Saturday, October 21, 2017

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - It’s Started

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

Image result for resurrection of the deadIt’s Started

Paul believed our hope rests on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You see, since we are all in Christ just like we are in Adam, we have good reason to trust that just like Jesus’ tomb was empty, ours will be too. Therefore, for him a process has already started, a process we call the resurrection of the dead. And that’s why he called Christ “the first fruits of those who have died.” In other words, the harvest has begun, and the time will come when God will recreate his universal.

But often it doesn’t really feel as though much of anything has happened. I mean, at best, we just go through our daily living, doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Of course, there are other times when life isn’t nearly so stable. As a matter of fact, I think we all have known times which look so bleak that it seems natural to wonder if the world will ever get better. That’s just the way it is. But you know, it’s when things get bad and we feel like accepting what seems unavoidable, it’s at those times when we need to pause and to consider once again the resurrection and to remember that the process that’ll lead to a new heaven and a new earth, well, it’s already started.

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service

On Sunday, October 22, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Alice Channing
Amy Slisik
Betty Michael
Bob Crupp
Bonnie & Red Nichols
Bruce Mader
Chad Peppler
Cindy Kuzel
Dave Mendenhall
Davey Turner
Debi Edge
Emery Edwards
Ethlyn Dellaria
Faith Bonyak
George & Mary Shepherd
Grace Littledon
Jeff Wright
Jeffery Castner
Jim & Shelley Pearson
Jim Neil
Jim Shingleton
Jo Betlem
Joanie Lawrence
Joe & Mary Faran
Joe Fabianich
Josh and Dee
Karen Edwards
Karen Lombardi
Kay Hyde
Kenny Orlando
Kevin Kuzel
Libbie Messerly
Maggie Rudiger
Marcia Cooper
Marge Oslett
Mary Faran
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Brown
Michael Patterson
Michael Shade
Minnie Pazich
Penny & Nick Mourat
The people of Pueto Rico
Paul Rosnick
Randal Kane
Richard Ballard
Richie Marshall
Rick Shadiow
Rocco Zuccaro
Ronnie Buffington
Ralph Metts
Sally Robinson
Sandy Hatala
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Snookie Plaso
Stacy Jo Vogel
Sue Reynolds
Sue Willson
Vicki Williams
Wayne Channing

Children
Alphonzo Lloyde
Elijah Parker
Jameson Criss
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Lily Ghrist
Logan Adams
Macaiah Lloyde
Meadow Abbett
Michael Daugherty
Mitch Almason
Temica Lloyde

Military
Doug Obeldobel
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Justin Schmalstieg
Kara Criss
Michael Criss

Church Families
Jim & Carolyn Longacre
Laura Lewis
Shirley Kurenski

Local Church
New Life Worship Center

Special Friend
Doris Lord

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Calvary Presbyterian Church, Salineville, Ohio - CRE Paul Todd
First Presbyterian Church, Scio, Ohio - Rev. John Visser

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr
Carl Hamill
Dolores Edwards
June Virtue
Ron Taflan

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in the Sunday bulletin.

THE SEASON AFTER PENTECOST
“We have seen…that the half of the year following Pentecost is different in character from the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Lent, Holy Week, Easter.  Whether it is called ‘ordinary time,’ or ‘Season After Pentecost,’ or ‘Kingdomtide,’ each Sunday stands on its own as the Lord’s Day and should be considered in the light of The Scriptures to be read that day.  …The Season After Pentecost is just that; it is not the Pentecost Season…” (Handbook of the Christian Year, p. 241)  Green, the color of abiding life, of peace, nourishment, rest and constancy, is the traditional color for this time of year.


THIS MORNING, THE FLOWERS ARE . . .
in memory of Greta Billham on her birthday October 20th and the memories of our 67 wonderful years together. She is tremendously missed by husband.

“JESUS TIME” IS SPECIAL TIME FOR . . .
all our children and young people. This Sunday School experience offers them the opportunity to learn the Bible story and apply that story to their lives. “Jesus Time” usually meets at 11:00 a.m. and runs until the end of the Worship Service. This morning, the children are invited to stay for our special service. 

