October 16, 2018

10.16.18 final

 

October 9, 2018

Blessing of the Animals is a joy-filled enterprise!  Last Sunday was such fun!  We talked with so many friends, neighbors, and coworkers about how they came to be an animal companion, and how it had changed their lives.  There were stories about dogs and cats being rescued, but several people said this: “I’m not sure who was rescuing who.”

Of course everyone is excited, but I am surprised every year that the
sanctuary becomes calm and settled during the service.  I’m guessing, but I think it might be because humans and animals are grateful to be with each other.

This Sunday we begin the Season of Gratitude at St. Mark’s.  We celebrate this season from mid-October through November and Thanksgiving,
because we believe that gratitude needs much more attention than we give it on the one day we devote to it.  I know I need as much practice as I can get when it comes to gratitude, because it easily gets crowded out of my daily life.

It doesn’t help that much of what passes for polite or personal conversation right now is so tinged with frustration, bitterness, and anger.  Gratitude can’t breathe when all available oxygen is consumed by these feelings.

And so I hope that the Season of Gratitude becomes an especially enlivening breath of fresh air for all of us, and that we can breathe deeply of it in all the work we do together.

Of course, we know that embracing and expressing gratitude is good for us.  But do we know how good?  The Book of Joy recounts a week of historic conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu about the deep meaning of life.  It cites “recent research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky” that there are “three factors that have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness.”   They are:

Our ability to reframe our situation more positively;

Our ability to experience gratitude, and

Our choice to be kind and generous.

Both Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama are emphatic that, just like
happiness and joy, gratitude doesn’t simply happen–at least not most of the time.  They agree that the source of true joy for us, whatever our mood or circumstance, is when we give ourselves to another.

We might be blessed by a situation where we feel incredible gratitude and then respond with kindness and generosity.  But it is more powerful to first choose to be kind and generous–even if we are feeling hurt, angry, or
disappointed.  If we are able to break through with kindness and generosity, we can begin to understand the grace of God, which brings gratitude, which brings joy!

For the next six weeks, we come together as a community of faith, learning and practicing generous gratitude for who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.

I’m glad you’re here!  See you in church!

Craig

 

September 19, 2018

Fifty years ago, the very first day of classes for just-opened St. Mark’s Nursery School was September 16, 1968. We celebrated this golden anniversary in church this past Sunday (also September 16), and what a fun time it was! Rev. Jeri led the children (and adults) in song, and we heard from longtime school director M’Lu Colburn, and from Tim Manion. Tim is the parent of a former nursery-school student, and years ago he himself was a student.

In attendance were many students, teachers, former students, former teachers, parents, grandparents, and church members involved in the creation or governance of St. Mark’s School. It was a joyful church service, and a reminder for all of us of the lifelong positive influence of devoted, knowledgeable, and talented teachers—especially for young children.

St. Mark’s Nursery School has waiting lists for most of its classes. I can’t remember the last time we had to advertise to encourage enrollment. We are full, have been full, and it looks like we will continue to be full for the foreseeable future.

This is testimony to the quality and high reputation of the school. And that reputation is ongoing evidence of the extraordinary on-the-ground commitment to the highest ideals of early-childhood education. At a more-basic level, it is evidence of a perfect combination of child-centered enthusiasm and lots of hard work, every day.

It was visionary and risk-taking leadership that brought the school into being 50 years ago. As a result, thousands of lives have been shaped and changed for the better. And this work continues, under current director Anita Hill and a very devoted and talented team of teachers and assistants. I am so grateful for this excellent leadership, both past and present!

Also on Sunday, many of us enjoyed a Puerto-Rican-themed catered lunch after church to support hurricane relief there. Recovery, rebuilding, and storm-preparatory work continue in Puerto Rico under the auspices of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). We haven’t had a chance to add up how much money was donated, but I saw quite a few envelopes being put into the collection bags. The three-course lunch was delicious, and was generously donated to us by Roger Shogan and Tricia Elliot and their incredible catering team. Big, big thanks to them, and to the San Diego Convention Center for use of their kitchen and logistical help.

This coming weekend is St. Mark’s Fall Campout. The overnight spots are full, but you are invited to join the group during the day on Saturday. Information is in this week’s Messenger.

In church this week during Faith Forward we’ll hear from John Zawis of International Re-lief Teams. He’ll tell us about the school that people from St. Mark’s helped to build out-side Tijuana, and he’ll report on upcoming building projects.

