Newsletter – September 12, 2017

September 12, 2017

Newsletter – September 5, 2017

September 5, 2017

Pastor’s Letter – September 5, 2017

This Sunday is “Welcome Back Sunday.”  We started calling it that a few years ago as a way of acknowledging that so many of us are returning to regular routines at this time of year.

I think the best way to welcome us all back is to remember some friendly faces and fun moments we’ve enjoyed here this summer.  Here are some photos from Vacation Bible School.  See you in church!


Newsletter – August 29, 2017

August 29, 2017

Pastor’s Letter – August 29, 2017

We want to reach more people, younger people, and more-diverse people.  How do we do that?  This question has generated lots and lots of ideas and conversation during the last several years.

If we are seriously interested in reaching more people, younger people, and more-diverse people, those with experience in business growth tell us to listen carefully to these “potential customers.”  What are the needs and interests of those who are younger and more-diverse than us?  Are we willing to listen to these needs and interests?  Is it even possible to find out what they are?

I think popular music can give us a clue.  I’ve been listening to “Scare Away the Dark,” a 2014 song by Passenger, which is the professional name of 34-year-old British singer Michael David Rosenberg.  It has six million plays on YouTube, and it speaks authentically of a longing for something real and meaningful:

Sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice,
If we all light up we can scare away the dark.

We should run through the forest,
We should swim in the streams,
We should laugh, we should cry,
We should love, we should dream,
We should stare at the stars and not just the screens,
You should hear what I’m saying and know what it means.

We wish we were happier, thinner and fitter,
We wish we weren’t losers and liars and quitters,
We want something more not just nasty and bitter,
We want something real not just hash tags and Twitter.

It’s the meaning of life and it’s streamed live on YouTube

We’re scared of drowning, flying and shooters,
But we’re all slowly dying in front of computers.

So sing, sing at the top of your voice,
Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, feel like you still have a choice,
If we all light up we can scare away the dark.

–Michael David Rosenberg (Passenger)

How might the real and meaningful and eternal in our lives of faith be shared with those who love this song?  Is such a thing even possible?

See you in church! Just below is a picture of Jake, the pastoral dog of St. Mark’s, who invites you, your neighbors, and your animal companions to Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, October 1, at 9:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.


Newsletter – August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017

Pastor’s Letter – August 15, 2017

Do words matter? Does what someone says have any effect or influence in this world? If someone says something that offends someone else, does it matter to anyone except the person offended?

In Matthew 15, it says the Pharisees take offense when Jesus says “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

There is great irony that at the same time the Pharisees object to Jesus upending religious law and cultural expectation, they also demonstrate the truth of what he says.

In Matthew’s time there was great concern for distinguishing who was “righteous” and who was “defiled.” Who was one of us, and who was not. The Pharisees were the holy men given the task of defining and sorting people. They used their understanding of God not just to justify this sorting, but to teach that this sorting was necessary to keep God happy, and to bring holiness to the world.

They didn’t do this arbitrarily. There were clear rules about the necessity of staying ritually clean. Most especially, there were rules about eating only “clean” foods, and about not touching an unclean thing or talking to an unclean person.

And Jesus comes, saying, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

Words matter. What we say matters. What is said by those in power, on our behalf, matters.

See you in church. Remember next week is St. Mark’s Vacation Bible School. The merchants from Marketplace 29 A.D. invite you! See below.

See you in church!


Newsletter – August 8, 2017

August 8, 2017

Pastor’s Letter – August 8, 2017

Rev. Jeri will be preaching and leading worship this Sunday.  Due to the fact she is attending the North American Interfaith Network Conference for a few days, she asked me to write a brief Pastor’s Letter.  (In the photo below fellow NAIN attendees from St. Mark’s, Rebecca Dickerson and Dominique Santos, are welcomed to the conference by Rev. Cheri Metier of the Pioneer Ocean View UCC.)

Remember that during August we also have church at the beach, each Sunday morning at 8:30.  It is an informal time to think, sing, pray, and share communion in the beautiful natural surroundings of Mission Bay.  All are always invited to stop by, just south of the Hilton Hotel on East Mission Bay Drive.  Look for the signs.

Also, if you are dealing with grief or loss in your life–even if the loss was long ago–I commend to you our GriefShare study and support group, which is meeting for the next 13 weeks on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 in the New Room, near the church office.  This is an excellent program, led by St. Mark’s member Lindsay Van Gorder, MSW, who is unusually sensitive and skilled for this work.

Whatever your situation, we hope to see you at St. Mark’s!  All are always invited.


Newsletter – August 1, 2017

August 1, 2017