9.10.19

9.10.19

From the Preacher 9.10.19

Dear Church,

What a beautiful weekend we had. Thank you all for hosting such a
delightful and lovely baby shower for my family in preparation for our baby girl and for an awesome Welcome Back Sunday. 

You make my work not feel like work. You make my work feel like non-stop fun.

$5 to pelt Lydia, Frank or Jeri

And I feel honored to work with such fun-natured staff. 

I was thinking about how special my baby girl must feel, my girl who hasn’t yet been born, who hasn’t even seen the light of day. And yet you showered her with blessings, gifts and love. She hasn’t made any contributions to the world but she is already, so valued. 

This upcoming Sunday’s gospel lectionary passage animates this idea.
Jesus is once again rebuked by the Pharisees for eating with the outcasts of society and Jesus responds to them by teaching them that God cares about every single person, not just the most important and valuable
members of society. He provides this illuminating example: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after that one until he finds it?” A
similar idea is expressed in the Psalms, where the psalmist says that
God knows our every thought and formed us in our mother’s womb
(Psalm 139). 

A dominant ethical theory in western philosophy, which made its way into our political system is a theory called “The Utilitarian Theory,” which can roughly be described as the greatest good for the greatest number. This utilitarian calculus is what’s often used when political leaders decide whether to go into war or commit egregious murders. Well, they reason, if we only kill a thousand people instead of one million, it’s worth it. 

God, however, offers a different ethical way of thinking: a way of thinking where every single person, even the least of these, are considered.

Let us consider this idea together on Sunday morning. 

See you soon,

Rev. Lydia 

From the Preacher 9.3.19

Dear friends,

Welcome to September, the beginning of so many new things.  There are new classrooms for teachers and students, and new routines for work and school.  There are new opportunities at the church, a new equinox, and delicious warm flavors at Starbucks! ☕  Amid the welcoming of all these things, and so much more, there is also a sense of letting go of treasured things; things like longer daylight hours, freedom from routines, familiar things in the church, and those fabulous bright flavors at Starbucks. 🥤

Change can be hard as we move from familiar things that help ground us to things that seem foreign and disorienting. But change happens to
everyone every day. The sun rises and sets at different times each day.  The routines of summer are never exactly the same.  The things we
remember are not so easily remembered, and the flavors of Starbucks are not always as we remember them. 🙁  It is easy to slip into romanticizing the things we remember when we feel disoriented instead of looking
forward to seeing what new things God has in store for us.

This past week, my husband Tom and I went on a short vacation in a remote area with almost no external lighting to obscure the natural starlight. I was reminded that my vision of God’s work is often obscured by things around me. The Milky Way is always there but I need to move from the distractions of the city and its myriad of lights to see the splendor of the night sky which God provides. 🌃  Yet, even stars change.  Stars that were created billions of years ago are now burning or burned out, yet we haven’t noticed because it’s not our time to see it.  But God has noticed, and God calls us to be watchful as God continues to bring about change. 

Our passage this week comes from Jeremiah 18:1-11.  In this passage God tells Jerimiah to go to the potter’s house and wait for God’s words to be revealed to him.  God tells Jeremiah that things will change, but in that change, God is not silent or absent.  Today, God is still revealing God’s plan.  Be ready. Change will come. And if you want to meet me at
Starbucks for warm or cold pumpkin beverage, let me know.  🙂

See you in church,

Jeri

9.3.19

9.3.19

From the Preacher 8.27.19

Dear St. Mark’s,

I’m feeling a bit loopy at the moment because our flight from Scotland
arrived at midnight last night. Unfortunately, my body woke itself up at
4 a.m. due to jet leg. Traveling can do weird things to our bodies, but the sacrifice is worth the adventures.

Among the greatest gifts traveling gives to us, in addition to opening our eyes to new cultures, foods and landscapes, is a great appreciation of our homes and our daily routines. And as much as I loved going abroad,
resting, and spending time with family, I am surprisingly eager to get back to my humdrum daily responsibilities…including, preparing for the sermon this Sunday.

