This Month at St. Mark

Birthdays This Month

Recognizing our congregation members who were born this month...

Dec 03

Susan Miller

Dec 04

Bill Berry

Dec 05

Brenda Funke


Bonnie Morrero


     Happy Birthday!

Dec 09

Alex Spalding

Dec 11

Bob Hoster

Dec 12

Linda Bolin

Dec 13

Kaydence Borrer

Dec 14

Jack Warehime

Dec 18

Josephine Kuhns

Dec 20

Jennifer Luckeb augh

Dec 21

Judy Bolin

Dec 23

Betty Bolin

Dec 25

Jesus, God incarnate

Dec 26

Carol Albin

Dec 28

Bonnie Naill

Dec 29

Carver Alvarez

Judy Laughman

Dec 31

Donald Keagy, Jr.

If you ever see that we miss a birthday or overlook a name, please contact the office at 717-637-8904 so wwe can update our computer record.

Page Footnotes

You have probably noticed the red boxes at the bottom of several pages (Welcome to St. Mark, Outreach Mission, Spiritual Growth Mission, and Stewards of Blessing Mission). In these small spaces, we will post information about many facets (history, etc.) of the church and the Bible. The subjects and information promises to be quite varied. But, all will be enlightening and fun. If you want to check them out, click the Start at Welcome Page link.

This Month, in the red boxes are a few words that describe the main points of the four Synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

Spotlight on The New Testament

This month, we have an article that looks at  the Gospel of John. In November we will look at Mark's gospel.

The Gospel of Luke- Summary and Analysis

This month we continue spotlighting the books of the New Testament  which will provide the reader with a summary and an analysis of one of the Books of our Bible. Our fourth article is a “Summary and Analysis of the Pauline Letters.” Our source is Yep, this is the same Cliff Notes that many of us relied upon to help us through our high school and college literature courses.


We started with a general question. What are the points the authors of the Bible’s New Testament are trying to make? Sure, there are a lot of stories and events being recounted, but to what purpose?


In answering those questions, our research took us to several articles on various Biblical books, each providing a few different opinions of the authors’ intentions. The Cliff Notes articles, seemed to capture most of the meanings those varied researchers mentioned.


In the following months, we will provide articles on other New Testament books and gospels.

Approximately one third of the New Testament consists of letters, or epistles, written by the apostle Paul and addressed to the Christian churches of his day. Because these letters are older than any of the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, they constitute the most reliable source that we have today for information concerning the early history of the Christian movement. With few exceptions, these letters were written in response to conditions that existed in the particular churches with which Paul was associated. Not until some time passed after Paul's death were these letters circulated among the churches and read along with the Old Testament Scriptures as a part of regular worship services. Still later, they came to be regarded as inspired writings comparable to the sacred Scriptures of Judaism.


To understand the contents of these letters, it is necessary to know something about the man who wrote them, as well as about the particular circumstances under which they were written. Fortunately for us, considerable information along these lines is available within the letters themselves and can be supplemented by biographical accounts written by Luke, who was a companion of Paul, and included in the Book of Acts.


Paul was a native of Tarsus, a city of considerable importance in the Greco-Roman world. He was a descendant of the Hebrew tribe of Benjamin and originally was named Saul, after Israel's first king. Raised in a Jewish home, he was taught the Old Testament Scriptures and brought up in strict accordance with the beliefs and practices of the Pharisee sect. As he grew older, he was sent to the city of Jerusalem, where he studied under Gamaliel, one of the leading Jewish rabbis of that day. Later, he returned to Tarsus and probably attended the Greek university located in that city, although we have no direct information about this.


