Friday, October 29, 2010

Fifth Sunday

Back in the summer, the session decided to do something special during worship services on the fifth Sunday of the month. Now, months with five Sunday only come up four times a year; therefore, it seemed like a good idea to worship God in a special way on those days. On our first "Fifth Sunday" we had our church picnic.

In a couple of days we'll celebrate our next special Sunday, and these as some special things we plan for our worship service:
  • The service will have a youth orientation, with some young people helping out with some different aspects of worship.
  • Children are invited to wear their Halloween costumes to the service. After the service, they'll collect for UNICEF, a project of the Presbyterian Women.
  • Eric and Kayla Violet will lead us in singing some special songs. They'll also have their own duet.
I think this will be a wonderful opportunity to praise our Lord in a special way, and so I hope I see everyone at worship on Sunday.

Announcements for October 31 - November 6

WE WELCOME YOU . . .
as you share with us in worship on our Lord’s day. If you are a visitor and are interested in joining this congregation, please talk to the pastor. If you have a problem and need some guidance, please call Pastor Rudiger, 304-748-5980 or e-mail him at CovePresbyterian@aol.com.

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service, under the direction of Jenna Maine. We still need some volunteer help. If you can spare time to supervise the little ones, please talk to Jenna after the service. We wish to thank you in advance for giving of your time to care for the future members of Cove Church.

DON’T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. Think about trying out one of our classes. We have a variety of classes to chose from to fit your needs.

THE HOUR BEFORE . . .
the service begins, adults who aren’t already involved in a class are invited to attend a discussion of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. The discussion is held in Fellowship Hall, with coffee and cookies served.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children are now carrying red, orange and yellow streamers. This represents the coming of the Holy Spirit, filling the sanctuary as we prepare to worship. At the end of the service, they carry the streamers out, challenging us to carry the Spirit out into the world.

JESUS TIME OFFERS THE YOUNGER CHILDREN . . .
of our congregation, between the ages of 3 and 11, the opportunity to worship in a special experience just for them. The children are dismissed to Jesus Time after a Special Time for Children.

THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE . . .
will have a brief meeting immediately after worship this morning.

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, November 1 at 7:00 pm. In the boardroom.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY MEETING . . .
and evening social will be held on Tuesday, November 2 at 700 p.m. Pam Makricosta will present the program for the evening, a review of Lydia, a book by Lois T. Henderson.

ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, November 3, at 5:30 p.m. We have 1 position that needs filled. We practice from 5:30 - 6:45 from Sept. through May. We play once a month for Sunday services. If you are interested in joining, please contact Becky Korosec at 304-748-8449 for more information.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, November 3, in the sanctuary. Please note practice begins at 6:45 p.m. this year. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

BABY PLAY AND SIGN CLASS . . .
will be held on Thursday, November 4 at 10:00 a.m. in the nursery. This is the final class in a four class series. A Free Class for the next series will be held Thursday, November 11. For more information, on future classes for parents and children infant to preschool age contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . .
on Thursday, November 4, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of Galatians, by looking at Galatians 1:13 – 2:21. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

WORLD COMMUNITY DAY . . .
sponsored by Church Women United will he held here at Cove Church on Friday, November 5 beginning at 11:00 a.m. Following the program a light luncheon will be served in Fellowship Hall.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet on Saturday, November 6, at 6:00 a.m. in the board room.

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME . . .
begins next Sunday, November 7. Remember to turn your clocks back one hour.

ELEVENTH ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE. . .
Sunday, November 7 during the morning worship. If you experienced the loss of a loved one last year, please contact the church office so we can include their name in the service.

CONGRATULATIONS MICHAEL AND SARAH CRISS . . .
on the birth Conrad Isaiah Criss, born October 27: seven pounds, fourteen ounces, twenty inches long. Now Roger and Patty can relax.

1,194 ITEMS. . .
is the amount of items collected by the Girl Scouts on Saturday, October 23. The girls were at Weirton Shop n Save and Walmart between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm to accept donations for the Deacons Food Pantry. Great Job Girls!

HOLIDAY BAKED GOODS . . .
are available to assist you with your meal planning. The deacons are sponsoring another Pie Shoppe Sale. A variety of cream or fruit pies and pumpkin rolls are being offered. Today is the last day to place your order. Orders will be delivered on Sunday, November 14. Contact a deacon or check the bulletin board located downstairs by the offices to view a form and place your order.

FUN WITH SIGNING CLASS . . .
will not be held next week. The next series will begin on Wednesday, November 17th at 4:00 p.m. in the board room. A Free Class will be held on Wednesday, November 10th at 4:00 p.m. This class is open to school age children and their parents. For further information on the classes contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRESENT . . .
This is My Country, a patriotic cantata on Sunday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m. We invite everyone to come enjoy our musical program as we pay tribute to our military.

WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have six blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They're listed below:
• The Cove Community (www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com) - This is for the whole church. I'll post sermons and announcements. I also invite y'all to send in material that you'd like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read.
• Cove Kids (www.covekids.blogspot.com) - This is tailored for the preteen 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. And they don't have to all deal with the church. We also post artwork from The Gathering service and Jesus Time.
• Glue (www.cove-glue.blogspot.com) - Our teens are running their own blog site; therefore, I have no idea what will be posted.
• Bible Talk (www.cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com) - We've established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we're posting the pastor’s translation of the Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you've done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we'll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
• Let Talk About It (www.cove-talk.blogspot.com) - Through this site, we hope to encourage a conversation on a variety of topics. Since this blog is sponsored by a church, we expect most of the issues to involve the Christian faith. Still we don't want to limit ourselves or you. If you have a topic that you'd like us to discuss, include it as a comment to a previous issue. Please phrase it as a question and offer a summary of at least two positions. We'll add a new item to discuss every three weeks. We hope this challenges you to apply your faith and values to issues that are important to you.
• The Bible in a Year (www.cove-bibleinayear.blogspot.com/) - Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.

SCOUT PROJECT CONTINUES. . .
The Shoe Box Project, by Kyle Truex, a Boy Scout with Troop 334, has extended his Eagle Scout Project to include continuous donations for Appalachian Outreach Inc. Informational brochures with envelopes attached are located on the table in the narthex.

MISSING A DISH, BOWL OR BAKING PAN?
Check the pantry in the church kitchen. There are a number of items, bowls, plates, sealed containers and utensils that have been left after various functions, one may be the piece your searching for.

TRICK or TREAT For UNICEF. . .
October is UNICEF month and we’re collecting because Every Kid Counts!
7 cents provides 50 kids with safe water for a day
$2 buys one liter of therapeutic milk
$19 buys 3 mosquito nets to protect kids from malaria
$257 provides an emergency classroom kit for 40 kids
$500 buys a water pump for a whole community
The children of our Sunday School will be collecting as people come to church today Sunday, October 31. Any help that you can give UNICEF for their 60th Anniversary will be appreciated!

THANK YOU! . . .
I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone for all the prayers, cards, telephone calls and other acts of kindness extended to me during my recent surgery.
Kay Hyde

REMEMBER WHEN SHOPPING ON LINE . . .
use Good Search and Good Shop search engines to find what you are hunting for. Just list Cove Presbyterian Church as your charity and a percent of your purchase will come back to the church. It’s a simple way to raise money for the Cove Deacons while shopping for yourself!

IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO HEAR PRAYER REQUESTS . . .
on Sunday mornings. If you would like to have someone added to the prayer chain please drop a short note into the collection plate with their name and any other information you would like to share.

PRAYER CHAIN INFO. . .
if you would like someone added to or removed from the prayer chain please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561 or e-mail her at floyfetty@yahoo.com. Thanks to Floy’s dedication, the Prayer Chain is kept up to date.

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?. . .
if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit by Rev. Ed Rudiger please contact the church office. Also if you would like to be included in our weekly bulletin mailings contact the church office.

WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB MINISTERING . . .
to the needs within this congregation, community and world. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as comments.

DUE TO BUDGET CONSTRAINTS . . .
the Board of Deacons has had to seriously cut back their outreach programs. Session has approved the Deacons collecting a “Loose Change Offering” that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is placed in the Narthex each Sunday morning before church for any spare change you would like to donate. We thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS, SILK FLOWERS OR PLANTS . . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is $15.00 a vase or plant. Silk flowers can be purchased for an additional cost. The flower calendar is located on the far wall in the church narthex or you can contact Sue Marsh or the church office to place your order. You may pick-up your flowers after the service.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. . .
newsletters from old friends or articles about or by members of Cove Church, check out the new bulletin board located in the hallway by the church offices. Items of interest and pictures of events at Cove will now be posted in that area.

WE’RE UPDATING OUR PRAYER AND DEVOTION LINE . . .
about four times a week. If you would like to call and hear a devotional, please
call 304-748-7900.

ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . .
• Used can tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House. Deposit your tabs in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Used postage stamps are being collected for Stamp Camp USA. Place your used stamps in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women and can be dropped off in the church office.
We thank you for your support of these valuable endeavors.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2010 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches join together to pray for:
• Mounsdville, Limestone -Larry Kline, Pastor
• Mt. Pleasant, First - Byron McElroy, Pastor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Not Alone

Psalm 91:

1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”


Devotion by Roland Rink (Gauteng, South Africa):

I was in South Korea on a work assignment. I could not read, speak, or understand the Korean language; and most Koreans I met could not understand my English dialect. I was facing a serious communication challenge. Because I was working in the telecommunications industry, this seemed to be ironic — especially since I needed to travel by train 200 kilometers to the capital city of Seoul on my own. I was very anxious.