OUR TUESDAY EVENING STUDY . . .
will  meet on Tuesday, October 24, at 6:30 p.m. to continue our study of Acts. During this session, we’ll look at Acts 26:1-32. 

LADIES DO YOU KNOW HULDA?
Come and get to know her and many other interesting women of the Bible. We’ll meet every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton,  in the parlor.  Carolyn Mason will lead this exciting new opportunity to study, learn, grow and discuss. All women are welcome and Hulda is looking forward to seeing you and so are we! 

THE BELL CHOIR . . .
will practice on Saturday, at 11:00 a.m.

OUR GRIEF SHARE GROUP . . .
meets on Saturdays, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. 

THE CHOIR PRACTICES . . .
at 9:30 on Sunday mornings. And the choir will rejoin our worship service next Sunday.

BETHEL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 
Key, OH, invites you to their “Fall for Jesus Festival” Sunday, October 29th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. They will have an inflatable slide, bouncy house, and obstacle course; face painting, balloons, horse rides, 50/50 raffle, hot dogs, popcorn, and apple cider. FREE FOR ALL! Come, check us out! For more info, call Pam 740-359-5365 or Chrissy 304-830-1247. Driving directions: From Bellaire, take SR 147. Just past the Higmart store on the left, the church is on the right. From Shadyside, take Wegee Road, approx. 7 miles, to SR 147. Higmart is on your left. Make a left hand turn and the church is on the right. GPS: 51001 OR&W Road, Bellaire, OH 43906

DONUTS AND COFFEE WILL BE SERVED . . .
in the parlor before and after the service. Before you leave, grasp a cup and a donut.

THE CHURCH COULD USE YOUR LOOSE CHANGE.
In the narthex, there’s a fish bowl where you’re invited to leave any pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters you might have rattling around in your pocket or purse. 

WE APPRECIATE ALL THOSE WHO ARE OFFERING . . .
their time and special gifts to the church. In particular, we thank the following:
We thank Ray Seifert for directing our choir, Sue Willson for directing the bells, and Peggy Baldt for running our sound system during the service.
We thank the Trustees (Dan Grant, Burnie Huey, TJ Smith, and Dean Allen) for making needed repairs. 
We thank Debbie Rudiger and Tina Viakley for the work they’re doing with our young people.
We thank Burnie and Noah Huey for doing our yard work.
Finally, all those who offer their time, talent and money to further the God’s Kingdom

ONCE AGAIN . . .
the Mountaineer Food Bank, the Facing Hunger Foodbank, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources are asking for your help and the help of your church members to support a program that feeds many hungry West Virginians. Members of the WV Council of Churches and the DNR have united in a cooperative effort to ensure needy WV families have access to high quality meat. The Hunters Helping the Hungry Program provides nutritious, low fat, low cholesterol ground venison which can be prepared or used in many ways. Processing costs are $1.45 per pound. This is where West Virginia Council of Churches enters the scene. WRS requires financial assistance to manage this program. WV Council of Churches asks your help. Sunday, November 5th, has been designated as the day in 2017 when they ask each individual member of each participating church to donate one dollar [a “buck”], or whatever they can afford to help. Checks should be made payable to Hunters Helping the Hungry and mailed to: Hunters Helping the Hungry, WV Division of Natural Resources, 163 Wildlife Road, French Creek, WV 26218. For more info, please contact the DNR Program Coordinator, Tyler Evans, at 304-924-6211 or tyler.s.evans@ wv. gov.

CHURCH TREASURER NEEDED: 
Part-time, knowledge of QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel and Word, and general book-keeping a must. Send résumé with references to: The Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, 154 W. Market Street, Cadiz, OH 43907. No phone calls please.

LAUGHLIN MEMORIAL CHAPEL . . .
needs your help. During our afterschool hours, we need a receptionist to answer the phone, take messages, and greet visitors. This volunteer position is available on Wednesdays from 2:30 - 6:00 pm. Please contact us at (304) 232-2630 if you are able to help. We are interested in having the same person help every Wednesday except when Ohio County Schools are closed, starting immediately and continuing through the school year.

