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

From the Preacher

Dear friends,

It is with great joy that we welcome Reverend Bill Jenkins back to St. Mark’s to preach this Sunday.  Many of you know about his continued work with asylum seekers, refugees, and immigration issues across the southern border.  Rev. Jenkins, through Christ United Methodist Ministry Center and with the help of Immigration Control Enforcement, hosted over 7,500 people who have crossed over the Mexico/San Diego border in the past three years.  What started as a wave in 2016 became a tsunami of threatened and displaced people seeking a better life in the United States.  The concept of not doing anything was not an option to Pastor Bill or the ministry center.  Christ Ministry Center is the only immigrant welcoming shelter in Southern California. San Ysidro, one of three ports of entry in the area, is the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere.

Pastor Bill not only talks the talk but also walks the walk as he has opened his heart and home to a refugee child who calls him Papa.  In this picture you can see Happy Harry, as he is known, is helping his “Papa” preach the message of welcoming the stranger.  The following words from Pastor Bill will give you a glimpse into his message this week. 

The Rev. Bill Jenkins, gives the sermon during worship at Exodus United Methodist Church In San Diego while holding his foster son Harry, who is from Haiti. The church is the only immigrant-welcoming center in Southern California. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

“With all the attention on borders these days, maybe it is time for us to look at a border we will all cross, sooner or later.  That is the border between this life and the next.  Matthew 25 gives us a remarkably candid look into “Heaven’s Immigration Policy”. Nothing can be more important than this, for it determines where we spend eternity.

Heaven’s Immigration Policy has six components. I will share how we all can be prepared to answer to how we qualify (or don’t qualify) for each essential component.

Sheep or Goats. Heaven or Hell. This is important stuff. Hope you can join us.”

Join us this Sunday, August 11, as we welcome Rev. Bill Jenkins to St. Mark’s.

In peace,

Jeri

From the Preacher 7.30.19

Dear St. Mark’s, 

Boy, do we have a treat in store for you! The Rev. Mark
Trotter will be the guest preacher for this upcoming Sunday. Rev. Mark served as the Senior Minister of the largest church in the California-Pacific Conference, First United Methodist Church of San Diego, from 1976 to 2000 and is well-known in the area for his graceful pastoral care and
fantastic preaching. People all over San Diego would tune into the radio on Sunday mornings to hear his sermons!

Another fun fact: he was actually our former Senior Minister, Craig Dorval’s mentor, and the father of former St. Mark’s Senior Minister, Martha Wingfield. He has a strong
connection to this place and it is our joy to welcome him.
Below is his letter about the sermon this upcoming Sunday. 

Much love, Rev. Lydia

Rev. Mark Trotter

“I am privileged  to be a pulpit guest at St. Mark’s. I have fond memories of worshipping with you during the years our daughter and son-in-law, Martha and Myron Wingfield, were your pastors. During that time I also enjoyed being a guest preacher one occasion. 

The text for this Sunday is Luke 12:13-21, Jesus’ encounter with a man who demands that Jesus, who is looked upon by the crowd as a rabbi, and therefore an expert in the Law, settle a dispute between the man and his brother over
property. This leads Jesus to tell the parable of the man who hoarded so much money he spent his life building more barns to house his possessions. The title, ‘From Success to Significance.’ “

From the Preacher 7.22.19

Dear friends,

Over the past few years I have been part of many Interfaith events where the various participants have offered prayers.  These prayers, some of which I don’t understand, have stirred my spirit to join with the spirits of all those in attendance regardless our faith traditions or languages. 

Prayers are offered in as many forms as there are people who pray. Some prayers are simple while some are deeply theological, some are traditional, and some are just a deep sigh for which God alone understands.  Yet all prayers are offered as a way for the soul to connect with the One who is present and attentive to our individual and collective needs. We may not agree on how to express our prayers, but God is greater than our judgments and hears every form of prayer offered, even the ones said just because they are expected.

This Sunday we will hear and reflect on Luke 11: 1-13 where a disciple asks Jesus to teach them to pray as John taught his disciples.  Jesus offers them a prayer which has become familiar to many as the Lord’s Prayer.  Whether you are familiar with this prayer or are learning it for the first time, I hope you’ll be open to how the Spirit of God will connect with you in a different way when we pray it together.

