A Message from Pastor Vern
I talked about football in my sermon Sunday, and I’m going back to the gridiron for a Wednesday devotion. For those who are not football fans, forgive me 😊!
For a moment I have to brag on my South Carolina Gamecocks. The story of South Carolina football has been a great story to watch this past season. This team went from a two-win season a year ago, to finishing this season 7-6 and in the process, winning a bowl game in impressive fashion! Not only were there more “W’s” on the schedule this season for South Carolina, there seems to be a new feel or atmosphere surrounding Gamecock football. Players have shared repeatedly in interviews about how there is a more optimistic and inclusive identity among teammates. To quote a specific player, “Our team was competing with a ‘me’ mentality and now we compete together with a ‘we’ mentality.” In addition to changes among teammates in the locker room, there is also a new sense of excitement among the fanbase. In addition to those new dynamics, possibly one of the most exciting pieces of the puzzle is the excitement around the incoming recruiting class and transfers that have committed to play next year. All of these ingredients combined starts to build a recipe for success in the life of a football program (and I admit, I’m glad that it’s happening to that group that wears garnet and black in Columbia, S.C.).
This week I’ve had a lot of “planning ahead” conversations: planning youth events farther out into the year, a swanky “sweetheart” dinner for couples in late February (Sat. Feb. 26 to be exact), and already looking ahead to Ash Wednesday, the season of Lent, and some creative worship ideas in Lent and maybe beyond! Friends, there is a lot of promise for the future for St. Mark’s! I say that not only because of events on a calendar, or exciting conversations about worship, or opportunities to serve in the community. I offer that there is a future filled with promise because of the awesome ways that the Holy Spirit is working in and through you, and through the people here at St. Mark’s.
We’ve heard about “spiritual gifts” from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians for several weeks now. In another letter attributed to Paul, to this church in a place called Galatia, we read about the “fruits of the Spirit.” The author writes [Galatians 5:22-25], “22 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
I’ve seen the spirit of love in the outpouring of support for the Milholland family. I’ve seen the spirit of joy in the laughter of youth playing together in the FLC. I’ve seen the spirit of kindness in folks walking up to a face they might not recognize on Sunday morning, introducing themselves and sharing a word of welcome. I’ve seen the spirit of faithfulness in an elected council learning and growing together in retreat. And I’ve seen the spirit of faithfulness in youth eager to share their faith by leading in worship (there’s more to come in that regard…mark your calendars for Youth Sunday on Feb. 27). The Spirit is working in a lot of awesome ways and when all of these fruits of the Spirit are united together in one community, it builds a recipe for fun, faith-filled and impactful ministry!
The Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control be with you all this week!