#UOVPAX #PEACETWEETS.
The Peacemaking Sub-Committee (@uovpax) of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery’s Mission Committee is sponsoring a #peacetweets contest, this concluding at midnight on Sunday, November 26, 2017. In 140 characters or less (including spaces) and using the hashtags #uovpax and #peacetweets, post a message of intention and inspiration for peace to Twitter. Your #peacetweets may be a passage from scripture with citation, a quote from your favorite author with attribution, an original prayer, thought, or intention and inspiration for peace, including an attached photograph that depicts a message of peace. The member of presbytery or participant in any of its churches whose #peacetweets is most retweeted and whose#peacetweets is most liked will each receive a copy of the 2010 book Peace Tweets. Winners and their #peacetweets will be announced and prizes awarded at the November 28th, 2017, Presbytery Meeting. Please “follow” @uovpax on Twitter. Post your #peacetweets. “Retweet” and “like” the #peacetweets of others. Invite your Twitter friends, your children, grandchildren, and the youth of your church to participate. If you are not already on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com. Click “Sign up for Twitter.” Provide basic information about yourself and choose your username, and then start posting #peacetweets.

APPLY NOW TO ATTEND JAZZ AS A METAPHOR FOR MINISTRY: 
The Power of Improvisation which is the topic that the Thompson Scholars will explore April 24-27, 2018, at the Center for Lifelong Learning on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus. Designed by a team of leaders steeped in the practices of ministry, visual and performing arts, tradition and entrepreneurial leadership, the seminar seeks to equip participants with a paradigm of how to lead in times of change, using new tools to reach more people with the Good News, while acknowledging the deep roots of tradition. Ralph Basui Watkins, Peachtree Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, Columbia Theological Seminary and pastor at The Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, and Jeffery L. Tribble, Sr., associate professor of ministry at the seminary, presiding elder in the Atlanta District, Georgia Conference, A.M.E. Zion church and musician, will moderate the seminar and present on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Marcus Johnson, jazz keyboardist and CEO of FLO Brands, will lead the seminar on Wednesday, April 25. The group will have a chance to visit a local jazz club to hear and see the jazz improv in its secular context as well. “The program will explore how jazz as an art form can influence the practice of ministry. Improvisation, which is central to jazz, will be highlighted as way to encourage creative responses in this time of intense and rapid change,” states Watkins. “I’m excited that Marcus Johnson can join us on Wednesday, to share his insights about how improvisational leadership – at the keyboard, in the board room, in communities of faith – can play out.” The application deadline is January 26, 2018, and applicants will be notified in February. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, including a link to the application, www.ctsnet.edu/lifelong-learning/special-programs/thompson-scholars. A program fee of $175 covers all course-related fees, eight meals on campus during the event, refreshments, and access to the online course site. Pre-course preparation will include required reading and participation in online discussions. Participants are responsible for their housing and transportation; on campus housing is available.

VOLUNTEER READERS NEEDED IN OHIO COUNTY. 
This is from Madison Elementary School, Ohio County: We are looking for volunteers to read aloud to classrooms in Ohio County Schools. We will work with your schedule. You can read as much as once a week or as little as once a month (will work with schedules). We will be holding a training on October 19, 2017, at the Ohio County Library at 6:00 pm. If anyone is interested and would like more information, call: Cathy Whorton 304-280-5602. Thanks for the help, Cathy Whorton, NBCT, Title I Reading, Madison Elementary

IF YOU KNOW OF ANY COVE KIDS . . .
who have not received a Bible please let us know.

WE ARE UPDATING THE BIRTHDAY & ANNIVERSARY LIST.  
If you are not on it or know someone who should be added please give the information to  Heather Campbell or Debbie Seifert.

REMEMBER, THE PARKING SPACES CLOSEST TO THE CHURCH . . .
are reserved for our members and guests who have disabilities or other health issues and need to park as close as possible.

IF YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE SECRETARY OR PASTOR,
there’s a white board on the wall facing the secretary’s office.

