Holy Week at St. Mark’s

Image of palm frond by Gini George from Pixabay

There are many opportunities to prepare our hearts as we approach Easter and the commemoration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. We hope you’ll join us this week. All in-person worship requires a reservation. All livestream services may be found on our YouTube channel.

From Council President: Thank you!

2021 calendar. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We finally had our annual St. Mark’s congregational meeting on February 21.  Like everything else this past year, a great deal of patience and flexibility was in order. All of my school-age prayers for snow holidays were answered in January and February, resulting in a three-week delay. In God’s Time.

Thank you to everyone who participated either in-person or online. Participation indicates to me that people actually care what is happening at St. Mark’s. We met our quorum and successfully elected Barbara Breisch to Council and approved our 2021 Budget. The votes were unanimous!

I want to take this time to thank our outgoing Council members — Peg Bradley, Karen Hansell, Brian Schmidt and Barbara Sheridan. The Council has done a great job over the past few years keeping St. Mark’s afloat.

There has been a lot of transitioning. We continue to look for Council members. I anticipate this year to be very exciting at St. Mark’s. Do you see yourself as a leader? Please contact me if you feel a call to serve either on Council or on a committee (existing or new). We are open to new ideas.

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Easter-season hymn sing!

Outdoor Hymn Sing with sheet music illustration

We have missed singing together during these days of pandemic. But take heart! John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, has a plan for a new and wonderful way to rejoice this Easter season!

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 11 (the week after Easter Sunday), St. Mark’s will host an outdoor hymn sing in our parking lot.

All are invited to submit their requests for hymns or contemporary worship songs to John via email, phone call or text message. He will make the selections and assemble a music packet for distribution.

If the weather goes south, the event will move to Sunday, April 18.

Get ready to sing your heart out!

Sharing God’s blessings with all

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When we share the blessings God has given us, powerful things happen! We honor Him and share in His work of provision and reconciliation.

St. Mark’s supports and partners with many other groups in service to our Lord and our community. Your gifts are important to these efforts and greatly appreciated. We offer below a list of such opportunities, including the monthly focus approved by St. Mark’s Council and a special 24-hour appeal for EDGE for Tomorrow that starts March 4.

St. Mark’s monthly giving targets include:

January – Family Promise
February – EDGE for Tomorrow (more details below)
April – Lutheran Volunteer Corp & Bowlathon
May – Kairos (prison ministry)
June – Sojourners’ Place/LCS Gimme Shelter Golf
July – LIFE (Lutherans Involved in Food Emergencies)
August – Youth Group
September – Lutheran Community Services & Walkathon
October – ELCA World Hunger
November – Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center

To make a designated gift, you may:

  • Note the designation on your weekly church envelope in the “Special Appeal For:” section
  • Indicate your distribution in the memo on your check or include a note with your check.
  • If you give electronically, you may include a memo or notation to specify the designation.

In addition to these ministries, the Delaware-Maryland Synod, of which St. Mark’s is a part, is in the midst of its 2021 Lenten Appeal, which continues through April 5. Every dollar given will be matched during this time, up to $40,000. These gifts support the synod’s Ministry Fund, helping to build local ministries for the future.

About EDGE for Tomorrow and the DoMore24 campaign March 4-5

EDGE for Tomorrow is thrilled to participate in the monumental DoMore24 statewide campaign, 24 hours during which your gift has extra impact. The period runs from 6 p.m. March 4 to 6 p.m. March 5. This can have a great impact on EDGE’s ability to remain nimble and continue to meet the needs of the low-income children and families we serve in Edgemoor Gardens, Bellevue and Bellefonte during the most tumultuous year of our organization’s history.

Check out our campaign page by clicking here and set up a reminder to donate. Please help us all do more together. Thank you for your support!

EDGE for Tomorrow was founded in 2011 as an outreach ministry of
our neighbor, Presbyterian Church of the Covenant (PCOC). Primary funding comes from private foundations and government grants, along with individual donations and fund-raising events. EDGE provides after-school care, addresses food insecurity, and advocates and supports the marginalized in our community.EDGE for Tomorrow logo
Located in PCOC’s building at 503 Duncan Rd, EDGE After-School is for children in grades K through 5 who attend Mount Pleasant Elementary School, offering:
  • Virtues-based programming and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that teaches good citizenship, social skills, empathy and kindness,
  • Tutoring and enrichment activities with specialized reading and math help,
  • Homework help, healthy snacks and physical activities, and
  • STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning to enrich skills needed for reading, math, geography, science and the arts.

COVID-19 forced us to be creative and adaptive when our schools went all virtual in September, stepping up and opening an in-person Remote Access Learning Hub; a safe place to provide students’ academic support with much-needed emotional and social enrichment.

