Read the Gospel of Mark – Perfect New Year’s Resolution
On the Mark! Three ways to read the Gospel of Mark
Weekly Readers: Attend Worship between January 7 – April 7 and you will hear a majority of the Gospel. This includes Special Lent and Holy Week Worships.
Daily Readers: Read all 678 verses of Mark. This is done Monday through Friday. Click here for the reading plan.
Bible Study Options:
To Sign up or if you have questions Contact:
email@example.com / 952-881-5801 ext. 103
What will be your New Year’s Resolution? One of these or another? Share your comment of what you plan to do…
That was the theme to the Children’s Pageant last Sunday, “Someone Has a Birthday” by Cathy Skogen-Soldner in her book, “Christmas Pageants, just add Children.” We had angels announce, holding up individual letters, “BABY BORN” and then they flipped the letters over to invite, “COME & SEE”. You can watch here, it starts at the 16:00 mark.
Christmas is one of the best times of year when people are open to hearing Good News of Great Joy.
That is what the angels did inviting the shepherds to the manger, announcing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:14)
It is what the shepherds did after they went and saw the sign, “a child wrapped in bands of cloth lying in the manger, the Savior, Messiah, the Lord. They returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:20)
So you are invited to play the role of an angel or a shepherd this Christmas inviting others to come and see.
We have three opportunities to worship in person:
Christmas Eve Worship at 2:00, 4:00, and 10:00 PM
Plus we will live stream the 2:00 and 4:00 PM worships, which means they will be recorded for you to enjoy at your choosing. youtube.com/stlukesbloomington
Christmas is a unique time of year when people are open to an invitation.
“In a recent poll of 1,000 Americans, LifeWay Research found six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime. But among those who don’t attend church at Christmastime, a majority (57 percent) say they would likely attend if someone they knew invited them.”
“Regular churchgoers may assume the rest of America has already made up their mind not to attend church,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. “In reality, many would welcome going to a Christmas service with someone they know.”
Who will you invite?
We also want to be prepared when people do arrive. There are a number of opportunities to serve on Christmas Eve…
2:00 PM: Prayground Attendent and an Usher
4:00 PM: Sound Tech, Welcome Desk, Greeter, Prayground Attendent
10:00 PM: Lector, Welcome Desk, Greeter, Communion Assistants, Ushers
We opened with the children pageant. It closed with this invitation.
Some of us give presents at Christmas. Some of us do a little extra work to help someone out at Christmas. Some of us sing songs and ring bells at Christmas. Whatever you do, we’re all doing something special to celebrate that Jesus has a birthday. And that’s what Christmas is all about… Celebrating the birthday of God’s gift to all of us – Jesus!
Just as the children sung, let us do likewise with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others, “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
This coming Sunday, December 17, you will have the opportunity to hear the Christmas Story in two different ways.
8:30 am Worship - The St. Luke’s Choir will lead Lessons and Carols
10:00 am Worship – The children will give the message acting out a Christmas story.
The history of Lessons and Carols grew out of the ashes of the First World War. In 1918, a 34-year-old former army chaplain named Eric Milner-White was appointed Dean of King’s College. Nothing could prepare him for the atrocities he witnessed on the Western Front when he volunteered for service in 1914. He came home believing that the church was failing the troops. How could he communicate a message of God’s love to those who had been brutalized and traumatized by war?
Milner-White devised A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols as a means of outreach to those who felt alienated by the church or religion as a whole. Instead of a complicated mass, the carols service was simpler, alternating between choral anthems, congregational hymns, and readings. The resulting service had more drama and color, was more accessible and meaningful, and acknowledged the suffering of those impacted by the Great War. This gesture was particularly important to the town of Cambridge, which had lost 211 men from King’s College alone during the war. This loss prompted the Dean to include a prayer to honor the fallen, which is still read at the beginning of the service to this day.
Although the readings, prayers, and music change from year to year, the tradition remains.
At the 10 AM Worship, the children will lead us. Let us rejoice as we watch children participate in the story. The excitement of the children’s Christmas pageant is not age-dependent. As we relive our own experiences and retell our sacred story, we are joined once more with the angels and archangels, the shepherds and sheep, and all the people who have told this miraculous story of a young family and the tiny baby, born to bring us Peace and Joy.
Both will have communion.
May this coming Sunday prepare our hearts and minds for the miracle of Christmas, the coming of God in the weakness of a child, Jesus the Savior.
I must admit I grew up with a high degree of idealism. My father was a huge John F. Kennedy Jr. fan. His opening speech when he ran for State Senate in Wisconsin began with the famous quote:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
And from the other side of the aisle we are reminded of this truth:
“No matter how big and powerful the government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.” — Ronald Reagan
I agree with both of these statements, however this ideal is in the decline…
Both Volunteerism and Charitable Giving are in decline in the United States.
From a high of at least 67% of Americans volunteering, it has dropped to only 23% in 2021.
Americans gave 1.7% of their personal disposable income to charity in 2022, the lowest level they had given since 1995, and far below a high of 2.4% in 2005. Just last year it fell by 3.4%, which equates to a 10.5% decrease when adjusted for inflation.
This has a major impact on nonprofits and our overall society, of which St. Luke’s is not immune.
In our new member classes we walk through the formation of the early church,
Acts 2:41-47 – Life among the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Our core values come from this passage, “Simply What Every Christian Should Do,”
Service – “…distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
Worship – “…they spent much time together in the temple…praising God.
Evangelism – “having the goodwill of all the people…the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Community – “They devoted themselves to the…fellowship, to breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Stewardship – “All who believe were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods.”
Discipleship – “The devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching.”
These are a necessity to be the Church, the Body of Christ at work in the world today – acts of volunteerism and charitable giving.
Ephesians 4:11-13 explains how this is lived out:
As The gifts God gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…
There are those who have specific roles, but adapting Ronald Reagan’s words, “No matter how big and powerful the church staff gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of the members of the congregation.”
The goal is…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Just as the early church was counter-cultural in its time, may we do likewise and be counter-cultural in our time – so that the Lord may add to the numbers those who are being saved.
Thank you to all the ministers of St. Luke’s who volunteer their time and charitable giving living out our mission.
St. Luke’s is a welcoming and growing community of faith, busy making Christ known to the world.
Ongoing prayers and blessings, Rob