I look forward to praying with and for you.

Peace and grace,

Jeri

From the Preacher

Dear Church,

As a busy and productive person by nature, the Mary and Martha passage in Luke 10:38-42 has always disturbed me. How can it be that Jesus would praise Mary’s lazy behavior when Martha is slaving away and taking care of chores in the house? Possibly even making food for this guest who is criticizing her! 

But if there is one lesson I have learned over and over again throughout my adult life, is that my busy-ness and productivity have often prevented the loved ones in my life from being loved. This has been especially true with my 3-year-old. He honestly does not care if our house is clean, if the dinner is well-prepared, or if our finances are in order. The only thing he cares about, the only thing that makes him feel cherished is my undivided. attention. for. him. 

We don’t change all that much as we age. Let’s talk more about this idea this Sunday. 

Until then, much love. 

Rev. Lydia 

From the Pastor 7-2-19

Dear friends,

The other week my husband and I saw the film The Biggest Little Farm.  In this film a couple decide to take a leap of faith and begin a journey of a lifetime.  Little did they know what an unusual journey their decision would take them on.   Yet that is usually what happens when we follow our dreams, we go on amazing journeys filled with joys and sorrows.

Our scripture this coming week from 2 Kings is also about someone taking a leap of faith. Naaman, the commander of an army has the respect of the king, but he also has leprosy.  His one dream is to be rid of the disease he is afflicted with and this sends him on a journey filled with joy and sorrow. 

Life has always been filled with joys and sorrows.  The Bible is filled such events, yet we are still taken by surprise when they happen to us.  We become dismayed, elated, dismayed, and elated again all because we are part of this grand adventure called life.  Thankfully we are not alone in this
adventure; we are God’s people and God does not abandon us.  Life will always be filled with joys and sorrows, but God promises to faithfully love and provide for us.  Sometimes we have to look beyond our own expectations to see how God is working, and when we do, we will see God’s work on our behalf. 

This Sunday you are invited to come to church, no matter how you feel, as we share God’s message of hope.  Afterwards we will give thanks for God’s provisions as we share Holy Communion together.  Everyone is invited. 
Everyone is welcomed.  Everyone is included.  Come, let’s share this amazing journey of life together.

Peace,
Jeri

From the Pastor 6-25-19

Dear Church,

The title of my sermon for this upcoming Sunday is, “Oh No! He’s Gone!” And you know who I’m talking about. Rev. Craig led our Sunday morning worship for the last time this past Sunday and we, I’m sure, are still processing the fact that he’s gone. How can that be? It’ll take me a while to accept this as well, no doubt. 

Funnily enough, the Old Testament Lectionary passage that was
assigned for this Sunday comes out of 2 Kings and it’s the story where Elijah, long time mentor of Elisha, leaves Elisha and goes back to God.
Elisha is freaked out, probably similar to how the disciples felt after
Jesus left. 

Now, I don’t want to idolize Craig by comparing him with Jesus or Elijah but there is definitely a strong similarity in that, sometimes, we can get very dependent upon one leader figure to provide us with a sense of security and comfort. And we get frazzled and shaken up when those whom we depend upon to guide us leave.

This is a common theme in the Bible and it’s so because it’s a common theme in life. People whom we love, adore, and who guide us eventually leave us at some point or another. Those times are hard, but they are also little openings for us to recognize our own power and all of the skills they have imparted to us. 

We have completed the Easter season and are now in the Pentecost season, where God gave us this great, great gift–the holy spirit, who shows us that power, wisdom and leadership lives within all of us, not in one single person. The power of leadership and forging ahead never lies and never has lied with a particular person, no matter how
charismatic they are. The message of the Bible is that it lives within every single individual and is magnified within a group of people. In the case of the New Testament, this group is us–the church.

Let us remember this good news together this Sunday. Hope to see you there. 