St. Mark’s Blessing of the Animals is less than three weeks away! Every year, this is a great opportunity to invite neighbors, friends, and family to bring their animal companions to a fun and meaningful church service. In past years we’ve had dogs, cats, cavies (guinea pigs), snakes, lizards, cockatoos, parrots, hamsters, mice, and other animals I don’t remember. Blessing of the Animals happens at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 7 to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis. Representatives of the San Diego Humane Society and other animal organizations will be with us on the patio when the service and Blessing have concluded.

See you in church!
Craig

September 19, 2018

September 19, 2018

Coffee and Contemplation

Tuesday Evenings 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

*Note: meetings have been moved to Tuesdays, effective October 2nd

Clairemont Coffee (3095 Clairemont Dr, San Diego, CA 92117)

Join our new gathering where we will reflect upon a Bible passage together through a unique contemplative method and develop keen listening skills to listen to God and our souls as we move through our one and precious life with more happiness and fulfillment.

Contact Rev. Lydia at for more information.

July 30, 2018

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”  —John 6:35

“We are at a very interesting moment in the history of the church that requires experimentation.  If we try to measure our success by traditional metrics, we will fail—because the church is no longer a popular social institution.  It’s no longer just a matter of what people give or how many come to church, but how many times we touch another person’s life either virtually or in person.  We must ask ourselves how many lives are changed through community programming and online engagement, whether there is a spirit of love and kindness in this place, and if we treat one another with respect.” 

—Rev. Amy Butler, Riverside Church, New York

Those of us who come to church will often talk about the importance of being spiritually fed.  Many of us depend on our time in church each week to keep us nourished—as we listen, sing, receive communion, and talk about what the presence of God means to us in our daily lives.

Some kind of spiritual nourishment is important for anyone seeking to live a life of meaning and deep connection.  And still, in 2018, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples are the best places to be fed.

Sometimes I hear people say they stay away from religion because they have big questions and significant doubts about God or about those who say they believe in God.  But serious questioning makes the meal both richer and healthier.  And confronting doubt makes us stronger, whatever the result.

Some of us developed the church-going habit very early in our lives.  We may have stepped away from that habit for months or years, but we found our way back.  When I found my way back, I came to realize that I had learned in my early experience that the church was home for me.  While every church is different, I knew what to expect.  And, most important, I had learned that the church, while far from a perfect place, was full of good people doing good work in the world.

But whether someone has the church-going habit or not, and whether it developed early in their lives or not, all of us have some sense of spiritual curiosity.  The question is, what do we do with it?  Do we ignore it?  Do we even recognize it?  Maybe we think it’s something else, like heartburn.  Or maybe we are waiting or searching for some way to talk about and live into the meaning of our lives.

It is these people who are waiting or searching who present such a puzzle to the church.  They are in every age group, and they are the majority of those under age 40.  We are here to nurture and support these people in dealing with the biggest questions of their lives.  How can we do it?

We will have church at the beach each Sunday morning in August at 8:30—in addition to the service in the sanctuary at 9:30.  Maybe we can encounter those who walk, jog, or bike up to us on Mission Bay.  If this August is like last year, a few of those who are out for some early-morning exercise will stop—for a bottle of water or out of curiosity.  Or both.  Will what they see and hear speak to their search for meaning and connection?

Or maybe it will happen at the St. Mark’s community yard sale!  I hope you had the chance to clean a few closets.  And I hope that you’ll bring your family, friends, and neighbors and come and browse on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I will see you wherever St. Mark’s is!  Stay cool.

Craig

 

July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

July 22, 2018

July 22, 2018

Church Office Administrator

Part Time at-will, non-exempt position
Hours: 30 hours per week, Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM

General Job Description

The Office Administrator will fulfill their duties with a welcoming servant attitude as well as a standard of excellence in all things. This position has responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the church office, will provide administrative support to three ministers, with assistance to all staff and church leadership.  This person will maintain the church calendar, church records, update social media and web posting as well as prepare weekly bulletins, newsletters, and general office correspondence.  The Office Administrator provides part-time support for the preschool events: carnival, resale, etc. and performs other general clerical tasks as assigned.    Continue reading “Church Office Administrator” »

Church Child Care Provider

Part Time at-will, non-exempt position
Hours: Approximately 2 hours per week, additional hours as needed for holidays

General Job Description

The Church Child Care Provider shall provide supervision and enrichment care to infants and toddlers whose parents or guardians are attending an event at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. Continue reading “Church Child Care Provider” »