The Hub helps up to 18 at-risk students access school Monday thru Friday. EDGE offers students technical support and encouragement during the online school day, two nutritional meals and a snack from Brandywine School District, recreational activities in the fresh air, and emotional support through activities such as yoga, team building, and arts programming.

When the school day ends, students stay for three hours of after-care, where The Music School of Delaware’s MELODY program provides an outlet for kindergarten through grade 2 students to experience the art of music through Rhythm, a Bucket Band percussion group, and the violin. Grades 3 through 5 participate in Bucket Band and gain enrichment through art, creative writing, yoga, storytelling, and STEM using learning tools that build self-esteem, confidence, resilience and coping mechanisms that are so necessary in addressing the effects of childhood trauma and stress.

Lenten devotionals

A person studying the Bible

Interim Pastor David Mueller, in collaboration with John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, will host brief meditations on our YouTube channel every Wednesday throughout the Lenten season. These prerecorded messages will begin at 7 p.m. You can join in by clicking on the image below.

Midweek Extra: Family Promise ministry with Barb Gilbert and Pam Waters

Pastor David Mueller talks with Pam Waters and Barbara Gilbert

Two familiar faces joined Interim Pastor David Mueller for the “Midweek Extra” — Barb Gilbert and Pam Waters. Both have been leading our ministry with Family Promise, which provides shelter for families who find themselves in need of temporary housing in northern New Castle County.

St. Mark’s has been part of this effort for a few years, providing meals and other services at the Family Promise site on Milltown Road for one week each quarter. Barb and Pam share much more about this work and the impact it is having in the lives of many.

You’ll find the segment on our YouTube channel by clicking on the link below.

 

Icy forecast closes St. Mark’s Sunday Feb. 14

Interim Pastor David Mueller

Because of a predicted ice storm, St Mark’s building will not be open Sunday February 14.

Instead, the 10 a.m. worship service was recorded Saturday and that recording will be available on our YouTube channel. You can also access the service by clicking the link below. Many thanks to Interim Pastor David Mueller, John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, and Greg Landrey, liturgist, for their quick response.

Don’t forget: The Annual Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, immediately following the 10 a.m. service.

Annual meeting postponed to Sunday February 7

Council President Kitty Dombroski

Because of the anticipated snowstorm, the annual meeting of the St. Mark’s congregation has been postponed to Sunday, February 7, immediately following the 10 a.m. worship service in the sanctuary and live on our YouTube channel.

If you plan to attend in person you must call the office — (302) 764-7488 — to reserve your spot, even if you typically worship in-person. Because of COVID-19 safety recommendations, we are limiting the number of people who may attend in-person.

By now you should have received your Annual Meeting Packet in the mail. I have added the instructions for attending and voting here:

The Annual Congregational Meeting will be held Sunday, February 7,  immediately following the 10 a.m. service. You may participate in the meeting in person in the Sanctuary or electronically (YouTube). There is a paper ballot to vote on a new Council member and approval of the 2021 Budget. We will also have copies on site. All ballots must be delivered onsite by the voter. You must vote in person. That means if you are participating electronically, you must come to St. Mark’s to submit your ballot. Ballots will be collected in the parking lot immediately after the meeting until 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 7. You will not need to leave your car, but you must be present. No proxy or absentee ballots can be accepted.

I strongly encourage you to attend the annual meeting, either in person or via YouTube. St Mark’s Church is our church and we need everyone to participate for us to be successful in mission for Christ! The Council and budget must be approved by you.

I anticipate 2021 will be an exciting year for us and I am looking forward to getting started!

Kitty Dombroski, president, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Midweek Extra: The Rev. Clarence Pettit

The Rev. Clarence Pettit

The Rev. Clarence Pettit of Unity Lutheran Church in Wilmington joined Interim Pastor David Mueller for another Midweek Extra discussion of race.

He talked about protests, about the January 6 riot at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. and about changes needed in the church and society to make good on the principle that “all are created equal.”

Pastor Mueller chose to begin this video with Pastor Pettit asking the questions, rather than the other way around.

Here’s a link to the conversation:

 

 

A Christmas meditation

Stylized star of Bethlehem

Interim Pastor David Mueller shared a four-part meditation on Christmas Eve. We include the text here and a link (below) to the archived service on our YouTube channel. Our worship, led by John Lasher, director of music and worship arts, included a chime choir and guest violinist Maria Rusu.

Christmas Eve 2020

Interim Pastor David Mueller

PART I: JOSEPH

In Matthew’s report, I would like to focus on Joseph. The predicament he was in was hardly simple and easily dealt with. Especially back then, the appearance of an unmarried young woman carrying a child would have been more than a disaster. The shame and shunning would have been severe.

Mary came to Joseph and reported that she was pregnant and the Father was God. She claimed that the Holy Spirit impregnated her. We cannot be sure that Joseph would have understood that because the Holy Spirit’s advent would not come until Pentecost over three decades later. Perhaps this was a special appearance. Joseph’s first impression had to be “Yeah, right!”

