Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Giving Thanks Beyond the Table

I know a woman who will be spending Thanksgiving alone this year. It is not because she is without family or friends who would save her a seat at their tables. She has to work. Even as the majority of folks in our nation are sitting down for a leisurely feast, the world keeps spinning. A lot of work goes into making Thanksgiving a success, and only some of it happens in the kitchen. 

Sometimes, giving thanks at this yearly feast can be a bit abstract. Families go around the table and give general words of gratitude. We state the obvious fact that we’re grateful for family and friends and thank the cooks and God for the food before digging into those marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes.

Do you know where the food in your Thanksgiving feast is coming from? I don’t mean which store the stuffing mix was bought at or which of your relatives is bringing the pie. I mean the potatoes and the green beans. Who was the farmer who cultivated the cranberries or tended the turkeys? Over the years we have sugar-coated the story of the first Thanksgiving, but one fact that has not been lost is who provided the food for whom. When the immigrants from Europe gave thanks, it was for the native farmers who fed them.

Every thing we have comes first from God. And unless you are expecting a turkey to ring your doorbell Thursday morning and casually crawl into your oven, every thing we have also comes through the stewardship of God’s people. Someone painted the china and wove the tablecloth. There will be attendants at the gas station while you journey to your family. 

God does not demand our gratitude for the good things we have. You won’t suddenly lose your freedom if you fail to give thanks. But, we make the world a more open and peaceful place when we acknowledge the gifts God gives us as well as the people who work behind the scenes. From farmers and store clerks to utility workers and machinists, there are countless people who deserve our gratitude as much as anyone this Thanksgiving.

Let us not forget the unseen hands of our neighbors who make our food enjoyable and keep the world in motion. Let us think beyond the table to all those who may not be present, but whose lives have given us so many reasons to give thanks.


Pastor Chad McKenna

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New Changes

As with most things these days, there is always room for improvement.  This is especially true when it comes to communication.  The drastic rate of change in the means and methods of communication leaves many gasping for breath.  It can be hard to keep up with the swift advances of technology and their myriad applications.  As a congregation, we need to stay current with these changes so that our communication with you and the community remains effective and inclusive.

After much consultation, we are making a few changes to better accommodate our methods of communication.  Specifically, the Memos newsletter you received via email every other week will now be sent to you weekly.  We will refer to it as the “Weekly Memos.”  Thus, we will no longer have need to send you separate weekly “announcements.”  Following this week’s Memos publication, the front-page Pastors’ articles will be moved from the Weekly Memos to the home page of our St. Mark web site.  This will encourage members and guests alike to visit our web site for more comprehensive information and articles.  The new Pastors’ Blog will also contain previously-posted Pastors’ articles, thus creating a valuable archive that will remain accessible for future referral.  Also, our Sunday bulletins now include the weekly prayer list and several pertinent announcements inside the back cover.  As you can see, there is no reduction of communication.  We are simply consolidating our various means of communication to make it easier for you to receive it.

Speaking of communication, former St. Mark Pastor, Wayne Viereck, has written a book, Then is Now: Reading the New Testament in the 21st Century.  Here is a description from Amazon.com: “Wayne R. Viereck has been a pastor for fifty-five years. During his decades of service with different Lutheran and community congregations, he confronted the same questions over and over, reminding him of his own days in the seminary. Like the members of his congregation, he too had many questions about the interpretation of scripture and its modern applications. Viereck remembers his disappointment as instructors chastised him for asking too many questions and his joy at discovering there were others who celebrated and encouraged his natural curiosity. Viereck’s new biblical study, Then Is Now, is in honor of all those curious congregants. He hopes that his work not only answers your questions about the New Testament but fires you up and inspires you to dig deeper into scripture. Viereck provides an in-depth examination of the birth, passion, and resurrection accounts found in the Gospels. He shows how the Bible can be seen through both first-century and twenty-first-century lenses.”

Wayne’s book is available for purchase through Wilma Reinke between Sunday services in the narthex on Nov. 12 & 19 ($10 for an autographed copy that will be shipped directly to you), as well as through direct purchase on your own (no autograph) at Amazon.com.  It’s great reading!

Walking this journey of faith with you,

Pastor Mark Hagen

Looking Back

Dear St. Mark friends, 2019 is a year I will never forget.   On January 13 of last year, my second granddaughter, Madlyn Olivia Hagen,...