Monthly Archives: July 2020

Virtual Bulletin – 8/2

9th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – August 2, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Maybe you don’t feel this, but it is a constant sense that I have – time telescoping.  Some months fly by you wonder where they have gone.  At other times a day or even an hour seems endless.  The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life I think are something like that.  The standard length of time for Jesus’ ministry is roughly 3.5 years, from his baptism until Holy Week.  On the one hand 3.5 years can disappear in a blink.  And reading the Gospels, especially Mark, you can get the impression that it was a 3.5 year madcap adventure without stop.  But that just isn’t reality.  That isn’t how we absorb time or move through it.  There had to be down days.  Or days that felt like a repetition.  Or days that they just tuned out and walked the road.

The Gospel of Matthew captures that in an interesting way.  The ministry of Jesus was itinerant which is just a fancy way of saying it moved.  And the rhythm of that ministry I imagine was a week to week thing.  Jesus would stop at a village, preach, perform miracles and move on to the next village.  On the Sabbath he’d show up at the main Synagogue of the area.  He’d probably be preaching the same “sermon” for most of that week.  Tweaking it here and there.  It would be new for most of the crowds, but already heard for the disciples and the parts of the crowds that were following.  Matthew in my reconstruction captures that rhythm by presenting Jesus’ sermon – say the sermon on the mount, the first main one – and then some of the activity that happened while Jesus was preaching that sermon in village after village.  So you get a recount of various healings, miracles and private confrontations.  When that cycle has played out, Matthew presents the next sermon.

We’ve just completed the Parable Sermon which is the third of five.  And for the next few weeks we are reading the miracles and events that are associated with that.  If my reconstruction is right, we are roughly around year 2.  Probably just before the middle to just after the middle.  And all theology is really learned in the living.  What is the experience of the Reign of Heaven like in the middle of time, in the middle of this world?  You still lose friends.  John the Baptist is killed is the first happening.  But the Lord still provides abundantly: feeding 5000, healing those of Gennesaret (which has an interest parallel of casting the legion into the swine), all the while confronting traditions (cue Tevye) some of which are maintained in the Reign and others which are cast away as the “leaven of the Pharisees”.  We will be reading some of that over the coming weeks.

The pondering and the prayer here are what is the Reign of Heaven like for you in the midst of Coronatide?  How is Jesus asking us to trust His providence?  What traditions have we carried until now that maybe should change?  What be reaffirmed?  What mourning do we have to do that has been put off?  In the middle of our days, may we not be lost, but find the way of the Reign that leads through.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  Aug 3rd – August 9th

Tuesday: ………………   8:00am    Carpet Cleaning

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We finished Zechariah.  We will be starting Malachi and so finishing the book of the short prophets.  Live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Confirmation:  Will return in the fall – September
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Preliminary, it looks like we will meet on Wednesdays, starting September 9th at 7 PM.  We will be on the Zoom line.
  • Sunday Morning: I will have some further info in this next week.
  • Catechism Moment: Ok, I promise.  My “summer break” is over.  This is back next week.

Savers Delivery

Thank you to Sylvia Bayer for helping to load, Dee Dee and Wayne Warriner, Jerry Gardner, Ellen and Mindy for delivering our haul to Savers.

THANK YOU

To Wayne Warriner who heroically tackled the thistle grove that was threatening to take over the ivy patch on the hill next to our back steps.  Your efforts are appreciated!

MOWING CALENDAR

It is mowing season again (it beats shoveling season!) and at St. Mark we ask the men of the congregation to donate a few hours to cut the grass.  The good news is that we have a riding lawn mower for the majority of the work.  This summer’s mowing calendar is now posted on the bulletin board (across from the Conference Room windows); please take a moment to look at it and enter your assigned date on your personal calendar.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

Leadership Boards Summer Break

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting. Council will be taking off July.

