A Message from Pastor Dave
Thank you God for the cosmos and all colors. Thank you God for pumpkins, pecans, potatoes (sweet) and all the delicious foods of this season. Thank you God for the farmers and gardens, the soil and harvesters, bakers and cooks and for daily bread. Thank you God for grandma’s recipes. Thank you God for family and faith, freedom and friendships. Thank you God for words and wonders, water and thunder, the seen and unseen. Thank you God for birth and baptism; for voices of laughter and hearts of love and hands of labor. Thank you God for treasures and genes, music and mercy, St. Mark’s and all saints. Thank you God for my dad’s birth on this day. Thank you God for those who serve and for first responders and Psalm 23. Thank you God for trees and shelter, home and homecomings. Thank you God for your most gracious gifts and forgiveness of our sins and Jesus, Savior, Emmanuel and the Holy Spirit. – Pastor Dave (2021)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7
To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything. - Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (1956)
Continue / To let gratitude be the pillow / Upon which you kneel to / Say your nightly prayer / And let faith be the bridge / You build to overcome evil / And welcome good
- Maya Angelou, “Continue” (2016)
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. - Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations for Codependents (1990)
O my God, let me, with thanksgiving, remember, and confess unto Thee Thy mercies on me. - St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions (c. 397-400)
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. - Psalm 107:1-3
15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’[f] feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” - Luke 17
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen. - Martin Luther
A Message from Pastor Dave
Thank you St. Mark’s for your worship, welcome, and witness, especially over the last several weeks that included Reformation/Confirmation, All Saints, and New Members Sundays! We remembered our baptism into Christ Jesus, celebrated and blessed nine confirmands, remembered the blessings of the Saints who lived and served among us, and we welcomed new co-workers into this faith place. Emmie Wemyss was also baptized on November 13 and this weekend we will welcome Mia Alexandra Hatch and Sloan Ivy Cooper into the body of Christ through Holy Baptism! We worship, welcome, and witness with faith, hope and love in Jesus’ name.
Jesus has shown us how to do this, as have others. If All Saints Sunday had not changed the lectionary, we would have read Mark 12:41-44. Those verses tell the story of a poor widow who came to the Temple and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Jesus watched her, then said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
The widow is an excellent example of worship, witness and faith, hope and love. Who does she remind you of, widowed or single, young or old? Who do you think of – in addition to yourself – as someone who is a model of worship, welcome, witness, faith, hope and love? How often have we heard the widow’s story, and then increased our weekly contribution a few dollars? What this woman did seems to us a leap of faith—a giant mighty leap—and we do not know what happened to her or her copper coins after that. We also are asked to take leaps of faith in our lives, sometimes with our money, sometimes with other parts of our lives. Perhaps that leap is to reach out and get to know a confirmand or a new member, to walk with them in faith, hope, and love. Perhaps it is to contribute a special Thanksgiving offering or year-end financial gift. Like the widow, we often do not know whether our contribution or our actions were beneficial to others or not. Or we may only find out years later. That is also faith and hope. Hope that we were able to help and faith that it was the right thing to do at the right time.
Thank you for returning your “Committed & Engaged” forms for 2022. Thank you for your participation at the Congregation Meeting this past Sunday. Thank you for your worship, welcome and witness, your faith, hope and love. You, the Communion of Saints, make a difference in the life of St. Mark’s, in the lives of the baptized, and in the kingdom of God.
A Message from Pastor Vern
“I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.” (Ephesians 3:19)
Love…. Christ’s love…. When you think about that love, the love of Jesus, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s a spouse or partner. Maybe it’s the wisdom of a family member or neighbor that was shared with you sitting on front porch swing one Carolina summer evening. Maybe Christ’s love takes you to that view of standing in the surf looking out to the horizon at the beach, or the endless canvass of those rolling blue ridge mountains from a cabin. Maybe Christ’s love is in the smell and taste of granny’s apple dumplings or broccoli casserole. Maybe Christ’s love is that classmate that cried with you when your teammate died in an accident. Maybe Christ’s love is in the pastor, counselor, or friend who held space with you as you opened up for the first time about your parent who abused you at home, or helped guide you through the conversation of if your marriage be reconciled or not. Maybe Christ’s love surrounds you in the melody of singing “Thine is the Glory” on an Easter morning or “Silent Night” in the darkness of a candlelit room at Christmas where the only discernable color was the vibrant red of 100 poinsettias.