God responded to my silent prayer; I sensed an assurance that I was not alone. Help soon came in the form of a smiling, young man who somehow grasped my predicament. With an impromptu-type of sign language, he helped me purchase the necessary train ticket and alerted me when I needed to get off the train some hours later. I will always remember his smiling face and his amazing ability to sense my need.

When has God sent an angel to direct, comfort, or encourage you?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Bold and Persistent


Matthew 15:21-28:

From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”

Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”

Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”

Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”

He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”

She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”

Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.


Devotion by Janey L. DeMeo (California)

My baby’s shrill shriek sent me running. When I got to the nursery I discovered that he had apparently stopped breathing. Panicked, my husband and I rushed to the hospital, bearing what looked like a dead child. Anxious and afraid, I prayed aloud, as if hearing my spoken plea would boost my faith. The hospital staff looked at me as if I were crazy. Still I prayed persistently, begging God to save my baby. I was desperate, and I didn’t care what people thought. When the doctor announced that against all odds our baby was all right, I thanked God.

The Canaanite mother in Matthew 15 also sought Jesus to heal her child. But Jesus’ response to her pleas was startling. He first ignored and then rebuffed her, seeming to echo the disciples’ annoyance. But the desperate mother didn’t care how others perceived her. She didn’t let up in asking Jesus to heal her child. She persisted, and her child was healed.

God is sovereign and knows more about this world and its workings than we do. And God doesn’t always heal when we pray for healing. However, we can still go to God boldly with our needs. And God always listens. Our faith always pleases God — no matter what other people may think and no matter what the outcome.

Recommendations to the Nominating Committee

If you have any names to recommend for the offices of elder, trustee or deacon, please feel free to send them to the church office (covepresbyterian@aol.com). Brief descriptions for elders and deacons are given below. If you have any questions, let me know.


The Church and Its Officers

Offices of Ministry

All ministry in the church is a gift from Jesus Christ. Members and officers alike serve mutually under the mandate of Christ who is the chief minister of all. His ministry is the basis of all ministries; the standard for all offices is the pattern of the one who came “not to be served but to serve.” (Matt. 20:28)

One responsibility of membership in the church is the election of officers who are ordained to fulfill particular functions. The existence of these offices in no way diminishes the importance of the commitment of all members to the total ministry of the church. These ordained officers differ from other members in function only.

The church offices mentioned in the New Testament which this church has maintained include those of presbyters (ministers of the Word and Sacrament and elders) and deacons.

While the ministry is one, specific forms of ministry may emphasize special tasks and skills and the ordering of the offices of ministry shall reflect this variety. There may be forms of ministry in which primary emphasis is given to proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments, forms that stress deeds of love and mercy, forms that are primarily educational, administrative, legislative, or judicial, and forms that are primarily prophetic.

Both men and women shall be eligible to hold church offices. When women and men, by God’s providence and gracious gifts, are called by the church to undertake particular forms of ministry, the church shall help them to interpret their call and to be sensitive to the judgments and needs of others. As persons discover the forms of ministry to which they are called, and as they are called to new forms, they and the church shall pray for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit upon them and upon the mission of the church.

To those called to exercise special functions in the church—deacons, elders, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament—God gives suitable gifts for their various duties. In addition to possessing the necessary gifts and abilities, natural and acquired, those who undertake particular ministries should be persons of strong faith, dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world. They must have the approval of God’s people and the concurring judgment of a governing body of the church.

The government of this church is representative, and the right of God’s people to elect their officers is inalienable. Therefore, no person can be placed in any permanent office in a congregation or governing body of the church except by election of that body.

It is necessary to the integrity and health of the church that the persons who serve in it as officers shall adhere to the essentials of the Reformed faith and polity as expressed in the Book of Confessions and the Form of Government. So far as may be possible without serious departure from these standards, without infringing on the rights and views of others, and without obstructing the constitutional governance of the church, freedom of conscience with respect to the interpretation of Scripture is to be maintained.

It is to be recognized, however, that in becoming a candidate or officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) one chooses to exercise freedom of conscience within certain bounds. His or her conscience is captive to the Word of God as interpreted in the standards of the church so long as he or she continues to seek or hold office in that body. The decision as to whether a person has departed from essentials of Reformed faith and polity is made initially by the individual concerned but ultimately becomes the responsibility of the governing body in which he or she serves.

Elders

As there were in Old Testament times elders for the government of the people, so the New Testament church provided persons with particular gifts to share in governing and ministry.