You are His Treasured Possession

Biblical Text: Matthew 13: 44-52

This is the close of the parable sermon. And I’ve got a little bone to pick with how these are typically preached. They are typically preached as law. Now the law is good. Seeing Christ as the treasure encourages a fine piety, and piety is a good thing. But it is also something that ultimately fails. No, the person doing the action in the parables is almost always Jesus. Who is the treasure? Who is the pearl of great price? It is you. Christ sold everything he had to redeem you. The rest of the sermon teases out some of the implication.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/26

July 26, 2020 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – July 26th, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Deuteronomy 7:9 is one of the great revelations of the Bible.  “Know that Yahweh (the revealed name of the entity encountered in the fire-y and cloudy pillar and the signs and wonders of the Exodus) your God is THE God.”  There is no other and you have encountered Him.  But just who or what is this entity?  I’m a Sci-Fi fan, and in this weird spring and summer the comedy relief has been the trickle of news about UFO’s.  My guess is that I could offend more people by stating an opinion about aliens than preaching heresy.  But my joke about the UFO’s is that the mere existence of aliens doesn’t really matter.  What matters is what kind of aliens they are.  Are they Independence Day destroyers of worlds?  Goa’uld parasite enslavers? Or Asgardian protectors?   It is nice knowing you have met THE God, but what kind of God is He?

“The God, the reliable one.”  What is he reliable about?  “The one who keeps the covenant”.  This God is reliable about the covenant.  What covenant is this? “The one of steadfast love to his loved ones”.   This is the basis of the covenant.  God loved them.  God loved us.  He sought us out.  He is a God who chooses.  And He has chosen this people as his treasured possession.  Not for anything worthy in us, but because of who He is and his promise.  The only rock in all creation.  And he has chosen you.  “And to the ones who keep His commands to a thousand generations.”  It is tacked on there.  It is not a quid pro quo or anything like that.  It is more the rules of the house.  The steadfast love of the covenant has come to you.  You have been redeemed from the house of slavery.  Do you want to live like a prince, or go back to slavery?  This is how the house of the King, your house, operates.

That is what I mean about a great revelation.  Ancient Israel had to take that on faith.  God took them out of Egypt, but would he stick with them?  He said he would – to a thousand generations.  We live on the far side of that. In the story of Israel we can see that Yahweh is a God of steadfast love.  He is the reliable one.  Whatever we need, ask.  Ask and it will be given.  His steadfast love rests on you in Christ.  Ask Him.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 27th – August 2nd

Mon., Wed., Fri.: ……… 8:00am     Summer Camp (Preschool)

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Friday: ………………..  10:00am    delivery to Savers in Webster

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

THANK YOU

To Wayne Warriner who heroically tackled the thistle grove that was threatening to take over the ivy patch on the hill next to our back steps.  Your efforts are appreciated!

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: We are reading the book of Zechariah, the OT Revelation and the most quoted from book in the passion accounts in the NT.  We are up to Chapter 12, both live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: Will return in the fall – September
  • Sunday Morning: We’ve taken a little break, which I’ve needed to make sure things are set up prior to service. This will return, but it might be September as well.  Pending the pandemic course, there are some things with our Sunday schedule that we might have to address.
  • Catechism Moment: Sorry for missing a couple of weeks. I took some days off to install some flooring (thanks Abel!).

SAVERS DELIVERY … July 31st

LAST CHANCE to bring in your donations of clothes (accessories and shoes) and household fabrics.

MOWING CALENDAR

It is mowing season again (it beats shoveling season!) and at St. Mark we ask the men of the congregation to donate a few hours to cut the grass.  The good news is that we have a riding lawn mower for the majority of the work.  This summer’s mowing calendar is now posted on the bulletin board (across from the Conference Room windows); please take a moment to look at it and enter your assigned date on your personal calendar.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

Leadership Boards Summer Break

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting. Council will be taking off July.

The Kingdom: As It Is Now

Biblical Text: Matthew 13: 24-43

Oops, I had some problems uploading this and I never came back to finish it after I solved them.

This is the middle sermon of three on Jesus’ parable discourse. It cover mainly the Wheat and the Weeds, although I think the mustard seed and the leaven are important for rounding out the understanding. If the Sower addresses why the Kingdom seems to be failing, or at least encountering heavy opposition, then these address how we are to respond to it. And at this point there are two audiences: a) the disciples and b) the crowds who are on the fence.

Both audiences are encouraged to patience. Don’t take rash action. But each a different type of patience. The disciples to not become “zealots” reaching for a sword. The crowds to watch the leaven/mustard work/grow.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/19/20

July 19, 2020 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – July 19th, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

I’ve got a social media friend who runs a mildly popular joke account – “Atheist Memes but Unironically”.  He follows a bunch of hyper-atheist type accounts who are always posting memes which they think are witty and show the complete failure of the faith.  Showing that the cross is still a scandal, it usually takes center stage.  They find the goriest crucifix or painting – think Grunewald – and slap on a line like “imagine thinking this is God.” My friend retweets it out under “Atheism Memes but Unironically” whose avatar is the three headed “Yes”.  

The hornet’s nest it stirs up is funny.  It is like the bat-signal to atheists to dogpile all the while he says nothing.

The cross is the most popular, but the second most common derives from it.  They usually get some sappy picture of Jesus talking to a little girl.  It is rarely little boys for some strange reason.  And the line is usually something about “You’ll see eventually that the [accident that killed your parents/dread disease/other seemingly non-sensical suffering] was for your good.”  Hyper-Atheists really don’t like suffering of any type, be it the cross or something more common.  Just the fact of it is the proof of God’s ridiculousness. 

Yet the apostle Paul – no stranger to suffering – writes, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope, that creation itself will be set free from its bonding to decay…”.  Paul and the atheists agree that suffering is non-sensical.  We were not made for this.  But where the atheists blame God, yes they blame the person they hold does not exist, the apostle first blames ourselves.  Our sin has brought us and all creation to this point.  The God we should be afraid of is the one who didn’t care, who just let his creation burn.  But the God we have redeemed even the suffering.  He took even the suffering into God. God suffered, and thereby gave us hope.  We suffer a little while, but we hope, “we wait for it with patience”, “all creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” We have been joined to Christ in baptism.  We share the cross, so that we will also share the crown.  And the apostle says the two aren’t comparable.  May our hope rest on this rock, I know of no other.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 20th – July 26th

Mon., Wed., Fri.: ……… 8:00am     Summer Camp (Preschool)

Monday: ……………….. 6:00pm    Women’s Group Mtg at St. Mark/Zoom

                                           6:00pm     Men’s Club Mtg at Gardner Residence

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: : We are reading the book of Zechariah, the OT Revelation and the most quoted from book in the passion accounts in the NT.  We are up to Chapter 10, both live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: Will return in the fall – September
  • Sunday Morning: We’ve taken a little break, which I’ve needed to make sure things are set up prior to service. This will return, but it might be September as well.  Pending the pandemic course, there are some things with our Sunday schedule that we might have to address.
  • Catechism Moment: Sorry I missed a week.  I took a day off this past week and this fell out of the schedule.  Lord’s Prayer stating next Wednesday. 

SAVERS DELIVERY … July 31st

Savers delivery is scheduled for Friday, July 31st at 10am in Webster.  Please contact Mindy or Ellen if you have a large vehicle and are available to drive a load of stuff to Webster.  (Of course, afterwards you are free to ‘Second-hand shop.”)  We are also still accepting donations of clothes (accessories and shoes) and household fabrics.

WOMEN’S GROUP MEETING … July 20th

Several women have expressed an interest in having an in-person meeting, so, with this in mind we will be having a meeting at church on Monday, July 20th for those wishing to join us in person.  Supper will be served at 6pm with social distancing being practiced.  The meeting will commence at 6:30 on Zoom for those who prefer to not to attend in person.  Please contact Mindy if you plan to attend the dinner so we can plan accordingly.

