Thursday, October 25, 2018

Affirmation of Baptism 2018

Teaching Confirmation is one of my greatest joys at St. Mark. It can be fun to lead silly games or go on a retreat, but the best part for me is to watch how our middle schoolers mature over the course of two years. Between that first Wednesday night and the day they affirm their faith, some of these kids may grow a foot or two, and all of them increase exponentially in their faith. This Sunday, eight of our teenagers will affirm their faith. And while this moment in their lives is just a snapshot, the Bible verses they have chosen to represent that faith speak volumes of the people they have become. Take some time to read these and pray that God continues to dwell richly in their hearts throughout their vibrant lives.
Pastor Chad McKenna

Alexander Thomas Ferry
1 Corinthians 10:13
God is faithful, and God will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing God will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Logan John Gehrke
John 20:29
Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Jamison Lee Graber
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Brooke Nicole Hamann
Colossians 3:12
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.

Emily Anne Johnson
Psalm 139:13-14
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

Mason Andrew Martin
John 20:29
Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Maggie Layne O’Brien
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

Mason Alexander Westerberg
Psalm 25:4-5
Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Priorities of Blessings

Dear St. Mark friends,

A man had recently purchased new blinds for the windows of his house, only to discover shortly after the installation that a few of the blinds were defective.  Unbeknownst to his wife, he made arrangements for someone to come out to their house and replace them.

The next morning, while he and his family were at the kitchen table eating breakfast, the doorbell rang.  Unaware of the appointment, the man’s wife went to answer the door.  She was greeted by a friendly young man who said, “I’m here for the Venetian blind.”  The woman paused for a few seconds, then asked the man to stay there while she excused herself.

She went to the closet for her purse, dug around until she found some loose cash, then returned to the doorway and pressed the money into the repairman’s hand saying, “God bless you,” as she slowly closed the door.  Upon her return to the kitchen and the family’s inquiry as to who was at the door, the woman answered, “Oh, just somebody collecting donations.”


As we prepare to receive pledges this Sunday in response to Becoming a Welcoming Church, I pray that we will not share in such confusion.  The best way to avoid this is to recall the numerous church mailings and temple talks from recent weeks outlining the specific goals, purposes, and projected outcomes of our stewardship campaign.  I encourage you to consider the multiple ways this ministry impacts our community, including your family and friends. 

Above all, take time to pray for God’s direction in helping you discern what you can do to participate.  Thank you for your generous and continued support of St. Mark’s ministry.  You are making a difference!

Walking this journey of faith with you, 

Pastor Mark

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Serving Side by Side

Last night, our Outreach Committee met for our monthly meeting. It was fairly typical, but something about it struck me differently than in months past. As we went around the table sharing what our various ministries have been up to, I was reminded again just how many opportunities there are to serve God’s people through St. Mark. There is always someone cooking massive meals, sewing quilts, selling school uniforms, and giving generously, and sharing God’s love with the community.

Whether through the church or on your own, it is pretty easy to find a hands-on service project which is all about getting work done. A goal is set, and you work as quickly as you can to meet it. How fast can a group of woodworkers build thirty-one step stools for the elementary school? How many bags of food or necessities can your team package in an hour? Can we decorate a Christmas tree with mittens for folks in need? These are all admirable tasks, and St. Mark people regularly jump at the opportunity to do a bit of busy work for the sake of others. 

There is another style of service, though, that can take your compassion to another level. In many ways, it is simply an extension of the more active types of outreach. Some folks call it accompaniment ministry, though I am sure it goes by other names. Put simply, service projects can take on a whole new meaning when volunteers encounter the very folks they serve. Amateur carpenters work alongside future homeowners with Habitat for Humanity. At open laundry nights, Laundry Love volunteers load machines with quarters and soap as clients add their dirty clothes into the mix. And between all the working moments, those who serve and those who receive service have the opportunity to bond in indescribable ways. They form friendships, and they discover the presence of Christ in one another.

Accompaniment ministry can be difficult if you go into it hoping to complete a whole list of tasks. It takes patience, and it is far from efficient. At the same time, it can leave you with more than a fleeting sense of accomplishment. Like any service event, you may go in hoping to share God’s love with someone. But, those who have worked with groups like Laundry Love, our uniform Co-op, or Becca’s Closet have found that they have received more than they gave. When we work alongside God’s people, we are just as likely to be transformed as those we intended to serve. May you have such an opportunity to live into the good news of Christ’s love for all people.

Pastor Chad

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,...