IF YOU HAVE A COMCAST ADDRESS . . .
and aren’t receiving e-mails from the church, please contact the church office. For some reason, Comcast blocks messages from Cove; therefore, you may need to set-up another e-mail account (gmail, aol, hotmail, etc.) to receive material we send.

THE KROGER FAMILY OF STORES IS COMMITTED . . .
to bringing hope and help to local communities. We do this through a variety of activities, including charitable giving, sponsorships and the unique Community Rewards Program of Kroger. We are also committed to carefully protecting our customers' personal information. In order to meet their expectation of privacy, we have adopted a simple policy to never share a customer's personal information. Our privacy policy applies to Community Rewards participation as well. As your neighborhood food retailer, we deeply value our ability to support local organizations like yours. Your supporters (37 households) who shopped at Kroger between 5/1/17 and 8/31/17 have contributed to you r$262.25 total donation. Your organization will be receiving a Kroger check in this amount within 30 days from 5-25-2017. If you have any questions, please email KCR16@kroger. com or visit our website at www.krogercommunityre wards.com. Thank you for your continued support of your local Kroger store.

IF YOU’RE IN THE KROGERS COMMUNITY REWARDS PROGRAM . . .
your enrollment is valid for 12 months from the registration date. You will need your Kroger rewards card number. To confirm that your registration is still active or to re-register you can contact Kroger customer service at this number: 1-866-221-4141. If you need to re-register all you'll need is your Kroger Card number and  our Cove Church number which is 80270. All that is required is that you go to Kroger. com; Community; Rewards; Enroll Now; type in Cove and hit search; click on Cove Presbyterian; click on Enroll Now. Please check your receipt the next time you shop, the bottom should read You requested Kroger to donate to Cove Presbyterian Church. If you need help with this process just call the church office, and Heather Campbell will be happy to assist you.

A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE . . .
can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove’s Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com.

YOU CAN NOW MAKE DONATIONS THROUGH PAYPAL . . .
by go on the link you can find in our daily e-mails and on our website (covepresbyterian.org) and all our blog. We can also help you set up a PayPal account, if you don’t already have one.

YOU CAN ALSO DONATE THROUGH FACEBOOK . . .
by clicking the “Donate” button on the Cove Presbyterian Church page.

WE ARE UPDATING OUR PRAYER CHAIN . . . 
regularly. If you wish to add someone, contact the church office.

WHEN YOU REGISTER FOR AMAZON SMILE,
you get the same products and service we expect from Amazon except the Church gets .5% of every qualifying purchase. The Amazon Smile registration for first time users is https://smile.amazon.com/Ch/55-0462066. You only have to register once then go to www.smile.amazon.com to place orders.

WE NOW HAVE FIVE BLOGS . . . 
that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They’re listed below:
The Cove Community - This is for the whole church. I’ll post sermons and announcements.
Cove Kids - This is tailored for the young people in our church. Again I’ll post announcements. You’re also invited to send in any writings, photographs and art work you’d like to post.
Bible Talk - We’ve established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary.
The Bible in a Year - Each day, we’ll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.
Growing in Grace - Although we’re saved by God’s grace, we can grow in our understanding of grace. At Cove Presbyterian Church, we offer a variety of different classes for children and adults, many of which are recorded and posted on our PodBean page.

IF YOU’RE ABLE AND WILLING TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION . . .
so that some of homebound members are able to attend our worship services, please tell the pastor or another member of session.

SERMONS, DEVOTIONS, LESSONS, AND ESSAYS ARE AVAILABLE ON . . .
the Cove PodBean page and YouTube (search “Cove Presbyterian” and “Ed Rudiger”). .

IF YOU’RE ONLINE . . .
“like” us on Facebook (Cove Presbyterian Church) or join our Facebook group (The Cove Community). You can also connect with Pastor Rudiger on Instagram (rev_ed).

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?
If you know of someone who is in the hospital please contact the church office, due to privacy laws the hospital is unable to contact us. If you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger or to receive communion please contact the church office. Also, if you would like to receive the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office.