MEN’S CLUB MEETING … July 20th

Jerry Gardner is hosting the Men’s Club at his home on Monday, July 20th at the usual time of 6pm.  The sign-up is posted on the bulletin board or you may call Jerry if you would like to attend.

MOWING CALENDAR

It is mowing season again (it beats shoveling season!) and at St. Mark we ask the men of the congregation to donate a few hours to cut the grass.  The good news is that we have a riding lawn mower for the majority of the work.  This summer’s mowing calendar is now posted on the bulletin board (across from the Conference Room windows); please take a moment to look at it and enter your assigned date on your personal calendar.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

Leadership Boards Summer Break

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting. Council will be taking off July.

Good Soil

Biblical Text: Mathew 13:1-23

Parables are strange little things. Everyone loves a good parable. If there is a part of the bible that remains common knowledge it is probably some of the parables, like the Sower and the Soils. But what makes them strange is that while the crowds might remember them, they don’t really hear them. If you are hearing the parables alone, it is because your ears aren’t working. The understanding, the explanation, only comes by faith. And that understanding is often at great odds with the surface friendliness.

In the case of the Sower and the soils, them point is not really to identify soils which is what we so often do. The point is to recognize the overwhelming grace of the sower. And to understand that you are good soil. You who have heard and accepted the Word, you are good soil and will be made fruitful. Because the Word of God does what it intends.

Virtual Bulletin – 7/12

July 12, 2020 – 6th Sunday after Pentecost

WORSHIP

Everything remains on our current schedule.  10AM, Lord’s Supper for those present.

Bulletin/Worship Link Here – July 12th, 2020

Zoom (same as before): https://zoom.us/j/6458485288

Devotion & Prayer Thought

Part of the package of building our house was one tree in the front yard.  Ours got planted and for a year or two seemed okay, but it never seemed to grow.  And then it started simply to die. It leafed late and shed early.  Then all the branches on one side died.  I cut them off and pitched them and fed around it, hoping that maybe it would figure out ways around.  Meanwhile most of the neighbor’s tress were flourishing.  Finally, as I stared at the pathetic blighted and mangled tree in my front yard, I decided it was time.  We dug it out, cut it up and sent it on its way.  We replaced it with a cherry tree that promises pink flowers in the spring and bright orange leaves in the fall.  No word about the cherries which I assume will be for the birds.

How much of life feels like that poor first tree?  Why did this one fail to thrive while all the others were fine?  Why did everything done to help it do nothing?  Why did it take ten years to do something?  In some ways that is a good metaphor for our life with sin.  We are planted sick.  And all the goodness of the earth can’t change our direction. And our wills are completely tapped.  Why bother if the ground is so bad?  But Isaiah urges another view.  God’s Word goes out and it accomplishes what it intends, it succeeds for what it was sent.  And the Word of God certainly goes out to proclaim the wages of sin which are death.  But the Word of God also goes out  “giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.”  It goes out to change the ground “making it bring forth and sprout…Instead of thorn shall come up the cypress, instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle…it shall make an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

I pray that my little cherry tree will thrive where the prior ground proved unfruitful, that it may not be cut off.  Likewise we pray for the Lord to send the rain and snow of the Word that changes hearts.  “That we might go out in joy and be led forth in peace…and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF:  July 13th – July 19th

Mon., Wed., Fri.: ……… 8:00am     Summer Camp (Preschool)