Elders are chosen by the people. Together with ministers of the Word and Sacrament, they exercise leadership, government, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a particular church as well as the church at large, including ecumenical relationships. They shall serve faithfully as members of the session. When elected commissioners to higher governing bodies, elders participate and vote with the same authority as ministers of the Word and Sacrament, and they are eligible for any office.

Elders should be persons of faith, dedication, and good judgment. Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel, both within the church and in the world.

It is the duty of elders, individually and jointly, to strengthen and nurture the faith and life of the congregation committed to their charge. Together with the pastor, they should encourage the people in the worship and service of God, equip and renew them for their tasks within the church and for their mission in the world, visit and comfort and care for the people, with special attention to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and those who are oppressed. They should inform the pastor and session of those persons and structures which may need special attention. They should cultivate their ability to teach the Bible and may be authorized to supply places which are without the regular ministry of the Word and Sacrament. In specific circumstances and with proper instruction, specific elders may be authorized by the presbytery to administer the Lord’s Supper in accord with G-11.0103z. Those duties which all Christians are bound to perform by the law of love are especially incumbent upon elders because of their calling to office and are to be fulfilled by them as official responsibilities.

Deacons

The office of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of sympathy, witness, and service after the example of Jesus Christ. Persons of spiritual character, honest repute, of exemplary lives, brotherly and sisterly love, warm sympathies, and sound judgment should be chosen for this office.

It is the duty of deacons, first of all, to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. They shall assume such other duties as may be delegated to them from time to time by the session.

The deacons of a particular church shall organize as a board, of which the pastor, as a Board co-pastors, associate pastors, and assistant pastors shall be advisory members. The board of deacons shall elect a moderator and a secretary from among its members. The secretary shall keep a record of the board’s proceedings.

Constitutional Questions

The minister shall ask those preparing to be ordained or installed to stand before the congregation and to answer the following questions:

● Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

● Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the church universal, and God’s Word to you?

● Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?

● Will you fulfill your office in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture, and be continually guided by our confessions?

● Will you be governed by our church’s polity, and will you abide by its discipline? Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit?

● Will you in your own life seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love your neighbors, and work for the reconciliation of the world?

● Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church?

● Will you seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?

● (For elder) Will you be a faithful elder, watching over the people, providing for their worship, nurture, and service? Will you share in government and discipline, serving in governing bodies of the church, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus
Christ?

● (For deacon) Will you be a faithful deacon, teaching charity, urging concern, and directing the people’s help to the friendless and those in need? In your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunday's Sermon - Humility Is Worth the Effort


Luke 18:9-14

9And he also said to certain people who had trust in themselves because they were righteous and thought nothing of the rest this parable: “10Two people went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and these things he kept praying, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like the rest of people: grasping, unrighteous, adulterers or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice between Sabbaths; I pay a tithe on everything I get.’

13And the tax collector at a distance stood and didn’t want to lift his eyes to heaven, but kept beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner.’ 14I say to you, this person went down to his house having been made righteous rather than the other, because all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Humility Is Worth the Effort

“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror
‘cause I get better lookin’ each day. To know me is to love me, I must be a heck of a man. Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doin’ the best that I can. I used to have a girlfriend but I guess she just couldn’t compete with all these love starved women who keep clamoring at my feet. Well I probably could find me another but I guess they’re all in awe of me. Who cares; I never get lonesome ‘cause I treasure my own company. I guess you could say I am a loner, a cowboy, I walk tough and proud. Well I could have lots of friends if I wanted, but then I wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Some folks say that I’m egotistical – heck I don’t even know what that means. I guess it has something to do with the way that I fill out my skin tight blue jeans.” Aw, memories, sweet memories.

Now I don’t want you to think this is becoming a pattern. I mean, just a couple of months ago I started another sermon with a little bit of “The World, It Is A-changin.” Now, here’s a song by Mac Davis, “It’s Hard to Be Humble.” Music must be in my blood. And although these two songs are as different as night and day, I think they have a couple of pretty important things in common. I mean, first, they both relate to two passages in Luke, or at I think they do. And second, I believe they are absolutely true.

You see, when you get right down to it, it really is hard to be humble, at least I think it is for modern, American Christians and for some very good reasons. I mean, just think about this for a minute. First, being humble is no picnic, now is it? There’s no fun in being humble. Hair shirts itch. Bowing your head puts a terrible strain on the neck. And unless you’re Tarzan, chest beating just, plain hurts. It’s a whole lot better wearing silk and letting the hair just fall back and of course beating up somebody else, especially if it’s a guy we don’t like anyway. And let’s face it, if we decide to get all humble, we’d have to give up some of the things people like to do the most, and I’m talking about judging others and spreading gossip. And we all know the old saying, “a morning without gossip is like a day without sunshine.” No sir, it ain’t no fun being humble.

