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Mark's Minutes

Simon Peter

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome Simon Peter

This morning we meet Jesus’ disciple, Simon Peter. The truth is there are things, good and bad, in Simon Peter’s personality and character that also live in us. Listen to this story.

Master teacher and preacher, Dr. Fred Craddock, tells about something that happened many years ago while he was driving cross country. He had stopped at a small diner somewhere in the South to refresh himself with an early breakfast and some coffee. He had been driving through the night and now it was getting close to dawn. And he was sleepy.

As he waited for his breakfast order to come, Craddock spied a black man who had just come in and had sat down on a stool up by the lunch counter. The diner’s manager then began to treat the black man with a contempt that was clearly borne of deep seated racism. The manager was rude, insulting, demeaning toward his black guest. As he sat in his booth a little ways away from the counter, Craddock wrestled with whether to say something to chide this manager for his shameful, racist conduct.

Meanwhile the black man quickly slurped down some coffee and fled into the darkness. Craddock remained silent. “I didn’t say anything,” he confessed. “I quietly paid my bill, left the diner, and headed back to my car. But as I walked through the parking lot, somewhere in the distance, I heard a rooster crow.”

One Sunday Fred Craddock was a guest preacher at a church and he preached a sermon with that story in it. After the service, a man came up to him in the narthex, shook Craddock’s hand vigorously, and said, “Thank you, pastor, for that powerful sermon. That really hit home! Oh, but by the way, what was that business with the rooster?”

Well, you and I know about that business with the rooster! Peter is the disciple who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest early on crucifixion Friday. Jesus foretold his denial, even the rooster that crowed after the third time.

But Peter was also powerfully redeemed and restored by Jesus. Jesus said He would build His Church on Peter’s faith. To this day, the Catholic Church regards Simon Peter, the fisherman from Bethsaida, as the first Pope. It is widely held that Simon Peter served the people in the Church of Rome for many years before being put to death by the Roman Emperor Nero.

It’s true that Simon Peter did not always say the right thing, or do the right thing. Neither do we. But what Simon Peter did do, we also need to do: take up the cross of Jesus Christ, the cross of servanthood every day. When we do that we find God. When we do that we find Jesus. When we do that we find life. Happy Palm Sunday!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

Easter and Holy Week Schedule

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Use a Refrigerator Magnet to Hold Your Easter/Holy Week Schedule!

Don’t you wish you were the first person to think of refrigerator magnets? Today, in almost every store you go into, you can buy a souvenir refrigerator magnet. I’ve seen some refrigerators that have so many magnets on them with notes, pictures, and reminders underneath that it’s actually hard to see where the handle is! We have had our favorites that were bought as reminders of trips: the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon. I always liked the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” one. Lynn must have thrown that one away.

Below is a Schedule of Holy Week activities that surely is a worthy item to place under your favorite refrigerator magnet. Just cut it out of this bulletin and pop it under that magnet. Then, I hope you and your family will take advantage of all the special opportunities that are coming up in the life of your church. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

Easter/Holy Week Church Family Schedule

Saturday, March 24 - SPRING FLING!

2:00-4:00 PM - Easter Egg Hunt, Food, Games, Music from the West Hall High School Jazz Band, and More! Fun for the Entire Church Family!

Sunday, April 1 - PALM SUNDAY

11:00 - AM One Worship Service Only (Have a Safe Spring Break!) NO Children or Youth evening services

Wednesday, April 4 - NO Activities due to Spring Break

Thursday, April 5 - DRAMA: “Lord, Is It I?”

7:00PM Reception Afterwards in the Fellowship Hall

Friday, April 6 - MOVIE: The Passion of the Christ

7:00PM Fellowship Hall, Everyone Invited (Rated R). Drinks and Popcorn Provided.

Sunday, April 8 - EASTER SUNDAY

7:00AM Easter Sunrise Service in Outside Arbor

7:45AM Breakfast in Fellowship Hall

10:30AM One Worship Service Only featuring an Easter Message and Special Music Selections by Our Chancel Choir

NO Children’s Church

NO Children or Youth evening services

Power in a Name

Sunday, March 11, 2012

There is Power in a Name

Before our son, Mark, Jr., was born, Lynn and I spent a lot of time talking about what name to give him. Like many parents-to-be, we bought books of names for children. We made lists. Crossed out names. Added new ones. If Mark had been a girl, we had decided he (she) would be Natalie Hope. If he were a boy, he would be Luke Stephen.

After Lynn delivered our son, I’ll never forget sitting in the hospital room in Gwinnett Medical Center with Lynn and our new baby boy. He was lying on his mother’s chest as she lay in the bed. Then, a nurse came in with a clipboard and some paperwork. She said, “Okay then, what’s the little guy’s name going to be?” I deferred to Lynn to let her say, “His name is Luke Stephen.” I could already hear her saying the words. But, Lynn paused. She looked at her son. She looked at me. Tears welled in her eyes. I could see her heart soften. Finally, she looked at the nurse and said, “He’s going to be a junior. His name is Mark Stephen.”

Oh mercy. All that time working on a name, just the right name for our son and in the moment of truth, the time of decision, it was Mark Stephen. Doesn’t it seem rather miraculous how our children just grow into their names? Today, it’s hard to imagine calling Mark, Luke. It’s even harder to imagine calling Mark, Natalie.

