Mark's Memos

QUALIFYING

EVENTS

October 25, 2020

In a blog post, the Rev. Beth Scibienski recalls an expression her sister-in-law is fond of using. She speaks of "qualifying events."

"A qualifying event happens when you walk through a life experience and find yourself changed at the end of it. You have learned, changed, grown, adjusted, and now you must get used to the world in your new clothes, with your new tools."

It's all about how we choose to regard adversity. When a difficult experience comes our way, do we merely lament the pain, the struggle, the heartache? Or, do we strive to understand it as a qualifying heat for a track race?

Standing on the other side of the finish line -- hands on knees, breathing hard -- we know the grueling race has its purpose. It qualifies us for what comes next.

It may qualify us for what comes next but most of the time we leave something behind, or unfinished, in order to move on to what is next.  This week I will be exploring through the eyes of the biblical narrative of the last chapter of Deuteronomy.  I hope you will join me as we explore what unfinished business means for Moses and what it means for us today.

See you Sunday!

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Seeing ...

October 18, 2020

The foreigner is buried in a small-town cemetery, against a barbed-wire fence in an unmarked plot set aside for poor people.

He might be Mexican. He might be Guatemalan. But he's simply called No. 8, a man with no name because his identity is still unknown, a year after he was killed in a car wreck with seven other illegal immigrants in southeastern Utah.

"This is the garden of Eden of Utah down here," said Philip Palmer, coordinator at Blanding City Cemetery, referring to the mountain peaks in four states visible from the graveyard. "It's a good place to put him."

More than 2,000 illegal immigrants have died in the Southwest in just 6 years, and many are nameless in death — buried as anonymous victims of heat stroke, car crashes or other calamities. … The body of No. 8 was transported more than 300 miles north to the Utah medical examiner's office in Salt Lake City, where doctors took fingerprints, photographs and samples from his body. But prospects for identifying him became increasingly bleak.

"You can have a very fresh body, and still the person is unidentifiable because there are no leads as to who they might be," said Dr. Todd Grey, the state's chief medical examiner. "There's certainly not going to be a missing person's report filed". … In Salt Lake City, the Mexican Consulate fed information from the medical examiner into a database but learned nothing. In Denver, the Guatemalan Consulate met the same result.

Experts said DNA will be the key to solving difficult cases in the future. … The men tied a rope around the casket to make it easier to remove if anyone ever does come looking. But for now, No. 8 will stay in Utah indefinitely. "That'll be his spot," Philip Palmer said.

That is a sad testament to our world when people die without any earthly identity.  Almost invisible as far as the world is concerned.  This week we will explore a passage from Exodus where Moses is trying to see God, to visibly encounter God. So, what is it like to really see and be seen by God?

I hope you will join me this Sunday as we seek to see God clearly.  See you Sunday!

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

All for the Glory of God

October 4, 2020

Shamgar had an ox goad, David has a sling.

Dorcus had a needle, Rehab had a string.

Sampson has a jawbone, Aaron had a rod;

Mary had some ointment, but they all were used by God.

           

So goes the old Sunday School ditty, illustrating God’s use of common, everyday people and things to represent God’s presence on earth.  It would certainly be appropriate to add to this list the name of Moses.  This week I have been studying the life of Moses as I have been preparing the sermon for Sunday.  Moses was a very unlikely person to lead the nation of Israel.  Yet he was able to lead that nation to places, i.e. the Promised Land, that nobody else could have.  However, in the end he didn’t ever quite make it to the Promised Land.

In many ways we are all a lot like Moses.  We see the great future for the church, and through our acts of faithfulness and great acts of courage we help the church move toward that future.  However, just like Moses we must be willing to take that first and most difficult step to begin an authentic, faithful relationship with God.  That step is always a step of discipleship and faith.

These past few weeks we have been learning about giving and more specifically about putting God first in our giving.  Our giving, or not giving, says much about our spiritual wellbeing and willingness to be a disciple.  It is through the act of giving that we, like Moses, take a faithful step, which helps to move the church forward into the vision that God has given.

I encourage you to turn in a pledge for the year 2021 by Sunday.  However, before you do I hope you will spend some time listening to God’s guidance for your life and respond in a way which is faithful to that guidance.  I hope you will join with me Sunday as we worship the One who never abandons us on our journey of faith.  I hope and pray that you will seek to make God First in every aspect of your life.

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Rev. Mark Jardine is the Senior Pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Born and raised in Bartlesville, he is a graduate of Oklahoma City University and hold his Master in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.
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