of Faith Shorter Catechism Question One Q. What is our chief end?

 A. Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever.

 OFFERING SPECIAL MUSIC      Assurance arr.      Beck 
Sarah Vlodek, vocalist



 † HYMN     “Will You Come and Follow Me”      Hymnal #726 


† BENEDICTION RESPONSE      “Shalom to You”      Eslinger 

POSTLUDE      Blessed Assurance      Knapp 

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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Scripture for February 28

 Mark 8:31-38

Titian, c. 1565

Jesus Predicts His Death

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Friday, February 26, 2021

Daily Prayers February 26, 2021

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Daily Readings for Friday, February 26, 2021

Jesus, Good Shepherd of the sheep, by whom the lost are sought and guided into the fold: Feed us and we shall be satisfied, heal us and we shall be whole, and lead us that we may be with you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call. Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. In the beginning you separated light from darkness and placed all your works in our hands. You have given us the light of day that we might see your wonders in all we say and do; you give us the gentle darkness of the night that we might rest from our burdens and be refreshed in body and spirit. Break through the darkness of our sins with the splendor of your mercy and love. Send your light to dispel our fears and anxieties and fill us with hope and joy. Glory, praise, and honor are yours, O God. (Add your prayers.) Amen.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

(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 25, 2021

Whom Should We Follow?

 The Old Dispensation had a simple formula for understanding prophets: the true prophets directed the Hebrews to worship Jehovah, the one true God, a spirit not represented by fabricated images.  The false prophets held up multiple gods, shaped from the materials of the earth.  The false prophets were shown to be impotent, while the true God of Israel kept his people or delivered his people from idolatrous tyrants.  It was pretty much a simple test to separate the true God from the false gods, therefore the true prophet from the false.

In the New Dispensation, beginning with Jesus, the authenticity of prophets was harder to decide. When Jesus was declared a false prophet, he would point to his works of mercy as a sign of his affiliation with the one true God. When it came to prophets, he also believed they would be proven by their actions, not by their theology:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)

In another place Jesus warns us about the false prophets of the end times.  There will be plenty of them.

And if anyone says to you at that time, "Look! Here is the Messiah! There he is!---do not believe it.False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. (Mark 13:21-22)

So how do we recognize such people? And how do we recognize true prophets, if there are any?

I am the last person to identify the false from the true, but I do know one thing: everyone who declares himself or herself a prophet does not automatically make the cut.  We have been warned by Jesus and therefore should keep our eyes open for the unqualified. How many people have declared themselves the messiah or the prophet of the coming of the Lord since the resurrection? I do not know, but I'll bet plenty. I'll leave that for historians to count.

What about the good fruits we can expect of the true prophets? I'll use the Apostle Paul as my source for fruits: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22). I'm not positive this is what Jesus meant by the "good fruit" of true prophets, but it seems like a good approximation.

This is where I get hung up on a President being the instrument of  God's will.  I could argue that Franklin D. Roosevelt, with his inspired social programs was a latter-day Isaiah ("every valley filled and rough places a plain"),  delivering the American people from the Depression, but I won't. It wouldn't matter that F.D.R. had only a nominal faith and imprisoned thousands of Japanese-Americans needlessly, if he was God's

instrument.  But anyone can prophesy anything about a sitting President. It doesn't make it true.

I would sooner follow John Lewis as a prophet anyway. He bled to make American great: on one occasion in Rock Hills, SC getting off a bus riding for the right of Black people to ride the buses, May 9, 1961, beaten bloody by white men with clubs; then beaten nearly to death in Selma, AL, March 7, 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge marching for voting rights. And numerous other times jailed and beaten. He not only spoke, but put his body in the way to demand justice.

Maybe we fling around the word "prophet" too much anyway. Jesus had big sandals to fill. Even John the Baptist did not try to fill them.  We may be naming prophets, because we think it will hurry the arrival of the Kingdom of God. For twenty-one hundred years we have not managed to speed it up.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Whenever you're ready, Lord.

Acts 24: 14-15 I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Read the Gospels in 40 Days: Day 7

 Matthew 15-16

That Which Defiles

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

To read the rest of today's reading, click here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Warrior Princess

You know those warrior princesses that are both strong and beautiful? With long sweeping dark hair and powers to right things that are wrong in the world? My best friend Rehab is one of them. Her power isn’t flying, although she drives as if she can. It isn’t the use of a signature weapon, although she wields tools that serve her well in battles. She has special powers to save people in the ER. 

