Friday, October 30, 2009

All Saints Day

Sunday is November 1, and although for most people that’s just the day after Halloween, in the church this is All Saints Day. Now I realize that since we don’t have “Saints,” for a lot of us, recognizing this particular day would seem to be unnecessary. I mean, why have a day to remember the saints when we don’t have any? In the Presbyterian Church, we don’t have Saint Peter or Saint Paul much less Saint Aaron of Aleth or Saint Zygmunt Gorazdowski; therefore, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to even talk about All Saints Day.

But even though we don’t recognized certain men and women who have been set apart by the church, we still have saints. You see, for us, a saint is anyone who demonstrated or demonstrates holiness and virtue, a person who could serve as an example for others to follow. For us, that’s a saint. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, saints are those “...whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” They are the great cloud of witnesses that the writer of The Letter to the Hebrews said surrounds us and challenges us to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and...[to] run with perseverance the race that is set before us....” You see, the saints are those men and women whom God has led into our lives to serve as examples and guides.

And for that reason, on this All Saints Day, we’ll do two things during our worship service. First, we’ll recognize and remember all those men and women who have joined that cloud, individuals who have touched the lives of members of this congregation. And second, I’ll use the story of the raising of Lazarus, John 11:32-44, so that we might better understand the nature of death and how it impacts both the living and the dead. And so let me encourage you to attend the service on Sunday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sermon: Who Are You in the Story?


Mark 10:46-52 - 46And they went into Jericho. And as he and his disciples and a considerable crowd were leaving Jericho, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar was sitting beside the way begging. 47And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he started to cry out and say, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me.” 48And many began to speak to him sternly so that he might shut up. But all the more he cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” 49And after he’d stopped, Jesus said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Have courage! Get up! He’s calling you.” 50And after he’d thrown off his outer garment, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51And Jesus answered him and said, “What do you want me to do?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, that I might see again.” 52And Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And immediately he saw again and followed him on the way.
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Well, as of last Wednesday, I have a thousand friends on Facebook. Now, if the computer isn’t a part of your life or even if it is, if this little fact still doesn’t mean a hill of beans to you, let me explain. Facebook is sort of a computer community, and a Facebook friend is someone who receives any message that you choose to post. And since I tend to look for different ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, a thousand friends is a big deal for me. You see, not only do I use Facebook to invite people to activities we have here at the church, and post sermons and the little Friday essays I send out, you know, things like that, not only do I do that kind of stuff, every day I offer a few thoughts on what I call the “Verse of the Day.” I guess it’s sort of an abbreviated version of what I do on the prayer line. And based on some of the comments I’ve gotten, people seem to be reading them. I’ll tell you, I think this is a powerful opportunity to share the Word of God in a new and digital world.

Of course, I doubt that most people go into Facebook to focus on the Bible, because there are all kinds of things you can do. Now, if you haven’t joined, you may want to give it a shot. For example, you can run your own farm. You can throw food or have pillow fights. And you can take hundreds of quizzes on everything from what Roman god would you most likely be to how long would you survive a zombie apocalypse, for me Neptune and I wouldn’t make it through the first day. Anyway, often the quiz will have something to do with what character would you most likely be in a certain movie or television show.

And as a fan of old movies, I find that kind of cool, because I’ll tell you, I’d really like to see myself as Henry Fonda giving that great little speech at the end of The Grapes of Wrath or Jimmy Steward standing in front of the Christmas tree, right beside Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life or, and this one you may not know but it’s one of my all time favorites, Kevin McCarthy, looking down at his suddenly changed girl friend in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. You know, for me, it’s a lot of fun to sort of put myself in the place of some character in a book or movie. And evidently, given all the Facebook quizzes, I’m not alone. It’s kind of neat to think about who I’d like to be.

But you know, more than that, when we do this kind of thing, it really says something about how we see ourselves, and I’m talking about our strengths and weakness, our fundamental nature and value as people. In other words, we can kind of define ourselves by the characters we pick.

And you know, in a real sense, we have the opportunity do that as we look at the passage we just read from Mark. I mean, in the story of that blind beggar who came to Jesus and received his sight, well, I think where we put ourselves in these verses will not only say a lot about how we see ourselves but also what we might have the opportunity to do right now and expect in the future. I mean, who we are in the story can impact how we live as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let me tell you what I mean.

You see, as I read this passage, excluding Jesus, I think there are two characters with whom we may easily identify. First, I think we may see ourselves as Bartimaeus, “the son of Timaeus,” that “blind beggar [who] was sitting beside the way begging.” I’ll tell you, I think some of us may feel as though they have a lot in common with Bartimaeus. I mean, just think about who he was: a blind beggar, someone who was generally ignored and overlooked by those around him, a person who knew from practical experience that he didn’t fit in. My goodness, while everyone else was on the road, following Jesus, he was sitting on the curb. Man, they were on the field, but he was on the sideline. And if there was any question about his value to that crowd, I think he got the message right away when they told him to shut up. No, just like a lot of people we see every day, as matter of fact, I think just like all of us may feel at different points in our lives, Bartimaeus felt like a nobody, excluded, cut-off, limited and separated from everyone else by his blindness, and guess what he was right.

And I can tell you right here and now, I personally know how that feels; what about you? I mean, have you ever felt as though you were by yourself, maybe alone even though there are people are over the place, sitting there watching as the parade passes you by and really clueless as to what to do. Well, if you’ve never been there, you’re lucky because on those dark and lonely days, I think most of us know what Bartimaeus was experiencing. You see, when this describes us, that’s exactly where we are in the story.

And I’ll tell you, when that’s the case, I think it’s really important for us to take a look at not only what he did but what happened later. I mean, even though he had every reason just to sit there and keep quiet as life passed him by, maybe feeling sorry for himself or resenting those who seemed to have been given more than he had, that’s not what Bartimaeus did, was it? No, instead of allowing himself to be what others told him he was supposed to be, he stood up. He stoop up on his hind legs, and he cried out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me.” And even when everyone tried to shut him up, he kept crying out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” He kept pushing himself forward. He kept trying to get help from the one whom he believed could change his condition. “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me.” And that’s exactly what happened isn’t it. Jesus did have mercy, when he said, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And Bartimaeus could now follow him on the way.

And I’ll tell you, the same thing can happen to us. On those dark, dark days, when we feel alone and lost, we can do exactly what Bartimaeus did. We can call out to the Son of David. We can cry out to Jesus. Man, we can stand up on our hind legs and ask for mercy and help from the one who loves, even if the people around us tell us to shut up. This we can do. And take it to the bank, when we do, we’ll be in the perfect position to hear Jesus say to us the same thing he said to Bartimaeus, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And then we’ll be able to see again and to follow. You see, all that’s possible, when this is who we are in the story.

But you know, Bartimaeus isn’t the only one with whom I think we can relate, because second, I think often we can put ourselves right there with those disciples, and I’m talking about those people who were already with Jesus, those who’d already had a chance to see and to hear, those were already on the way.

And you know, I think that really applies to most of us here. Without overlooking the people who feel pushed to the side, I believe most of us see ourselves in the mainstream, doing the best we can with what we’ve been given, traveling along with “his disciples and a considerable crowd” pretty much focused on the one whom we’re following and not all that attentive to those who are distracting us from what we want to do. I mean, that’s where most of us tend to fall in this little encounter, right?

But you know, if I am right, and if this is who you are in the story, I want you just to think about what they did, because you know, they didn’t just follow along, oblivious to what was happening. I mean, even though they weren’t exactly fountains of compassion when they told Bartimaeus to quiet down, “...after he’d stopped, Jesus said [to them], “Call him,” [and that’s exactly what they did, wasn’t it? “...They called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Have courage! Get up! He’s calling you.’”

And you know something, we’re in a position to do the exact same thing ourselves. You see, I believe there are right here and now people in our own church community who feel like nobodies, who are facing situations that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies, men and women who have just about given up hope of ever being treated with kindness and compassion, I’m talking about folks who desperately need to hear us say, “Have courage!” And more than that, there are also folks, maybe in our families and neighborhoods who have just given up, you know, who seriously wonder if there’s any good reason to go on; I’m telling you there are people all around us who need someone to care enough to say “get up,” something the disciples said. And I’ll tell you something else, right here and now, we are surrounded by all kinds of people who are lost and blind, who know that there’s more to life than what they have but have no clue where to find it, potential brothers and sisters whom God has already prepared to hear and believe the victory of his son, Jesus Christ; they’re right there beside the way just waiting for someone, just waiting for us to say what the disciples said to Bartimaeus, “He’s calling you!”

You see, that’s exactly what the disciples did, and if that’s what we do, then we’re going to get to hear and see what they heard and saw. Man, we’ll get to hear Jesus say to the lost and the alone, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And I’ll tell you, we’ll get to see those people who’ve been so burdened and isolated by their blindness see again and to join us in following Jesus into the future.

Now, like I said, I think it’s a lot of fun to think about what character in a movie or television show might be most like you, and so long as there’s Facebook, I think they’ll be quizzes to help us find out who. But you know, when you look at a passage like this one in Mark, I think the question is too important just to dismiss as a lot of fluff. I mean, there are times when we all might feel like Bartimaeus, cut-off and blind, and yet still able to approach the only one who can truly save us. And there are other times when we’re much more like the ones who are already following, who, in spite of prior assumptions and prejudices, can still respond to the call of Christ and invite those on the side of the road to come. And what you choose to do, well, that’s based on who you are in the story.

Sermon: You're Ugly, and Your Mother Dresses You Funny


James 1:17-27 - 17Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

19You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. 22But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 26If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

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Say what you want, but I can almost guarantee that two things happened when you looked at this morning’s sermon title. More than likely you had a little chuckle, and the next thing you thought was either, where is he going to go with this, or, has Frank’s little choo choo finally jumped off the track. Or as my Brother in Law would say, is he off his bing bing?

I have to admit, when I first read this passage, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go with it. I felt inspired by the message, but was unsure on how to relate it. As I read it for the 4th or 5th time, the line from verse 26 really stuck in my mind in context with the rest of the scripture;

“If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.”

As I read this verse, I thought about how what we say,.. can,… and often times does hurt and affect those who it is directed to, even something as harmless as a childhood insult.

But there is more to this title that meets the eye, and we will get back to that later. I hope you’ll see things a bit more clearly just like I did after we get done.

Now James is really one of the books of the bible we often over look. I have read through the book of James, but I never really gave it much thought.

Though James is considered to be the brother of Jesus, this letter doesn’t talk about the life or of Christ, nor does it give us stories of great events and adventures and of martyrs as does Paul’s Epistles.

As I read the commentaries, I noticed one central theme that seemed to come across. And after re reading parts of this Epistle, I have to agree that James comes across a more of a teacher. Someone who wants those to whom he is speaking to, learn how to live their everyday lives well, or as Kate Huey, the author of one of the commentaries I read put it, “with integrity, in line with what they believe.”

And reading through the scripture, it truly is a lesson plan of sort on how we should act as Christians.

James starts out making quite a statement when he says “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights."

It’s a pretty straight forward statement, when we do good, we do the work of God. God works through us here on earth, even though he could quite easily do it himself.

As you may have heard me say before, we as humans need to feel important, so he gives us his gifts to share with others in his name.

Not only does he give us jobs to do, but he expects us to do it too.

Then he moves on telling us to be quick to listen, but listen to what? The scriptures, our hearts, the inspiration that the Lord gives us in our prayers and mediations? And all of that is probably true, but I think there is also something or someone else we need to listen to.

How about our neighbors? Those who are in distress, in need of comfort, or compassion, or a hand up and out of whatever their situation may be. Do we really listen?

What about our own families? After all, I talk a lot about helping those in need, those who do not have what we have. And I know I can be as guilty of this as many others who stand up here and share the Good News of our Lord.

One of my favorite lines, which I use it quite often, and it is one I borrowed from someone who inspired me on my faith’s journey, and someone you are all quite familiar with, is we need to move outside the stained glass windows in to our communities to see what’s really going on.

Yet in reality, where our faith, our generous acts of giving can often times do the most good, is right in our own homes, with our own families. We need to make sure that His word is heard, and we become doers of the word in our own homes, and in our own back yards.

Do we really listen to our spouse, our children, or grandchildren? Or do we let them get half way through it and interrupt them, interjecting our own thoughts and ideas with out hearing what they said completely? My wife will tell you I am guilty of that. Do we love to stand there and tell them how wrong they are and how right we are when in reality we haven’t really heard a word that was said.

Or do we tend to listen and tune them out, and as one of my favorite TV characters, Charlie Harper will do, interject an I understand in to the conversation just so you think we are listening.

My friends, sometimes our families didn’t ask for and don’t want our opinion, they want us just to listen. We’re talking about a generous act of giving and probably one of the most generous things we can do is take the time to listen.

We need to be slower to speak as the passage says, and even slower to anger. Face it my friends, we have heard, and will hear lots of things we don’t like. Getting angry about it is not the answers, verse 20 tells us, “your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” Listening, being slow to speak, and even slower to anger are generous acts of giving.

By following this path, both at home and with all we meet, we become not only hearers of the word but doers as well.

And not just hear then decide what we will do, but to do exactly what Christ taught us to in his Gospels.

By this time, you have to be wondering though, how does this all fit in with the title of the Sermon.

Well, as I quoted earlier, I came up with the title after reading verse 26 “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues, but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.”

I really started to think about that a lot. You see, I am one of those people who, while really don’t mean to do it, can shall we say shoot straight from the lip? I have been known not only to be quick witted, but also sharp tongued.

As kids, we all endure different things, and we learn how to defend ourselves from them. And sometimes this follows us in to our adult life.

And as kids, we would say things we would think were funny, and hurl insults back and forth at each other, and often times we really didn’t mean anything by it. One of those insults was, You’re Ugly and Your Momma Dresses You Funny. I think the first time I heard it I was probably in Junior High School. And normally you would come back with, Oh Yeah, well Your momma wears combat boots, or your so ugly your mom had to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you.

For the most part, it was all in good fun, or was it. What about that one quiet boy who’s clothes weren’t quite as nice as ours? The girl wearing the out of style hand me down dress because her parent’s couldn’t afford anything else? Or the kid who just couldn’t read aloud and made bad grades we called dummy. Then later in life you leaned was dyslexic.

How many times would we say not so nice things about them, or gossip just outside of their range of hearing. Or point and laugh thinking how much superior we than those less fortunate ones.

And it goes on today. We come to church all good and holy and then we can’t wait to find out the latest gossip on this person or that person. And it’s always fun to hear the latest rumor going around. No matter what we do we can’t seen to resist talking about each other. It’s one thing to care about each other, and I expect all of us to want to be there when someone suffers and we should tell each other when a member of our church family needs help. But some people just have to know every detail of somebody’s business and if they don’t know the truth, they just make something up. My friends, there is a fine line between being a caring and compassionate person, and being just plain nosy. And being a busy body isn’t exactly doing God’s work.

And don’t think I am just standing up here throwing out stones, I’ve got a few boomerangs too. I can be just as guilty as anyone.

I’m willing to bet that this has happened to most of us right here in this church. You leave the parking lot and you don’t get down the road 1 mile till someone pulls right out in front of you and acts like they did nothing wrong. Then, to add insult to injury, They proceed down the road at a speed of at least 10 mph under the speed limit.

We blow our top and start shaking our fist and take off on what can be best describe as a tirade, even going so far as singing the four letter aria if you will of not so nice things that I wouldn’t even dare repeat in here. And I am ashamed to admit this, but I have done it.

Or what about in the grocery store when someone blocks the aisle while you are trying to get through, anybody who shops at the Wal-Mart Super Center knows exactly what I’m talking about. We stand there fuming frustration, huffing and sighing under our breaths, even making smart alec comments to whomever is with us, when often times all it would take is a gentle, excuse me, could I get through.

We think we are religious, but do not bridle our tongues, and we deceive our hearts, we believe we are all good and holy when in fact, our religion is worthless. We are not doing what God commands of us, we’re not doing what Jesus taught us, we’re not performing the generous act of giving. We are not spreading the word, we are not evangelizing.

And speaking of evangelizing, Kate Huey also said, it’s tempting for Christians to think of evangelizing as something we do to and with unbelievers who haven’t either heard or accepted the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once they convert, our work is done. In fact, evangelism should become a lifetime process.

We need to nurture our own faith not just the faith of others. We need to pray and strive that our lives be transformed by The God who is active in the world. The God who is day by day, continuing to bless his people with a word that calls us to a new way of living.

I was reading an article in the Wheeling Intelligencer recently in the Faith Magazine called Camouflage Christianity. It’s really a good article and it talks about why our pews are becoming more and more empty in our churches.

In it Pastor Jeffery Kent from Shadyside makes a really good statement that fits right in with what we are talking about here this morning. He says, and I’m paraphrasing his words; If we don’t live the life of a Christian and be the light of the Word of Christ, our neighbors see us as being no different than they are. Then our families see our faith for as he put the sham that it is, and either fall away or just mimic our actions.

It’s kind of like where James states in Verse 23 and 24, where he says those of us who are the hearers and not the doers are like those who look at themselves in the mirror, and when we walk away from it, forget what we look like.

We come, and celebrate the Good News that we hear. But just like the image in the mirror, we forget what we saw. If we don’t take it with us and put it to work, what good is it.

I think what would even be worse yet, would be we come to the mirror, and become so enamored in what we see in ourselves as being perfect as it is, we’re not willing to change; Kind of like Narcissus of Greek Mythology. Upon seeing his own reflection in the pool of water, he became so in love with the image, he was unwilling to leave it, and died a painful starving death. In our lives, living with out the Grace of God would condemn us to a similar painful and starving fate, for all eternity.

We have to look in that mirror and see the things God wants us to see. What God wants us to be, and be willing to take what we see be a doer, not just a hearer that deceives ourselves in to thinking that just because we show up here on Sunday morning, that’s all we have to do.

Until our religion is pure and undefiled before Almighty God, until we can care for those in distress, listen to those in need, or just in need of someone to listen to them, until we can be quick and willing to hear, slow to speak, and ever slower to anger. Then I don’t think we should spend too much time staring in the mirror.

Quite frankly, we may find out that while we think we are the holy and righteous one, we’re more than likely that kid, who’s ugly, and our momma dresses us funny.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leading the Blind


I really like the picture above. It shows a blind woman leading a blind man down the street. Now, for me, it demonstrates not only trust on the part of the man, but to do this, the woman must have had a lot of courage and confidence. I mean, she was taking responsibility for both herself and another person. And although it may have more comfortable for her to just take care of herself, the man desperately needed her help. In fact, without her, he may have been lost.

And on Sunday we'll talk about a similar situation from the Gospel of Mark. We'll look at the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), a blind beggar who encountered Jesus as Christ was about to enter Jerusalem. And even though he certainly had a great deal of trust and that's why he cryed out "Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me," he might have remained isolated and alone if the disciples hadn't led him to Jesus. You see, those followers took to Bartimaeus the invitation, and as result the blind man heard Jesus say, "Go, your faith has saved you."

And it seems that we're called to play the same role, to respond to the call and to invite people to see in Christ a source of healing and hope. Of course, to do that demands courage and confidence on our part, because it involves stepping out of our comfort zone. But when you consider the results, we just might be the instruments that God is using to find the lost. And that's what we'll talk about on Sunday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eagle Scout Dustin Coates Gets Mayor's Award


By ANGELINA DICKSON, Staff writer, Weirton Daily Times

One local Boy Scout, Dustin Coates, received a City of Weirton Mayor's Award in recognition of earning his Eagle Scout Award.

Mayor Mark Harris presented the Mayor's Award to Coates during October's Weirton City Council meeting where he congratulated and thanked Coates for his hard work.

He stated Coates built 10 picnic tables for the Weirton Youth Soccer League to earn his Eagle Scout Award.

"In grateful recognition of your outstanding qualities of leadership and dedication by earning your Eagle Scout Award, I deem it an honor and a privilege to present you with this Mayor's Award," said Harris to Coates. "You deserve this special recognition."

Coates said he was involved in playing soccer in the league where he said they had to "rough it" for a couple of years until the new shelter was built.

He said it was a nice shelter with restrooms and a concession stand, but he realized the new facility at the J.C. Williams Soccer Field had no places to sit for visitors and spectators.

Coates stated he wanted to do something about it and decided to build 10 picnic tables for the shelter.

"It was nice to be able to help and to be able to give something back," he said.

(Dickson can be contacted at adickson@weirtondailytimes.com)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Project Christmas Smile Youth Bowl-A-Thon

For the second year, Cove Presbyterian Church is reaching out to the community for the holidays with Project Christmas Smile. Project Christmas Smile will provide holiday gifts and dinners for about 12 families in need this Christmas.

The PCS committee, headed by Nicole Drobish, has three major fundraisers to generate the funds needed for their project. The first and second fundraisers, Spaghetti Dinners following the church service were a huge success. Their third fundraiser was a FUN raiser! The children of the church and their friends found generous sponsors for their Bowlathon. Children from three on up bowled free for 2 hours if they had a sponsor.Combining bowling, pizza, french fries with cheese, and gobs of FUN, the children raised $741.40! Combined with the previous fundraisers, a total ofnear $4000 has been raised.

Members of the church will also have the opportunity to choose an ornament from the "Giving Tree" in the next few weeks. Each ornament gives the sizes of the children from the families so that clothing can be purchased, as well as toys. Then on a special day in December, the families are invited to a pre-Christmas Turkey Dinner, complete with Santa delivering the gifts for each family.

Blessings abound and there are Smiles all around as we each experience the Magic of God's Kingdom here on Earth!







Remembering Laura Miller


Born in Greensburg, PA on Apr. 20, 1912
Departed on Oct. 18, 2009 and resided in Scottdale, PA.

Visitation: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009
Service: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009
Cemetery: Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens

Laura Mae Miller, 97, formerly of Weirton passed away Sunday, October 18, 2009 in Scottdale, PA. She was born in Greensburg, PA, the daughter of the late John W. and Margaret Dunsmore Hillen, and her aunt Jemima Dunsmore Hillen who raised her. Her husband Arch Miller Jr, who passed away in 1987, brother Lt Col John W. Hillen Jr and step brother James Drylie also preceded her in death.

Laura was a homemaker. She enjoyed bowling, golf, and dancing. She was a member of the Weirton Chapter 147 Order of the Eastern Star, charter member of the Order of the Amaranth, Weirton Hospital Ladies Auxiliary, Women's Golf Association of Williams Country Club and Cove Presbyterian Church in Weirton.

She is survived by her son Donald C. Miller (Joyce) of LaCrosse, IN; daughter Margaret June Spotto (Sam) of Connellsville, PA; and three grandchildren, Samuel Spotto of Connellsville, PA, Brad Spotto of Santa Monica, CA, Melissa Connell of Connellsville, PA, and seven great grandchildren, Samantha and Grant Shoeck of Atlanta, GA, Olivia, Sam IV, Nick Spotto all of Connellsville, PA, and Joseph and Julietta Spotto of Santa Monica, CA.

Visitation will be Tuesday evening from 6-8PM at the Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home, 3219 main St, Weirton WV where an Eastern Star service will be held at 7PM in the funeral home. Funeral services will be Wednesday, 11AM in the funeral home with Rev. Ed Rudiger officiating.

Entombment will be at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Weirton, WV.

Memorial contributions can be made to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main St, Weirton, WV 26062

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Church Belongs to...

Some of y'all may not realize that I've been on vacation since Monday. Now that means I'll have the chance to do something I can rarely do; I'm going to worship with another congregation on Sunday. And although I'm looking forward to being a participant, it's going to feel funny not to be with some of y'all. You see, where you worship and the community in which you're involved makes a difference.

And I've become particularly aware of that recently, because I've had several people use words like "my," "your," and "their" to describe Cove. In other words, I've heard people talk about this being my church or their congregation. And although I think that's pretty natural and in one sense even positive, I think there's a real danger when I believe the church belongs to them, you or me. You see, first, I think it takes God out of the picture. If Paul is right and this is the body of Christ, the church doesn't belong to you or to me and certainly not to them; it ultimately belongs to him. And as such, we are commanded to do what he's called us to do, namely "to go and to make disciples of all nations." When church becomes a human possession, we are free to do with it what we want. It becomes just another building or organization, but that's not what we were called to be. Because, first, Cove belongs to God.

But I think there's another problem, particularly when we use words like "mine," "yours," and "theirs." When we do that, we eliminate any sense of "us." For whatever reason, God has called us together. And even though we may not understand why or particularly like God's choices, I believe it's his will. Like it or not, we're in this together; therefore, as Paul wrote, we should be working to build up the body, not tear it apart. And I think that's why, right along with wickedness, evil and murder, he included gossiping, malice, slander, and heartlessness as signs of a debased mind. If we believe the Apostle Paul, what tears us apart can't be the intention of God. Rather, he tells us to practice of the kind of love he describes in I Corinthians 13, a passage that based on its context has more to do with the church than with marriage: "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

You know, Cove isn't my church. It's not your church. And it's sure not their church. We are the Body of Christ; therefore, it's God's church that he's entrusted it to our care, and for which we'll be held accountable. And because of that, maybe it's time we decided to put me/my, you/your and they/their asside so that we can love God and to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Impossible Possibility


Now y’all may not know this about me, but I love plays and musicals. In fact, when I lived in Indianapolis, I bet I’d see at least three plays a month. And one of my all time favorite musicals is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Now, it’s based on an ancient Roman comedy and involves a slave named Pseudolus, which in Greek literally means “false slave,” trying to win his freedom. And in the musical, there’s a song entitled “Impossible,” and the last line goes like this: “The situation’s fraught, fraughter than I thought, with horrible, impossible, possibilities!”


Now to me, that’s pretty clever: impossible possibilities. There's only one problem; it just doesn’t make any sense. Give me a break, impossible possibilities, what’s that supposed to mean? If it’s impossible, then it can’t be a possibility, and if it’s a possibility, then it can’t be impossible, right? It’s sort of like my dad, and this was years ago. He went to the doctor, and the doctor said that, based on his height, he needed to lose about fifteen pounds. Of course, this wasn’t the first time he’d heard this. In fact, that’s what the doctor said about every year. Well, this time, when he got home, dad told us that he’d made an important decision. Since it was so hard for him to lose the fifteen pounds, he decided to use the next year to grow about two inches. Now that's an impossible possibility.

But as we'll see on Sunday, when we look at Jesus's encounter with a wealthy person who just can't give up his possessions to become a disciple, the same thing applies to our faith and right now, I’m talking about our salvation. It's an impossible possibility. Of course, that's not how we usually see it. I’d be willing to bet that almost every Christian believes that salvation, that eternal life is certainly not impossible, right? I mean, don’t we all believe that it’s possible for us to get saved? If you go out and do something, you know, like accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and give your life to him, then you'll get redeemed and God will give you eternal life. There’s nothing impossible here. I mean, imagine if a person walked into this church and came up to me and asked, “Pastor, what do I have to do to get saved, you know, to have eternal life?” What would you think if, instead of telling him what we all know makes sense, I looked him in the eyes and said, “Oh, that’s impossible.” Man, you’d think I’d lost my mind. I’d guarantee, if you didn’t say it to my face, some of y’all would talk about it later.

And yet that's exactly what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked, "And who is able to be saved?" He looked them right in the eyes and said, "For people it's impossible..." In other words, salvation...it's just not possible. But of course, he didn't stop there, because Jesus went on to say, "...but not for God. For all things are possible for God." And on Sunday, we'll talk about how accepting this impossible possibility can absolutely change your lives. So please, plan on coming.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Remember When TVs Were Just Becoming Popular



By Angelina Dickson
Staff writer


WEIRTON — Herman Capito recalls a time in Weirton’s history when television sets were first becoming popular and the Weirton Cable Co. was established in the 1950s.

Capito, a Weirton resident and member of the Rotary Club of Weirton, said he remembers when Capito and Sons was the top of the line appliance store, musical repair shop and was the first business in the Ohio Valley to offer black and white television sets as well as cOlor in
1954.

Capito remembers bemg dis charged from the Air Force in November 1945 when he and his wife, Viola Kemp, moved to Weirton and stayed with his parents. He said the owner of a local radio shop sold him a tube checker, signal tracer, scope, voltage tester and five bushels of tubes.

“I tested all the tubes and found one bushel of tubes was bad,” said Capito.

He said he put a sign on the window that read “radios repaired here” and in about a week, he said it seemed like hundreds of radios came in for repair. He said the response was so overwhelming that he sought help from Martin Kosut, who Capito trained to check tubes, fuses, read diagrams and fix small appliances.

In January 1950, Capito and Sons rented the Polish Hall on Weirton Heights to display black and white TVs due to poor reception at the store. A Lazy X Antenna was then put on the roof and provided good pictures inside the business.

“We had about 30 RCA 10-inch and 12-inch picture tubes on display,” said Capito. “People wanted to see TVs, and we had perfect pictures.”

He said they took orders and sold the sets on display and, upon delivery, installed a temporary antenna. Capito remembers the only TV models built were the table models. Capito and Sons was the first company to start TV-cable in the downtown area.

Williams Country Club officials granted Capito and Sons permission to install a TV antenna on the golf course on a tree and had the all-channel antenna, pipe and special wire to install it on the tree. Capito said they asked an individual if he would be willing to allow the cable to be hooked to a television set.

“He had a perfect picture and asked to be signed up,” Capito said, noting installation charges were $125 and rental was $4.50 a month at that time.

In March 1954, RCA began making color television sets, the first being a 12-inch screen, Capito said. He noted it was not easy bringing color telecasts to homes.

“It took scientists through the 1940s and late ‘50s to develop the color tube,” he said. “The three beam shadow mask sounded like something out of a science fiction novel.”

Capito added he remembers when only one telecast a week was broadcast through homes and then eventually made it to 40 hours per week.

Later, Capito and Sons took on Whirlpool appliances as well and upholding the motto “We service what we sell.” The company became the seventh largest service center in the United States to service Whirlpool appliances.

The Weirton Daily-Times, Tuesday, September 29, 2009



I Remember the Patriotism, Love of Country During World War II


From staff reports

WEIRTON — As the country continues its war campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, Goldie Almason Baly of Weirton, who will celebrate her 88th birthday in October, remembers another war with personal ramifications and memories that never fade.

“When the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, I was 20 years old a nd had been married 11 months,” Baly said.

“I felt as though my world was coming to an end. My husband Michael and I had a sleepless night listening to reports over the radio as there was no television in those days.

“We Americans were frightened with good reason. The Japanese and Nazi Germany were prepared for war. Our country was not prepared,” she reminisced.

“One had to live during that era to experience the highly charged emotions of patriotism, devotion and love of country. Everybody became united in dedication to help the war effort,” she recalled.

“The Weirton Steel Co. was a war plant. They manufactured essential secret materials ordered by the defense department. They were on the list as possible bombing targets by the enemy,” she said, explaining that Weirton Steel produced 8-inch Howitzer shells, 70,000 per month.

“Ed Hartman was appointed coordinator of civilian defense to mobilize our community. Although I became a government employee with the War Ration Board, I wanted to do more to help on the homefront. I joined the Red Cross Motor Corps,” she said.

“To qualify I had to take a six- week course in first aid. The evening classes were held in the First Christian Church with Harley “Skip” Lawrence as instructor. We also had to learn how to change a tire. A mechanic at the Cove Car Co. was our instructor,” she continued.

“When we had a ‘blackout,’ the city of Weirton had to be in total darkness with no exception. No street lights. Businesses and houses had to be in total darkness or the air raid warden would bang on the door and yell ‘Lights out!”

“We had practice drills. My captain in the Red Cross Motor Corps was Leah Westlake of Palisades Drive. When we reported at her house for our assignment, we wore our uniforms and were required to have our first aid carrying case with us,” Baly said.

“My assignment was to drive — without headlights, of course — down the steep and curvy Mar- land Heights Road to the tin mill gate in north Weirton. It wasn’t easy seeing the roads of that area. It took courage, but I did fine and checked in with the volunteer person at the tin mill gate,” she recalled.

“Had there been a bombing at our assigned locations, we were expected to be prepared to assist and administer first aid. Our beloved country truly had a strong united front during a difficult time,” she said.

Baly also reminisced about Weirton’s last World War II July 4 parade in 1943.

“The healthy young men had either been drafted or had enlisted in the various branches of the armed services,” she said.

“The parade watchers who lined up and down both sides of the Main Street were women, children and elderly men — perhaps some draft classified 4-F men who had a disability,” she surmised.

“As we rode the Chamber of Commerce float and waved to the crowd, our smiles belied our heavy hearts and concerns over the losses of our servicemen on the Pacific Islands and in Europe. During that period the allies were having a bad time, and the situation looked bleak,” she continued.

“Heartache turned to joy at war’s end with the allies’ victory two years later,” said Baly, whose husband, Michael Baly Jr., was a petty officer first class in the U.S. Navy, serving on Okinawa. He died at the age of 79 on Dec. 5, 1998.

The Weirton Daily-Times, Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sermon: Divorce: Asking the Right Questions


Mark 10:1-16 - 1And from there he set out and went into the territory of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And again crowds came together before him, and as was his custom, again he taught them. 2And after the Pharisees came, in order to test him, they asked him a question, "Is it permissible for a man to release his wife?" 3And he answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" 4And they said, "Moses allowed him to write a certificate of divorce and to release her."
 
5And Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, he wrote to you that commandment. 6From the beginning of creation, male and female he made them. 7For this reason, a person will leave behind his father and his mother and become joined to his wife. 8And the two will become one flesh, so that they are no longer two but one flesh. 9Now what God has yoked together, let no person separate."
 