A crucial turning point in Paul's career came after he returned to Jerusalem and began studies in preparation for becoming a rabbi. As a devoted and loyal Jew of the Pharisee sect, his attention was given primarily to a detailed analysis of the requirements set forth in the Mosaic Law. He became familiar not only with the Law itself but with the explanations and commentaries made by the leading rabbis of the Jewish faith. In harmony with one of the basic doctrines of Judaism, he believed that salvation could be obtained only by obedience to all of the laws that God had given to his people. But as Paul pursued his studies, he became conscious of the fact that a mere knowledge concerning what one ought to do does not produce the desire to do it. Furthermore, he realized that desires give rise to actions, but the Law is unable to give one the desires that are necessary to meet its requirements. In fact, the situation is even worse than that, for the knowledge that one ought not to do certain things often acts as a stimulus creating the desire to do it. This conflict between duty and desire became an intolerable situation for Paul; because of it, he gave up his plans for becoming a rabbi. To compensate for his failure to carry out his original plans, he was anxious to find something of real merit that he might do, which he believed he found in the need for suppressing a new religious movement that he regarded as both dangerous and heretical — Christianity.

This new religious movement was promulgated by a group of people who claimed to be followers of Jesus, a man who had been crucified but who, they now believed, had risen from the dead, ascended to heaven, and would return to earth in power and great glory. Putting an end to this movement was what Paul now devoted himself to with the utmost zeal. He hunted down the members of this group, had them committed to prison, and threatened them with death. But as he did so, he could not help but be impressed by the way in which the Christians met the persecutions inflicted upon them.


The stoning of Stephen was one of these incidents. With perfect calm and an inner peace of mind, Stephen knelt down and prayed that those who were casting the stones might be forgiven. It was perfectly evident that these Christians possessed that which Paul desired more than anything else: the peace of mind that comes with a clear conscience and a deep conviction that they are living in harmony with the will of God. Paul came to realize that there must be some connection between these persons' faith in Jesus and their manner of living. No doubt this conviction was growing upon him for some time, but the climactic turning point in his career came while he was journeying to Damascus. Convinced now that Jesus was a righteous man and that his death on the cross was not the just punishment of a criminal but rather that of a martyr who died for a noble cause, Paul was ready to give himself to that same cause, which was more alive than it had been before Jesus' crucifixion and which pointed the way to a salvation that could not be achieved by obedience to a set of laws that were contrary to human desires.


Paul's decision to cast his lot with the members of the Christian community did not make him a missionary all at once, for about fourteen years passed before his work as a leader in the movement received any general recognition. During this time, Paul had ample opportunity to rethink his religious conceptions, systematize his understanding of the meaning of Jesus' career on earth, and formulate plans for spreading Christianity throughout the world. Eventually, he was invited by Barnabas to come to the church at Antioch and assist in the work being done there. After serving this church for a brief period, Paul began a series of missionary journeys to spread the news of salvation offered through Jesus' physical death. While engaged in missionary activities, he wrote the letters that are preserved in the New Testament.

Source: Cliff Notes []

Notable People This Month

How Did Lutherans Celebrate Christmas After the Reformation


The English word “Christmas” — “Christ’s mass” — reveals the holiday’s Catholic origin. With the coming of the Protestant Reformation, though, many Catholic practices and traditions were rejected or at least abandoned.


How did Christmas survive the Protestant purge? In some places, it nearly didn’t.


At first, it faced relatively few challenges in England. When the Anglican Church split with Rome over Henry VIII’s marital issues… it remained relatively Catholic — retaining not only priests, bishops, archbishops and cathedrals but choral music and feast days. Consequently, many of our Christmas traditions and much of our Christmas music today is English.

On the European continent, though, the survival of Christmas was more precarious.



In John Calvin’s Geneva and Ulrich Zwingli’s Zurich, only Sundays were observed as days of worship; the other feast days and saints’ days ordained by Rome were abolished. And Calvin’s disciple John Knox, who founded the Presbyterian movement in Scotland, followed the same path…


When he launched his series of scripture-centered sermons in Zurich’s Grossmunster church in 1519, Zwingli — arguably the most radical of the three great Reformers — simply began with Matthew and preached through the whole book, ignoring the Catholic liturgical calendar and its festivals and holidays...


Calvin’s approach was slightly more moderate. In a sermon delivered on Christmas Day 1551, Calvin noticed more people than usual in his congregation, so he warned them that, by elevating Christmas above other days for worship, they risked turning it into an idol. Still, he himself may have observed Christmas privately, at home.


