Archive for the Expired Category

Holy Week Services at St. John

All are welcome to worship with the St. John community:

On Good Friday (April 19), noon until 3, the worship space will be open for a self-guided walk through the 14 Biblical Stations of the Cross as identified by Pope John Paul II in 1991.

At 7:00 p.m. on Good Friday there will be a Tenebrae Service of Shadows, where 14 candles will be extinguished one by one as together we hear and respond to the account of Jesus’ Passion–his betrayal, arrest, trial, suffering, and death on the cross–as recorded in John’s Gospel.

Finally, on Easter Sunday (April 21), we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with two services, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. The former is more traditional, with organ and a full liturgy, as well as a brass quintet for Easter. The latter is more casual, with piano led worship. In between services there will be an Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones led by our youth.

Come join us as we reflect together and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the life of the world!

A Little Bit of Mark in Our Lives

This article is intended to introduce the Gospel of Mark to us as a congregation, primarily because we will be spending most of the year hearing it read during worship on Sunday mornings.

There is a sense of URGENCY in Mark’s Gospel. For starters, it the shortest of the four Gospels (16 chapters), weighing in at a full five chapters than the next shortest, John (21 chapters). No waxing poetic for Mark! While John makes a sort of Throwback Thursday comparison that places Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, back at the beginning of all creation, in the Word God Spoke that brought all things into being, while Matthew and Luke harken back to the beginning of Jesus’ life by telling the story of his birth (along with a couple of genealogies thrown in for good measure), Mark’s beginning is much more to the point:

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
+Mark 1:1

Then he quotes some Scripture and moves on to the coming of John the baptizer (Mark’s name for him, not mine), who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ big entrance. Get in, say what you need to say, get out. That’s Mark’s style. But notice what he’s doing as well in that one, short sentence. The beginning of the good news. Not the beginning and ending. It’s a subtle reminder to his hearers that this good news (aka Gospel) that started in and through Jesus is still going on today, wherever and whenever today might happen to be. It took root and started in a particular place and time, but it is still going on today—in places and times all around the world. Even – or especially – in your own place and time.

No mincing of words, either. It takes all of 110 words and only 5 verses to dispense with John arrival and preaching, which is roughly between half and one-fourth the words/verses the other three Gospel writers use (Matthew: 270/12, John: 348/18, Luke: 478/20). Get in, say what you need to say, get out. After Jesus is baptized and emerges (victorious, we must presume, since Mark characteristically wastes no words telling us) from being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus preaches his first sermon. All thirteen words of it (fifteen in the original Greek). Imagine me giving a thirteen word sermon some Sunday! (Good old Mark, some of you are probably thinking right about now.) Here it is:

“The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news!”
+Mark 1:15

Again, note the urgency. The kingdom of God has come near, almost like a comet comes near a planet before soaring off to some remote corner of the galaxy—or even universe. Better catch it before it’s gone! Jesus is God’s comet, swooping in on us here on planet Earth, bringing with him good news of God’s kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven, good news of a new and different kingdom than that of Caesar, the ruling Roman monarch of the time, good news of deliverance for the poor and outcast of society, those on the outside looking in, those oppressed by the evil that seems so strong.

And then there is one. Little. Word. A word Mark uses like it’s going out of style and he has a closet full he needs to get rid of before it does. The word is euthus in the Greek, usually translated immediately or at once in English. It appears 41 times in Mark’s Gospel—11 times in the first chapter alone! And to give you a wider point of reference, this Greek word appears only ten more times in the rest of the New Testament. That means that in Mark’s Gospel, which comprises just 8% of the New Testament, we find a word whose usage comprises 80% of the word’s use throughout the New Testament. You think maybe this is an important word for Mark? “Follow me.” And immediately they left their nets (and for two of them, their own father) and followed. For Mark, the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus falls upon us like a swooping hawk with claws extended, demanding that we give it our undivided attention. From beginning to end Mark tosses us in a speeding car chase, careening from curve to curve, until we are deposited, breathless, outside the empty tomb with the women, staring open mouthed at a young man who is telling us, proclaiming to us, the good news of God’s kingdom that he is risen, that we are to go and tell, to proclaim to, his once and future disciples this very same, life-transforming good news. Immediately.

May the urgency of this good news surround us as we hear Mark tell his urgent tale in the year ahead, especially this month as the journey of Lent begins February 14, when love and ashes meet and kiss each other.

See you in church!
Pastor Paul

Ugandan Orphans Choir Coming to St. John!

Ugandan Orphans Choir Coming to St. John!
The Ugandan Orphans Choir, a group of ten talented Ugandan children, will be performing at St. John on July 11 at 7:00 p.m., as part of the Three Rivers Festival opening day activities. All ten children have been given hope through Childcare Worldwide’s Sponsorship Program and now they are here to spread that hope to audiences all across the United States. The choir has performed nationwide at churches, schools, at Disneyland, on King 5 Television’s “New Day Northwest,” at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, and on the steps of the White House.