IF YOU DON’T PLAN TO TAKE YOUR BULLETIN HOME . . .
drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

VASES OF FLOWERS CAN BE PURCHASED . . .
for a service. The cost is $20.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours.  Telephone the office to place your order. After the service, we’ll place the flowers in a vase for you to take.

BOOK OF ORDER 2017 – 2019: 
This book is Part II of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This volume contains the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity, the Form of Government, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Discipline. Additional information is provided to the reader through the inclusion of Received Ecumenical Statements of Guidance and Articles of Agreement. Patty is currently taking orders at $10.00 per copy. They must be picked up at the Presbytery Office. OR—if you want to order directly from Presbyterian Distribution Service and have them shipped to you, call them at 1-800-524-2612. Downloadable copies are not yet available (maybe in September).


ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . . 
Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Cent er.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the hallway downstairs. 
Greeting Cards are being collected by the Myrtle McHendry Class. Please drop off your used Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. No envelopes -please. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  FYI . . Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked. 
Can Tabs are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container located in the hallway downstairs.

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, October 22, 2017

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin.









Friday's Essay - Choose To Be Happier

Below is an essay I sent to the Cove Presbyterian Church emailing list. You can find a recording of this essay on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Image result for happierYou know, I think we have a lot of power over at least one aspect of our emotions. For example, I think we can choose to be unhappy, if that’s what we really want. And I’ll tell you, I don’t think it’s all that hard to do. You see, we make and keep ourselves unhappy by doing a couple of very simple things. For example, first, we can choose to focus on the negative, on the problems and the pain, you know, on those things that disappoint and frustrate us. And we can take that perspective into our world and our communities and our families, even our churches, and I’m talking about a “let me tell you what’s wrong” attitude. Now this goes beyond seeing the glass as half empty; it’s actually more like assuming that someone else has come along and drunk all our water. It holds that every silver lining is surrounded by a big, old black cloud. Now that’s what I mean by a negative attitude.

And like I said, we can carry that into every aspect of life. For example, we can look at the world and say to ourselves that everything is bad and getting worse. Of course, to do that kind of thing, we have to ignore the tremendous advances in science and medicine and overlook the simple fact that thirty years ago, a lot of the people over the age of sixty-five would have gone on to their reward. It also means not considered the enormous issues people faced in the past. But if we try, we can pull it off and put a sheet over anything that might make us feel positive and good. And then we’re free to dwell on whatever makes us feel sad or frustrated. I’m not sure there’s anything that leads to more sustained unhappiness that negativity.

But just being negative may not be enough. You see, something could happen that might change those things that we don’t like. And for that reason, if we want to be and stay unhappy, second, we really need to make sure our grievances are never heard. You see, if we keep the stuff that causes us to be sad or frustrated away from those who can actually make changes, as a matter of fact, if we never mention those issues that bother us, we can be assured that they’ll never be fixed, that the world will continue to move in its current direction, and we’ll have as much reason to grumble tomorrow as we have today. I’ll tell you, this is almost a sure thing, if we choose to be unhappy.

Image result for happierBut I really don’t think that’s what Jesus would have us do. I mean, even though we’ll always face things that bring us down and many of those things will be beyond our control, I think we can choose to be happier. Now, I didn’t say happy, because I think happiness just happens. But I’m convinced we can set ourselves up to be happier. And just like it was with unhappiness, I believe there are two things we can do to put the odds of happiness in our favor.

You see, first, we can decide that we’re intentionally going to work some positivity into our perspective. Now, let me be clear, I’m not talking about becoming little Polly Annas or putting on rose colored glasses. I think it’s wrong to deny reality so the we can live in some kind of idyllic fantasy world. And when we’re faced with tragedy, I certainly don’t believe God wants us either to descend into denial or paint smiles on our faces. Still, even in the worse situations, we do have reasons to hope, reasons grounded both in the goodness of creation and in the promises of God. As a matter of fact, I’ve told folks that, for me, when everything is falling apart and I feel confused and worn out, the only thing I may have to grasp is the unconditional and irresistible love of God. I’ll tell you, even in the darkness night, somewhere there’s a glimmer of light. And we can find it, if we look. To be happier, we can recognize the positive. That’s one thing we can do.