In 1647, the English Parliament, dominated by Puritans, went beyond Calvin and altogether banned the festival. William Prynne (d. 1669), for example, taught that “all pious Christians” should “eternally abominate” observance of the holiday. According to the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, “The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.”


Similar issues played out in America. While, for example, Christmas was celebrated in colonies where Anglicanism was the established church, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony banned any outdoor celebration of Christmas in early 1620s Massachusetts. Violators — in some cases, even those caught observing the holiday in secret — could be heavily fined.


only in ways mentioned in the Bible — which says nothing of Christmas — Martin Luther held to the more expansive view that Christians are permitted to worship God in any way that the Bible doesn’t expressly forbid.


And Luther loved Christmas, advocating feasts, gift-giving and special church services. He wrote Christmas carols and delivered dozens of Christmas-related sermons. It may be significant that, while Luther’s Protestant Germany and the largely Catholic Bavaria and Austria have greatly enriched our Christmas musical tradition, few if any famous Christmas carols come from Switzerland, which is directly adjacent to them. In fact, “Messiah,” written in just 24 days by the devoutly Lutheran 18th-century German composer George Frederick Handel, can be viewed as an expression of Luther’s musical legacy.


A former Catholic monk, Luther married the former nun Katharina von Bora in June 1525 and, with “Katie,” established a happy marriage that became a model for subsequent Protestant homes and families. Effectively, together, they “invented” the Protestant parsonage.


Sixteenth-century German Protestants seem to have begun the tradition of erecting decorated “Christmas trees” in their homes, and some claim that Luther himself originated the idea of placing lights — candles, in his day — on the tree. (Queen Victoria’s German-born consort, Prince Albert, helped to make Christmas trees popular in England when he put one up in Windsor Castle.)


One- or two-day winter markets, where farmers sold their produce, had long been traditional in Germanic Europe. After the Reformation, however, the “Christkindlmarkt” (“Little Christ Child Market”) became a holiday bazaar lasting throughout Advent. Perhaps originating in Bavaria, these German Christmas markets featured choirs, food, toys, carvings and other gifts for the birth of the Christ Child.


For many today, Christmas has become a largely secular holiday, with little or no connection to Jesus. In part, ironically, this may derive from the objections of some very devout Christians, whose compromise solution to the problem of Christmas allowed them to celebrate it while downplaying its religious significance.




By William Hamblin and Daniel Peterson, Columnists  Dec 22, 2017, 9:10am MSTl


Do You Know

This month's Did You Know presents us wit six Christmas traditions which are performed within the Christian world and two "non-facts" the I made up.


Which of these eight  Christmas traditionsare true? Six of them are true, but two are not. Which are the fake ones?


The Advent candle – Dates are marked in a row down the side of the Advent candle and the candle is burned down to the current day.


Candy canes – Candy canes started as a way to teach children about Jesus and to keep them quiet in church.


Finding the Star of Bethlehem – Traditional child’s game where the goal is to find the Star the led the wise men to Jesus’. The child wears a headband with a small circle attached below the brim when the first child is able to turn his (or her) head to get eth brightest star in the circle, he is said to have found the Star and wins the game.


Jesse Tree – A small tree or simply a bare branch to which a homemade symbolic ornament is added.


Paper lanterns – A tradition most likely adopted from Christian missionaries, Christians light their homes with decorative paper lanterns.


Posadas – This Advent custom, re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.


Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) – Breakfast in bed.  On the morning of St. Lucia’s Day, the eldest daughters in households dress carry a breakfast of coffee, gingerbread cookies and sun-colored “St. Lucia” saffron buns to their parents’ bedrooms.


Shepherd’s Bath – In villages throughout Europe and the Middle East, villagers gather together and visit the residences of local sheep herders where they give the shepherd a symbolic bath to cleanse them of the dirt and grime that is part of their daily herding work.



If you have trouble, click Show Me the Answers.