These children delight audiences with traditional African songs and dances. Megan DiRienzo, Curator of Education at the San Angelo Museum of Fine arts says, “All of you have amazing talents, beautiful voices and some serious dance skills! A performance like yours was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We fully support you on your mission to end child poverty!” Mark your calendars now, and also consider whether or not you might be willing to provide housing for 3 days for some of the choir during their stay in Fort Wayne. Look for details on this later this month.


What exactly is a healthy spiritual life? And how do you get one? Is it possible that all the richness of human experience is spiritual? So to live is to experience God. But how then do we take it further and intentionally do what it takes to lean into the presence of God? What does it look like to walk with God every day, in every aspect of your life?

Over 12 weeks this summer, beginning June 15/18, we’ll explore 12 words that speak to the seasons of the spiritual life. Words that we say in times of joy, and words groaned in sorrow. With each of these words, we’ll spend time on both Sunday and Wednesday evening digging into the practices each word represents, and where we see them in the Bible. We begin with ‘Here’ and move clockwise around the circle, ending Aug 31/Sept 3.


St. John’s next New Member Orientation will be held on two consecutive Mondays, February 3rd and 10th, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. each evening.  We’ll start with dessert of some sort.  The course, entitled “Knowing and Showing God’s Love,” is intended for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding and practice of the Christian faith in general, and as a follower of Jesus at and around St. John in particular.


Those non-members attending the orientation will be invited to join St. John on Sunday, February 23rd during the 11:00 a.m. worship, following a brief introduction and welcome with congregational leaders at 10:15 a.m. in Room 101.  If you’re interested in attending this orientation, please register your interest with Jamie Robbins in the church office (426-5751).



Date of Post:  January 5, 2014

Due to the impending snow set to arrive later on today, this evening’s Advent Small Group gathering has been canceled.  If you had already purchased or identified that perfect White Elephant gift to bring, feel free to give it to a neighbor instead!  Happy Twelfth Night, everyone!

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class opportunity @ come2go ministries Jan 12

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class is coming to come2go ministries on Baker Street, just south and east of St. John downtown.
Here are the details, straight from Pastor Mark Minnick:
Dates: Weekly, beginning Sunday, January 12, 2014 through Sunday March 9, 2014 (9 weeks)
Time: 12:15 Sunday with a 90 minute class duration (if everyone can start earlier, we will)
Cost: $100 per family for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Kit. You have until the end of the class to pay for the kit.
Lunch: Pastor Mark will provide chili for the January 12th class. We generally take turns bringing in a soup or snack which we enjoy during the class time. Beverages will be provided.
Any questions? Please let Pastor Mark know if you will be joining us.
Pastor Mark

“Wake up”

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death . . . Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  +Revelation 3:2-3


“Wake up.”  These words can come gently, as when I find myself waking up one of our children from sleep to start her day.  Or sometimes they come urgently, as when Heather notices me getting sleepy at the wheel:  “Wake up!”  During this season of Advent, the Lord Jesus speaks to us in both tones as well.


“Wake up.  Wake up to a world of wonder, a world filled with grace and peace, mercy and hope.  It’s all around you, if you would or could only have the eyes of your heart opened to their presence, like a child is gently awakened to the wonder and beauty of a new day unfolding before her very eyes.


“Wake up!”  You are heading directly into danger!  You must snap out of it now or there will be dire consequences to your health and the health of those around you!  Whether it’s the danger of crazy Christmas consumerism, complacency to the Christ-child who comes, cutting competition (three words:  Christmas light displays), or some other December minefield, you’d better be alert or else you’re headed for a crash.


In each of these calls to wake up, there is a moment, as pregnant as Mary on December 24th with possibilities.  The Bible calls it a kairos moment, sometimes translated as an “opportune” or “right” time.  “At the right time, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6).  “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”  (2 Corinthians 6:2).  These wake up calls are an invitation to step off the maddening treadmill of life long enough to reflect on the patterns and moments of our lives and ask a very important question or two, such as why?  Why am I behaving this way?  Why does this always seem to happen?  Or what?  What might God want to teach me about myself and God’s world in this moment?  Or how?  How might my life as a Beloved Disciple Making Disciples be different moving forward?  Our reflections than can move toward action, new and renewed actions motivated and directed by God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, bringing about deepened faith in Jesus and a more certain hope in God’s coming salvation or deliverance, both for us and the world God so loved that he gave us his only begotten Son.


As we move through this season, let’s keep our eyes and ears and hearts open for such moments, such signs.  Some places that may be especially full (dare I say pregnant?) with hope include the Wednesday evening Advent vesper services, the Advent Small Groups where 35+ people are gathering in community to read and reflect and prepare for Christ’s coming, the “Joy of Christmas” gathering December 8th, our caroling outing to St. John homebound members December 22nd, and of course Christmas Eve worship at 4:00 p.m. (a repeat engagement of the “Meet Me at the Manger,” no-rehearsal children’s Christmas pageant we started last year) and 7:00 p.m.  Through these and many other ways, may we “keep awake” to the possibilities of God’s salvation and healing reaching out still today to us.  And may the end result, once again, be Christmas JOY.  A Blessed Advent, all – and Merry Christmas, too!


In His Grip, Pastor Paul