St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Lent Week Five—Wednesday

Psalm 130 Jeremiah 25:30-38 Romans 10:14-21 John 10:1-18

Do you know about sheepfolds? The ancient places where shepherds would keep their sheep at night? A sheepfold was really not a large place; some earth and stones raised to a height, constructed in a circle – with an opening at one end – a gap. The shepherd would lead them all in, calm them down, and then lie down across the opening; lie down in the gap where danger might come in the night. But that is only half of the shepherd’s job. The other half is to lead them out of the fold. Because if the sheep spent their whole life in the sheepfold, those protective walls would simply become a cage.

Now, it was possible for sheep to live their entire life within the fold; however, they would not really be living, they would simply be surviving. Passing their days in an enclosure; safe, but weak. Safe – but never really feeding and watering in the places that would keep them healthy and make them strong. Perhaps the more significant job of the shepherd was to lead them to pasture, lead them to water; and the shepherd would call them each by name in order that they might follow him safely into the country where they would truly thrive. Of course, the sheep could survive in the small and cramped enclosure of the fold; but they would have no real life. And in the end surviving and living are two different things. Jesus calls each of us to a new life by name that is outside the enclosures we have come to call home. Jesus is telling his friends that when they remain close to him, if they will be lead and shepherded by him, they will have all that they need. He will give them an abundant life.

-Alston Johnson

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Lent Week Five—Tuesday

Psalm 122 Jeremiah 25:8-17 Romans 10:1-13 John 9:13-41

What Are We Seeking and Where Are We Seeking It?

Psalm 122 urges us to pray for peace. In our present world there is a critical need to pray for peace. I am drawn to the Prayers of the People in The Book of Common Prayer and believe wholeheartedly in the power of unified prayers. Forms I through VI all include prayers for peace in our community, the nation, and the world. There is no doubt that the world needs our fervent prayers, but what about the peace within each of us? Every Sunday, we offer each other a sign of peace and wish each other “God’s Peace” but is God’s peace something we actively yearn for within ourselves? I find clear direction in Psalm 122:8-9 where the Psalmist says, “May peace be within you” and to “seek your good.”

I love where that spotlight is shining…within us. No circumstance, disappointment, unpleasant encounter, fear, nor tribulation is a match for God’s peace, which is “beyond all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Christ has freely given this gift of His peace to us, but it so easily drowned out by the din of life. Psalm 122 holds the key to His peace by instructing us to seek God’s good, not only for our sake, but also for the sake of our friends and family. It is all too easy to seek things, answers, or outcomes that are not focused on God’s good but our own personal justification. Those selfish searches predictably lead me to disappointment or regret.

God’s peace within us never leaves. He has granted it to us in abundance. Lent offers me a time to focus on God’s gift of peace, to seek it, to recognize it, and try to claim it as my first reaction in daily life.

-Clare Nelson

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Lent Week Five—Monday

Psalm 35 Jeremiah 24:1-10 Romans 9:19-33 John 9:1-17

I write this as we approach Lenten season, and I am contemplating what to give up. Usually a food item like chocolate, chips, cheese or a beverage like alcohol or diet coke. Many of my friends have chosen to stay off social media during Lent, and I’m considering this as well.

Many years ago, when my children were approaching the age to get phones, I chose to get on social media to understand the details further. Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to keep up with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. While I’ve enjoyed most of it, I’ve been in some groups that were intending to be supportive, and conversations have turned out to be anything but supportive.

Psalm 35 was written by David, possibly when he was being hunted by Saul. This psalm is a prayer to God for help against those who try to inflict injury for no reason. As I read this, I can’t help but relate his struggles to some tribulations of current day life situations. David’s disappointment, anxiety and fear are evident as he pleads with the LORD to “fight against those who fight against” him. For those who sought David’s life, were ruthless witnesses, and maliciously mocked him, he prayed to the LORD to not be silent, to rise to his defense and to vindicate him in the LORD’s righteousness. Today when communication is exponentially faster and when it is unkind, I hope you find a moment to read Psalm 35 and find solace. When others are unjust, even when we do good to them, we can appeal to God who is always just.

-Brad and Lynn Massad

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: Shreveport Blight

Love Your Neighbor
212 Texas St, Suite 201
Shreveport, LA 71101


  • Organization Founded in July 2021
  • Partnered with Shreveport Volunteer Network, Caddo
    Heights Neighborhood Association, Reform Shreveport
    and City Councilwoman LeVette Fuller, on a neighborhood
    transformation project.
  • Selection of Caddo Heights
  • Inner-city Neighborhood
  • Suffers from Decades of Disinvestment
  • High Poverty Levels
  • Deteriorating Housing Stock
  • A neighborhood ripe for revitalization – Shreveport
    Master Plan

Multi Phase Approach

  • Shreveport Volunteer Network (SVN) led a group of
    volunteers to remove over 40 downed trees and debris
    from Hurricane Laura
  • Multiple Community Clean Ups
  • Towed dozens of Inoperable Vehicles
  • Demolished and Removed 10 Dilapidated and Abandoned
    houses – SVN led effort with City of Shreveport and
    Universal Plumbing
  • Funded primarily by First Presbyterian Church and St
    Mark’s Cathedral

St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Fifth Sunday In Lent

Park fire lookout and wife keep check on small woods fire using high-power telescope and radio for communication. Scene is at the Watchman fire tower, Crater Lake National Park.

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Psalm 130 Ezekiel 37:1-14 Romans 8:5-11 John 11: 1-45

This Sunday, beginning Passiontide, we are waiting–for miracles to occur, for the spirit of the Lord to raise dry bones and give them life, for Jesus the Redeemer, the light of the world. The Psalm for today, a text that I have sung to so many beautiful, plaintive settings, speaks to me of how much our souls look toward the fulfillment of Christ’s redemptive ministry on Earth:

“I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

The emphasis of that repetition speaks of such longing. I can just imagine how it might feel to be on the night watch–lonely, perhaps a bit frightening, certainly exhausting. I can feel how much I would want morning to come, bringing the light that would mean relief and rest. We, too, long for rest and the redemption of our souls in just such an urgent way, especially when feeling low, lonely, weary, or sick in mind or body. In the Gospel reading from John, Jesus also uses an analogy contrasting the day and the night. He tells his disciples that “those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble because the light is not in them.” In the Psalm, we are calling to the Lord from the depths of spiritual darkness; as we approach the dawn of resurrection, of Easter morning, may the light of Christ dawn in us again and again.

Leslye Gilchrist