A Message from Pastor Dave
Dear church, thanks be to God for you! We have much to be thankful for at St. Mark’s and much in the works for 2022. We have a Congregation Meeting coming up on January 30 for conversation about new ministry initiatives like starting a Youth Committee separate from the Faith Formation Committee, and to elect an Endowment Committee, among other things to consider.
With regards to the Endowment Committee, I read recently about Grace Lutheran Church in Hendersonville, N.C. They had received a generous bequest from the estate of Millie Poppendick to establish a Facilities Endowment Fund. Millie’s bequest totaled $500,000 of which $350,000 established the endowment and the council later added $150,000 in undesignated funds to bring the total endowment to $500,000. The earnings from the endowment will help care for their church facilities. This very generous bequest came as a surprise to the congregation, council and staff!
St. Mark’s is always open for those kind of good surprises too. However, to prepare for those good surprises, and also to prepare for not-so-good facilities surprises, St. Mark’s is also establishing an endowment committee with some seed money courtesy of David Milholland and Jeff Shoe.
This endowment means that the corpus of the endowment will grow and only the earnings will be used. The endowment will hopefully free up more funds for ministry in the congregation. The unique thing about leaving a bequest in your will or making a planned gift is that you retain use of the funds during your lifetime, and then they go to St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at your death. You don’t have to give $500,000 like Millie did, but be assured that whatever you do share for the church endowment, it will be used to build up God’s kingdom through the ministries of St. Mark’s.
In the Bleak Midwinter
A Message from Pastor Dave
On Monday morning, January 3, after a balmy New Year’s Eve and day, the winds blew, the rain fell, and snow too. The storm knocked out electricity in and around St. Mark’s. The fierceness of the winds through the night reminded me of Pentecost in Acts 2; and Jesus’ story about the house built on the rock. After that thought, I remembered this winter hymn. We did not have “snow on snow, snow on snow” but we did just celebrate “grace upon grace” (John 1:16) on the first Sunday of the new year.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heav'n and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign;
in the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him - give my heart.
ELW 294 Text by Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1830-1894
What can I possibly give him, the God who came to live among us and even joins us in our bleak midwinters? This is the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of us all. Everything we have flows from the gracious hand of the One who breathes Word into our midst and Spirit into our beings.
So what I can give him? What can we give him? Tomorrow, January 6, we remember the Magi bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to him. But the common starting point for anyone who wishes to welcome Jesus and to give him something….is to “give my heart.”
From there flows everything else we do, whether giving a lamb, or money, or sharing our time and abilities. I commend these words of Romans 12:1 from The Message Bible: “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
Thank you St. Mark’s and St. Mark’s Hearts – for all you gave to him in 2021 through your hearts and hands, your time and service, your dollars and tithes, your prayers and songs, your grace and faith!
Join me in prayer: Lord Jesus, as you have given me your all, I give you my heart. May my everyday, ordinary life be an acceptable offering to you, blessing you and all whom I encounter. Amen.
Pastor Dave Keck