And to add to that, second, humility is really risky. I remember one time, when I was in third grade, oh at least twenty years ago, I decided to help my mom around the house. Yes, I was that kind of child. And so one afternoon, when she was out hanging out clothes or maybe changing my brother, I really wanted to surprise her. And so I ran around dusting and straightening, man, I even picked up not only my toys, but also all my sister’s junk. But I also decided that I was going to be humble about it, just like they taught in Sunday School. And so when she came back to our family room and saw it’s dazzling cleanness, she smiled and then looked at me and my sister, who by the way hadn’t done squat, and she looked at us and asked, “Now, who did this for me?” And before I could even give a humble little smile and nod, my dumb sister said, “I did.” And she was the one who got the ice cream sandwich, but I learned a lesson. Humility can be risky.

But I’ll tell you, in my humble opinion, the third and most challenging thing about humility is that it’s usually not appropriate. Like the song says, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” And although we may not be perfect, my goodness gracious, we’re a whole lot better than most of the people out there. I mean, have you even taken a good, hard look at some of the losers wandering around Wal Mart or Kroger’s? Now, compare them with what looks back from the mirror, and then tell me that we should be humble. We’re not sleazy. We’re not scuzzy. We’re not even slimy. And we want to cut taxes, not collect them, right? Compared to them we’re pretty darn good. In fact, we’re far above average on any scale that measures honesty and niceness, even modesty. And for us to convey anything else to the world, well, that just wouldn’t be honest. And I think that’s the third reason humility is tough.

But you know, having said all that, after reading this passage, this humble business just might be worth the effort. In other words, even though it may be uncomfortable and risky and misplaced, we just might want to work as much humility as we can into our character, and the reason is right here in this passage. I mean, just listen to what Jesus said, “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Now this is pretty heavy stuff. And I’ll tell you, to make it even more dramatic, this is the second time he used these exact same words and each time it’s at the end of a parable. And you know, what’s really cool about this is in each place, I think he gives a different reason why humility is important.

I mean, for one, there are real practical reasons for being humble. Just listen to what happened a little earlier in Luke: “When [Jesus] noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,” and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’” In other words, if you don’t want to face the social embarrassment of being shown that you’re not as important as you think you are, something my wife reminds me every now-and-then, it’s better to be humble, good practical advice.

And in the passage we looked at this morning, well, here we have some spiritual wisdom, don’t we? I mean, when we approach God, we can be all high and mighty, you know, like the Pharisee. We can tell God how much better we are than all the people we don’t like, and we can rattle off all our good points. And even if we do it within ourselves, in other words, not to show off to others, just between us and God, when it comes to righteousness and forgiveness and love, all those words ain’t worth a bucket of spin. As a matter of fact, the guy who was made righteous wasn’t the one who knew that he’d been really good, but rather the one who admitted that he hadn’t, in other words, the one who bowed his head and beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner.’ That’s the one who won the cigar. And why, that’s simple: “because all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

And you know, even though it may not be a piece of cake, I think we can pull it off, and I’m talking about this humility stuff. You see, I’m convinced that we can become more humble by doing two things that we can also see in this passage. I mean, on one hand, we can try as hard as we can to resist being like that Pharisee, a guy who I believe was telling the truth about everything he said about himself and yet left without having been made right in the sight of God. I’m telling you, as I look at these verses, his problem was pretty clear. You see, when he approached God, he focused on two things that got him into trouble. One, he focused on himself in comparison to others, and like we said a little while ago, it’s not all that hard to feel good when you never compare yourself to anybody better than the worst of the best or the best of the worst. I’m telling you, when I used to play basketball with my little brother, I felt like I should be in the NBA, that is until he passed the six foot mark and I didn’t. Humility is pretty tough when you compare yourself to folks who are grasping, unrighteous, adulterers or even tax collectors. But that’s exactly what he did. That was one problem.

But two, I also want you to notice that as he approached God, he also was focused on all the good things he was doing. And let’s face it, if our goal is to impress the big guy upstairs, you probably don’t want to overdo humility on the old resume, right? And yet, in the end, all that horn blowing didn’t do him much good, did it? If we really want to be more humble, on one hand, we probably want to avoid being like the Pharisee.

And on the other, well, as it comes to humility, the tax collector seems to be a pretty good example. I mean, instead of seeing himself in comparison with others, he saw himself in relationship with God,
the one who created the universe, who juggles a billion galaxies, each containing a billion stars, and yet who also knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, I’m talking about the one whom we already know has promised to bring “down the powerful from their thrones, and [to lift] up the lowly.” When we approach God, this is the stuff we need to remember, not how much better we are than the guy standing next to us.