Thursday: …………….. 10:00am     Bible Study

Sunday: ………………….  9:00am     Bible Study and Sunday School

                                           10:00am    Worship

BIBLE STUDIES

  • Thurs 10am: : We are reading the book of Zechariah, the OT Revelation and the most quoted from book in the passion accounts in the NT.  We are up to Chapter 9, both live in person and on zoom.  Same link as the service.  The start time is 10, but we probably talk 15 mins or so first.  Everyone is invited!
  • Life Application Fellowship (LAF):  Keep a look out here and in your email for future plans for LAF.
  • Confirmation: Will return in the fall – September
  • Sunday Morning: We’ve taken a little break, which I’ve needed to make sure things are set up prior to service. This will return, but it might be September as well.  Pending the pandemic course, there are some things with our Sunday schedule that we might have to address.
  • Catechism Moment: We finished the Creed this past week.  We will be moving on the the Lord’s Prayer.  It is slow work, but I am also moving over prior “Catechism Moment” emails to the church website.  It takes about a year to pray through the catechism weekly.  Eventually I hope to have a current (within the last year) gloss on the entire catechism that we will be updated on that rolling basis.  If you missed an email, or just lost it in the all the rest, it will be on the church website as well. 

SAVERS DELIVERY … July 31st

Savers delivery is scheduled for Friday, July 31st at 10am in Webster.  Please contact Mindy or Ellen if you have a large vehicle and are available to drive a load of stuff to Webster.  (Of course, afterwards you are free to ‘Second-hand shop”)  We are also still accepting donations of clothes (accessories and shoes) and household fabrics.

WOMEN’S GROUP MEETING … July 20th

Several women have expressed an interest in having an in-person meeting, so, with this in mind we will be having a meeting at church on Monday, July 20th for those wishing to join us in person.  Supper will be served at 6pm with social distancing being practiced.  The meeting will commence at 6:30 on Zoom for those who prefer to not to attend in person.  Please contact Mindy if you plan to attend the dinner so we can plan accordingly.

MEN’S CLUB MEETING … July 20th

Jerry Gardner is hosting the Men’s Club at his home on Monday, July 20th at the usual time of 6pm.  The sign-up is posted on the bulletin board or you may call Jerry if you would like to attend.

MOWING CALENDAR

It is mowing season again (it beats shoveling season!) and at St. Mark we ask the men of the congregation to donate a few hours to cut the grass.  The good news is that we have a riding lawn mower for the majority of the work.  This summer’s mowing calendar is now posted on the bulletin board (across from the Conference Room windows); please take a moment to look at it and enter your assigned date on your personal calendar.  Friday or Saturday mowing is the preferred timeframe.  We ask that you make arrangements with someone else on the schedule if you have a previous commitment on the date you are assigned.  There is a white tin in the News Nest that contains a key for the church and the padlock combination as well as Jerry’s cell number for an emergency.  If you have any questions please contact Jerry Gardner.

Leadership Boards Summer Break

Elders are taking off July & August from formal meeting. Council will be taking off July.

Bulletin Note

This goes out to everybody’s email that I have. That email version also contains birthdays, anniversaries, contact info, financial stuff, etc – anything that might contain personal info. I cut out all that stuff for the web version. So, if you want all that stuff, and you aren’t getting it right now, contact me or Mindy and we will make sure your email is on the list.

A God Who Chooses

Biblical Text: Matthew 11:25-30

This is my attempt to preach the doctrine of election which is way outside of the American Overton Window. Which is deeply odd and might explain our historical moment better than anything. For most of American history, the doctrine of election was born in the morrow of Americans. From the Shot heard round the world, through manifest destiny to the early progressive movement, Americans knew in their bones what being chosen was about. As Lincoln himself said “an almost chosen people”. But today, we insist not on a God who chooses, but we are free will maximalists. Which is how we’ve arrived at this deeply troubled day. Because it just ain’t so. The most important things in life aren’t our choices. This sermon, reflecting on Jesus’ words both about the Father’s good pleasure and the easy yoke, is my best attempt to proclaim election, and how it works itself out in time. The biggest step being that God chooses you in this hearing. You can’t choose Him, but he has chosen you. All you can do is opt-out of his grace.