Thursday, April 25, 2019

Welcome, Carson!

Summer is fast approaching! Just as soon as you get used to warm afternoons and comfortably cool nights, the heat will hit so hard that you will want to go jump in the nearest pool. Summers here at St. Mark can seem pretty quiet, but they are not without excitement. Every year, Vacation Bible School is an incredible achievement for staff and volunteers alike. Teenage students often take trips to places as near as the Dairy Depot in Loves Park and as far as Houston, Texas. And whenever summer fun is afoot, you can bet the Summer Intern is responsible.

This year, we are thrilled to have Carson Davenport join the staff for ten short weeks as our Summer Intern. Carson is finishing up his sophomore year at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he is a history major and a member of the soccer team. He enjoys coaching kids’ soccer and has spent the last two summers working in the Rockford Park District’s summer program. He grew up here at St. Mark and was active both in the youth ministry and as a VBS volunteer. It is a good thing he enjoys hiking and kayaking because he will be leading the high school youth on their trip to Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands in June. Carson will begin his tenure in late May, and you will have a chance to formally welcome him on Sunday, June 2nd.

The Summer Intern program has been a fixture at St. Mark for over 20 years. This paid position is designed to strengthen our youth and children’s ministries while teaching valuable skills to young leaders of the church. It is funded entirely by the St. Mark Endowment. Any church member enrolled in college during the preceding school year is eligible for the internship. Please see Pastor Chad for more details.

Pastor Chad McKenna

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Will You Walk With Me?

Dear friends,

As you receive this edition of our Memos, Easter is a little over a week away.  What might we do with these days leading up to the Resurrection of our Lord?  How can we prepare our hearts and minds to engage in the dramatic narrative that takes us through Holy Week? 

In his book, Leap Over a Wall, Eugene Peterson provides some food for thought:

Jesus knew he was dying long before he actually died.  He deliberately set out for Jerusalem, knowing that death by crucifixion was being prepared for him…a slow death, full of pain.  All the while he was doing that he exhibited in word and presence a wonderful vitality, beauty, and faith. 

There were celebrations with hosannas, conversations full of hope and promise, painful confrontations, tender acts of sacrificial love.  The imminence of death didn’t cancel out the revelation of God in Jesus, but rather gave it added poignancy and power.  And resurrection confirmed it.

The recurring challenge for each of us this time of year is one of perspective. 

  • How deep am I willing to go to immerse myself in this tragic, yet glorious story of death and resurrection? 

  • Will I be a casual observer like so many in our culture?

  • Or, will I elect to be an active participant in the events of Holy Week and Easter? 

  • To put it even more directly, will I let Jesus touch my heart once again?

Whatever mode of engagement you choose, I urge you to be intentional in your spiritual reflections these days leading up to Easter.   Join us in worship, join us in prayer, and join us in the celebration of our risen Lord!

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,...