And you know, we also need to spend less time listing what we’re doing and more focused on what God has already done. And that’s really what the tax collector did. You see, when he asked for mercy, he used a word that generally is associated with the sacrifices a Priest would make in the Temple. This guy was specifically asking God to forgive his sins, something that we know happened when they hanged Jesus on the cross. Man, that’s our hope; not how many times we fast or how many dollars we give, but rather what God willed before he set the foundation of the universe. He’s our rock. He holds our destinies in his hands. He’s the only sure source of hope. And believing that, well, that leads to humility.

Now Mac Davis was probably right, “it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.” But you know, if we just accept that and decide to go with the flow, we’re going to really miss an awful lot, aren’t we? Practically, we’re going to miss the opportunity to move up in line and spiritually, we may never know what it feels like to be made righteous. And so, maybe it’s time we decide to stop seeing ourselves in comparison to others and focusing on all the great stuff we’re doing and to start seeing ourselves in relationship with God and focusing on all the wonderful things he’s already done through Jesus Christ. In other words, in spite of what just may come naturally, maybe we should resist the flow, because when you get right down to it, humility is worth the effort.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Devotion on the Prayerline - Trusting God

Matthew 6:25-34:

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Devotion by ErikTingelstad (Washington):

Yesterday I rose early and caught the morning ferry across the sound. The day was clear and sunny, and I was enjoying the view across the water. The ferry was not crowded, and the trip was peaceful.

I quietly began to pray, giving thanks to God for the many blessings in my life: my wife, my family, my job, and a baby on the way. Before long, my thoughts turned anxious: What if the economy continues to worsen, and I lose my job? What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if? What if? Instead of praising God, I began seeking God’s assurance, asking for security.

At that moment, the ferry began to slow; and the captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker. He announced that thick fog was ahead but that we would still reach our destination on time. Peering ahead, I saw the shoreline disappear behind a heavy curtain of white. I thought of the crew trusting the boat’s instruments for navigation.

In Matthew 6:25 -34, Jesus encourages us to trust the navigation of our lives to God. While we can see the present and past, the future is unclear and foggy. Not knowing what’s ahead can be a source of great anxiety. But Christ assures us that we can find peace in trusting God and in being open to God’s will. I closed my prayer with praise.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Worry?? ME???

by Faith Bonyak

If you know anything about me, you know the title is a joke....I am one who worrys; a worry wart per say. I am unsure as to where the origins of my worrying come from, but I am an EXTREME worrier! To help in putting this into an idea we can all understand.... if worrying was an Olympic sport, I would take the Gold Medal each and every time. Worrying is just apart of my personality.

Personalities are what make us who we are. They are what define us, what makes us unique and makes us...well...us. I've taken several personality tests throughout my life. These tests are mostly designed to help people see what kind of job fits with their temperment. Even the military uses these tests to help soldiers who are leaving the military to help them find a job. My results show I would make a good psychologist and teacher. These two jobs stick out in my mind because they are always helping others...worrying about others. That fits me to a tee. I'm a feeling and emotional person. I often take on the trouble or stress of others until it's resolved. It's always been something I do. If my friends or family were having trouble....so was I. I worried about them and how it would all come out okay. I would tell them "It's okay", but I wasn't always sure.

Out in the world there are many different kinds of personalities. Some believe in God, others do not. Despite what many non-Christians believe, not all Christians are made from the same mold. We are all individulals that are brought together based on a common religious belief. Speaking only for myself and my family, we make up several different personalities types just in the four of us. Me, well, as you know, I'm outgoing, a worrier, and I'm organized and like to be involved. Mike, is very independent, and likes to do things on his own, he really enjoys events that are structured. Our kids pretty much resemble us. Robin is just like her dad. She's smart, independent and very strong willed. Joshua and I have simiilar personalities. He's very loving and caring, but not too organized yet. As much as our family is diverse in personality, so is the church. Often times you see the churches that stay the same and ignore the gifts of those in the congregation. One of the things I worry about is the ability to use my gift. Many churches don't believe that I can be useful unless there would be a deaf person in the congregation. I felt unimportant. I didn't understand why God gave me this gift and not be able to use it in HIS house.

Now, since I worry about EVERYTHING, this whole situation caused me to start thinking about WHY I worry. I would think to myself "Is this the devil trying to make sure I'm not happy? Or does this mean I'm not truly trusting in GOD like I should?" To be truthful, it's both. As a Christian I know the devil is out to to make sure I am as far from God as possible, and because of my own lack of Faith, the devil is getting more of an opportunity to make sure I was staying right where he wanted.