We are told, however, that he was a “righteous man.” We learn here he was also a sensitive and compassionate man, for he had no designs on embarrassing or disgracing her or himself. His design was to resolve his dilemma privately. We can call Joseph not only righteous but honorable.

Enter a messenger from God, which is what the word “angelos” means. The angel shared past prophesy and present purpose in a dream leading Joseph to do what was righteous and honorable in the extreme by sticking with Mary.

It is important to be righteous and honorable, which does not presume perfection and without sin. It is equally important to believe in angels, one of whom you could experience one day.

PART II: MARY

“In those days Mary set out ….” (Luke 1:39). “In those days, a decree went out ….” Joseph went with the pregnant Mary. Their political pilgrimage took them over 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We are not offered a time frame here, knowing only that they made it just in time, for upon arrival her baby was born. Please understand that there were no hotels, motels, or Air B&Bs in those days. Many houses had a niche in the back on the ground floor with a roof over it as a place for animals at night. Bethlehem is over 2,800 feet above sea level and got quite cool — even cold — at night.

A great deal, all of it positive, was to be said about Mary, this early teenager, now married to a man most likely in his late 20s or early 30s, which was typical back then. None of these accolades means she was perfect. What stands out to me, having made the same trip any number of times in a car, is how tough and resilient this young woman must have been. The pregnancy was difficult in a contextual way. The trip was grueling to say the least. At the end of the journey, she was not rushed to delivery and then given a comfortable bed in maternity with the nursery right next door.

When Mary began this saga, she was visited by an angel, this time named “Gabriel.” “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you … Do not be afraid.” Gabriel went on to share the holiest of Holy Spirit activity, being told that “The power of the Most High” would overshadow her and she would give birth to the “Son of God.”

It is a very good thing that God was with her to empower her because she would need every ounce of God-given strength, courage and, yes, resilience.

To be favored by God is often not easy. It is a very good thing that this favored one came quickly to believe in angels.

PART III: SHEPHERDS

Speaking of angels, A WHOLE HOST appeared to some number of shepherds — of all people — making all kinds of heavenly racket with heavenly light shining bright enough to make it seem like day. These guys in this humble duty might typically get to see a wolf or two or some other beast of prey from which they needed to protect the sheep. It was usually a quiet and possibly boring a task. Not on this night! Boom! Heaven opened up to be witnessed not by the upper crust but to shepherds. We should not be surprised by this for, indeed, the One born would grow up to proclaim himself among other things as “The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep.”

It was a good thing that prior to the throng of angels making themselves seen, heard and known, just one appeared first to soften the shock. The Angel spoke those incredibly inviting words, spoken previously also to Joseph and Mary: “Do not be afraid!” The angel then shared: “I have GOOD NEWS of great joy not only for you and all people; you are getting not just any savior but the Messiah!”

It is a very good thing that these shepherds came to believe in angels. It was an even better thing that immediately following their encounter with the majestic they said to one another “let us go … and see.” And after seeing they were given to “glorifying and praising God.”Going to praise and share the news is our privilege as well.

Take the angels out of the carols we usually sing — but cannot this year — and we get musical Swiss cheese, with holes one could drive a herd of sheep through. That said, heavenly racket is one thing and blasting out the carols is another, but especially now what we long for is a little light and a quiet night. Nothing else we traditionally do on Christ’s Mass is more precious than to dim the artificial, light the candles and quietly sing “Silent Night.” We will do our best with that in a few. If even in an unusual way, we failed to give this a try, something quite essential would be missing. At a time in history where heavenly racket seems strangely absent but the volume of hellish racket has been turned up, do enjoy, indeed, rejoice in the relative quiet and peace!

PART IV: THE WORLD

The Gospel of John is absent the characters of Matthew and Luke. There is this cosmic beam of light that invades darkness, along with love that invades hate, and life that invades death.

Those then and now who see and welcome the light are “given power to become children of God, born not of blood, the will of flesh, or the will of humanity, but of God.”

Jesus here is not “the babe” but the “Word” (logos in Greek, THE word), who “became flesh and lived among us … full of grace and truth.”

On this Christ’s Mass Eve, I pray for each and all of you to be full of gratia and alaethea, grace and truth. Beware, however, for in Matthew 24:23/24 we read:

“Then if anyone says to you, ’Look! Here is the Messiah’ or ‘There he is!’ — do not believe it for false messiahs and false prophets will appear …  to lead astray even the elect.”

In faith and with joy, we need to avoid the “pseudochristoi” (false Christs) and celebrate the aleatheachristoi (true Christ). May it be so with all of you!

May you know the peace and the power of God in the presence of His Son, God’s personal Word.

Amen.

Link to the service: