Pastor Mark Ruzicka

Pastor Mark is currently serving as Chaplain to two UCC Nursing Homes in Carlisle: Thornwald and Sarah Todd Homes.  He has been there about 4 years.  Previously, he served as Pastor at St John’s UCC in Chambersburg, PA for about 8 years.  Earlier, he served as Associate Pastor at Christ Church UCC in Bethlehem, PA for about 6 years.  He grew up in the Lehigh Valley, PA.   He graduated from Susquehanna University and Princeton Theological Seminary.   He is married to Christel (a high school English teacher at Waynesboro), and they have three children:  Hope (16), Jacob (13) and Samantha (9).   His interests include baseball (go Phillies!), soccer, speaking Spanish, hiking, and bird watching.  

From the Desk of

Pastor Mark

     I write this article in the midst of a Holy Week unlike any other I’ve experienced.  As the church, we are meeting only online. In the nursing home, there are no outside visitors and I can visit with the residents only if I (and they) wear masks…and we stay 6 feet apart from each other. I tune into the news a few times a day and each time I see the number of deaths caused by the Corona Virus going up dramatically. We have to ask,

“What does our faith have to say at a time like this?”

     I wanted to share something that has been helping me: to share my/our sufferings with Christ. Here’s one way we can do that…by the great author named Joyce Rupp in her book Praying Our Goodbyes.

     “When we are feeling overwhelmed by suffering, it is helpful to go and sit by the cross of Jesus, to hear his cry, to see his pain, to know that he understands and sees ours. Reflect on one dimension of the passion that most relates to your own particular suffering.”

*Sit with him [Jesus] in love at the table where he experiences the sadness of farewell

(Luke 22:14-20)

*Kneel with him in the garden of agony where he struggles with surrender (Luke 22:39-46)

*Hear the jeers and insults flung at him (Luke 22:63-65)

*Stand with his mother, bent in sorrow (John 19:25-27)

*Cry out with him in surrender to the Father (Luke 23:44-46)

*Bathe his wounds and gently lay him in the tomb (John 19:38-42)

*Keep company with those who mourn his passing (Matthew 27:61)

     I believe connecting our sufferings with Christ’s..…makes them holy and helps us to draw upon Christ’s strength. Perhaps this will be helpful to you.

     To close, Joyce Rupp shares a prayer that I commend to you (based on 2 Cor. 4:5-12):

God of Hope, I unite with your son, Jesus, and I renew my belief in your loving power and strength. I believe that even though I am in difficulties on all sides…that I shall never be hopelessly cornered.

Even though I see no answer to my problems, I need not despair.

I may feel as though I am persecuted, but I will never be deserted by you.

I may be knocked down, but never destroyed.

Always, wherever I may be, I can draw strength and courage from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

I will have my own time of transformation.

I open myself to your light shining in my darkness and I rejoice in the overwhelming fidelity of your love in my life. Amen.”

 

Blessings from Pastor Mark