When I first found out about the Interpreting test I would have to take, I immediately started to worry. All I had heard by others who had taken it was all bad. "Oh, it's so stressful. Only 5 interpreters in the state have passed with State requirements out of hundreds. My job depends on it." All of these things and many other things that I began to think about concerning taking this test began to stand watch in my mind constantly. I began losing my hair, I wasn't sleeping and I just didn't feel I could do this. I even began asking everyone I knew to pray for me....starting like MONTHS before. I know that asking for all those prayers doesn't sound like a bad thing, but my reasoning behind asking for it is that I didn't feel my prayers were enough. I was in essence trying to stock pile prayers to help out when I needed it.

The Bible says "If ye have the Faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, you can say "Remove the mountain" and the mountain will be gone." That scripture is so powerful. A grain of mustardseed is extremely small and yet I felt my prayers and Faith were insignificant, in turn that I was insignificant.

I've been signing since I was in the third grade. I went to college to be an interpreter. God has given me the passion and the skills to be an interpreter, and yet when it came time to proove what he's given to me, I'm scared and WORRIED. If I were God I would be terribly insulted. The Bible says "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthen me." ALL things are possbile. My mind cannot fathom ALL things. I often find myself thinking my career is insignificant in comparison to other careers like preaching, missionary work, an evangelist, and even helping the homeless. Then like a 2X4 it hits me....GOD gave all those people their passion, skills and purpose. GOD gave me MY skills, passion and purpose. We are ALL important! We are ALL loved! He died for ALL of us.

Saturday October 16th was a day I will not soon forget. Yes, it was the day I took my Interpreting test, but that isn't what made it so unforgettable. For one day I was shown what a life without worry, nervousness and butterflies feels like. The morning I woke up to take my certification test, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy, hope and Spiritual purpose. I really didn't even recognize myself. I want that kind of life everyday! I am sure we all do! Guess what?? WE ALL can have that kind of day everyday. It's about REAL trust and Faith that GOD will get us through. All we have to do is.....not worry.

Announcements for October 24 - 31

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service, under the direction of Jenna Maine. We still need some volunteer help. If you can spare time to supervise the little ones, please talk to Jenna after the service. We wish to thank you in advance for giving of your time to care for the future members of Cove Church.

DON’T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. Think about trying out one of our classes. We have a variety of classes to chose from to fit your needs.

THE HOUR BEFORE . . .
the service begins, adults who aren’t already involved in a class are invited to attend a discussion of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. The discussion is held in Fellowship Hall, with coffee and cookies served.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children are now carrying red, orange and yellow streamers. This represents the coming of the Holy Spirit, filling the sanctuary as we prepare to worship. At the end of the service, they carry the streamers out, challenging us to carry the Spirit out into the world.

JESUS TIME OFFERS THE YOUNGER CHILDREN . . .
of our congregation, between the ages of 3 and 11, the opportunity to worship in a special experience just for them. The children are dismissed to Jesus Time after a Special Time for Children.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove’s Reading group will meet on Monday, October 25th at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

FUN WITH SIGNING CLASS . . .
Wednesday, October 27 at 4:00 p.m. in the board room. This class is open to school age children and their parents. This is the last of four classes. For further information on upcoming classes contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, October 27, at 5:30 p.m. We have 1 position that needs filled. We practice from 5:30 - 6:45 from Sept. through May. We play once a month for Sunday services. If you are interested in joining, please contact Becky Korosec at 304-748-8449 for more information.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, October 27, in the sanctuary. Please note practice begins at 6:45 p.m. this year. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

BABY PLAY AND SIGN CLASS . . .
will be held on Thursday, October 28 at 10:00 a.m. in the nursery. This is the final class in a four class series. For information, on future classes for parents and children infant to preschool age contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . .
on Thursday, October 28, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of Galatians, by looking at Galatians 1:13 – 2:21. Grab your lunch and join us as we begin our new study.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet on Saturday, October 30, at 6:00 a.m. in the board room.

OUR CHILDREN ARE INVITED TO WEAR THEIR HALLOWEEN COSTUMES . . .
to the worship service on Sunday, October 31.

HOLIDAY BAKED GOODS . . .
are available to assist you with your meal planning. The deacons are sponsoring another Pie Shoppe Sale. A variety of cream or fruit pies and pumpkin rolls are being offered. Orders will be taken through next Sunday, October 31. Orders will be delivered on Sunday, November 14. Contact a deacon or check the bulletin board located downstairs by the offices to view a form and place your order.

853 FOOD ITEMS & 47 BOOKS . . .
900 total items was the amount collected during the annual Cub Scout Food Drive last Saturday for the Deacons Food Pantry. Thank you for your hard work! Great job Cub Scouts!