Has an experience or moment been triggered in your mind? An experience where Christ’s love was palpable? Ephesians 3:19 is an invitation to experience the boundless love of Jesus, so wonderful that it can’t be measured. This Ephesians text is also the central text for an experience that several of our young people at St. Mark’s are going to have the opportunity to take part in - The ELCA Youth Gathering in the summer of 2022.
Next summer, thousands of 8th-12th graders from all across the country will gather in the Lutheran mecca known as Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota, at US Bank field (home of the Minnesota Vikings) where they will have the opportunity, the experience to hear, see, know, and feel Christ’s boundless love for them through worship, through service, through prayer, and through building and nurturing relationships.
My hope and prayer is that just as that moment that came to your mind earlier that you quickly recalled, that moment of knowing Christ’s love, this experience, this Youth Gathering will be one of those moments in the minds of our young people for the rest of their lives where they say - “There, at US Bank field, in Minneapolis, in the summer of 2022, that is where I experienced Christ’s love.”
In months to come you are going to hear A LOT about Youth Gathering. You will have an opportunity to be a part of making this experience a reality for 8th-12th graders at St. Mark’s. We will need your prayers, your financial generosity and participation in fundraising, your encouragement and words of support, all so that just as you were able to recall that moment where Christ’s boundless love flooded your memory, together we can create that experience for Christ’s boundless love to be experienced by some of the youth among us.
Think again about that moment where you experienced Christ’s love… and know that love that you felt then, is with you right now, wherever you are, and is with you wherever you go.
Peace to you in the boundless love of Christ,
A Message from Pastor Dave
Mark Relyea spoke Sunday about being called. His story and his words were heartfelt about how he was called to follow Christ with Young Life and with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Thank you, Mark, for sharing that. You gave and give us a good example of following and serving – using your gifts in finance to help the church, using your gifts in faith, hope and love to help your family and neighbors.
Nine young people were confirmed this past Sunday. They listened to Mark. They heard about being called too. Mara, Kaelyn, Brooklynn, Maggie, Niko, Charlie, Benjamin, Jacob, and Liam – all gifted by God and blessed with the Holy Spirit to “serve all people following the example of Christ Jesus.” (Affirmation of Baptism promise #4). “Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism?” They responded:” I will and I ask God to help and guide me.”
During the Reformation, Martin Luther argued that a HOLY CALLING was not just reserved for those in ordained ministry; it belonged to everyone. We call it the “priesthood of all believers.” Too often we reduce the meaning of that to ministry done by lay people at, with, and for the church. Yes, you are valued and needed here at St. Mark’s!
However, Luther also stated that this holy calling extended far beyond church and into our homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods – that we could and can and do serve Christ in a variety of ways and places. He lifted up his wife Katie as one of many role models living out a holy calling. In Ruth Tucker’s “First Lady of the Reformation” she writes: Katie “was a farmer and a brewer with a boarding house the size of Holiday Inn. All that with a large family and nursing responsibilities. She was far more than a simple housewife. In reality, she was what we would consider today a manager of a mid-size business with low intensity production.”
Jesus, Mark, Martin and Katie are all inviting us this November to consider how, when, where, and to what we are called; how we will serve the Lord again this day. Good and Gifted Confirmands and Good and Gifted Church – to be honest – You are needed to serve Christ in, with, and through St. Mark’s AND You are needed to serve Christ in your home and workplace and world!
Let’s take our lead from the confirmands and also answer affirmatively: I will and I ask God to help and guide me with my financial commitment to St. Mark’s; with my physical commitment to St. Mark’s; with my spiritual commitment to St. Mark’s; and in my personal commitment to Jesus Christ, I will do my part with “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”