10And in the house, again the disciples questioned him concerning this. 11And he said to them, "Whoever might release his wife and might marry another, then he commits adultery against her. 12And if she might release her husband and might marry another, she commits adultery."
 
13And they continually brought children to him, so that he might touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14But when Jesus saw, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me. Don’t try to stop them. For to these is the Kingdom of God. 15Amen I say to you, unless you might receive the Kingdom of God as a child, then you will absolutely not enter into it." 16And after he took them into his arms, he blessed them and lay his hands upon them.


**********

As we’re getting started this morning, I’ve got a couple of questions to ask you. And I want you to be as honest as you can. How many of y’all are comfortable talking about divorce, and I’m thinking particularly talking about it with someone who’s either facing it right now or just been through it? Is this something you’re comfortable doing? OK, how about this: how many of y’all have dealt with divorce, either in your own life or in the life of someone close to you?
 
Now, I find that interesting but I’ve got to tell you, not all that surprising. Because you know, although divorce seems to be a part of life now-a-days, most people aren’t all that comfortable even talking about it. And in my opinion that may be more true of Christians than anybody else. I mean, even though, in one way or another, it’s touched everyone here, the whole idea of divorce isn’t the easiest topic to talk about, unless that is, you’re on the extreme and are sure all divorced people are going to Hell. But you know, even if you are on the extreme and it’s all cut and dry, it sure seems to get fuzzy when you’re talking about a son or a daughter, doesn’t it? It’s not so easy any more. My goodness, it seems that the faith which offers us comfort and support in so many ways kind of lets us down when it comes to couples splitting up.
 
And I’ll tell you, for that reason, this morning, we’re going to spend a little time talking about divorce and in particular, three questions that I think are answered in the passage that we just read questions that just might help us understand this uncomfortable topic a little better.
 
And you know, I think that’s probably a good idea, because I’ll tell you, I think a lot of our discomfort and confusion comes from frankly asking the wrong question. You see, it seems to me that often believers spend a lot of time and energy trying to answer the question: what are the biblical grounds for divorce? I think that’s what a lot of Christians tend to do. And although some may be looking for a loophole, most are very sincere. But I’ll tell why I think that’s a pretty weak question.
 
For one, if we’re really serious about it, man, we’re going to find all kinds of answers in the Bible, ones that with a little creativity, can fit almost any situation. I mean, give me a break, as this passage reminds us, according to Moses, a man could divorce his wife for any reason by just writing out a certificate. And in the Book of Ezra, it was the sign of a good husband to divorce his foreign wife. For Paul, it was permitted if a non-believing spouse wanted it. According to Matthew, Jesus himself said that unchastity could be used as grounds. And remember, Joseph, a "righteous man," felt that it was his duty to divorce Mary, the mother of Jesus, because he thought she’d been unfaithful to him. You see, it’s almost impossible to come up with one answer to the question. And that’s one reason I think it’s probable not the best question to ask.
 
And the second reason, well, just think about why people usually ask it. The answer is generally used either to justify themselves or to condemn others, sometimes both at the same time. I remember about twenty-five years ago, a woman told me, with a great big smile on her face, that she had talked with her pastor and she was getting what she called a "Biblical Divorce." You see, she was told that the only biblical grounds for divorce was adultery; therefore, her divorce was going to be right in line with the Bible. Well, when she told me, I was really surprised. I mean I knew her husband and not only did he worship her, but he was kind of, you know, whimpy. Man, I couldn’t imagine him stepping out on her, and so I asked her point blank, "Did John really commit adultery?" And with that big, old smile still on her face, she said, "No, I did." Now, I know that’s an extreme example, but if I want to say that my sister’s divorce is OK but your divorce is wrong, twisting and misreading the Bible isn’t a bad place to start. And I’ll tell you, in my book, that’s why I don’t think the question, "what are the biblical grounds for divorce?" is all that helpful.
 
But you know, having said that, I do believe there are three questions that we should be asking, because they have good, solid Biblical answers that I think we can use right now. And I’ll tell you, I believe all three are answered in this passage.
 
For example, as we consider divorce, I think the first question we should ask ourselves is simply "what is God’s intention for marriage?" In other words, what does God want marriage to be for his children, in other words, for us? And like I said, I think the answer is right here. I mean, Jesus said to those Pharisees who, like us, really got off finding biblical grounds for everything, to them he said, "From the beginning of creation, male and female he made them. For this reason, a person will leave behind his father and his mother and become joined to his wife. And the two will become one flesh, so that they are no longer two but one flesh. Now what God has yoked together, let no person separate."

Now right there, in my opinion, is what God intended marriage to be: a life-long union between a man and a woman, a union that’s so close and intimate and profound that the two people actually become one. Therefore, the whole idea of divorce doesn’t make sense. Like I said at a wedding yesterday, "Those whom God has joined together let no one separate." You see, that’s what God intends. And I’ll tell you, when we accept it, we’re going to do a whole lot more than looking for biblical grounds to dissolve it. My goodness, if we really buy what Jesus is selling here, we’re going to work as hard as we can to help people take marriage very seriously, and I’m talking about before we encourage them or guilt them or even bribe them into going up front of God and everybody and saying "I do." I’ll tell you, there’s no shotguns if we accept God’s vision for marriage. And I’ll tell you something else that’ll happen; I think we’ll also try to improve our own marriages as much as possible, whether that comes at a church-sponsored workshop or in counselor’s office or through a really good book or DVD that a couple can experience together. You see, that kind of stuff is going to happen when we ask ourselves the question: what is God’s intention for marriage; question number one.
 