Image result for making the world a better placeAnd second, we can make the decision to change those things that make us unhappy. In other words, we can decide to do what we can to fix what’s broken and to reconcile what’s divided and to unite what’s been scattered. We can take some kind of action. Of course, I recognize that even our best efforts may come up short, and we generally lack the power to change behavior much less motivation. But before we assume that we’ll never be heard, we need to speak. And before we assume that we can’t make a difference, we need to try. And before we assume that nothing’s going to happen, we need to have the strength and faith to take the imitative. And if it still doesn’t work, we can at least know that we gave it our best shot. But if it does succeed, who knows, we just might actually change the world. You see, we can share our concerns to those who might help things change, and that’s the second thing we can do, if we want to be happier.

Now, having said all this, I don’t want you to think that happiness is sort of like a parlor trick and that deciding to be happy is all it takes to drift up to cloud nine. No, that’s just not the way things are. Still, we don’t have to stay unhappy, not unless that’s where we want to be. Instead, we can intentionally focus on the positive and work to change the negative. And in that way, we can choose to be happier.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for October 20, 2017

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for October 20, 2017: Today our passages are   Jeremiah 35:1–36:32; 1 Timothy 5:1-25; Psalm 89:14-37; and Proverbs 25:25-27 . The readings are from the  Contemp...

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Educate a Child, Transform the World

Image result for National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths 2017I was in a morning Bible study when I received the phone call. It was from the father of one of my youth group teens who had called to let me know that his son “B.A.” had been shot. Hearing this news, I felt overcome by disbelief and sadness as I began asking a flurry of questions. Dad calmly replied, “Reverend, he is alive, he is OK; the gunshots were not fatal.” I was thankful and relieved that B.A. was still alive, but then another wave of sadness overtook me as I remembered that two weeks earlier, I had suspended B.A. from youth group activities because he, as a “prank,” had brought a BB gun there and threatened others with it. This happened the week following the massacre at Sandy Hook, Connecticut, so as one can imagine, I did not find his “prank” amusing. 
Days later, when I visited B.A. in the hospital, he told me in detail what happened. He said that he had been a victim of circumstance, that he was shot because of the new “friends” he had been spending time with. B.A. told me that the shooting happened so fast, he had no idea what to do. I asked him about the friend he was with when it happened, and B.A. looked downward. He hesitated for a minute and replied, “Reverend, I tried to wake him, but he didn’t make it.” Silence filled the room for a minute and B.A. then said, “Reverend, I’m staying away from that life; that was scary. Maybe God is telling me I need to be at church.”
I am grateful that B.A.’s life was not taken on the streets. At the same time, it is extremely difficult to imagine the pain of the parents of the young man and many other young people whose blood cries out from the ground due to violence. When I think of B.A., Psalm I also think of Psalm 99. It is a reminder that the church is a gift of God’s grace and that we are called to be “lovers of justice” in establishing “equity and righteousness” in being tireless advocates for young people. Our faith communities should be sanctuaries where young people can find love, refuge and protection so that all of our children can experience hope.
This weekend marks the 26th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths. The 2017 Children’s Sabbath theme, “Moving Forward with Hope: Love and Justice for Every Child,” focuses on the importance of being vigilant in keeping our promises as adults to nurture, protect and be advocates of children. We can do this by providing alternatives to violence and responding to the issues of poverty, failing schools and other crises that prevent children from living lives of dignity and self-determination. Children’s Sabbath reminds us that we are called to renew our commitment to justice through love, advocacy and compassionate service to all children. (Free resources for the Children’s Sabbath can be downloaded at childrensdefense.org.) 
Alonzo Johnson, Coordinator for the Presbyterian Committee of the Self- Development of People and Convener of the Educate a Child, Transform the World National Initiative
Let us pray:
Holy God, remind us that you have called us to be bearers of hope for your beloved children. Strengthen our commitment so that we may be advocates for all children. Empower our service and challenge us to speak boldly on behalf of the vulnerable. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.