In this together, always,

Rev. Lydia 

From the Pastor 5.28.19

This Sunday is Pentecost.  Fifty days after Easter.  The text we read every year on Pentecost is Acts 2:1-21.  Here is how it begins:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

This story of the church’s birth starts with all the disciples together in one place.  They had just finished voting on who should be the new disciple to replace Judas.  There were two candidates, and Matthias won out over Joseph (called Barsabbas).  We have no clear record of how Joseph reacted to this vote, or what happened to him, although at least one theologian has suggested he is the Joseph called Justus who went on to become Bishop of one of the most important cities in ancient Judea, Eleutheropolis.

The Pentecost story is rich in imagery, and that’s what we remember about it.  Before there was something called “science,” or a branch of science called “chemistry,” there was something called “alchemy.”  Alchemists are remembered for their obsessive attempts to turn lead into gold.  More importantly, alchemy described the world as made up of four basic elements—earth, air, fire, and water.  As the ancients attempted to understand the meaning of our world, they told stories in which each of these elements was vested with symbolic meaning.

As this story begins, there is “a sound like the rush of a violent wind” and “divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them.”  So the creation of the church comes from the sudden intrusion of the two “spiritual” or “heavenly” elements into a gathering of the followers of Jesus.  

As the story continues, the world begins to change, as people begin to listen to each other and understand each other—specifically, as people began to listen to and understand those who were very different from them.

———

My last Sunday with you will be June 23.  Leaving you is not easy—we’ve been through so much together over the last 11 years.  We’ve had so much fun, we’ve succeeded and failed, laughed and cried.  We’ve struggled and we’ve celebrated.  We’ve welcomed the new and said goodbye to the old.  We’ve dealt with so much that was unexpected.  It has been a wonderful ride.

I hope I have a chance to see you in church over these next two weeks!

Craig

From the Pastor 5.21.19

For this upcoming Sunday, we have two lectionary readings that focus on the power of the holy spirit. It is timely that these two readings should be placed here considering that we are now in the Easter season. Jesus has been crucified and resurrected but not with us in the same way that he was
before his crucifixion. The role of the Holy Spirit then, becomes much more prominent as it is Jesus’ presence continually with us. 

Those of us who have attended church for any significant amount of time in our lives knows that the Holy Spirit is always with us and ready to guide us whenever we need her (or even when we don’t call out for her!). But how much do we actually sense her presence and try to connect with her? How often do we consult with her on major life decisions, broken hearts, or just in mundane everyday life moments? I confess that I don’t seek her out very much and I need to remind myself continually of her presence and readiness to help me in my life. I also admit that when I do seek her out, her help is unbelievable. 

Come out this Sunday to reflect upon together how we can invite the Holy Spirit to participate in our lives more and more. 

In This Together, 
Rev. Lydia 

From the Pastor 5.15.19

“When youth departs, may wisdom be enough.”  —Winston Churchill

“Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state….The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.”

—David Whyte

Vulnerability has a high profile right now, largely thanks to the probing work of social scientist Brené Brown, who now has a very popular special on Netflix.  There are so many trendy lifestyle concepts and buzzwords that circulate these days, it is tempting to include “vulnerability” among them.  I think the word may grow or decline in popularity, in both general usage and among management consultants—so many words and phrases become part of consultant-speak and then fade away.

Whatever happens to use or understanding of the word, vulnerability has always been and will always be “the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state,” as David Whyte says.  As Christians, our project of moving toward perfection does not mean refining our ideas and options.  It means more-fully inhabiting our essential, vulnerable selves.

Our culture is biased against vulnerability, which is seen as a weakness.  It is not okay to show vulnerability except in specific circumstances, such as right after a loved one has died, or when the news is covering tragic killings or a natural disaster.  In cases like this, some outward vulnerability is sanctioned for a short while and then our expectation becomes stoicism, healing, and redemption. 

Megan Devine says something about grief in “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” that also applies to vulnerability:  “We’ve got this idea that there are only two options in grief: you’re either going to be stuck in your pain, doomed to spend the rest of your life rocking in a corner in your basement wearing sackcloth, or you’re going to triumph over grief, be transformed, and come back even better than before.”

If these are our only two options, it’s understandable that we see vulnerability as the exception and not the rule of our lives.  Instead of enriching our lives by working to inhabit our vulnerability, we continue to inhabit the comfortable home we’ve built among our ideas and opinions.  But there is another way.

See you in church!

Craig