The gospel lectionary passage for this Sunday comes to us from Luke 14:1, 7-14. Within that small passage contains a multitude of lessons that are still pertinent to us today. The context in which the lessons are taught are, as many of Jesus’ lessons are taught, at the meal table. He urges people to take the lowest seat of honor at meals and to invite those who wouldn’t be able to repay the favor of an invitation. It was striking for his listeners back then, who were obsessed with tit-for-tat calculated thinking but it’s also a glimpse into God’s kind of thinking—that God doesn’t repay us according to our deeds, our status, or accomplishments. God loves us and provides for us simply because we’re…us. This reality is challenging for many of us to take in, who have grown up in a world where our value and our worth is determined by how much we make, how beautiful we are, our status in the world and how valuable we are to others. None of that matters to God and not just that, our worth has nothing to do with any of those things. Crazy, right?

Let’s reflect more on these ideas today this Sunday. We’ll also be sharing in the sung communion so that will be fun as well. As Rev. Jeri said this past Sunday, I know it’s Labor Day weekend so many of you might be away. But if you’re not, come by and celebrate with us.


In this together,

Rev. Lydia

8.27.19

8.27.19

From the Preacher 8.20.19

Dear Friends,

The message this week is based on a passage from Luke in the Bible.  Since (according to tradition) Luke was a physician, it’s quite fitting that the story describes a woman who was chronically ill for some 18 years. More importantly it describes Jesus as caring about her and healing her ailment.

I have twin sisters Kay and Kim. My youngest sister Kim was born with severe scoliosis as well as scar tissue that bends her legs making normal walking somewhat difficult and always a challenge. Early surgeries didn’t really help. Braces proved ineffective.

Really though it hardly mattered. Kim has always been the more athletic and active of the twins. From an early age she ran, bowed legs and all. She delighted in climbing trees and hanging like a monkey. A twisted and bent spine didn’t deter Kim from engaging in play and an active lifestyle. She loves physical labor and has always kept a positive attitude. Can you tell I’m a proud big brother?!

I’d like to say Kim and Kay have become America’s Ninja Warriors… but alas nothing like that. They are however loving women who persevere in their lives and shine with a childlike faith.

Every one faces challenges and I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us.

The end of today’s Gospel narrative describes how observers marveled … probably at both, Jesus’ power and his courage to challenge the religious traditions in his society.

May God give us power and wisdom to reflect love and a profound care for all humankind.

Together in love,

Tom Davis

8.20.19

8.20.19

8.13.19

8.13.19

From the Preacher 8.13.19

Dear friends,

I hope you are enjoying what is known as “the dog days of summer”.  For those who don’t know this term, Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as: 1: the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere. 2: a period of stagnation or inactivity.  Please note that Jake, the church dog takes the second definition very seriously as he curls up under my desk.

Jake, the church dog, demonstrating the “dog days of summer.”

But here at St. Mark’s we do not experience stagnation or inactivity in the
summer – in fact we move into great big ministries for our community.  We have just finished another successful Yard Sale. Although we don’t have a final figure because there are items still out for sale, this year St. Mark’s made approximately $4,800. 

And speaking of approximate numbers, Vacation Bible School begins on
Monday, August 19 with over 45 students currently registered for this week of learning and exploring life in Jesus’ time.  On Sunday, August 25 we will welcome the children and families of our VBS to worship with us as we celebrate this joy filled ministry. 

There is one more opportunity to serve our community this week and that is by inventorying the CCSA backpacks on Thursday and Friday, August 15 and 16, from 1 – 3 p.m. in the Church Narthex.  We want to ensure each bag is properly packed with the items requested by CCSA. Together we will bless them during church on Sunday, August 18 and then transport them to CCSA for distribution on Monday, August 19.

Last, but most certainly not least, on Sunday, August 11 we welcomed three new members into God’s kingdom and our church through the Sacrament of Baptism.  We are delighted to have Ihab, Ghadir and Barry Judeh become part of the growing kingdom of God and our church.  If you haven’t met them yet, I hope you’ll look for them on our patio after church and introduce yourself. 

This Sunday we will be talking about the work of God through our baptism as we explore the Gospel of Luke 12:49-56.  Baptism does not call us to a life of stagnation or inactivity as we wait for God’s kingdom, instead the Holy Spirit urges us to work with kingdom values even in hot sultry weather.  So, grab a hand fan or use your bulletin to cool you down as we worship together because it’s time to roll up our pantlegs and wade in the water.

With joy,

Jeri