There is power in a name. Today, we’re thinking about the name Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples. What Iscariot signifies is unclear. Usually it would signify where a person was from. However, no territory named “Iscaria” has ever existed. I read that someone typed in the words Judas Iscariot in a word document once and the spell check came up. It suggested they replace Judas Iscariot with Judas Escargot, which, of course, would be Judas the Snail. No, cannot be it.

Isn’t it interesting that the stigma of the name Judas lingers on? How many children are there who are named Judas? Not many, to be sure. Lady Gaga sings about Judas. She sings, “I’m in love with Judas.” Does she have that big of a heart for forgiveness or is she just trying to sell records. I don’t know. I’d like to think maybe it’s both.

One thing is for sure. When we think of the name Judas, we think of the disciple who was close to Jesus who betrayed him with a kiss. If he hated Jesus and just wanted Jesus to be killed, done away with for good, then it was the most terrible act, the most terrible kiss, in history. This morning, we’re going to think about The Kiss of Judas and learn some important spiritual lessons from this fallen, broken man who was a disciple of Jesus: Judas Iscariot.

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

Little People

Sunday, March 04, 2012

One Oscar Winner and Two Disciples

I didn’t watch all of the Oscars last Sunday night. Lindsey and Greg were home visiting and we cooked out. We ate and visited and just enjoyed being together. But when we did turn the TV on, I surfed over to the Oscars and it was just in time for the awards for Best Picture and Best Actors.

I was amazed at the winner for Best Picture and Best Actor, not because they didn’t deserve it. I’m sure it must have been a good movie and a fine acting job. No, what floored me was I had never heard of the movie or the actor! I realize that says something about how little I’m following movies these days. But still. Meryl Streep winning Best Actress in a leading role for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady I can understand. We all know who Meryl Streep is. We all know her talent. Counting last night, she has 17 Oscar nominations and now three victories.

But Jean Dujardin? I could see he was handsome. And that he apparently likes dogs. A lot. I just never heard of him before. I had never heard of the movie in which he starred and which also won the Oscar for Best Picture: The Artist. So in good and trusty information hunting fashion, I turned to the internet to see who this Jean Dujardin is. I saw that on the movie site, visitors to that site (there were 35, 000 visitors to date) gave the movie an 8.4 out of a possible 10.0. I found out that Jean Dujardin was born on June 19, 1972 in Rueil-Malmaison, Hauts-de-Seine, France. He hasn’t been in a lot of movies. The Artist is by far his highest achievement in acting to date.

It’s interesting that a relative unknown, from a country different from our own, could make such a splash on Oscar night, indeed, step into the consciousness, however briefly, of our country.

This brings me to the two disciples we’re going to learn from this morning: Thaddaeus and James, son of Alphaeus. These two disciples were not so visible. They were relative unknowns, “little people.” Thaddaeus only emerges once out of the background in the gospels and there is not one word spoken of James, the son of Alphaeaus. Most of the time, the little people never get recognized, but sometimes the little people make more of an impact in life than the best-known people. This surely is the case with James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus. Of the lessons we’ll learn from them this morning, let’s remember this: 1,000 years from now no one will remember or speak the name Jean Dujardin. But people will still be telling the story of Thaddaeus and James, son of Alpaheus. There is no underestimating the power of a life lived to the glory and honor of Jesus Christ! Amen?

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Praying for Our Confirmands in March and April

Confirmation is a powerful and unforgettable experience. I went through Confirmation way, way back in the '60s. I remember attending the classes which my father, as pastor, led. I still remember Confirmation Sunday. The class had six or seven kids in it and we all wore white robes and sat on the front pew. I remember the feeling of wonder at being the center of attention: Jesus' and the church's.

To children and youth today, that was a very long time ago, yet I still clearly remember it. It remains in my consciousness and continues to be an important part of who I am as a person and a Christian.

Confirmation packs that kind of power! Let's all be praying for our Confirmands in March and April that the Lord will bless and anoint their learnings and deepen their commitment as dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ. Our mission statement as a church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Confirmation is one important way we do that.

Our Confirmation process begins with a Parent-Student Orientation meeting on Sunday, March 4 at 10AM in the sanctuary. Then, Confirmation Classes will be held in the Youth House from 3:00-4:30PM on Sunday, March 11 through Sunday, April 22 with no class on Easter Sunday, April 8. Then, on Sunday, May 6, we will have Confirmation Sunday. During the 11AM Worship Service, the church will embrace our Confirmands, recognize and celebrate their commitments to the Lord and the Church, and receive them into the life of the Redwine United Methodist Church family.

Confirmation is offered to 5th and 6th graders, but I want any youth from 6th-12th grades who have never attended a Confirmation Class to come.

I'd like to present to you our 2012 Confirmands. These are the young people we'll be praying for by name. (Again, any older youth who haven't attended Confirmation, please let Alex and me know. We hope you'll come!)

Our 2012 Confirmation Class

5th Graders

Kenna Beaman

Kayleigh Hunt

Emory Glover

Hunter Johnson

Phenix Frier

Jayden Robertson

Tucker Rothschild

6th Graders

Georgia Warnock

Allie Grace

Jamie Robertson

Matthew McManus

One exciting thing to me is we have a new Confirmation curriculum this year in the United Methodist Church. It's called “CREDO.” The idea is that through the literature, our youth will study Christian theology, United Methodist history, tradition, worship, the local church, and personal faith formation and commitment, to name just a few. Then, they will each develop their own personal faith statement: a living faith CREDO! Join me in loving and praying for our Confirmands every day in March and April!