She’s a warrior, battling each day for life. With her husband deployed to the Middle East weeks before our own country went into lockdown and just now recently returned, Rey has been on the battlefield back home, donning whatever PPE is available, and waging war with an unseen virus attacking her friends and neighbors. After daily combat, the princess returns home to parent two toddlers, praying each day that their own superheroes will continue to care for them while she fights on the front lines. She even shielded her children when the opponent attacked her and brought the battleground into her own home.  

Rey heads into combat each long day, fighting to save all of our loved ones. She knows that one lost battle can’t mean the end of the war. And each day she returns to the battlefield and will continue until we–all in the battle together—win this war. ar. And each day she returns to the battlefield and will continue until we–all in the battle together—win this war. 

Shelley Lester

Monday, February 22, 2021

Boy Scouts


As with every other organization and committee, 2020 was a difficult year for Scouting. Prior to the lockdowns, Winter and early Spring events went on as expected and great fun was had by all at the Pinewood Derby and Blue & Gold Awards Ceremony/Banquet. 

By April, events were being canceled. The scouts demonstrated their perseverance and creativity by moving away from their normal routine and started meeting outdoors, and eventually, moved to virtual Zoom meetings, merit badge clinics, Courts of Honor and even virtual campouts. The scout and adult leadership is to be commended for maintaining a high level of interest and enthusiasm in the program during this trying time. 

Summer had its own challenges. After 18 months of planning, and with the blessing of session and BSA, the High Adventure trip for 14+ year old scouts went on as scheduled. This crew went to High Adventure Northern Tier at the Boundary Waters Recreation area along both sides of the Minnesota/Canadian border. The annual Summer Camp however, went virtual with every scout/family camping in their own back yard and connecting to the troop via Zoom. Kudos to all that made this happen. 

The start of 2021 begins a new and hopeful year. Tentative plans are for regular camping outings to restart in March – keep your fingers crossed! The scouts are planning an out-of-council Summer Camp at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia along with a High Adventure for older scouts running simultaneously at the Summit. There is also a group headed to High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys. What a way to bounce Back!!! 

Unfortunately, Spaghetti Supper 2021 had to be canceled. It was just too soon. But hold on to your hats… Spring is just around the corner and the annual Lawn Mower Tune-up is Scheduled for April 3rd . St. Mark truly has one of the leading scouting programs in the district and I congratulate them on adapting and overcoming what could have been.

 Respectfully submitted, Chuck Livesay St. Mark Chartered Organization Representative

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Worship February 21, 2021

10:00 am Virtual Service 

 CENTERING PRAYER*      *J. Birch,

This world tempts us with bright lights, city streets, tempting sights and sounds.

This world tempts us with objects of desire, raises us up, knocks us down.

This world tempts us to believe its lies, challenges us to live them.  

This world tempts us to reject our God, accuses us and hates us.

This world tempts us to disbelieve the truth that nothing can defeat us.


PRELUDE     Wonderful Words of Life       Grichetchkine 




People of the covenant: God does not remember us according to our sins and transgressions.

God remembers us according to God’s own steadfast love!

The God of our salvation teaches us right paths and leads us in truth.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness; we put our trust in God.

† HYMN      “Lord, Who throughout These Forty Days”      Hymnal #166




God of mercy, we begin this Lenten season in confession. We do not live according to your ways. We condone violence, benefit from systems of injustice, and use power to our own advantage at the expense of others. Forgive us, we pray, when we are tempted to follow paths other than those you set before us. Teach us your commandments; help us to turn from evil in its many guises, and turn us toward your kingdom drawing near. In covenantal love, remember us, we pray. (Silent Confession)



The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you. 

SCRIPTURE      Mark 1:9-15 

SERMON      “Leaving Our Comfort Zone”       Rev. Dr. Dave Burgess  


AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – The Apostles’ Creed



and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of the saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.





Because we believe that in Jesus Christ, God’s time is fulfilled and the kingdom has come near, we respond in tangible ways. This offering is received in gratitude to God. Let us pray...


God of steadfast love and faithfulness, we are humbled as we try to do what is right and to walk in your ways. Receive, we ask, these offerings, and use them for your own good purposes in the church and in all creation. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

SPECIAL MUSIC      I Have Come     Hakes 

Pam Ladley and Lisa Marsh, vocalists



† HYMN      “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”       Red Hymnal #376 


 † BENEDICTION RESPONSE     “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”      Red Hymnal #296

 POSTLUDE     Call of the Pipes      Young 

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


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Scripture for February, 21, 2021

 Mark 1:9-15

Christ in the Desert

The Baptism and Testing of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Jesus Announces the Good News

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Read full chapter


  1. Mark 1:13 The Greek for tempted can also mean tested.