And the second, in light of this first question and answer, I think it’s more than reasonable to ask: Why is there divorce at all? I mean, if God’s intention is for marriage to go on "‘til death do us part," why shouldn’t we make it impossible for marriages to be dissolved? Now, to me, that’s a good question.
 
And again, the answer is right here. I mean, Jesus was crystal when he said to the Pharisees, right after they’d told him that "Moses allowed [them] to write a certificate of divorce and to release [their wives]," right after that, Jesus said, "Because of your hardness of heart, he wrote to you that commandment." In other words, we have divorce because we have hard hearts, and I think hard heads to match. Good night, we’re stubborn, aren’t we; unwilling to listen and to learn, even from God, and the last thing we want to hear are the facts, because our minds are already made up. Man, we already know what’s best for everybody. We already know what’s right and wrong. My gosh, we already know everything we need to know. Or so we think.
 
What kind of gets lost in all this "knowledge" is the fact that we’ll all sinners, and that’s why we have divorce laws, that’s why we need divorce laws, because when you get right down to it: divorce is bad, murder is worse. I mean, if we were perfect, we’d all get along; but we all know that’s not the case. No, God made divorce possible in his covenant community, because they fell short of God’s ideal. Man, they were screwed up. And you know what, so are we, every man, woman and child here this morning. Like it or not we’re sinners. And I think we need to remember that, because I’ll tell you, sin is involved in every single divorce. Now it may be blatant, like adultery or something like that, or it may be more subtle and insidious. But I’ll guarantee, no one leaves a marriage without some regrets and frustrations and sadness.
 
And I’ll tell you, to help folks not make the same the same mistakes twice, I think it’s absolutely crucial that we have the courage to call divorce exactly what it is and to recognize that forgiveness and a renewed sense of wholeness comes only when we treat it like every other sign of sign, every other sign of our brokeness. You see, I think we need to approach the aftermath of divorce with both confession and repentance, in other words with a recognition that we have slipped away from God’s intention and a decision to change as we move in the future. And that can happen only when we’re clear about why we have divorce at all? Question number two.

But you know, there’s a third question that, in terms of our practical relationships with others, may be the most important of all. You see, in light of God’s intention and the reality of divorce, I think we all need to answer the question: How should we deal with divorce in our lives? And in particular, how do we handle divorce when it happens in our families and among our friends and especially within our church.
 
And I’ll tell you, I think that’s where the story of the children comes in. Remember a couple of weeks ago there was another passage about kids, and I told y’all that in the first century, children weren’t seen as cute and cuddly little innocent miracles. That’s a twenty-first, not a first century perspective. No sir, they were viewed as economic drains to the family until they were old enough to walk behind a plow. And because of that, they were seen as non-people until they could pull their own weight, and since most died before they were ten... In the first century, if you looked up the words "ignored" or "marginal," you’d see a picture of a child. And in that world, the only thing more useless than a child was a sick child. They provided nothing to a family that might have been living on the edge. And yet, according to Mark, Jesus not only welcomed the children, he even accepted the ones who were sick, you know, the ones on whom he laid his hands. But that’s really no surprise, because Jesus loved the ignored and the marginal. That’s why he eat and drank with sinners and tax collectors.
 
And I’ll tell you, that’s something we need to remember because often in the church, divorced folks become just as ignored and marginal as those children. I mean, we may be the first in line to help a person get through sadness and death, but when it comes to the sadness that comes from a dead or dying marriage, at best, we often look the other way or at worse we stand in judgement. And I’ll tell you something else, there are churches in this community in which you could be a repentant ax murder and still serve in a church office, but not if you’re divorced. For them, it truly is the unforgivable sin. But that’s not the way Jesus treated those who’ve been pushed to the edge, and neither should we. Instead, I think as brothers and sisters, we should put whatever stones we may be carrying away and work as hard we can to do what Jesus did: to share grace with the sinner and announce healing to the broken. And I’ll tell you, as we do that, as we identify with them and share the pain they feel, we may be doing exactly what Christ told his disciples to do. We’ll be receiving the Kingdom of God just like a first century child, in other words, we’ll be receiving it just like a person who knows exactly how is feels to be ignored and marginal all because we answered the question, How should we deal with divorce in our lives? Question number three.
 
Now don’t get me wrong, divorce will always be difficult and uncomfortable for all concerned. And I think most Christians will continue not to deal with divorce very well, hoping that by avoiding it, it’ll just go away. But you know, I think we can reach a better and more biblical understanding by thinking about God’s intention for marriage and why there’s divorce at all and how we can deal with divorce in our lives. You see, when it comes to divorce, I think we can sure begin asking the right questions.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Question of Divorce


I guess John and Kate are getting a divorce. I mean, why else would they announce that the show will be renamed "Kate Plus Eight." Of course, no one's surprised; the entire sordid affair has been splashed all over the place for several months now. I mean, most people have some sense about why it's happening. My goodness, there's been all kinds of "he said/she said" stuff drifting out across the airwaves. Unless you've been hiding in a cave somewhere in eastern Pakistan, you have some information related to this little melodrama. Most people have the "why" down pat.

I think what we're not as clear about is the "what," what divorce actually means. In other words, I'm not sure we have a very clear understanding of divorce, what it means and how to handle it. Of course, this has nothing to do with any lack of exposure. Divorce seems to be a fact of life in our modern world. And although Christians often condemn it out-of-hand, accept it as necessary evil or scramble around trying to find "biblical grounds" to justify it when it happens to them, I think most of us would rather avoid the whole topic rather than address it honestly and openly.

And for that reason, on Sunday, I'll focus on divorce during the sermon. And I'll suggest that instead of asking when is divorce OK for a Christian, we'll look at three other questions that are firmly grounded in Scripture and which may help us deal with this issue when it crops up in our lives and in the lives of those around us.