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, November 1 at 7:00 pm. In the boardroom.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY MEETING . . .
and evening social will be held on Tuesday, November 2 at 700 p.m. Pam Makricosta will present the program for the evening, a review of Lydia, a book by Lois T. Henderson.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRESENT . . .
This is My Country, a patriotic cantata on Sunday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m. We invite everyone to come enjoy our musical program as we pay tribute to our military.

WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have six blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They're listed below:
• The Cove Community (www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com) - This is for the whole church. I'll post sermons and announcements. I also invite y'all to send in material that you'd like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read.
• Cove Kids (www.covekids.blogspot.com) - This is tailored for the preteen 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. And they don't have to all deal with the church. We also post artwork from The Gathering service and Jesus Time.
• Glue (www.cove-glue.blogspot.com) - Our teens are running their own blog site; therefore, I have no idea what will be posted.
• Bible Talk (www.cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com) - We've established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we're posting the pastor’s translation of the Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you've done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we'll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
• Let Talk About It (www.cove-talk.blogspot.com) - Through this site, we hope to encourage a conversation on a variety of topics. Since this blog is sponsored by a church, we expect most of the issues to involve the Christian faith. Still we don't want to limit ourselves or you. If you have a topic that you'd like us to discuss, include it as a comment to a previous issue. Please phrase it as a question and offer a summary of at least two positions. We'll add a new item to discuss every three weeks. We hope this challenges you to apply your faith and values to issues that are important to you.
• The Bible in a Year (www.cove-bibleinayear.blogspot.com/) - Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.

SCOUT PROJECT CONTINUES. . .
The Shoe Box Project, by Kyle Truex, a Boy Scout with Troop 334, has extended his Eagle Scout Project to include continuous donations for Appalachian Outreach Inc. Informational brochures with envelopes attached are located on the table in the narthex.

MISSING A DISH, BOWL OR BAKING PAN?
Check the pantry in the church kitchen. There are a number of items, bowls, plates, sealed containers and utensils that have been left after various functions, one may be the piece your searching for.

THANK YOU . . .
My Friends for all the cards, telephone calls, well wishes and acts of remembrance extended to me in honor of my recent 90th Birthday.
Rosalie Coxen

TRICK or TREAT For UNICEF. . .
October is UNICEF month and we’re collecting because Every Kid Counts!
7 cents provides 50 kids with safe water for a day
$2 buys one liter of therapeutic milk
$19 buys 3 mosquito nets to protect kids from malaria
$257 provides an emergency classroom kit for 40 kids
$500 buys a water pump for a whole community
The Presbyterian Women will be participating in Tag Day on Thursday, October 28 at Shop N Save from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Also the children of our Sunday School will be collecting as people come to church next Sunday, October 31. Any help that you can give UNICEF for their 60th Anniversary will be appreciated!

REMEMBER WHEN SHOPPING ON LINE . . .
use Good Search and Good Shop search engines to find what you are hunting for. Just list Cove Presbyterian Church as your charity and a percent of your purchase will come back to the church. It’s a simple way to raise money for the Cove Deacons while shopping for yourself!

IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO HEAR PRAYER REQUESTS . . .
on Sunday mornings. If you would like to have someone added to the prayer chain please drop a short note into the collection plate with their name and any other information you would like to share.

PRAYER CHAIN INFO. . .
if you would like someone added to or removed from the prayer chain please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561 or e-mail her at floyfetty@yahoo.com. Thanks to Floy’s dedication, the Prayer Chain is kept up to date.

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?. . .
if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit by Rev. Ed Rudiger please contact the church office. Also if you would like to be included in our weekly bulletin mailings contact the church office.

WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB MINISTERING . . .
to the needs within this congregation, community and world. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as comments.

DUE TO BUDGET CONSTRAINTS . . .
the Board of Deacons has had to seriously cut back their outreach programs. Session has approved the Deacons collecting a “Loose Change Offering” that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is placed in the Narthex each Sunday morning before church for any spare change you would like to donate. We thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS, SILK FLOWERS OR PLANTS . . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is $15.00 a vase or plant. Silk flowers can be purchased for an additional cost. The flower calendar is located on the far wall in the church narthex or you can contact Sue Marsh or the church office to place your order. You may pick-up your flowers after the service.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. . .
newsletters from old friends or articles about or by members of Cove Church, check out the new bulletin board located in the hallway by the church offices. Items of interest and pictures of events at Cove will now be posted in that area.

WE’RE UPDATING OUR PRAYER AND DEVOTION LINE . . .
about four times a week. If you would like to call and hear a devotional, please
call 304-748-7900.

ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . .
• Used can tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House. Deposit your tabs in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Used postage stamps are being collected for Stamp Camp USA. Place your used stamps in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women and can be dropped off in the church office.
We thank you for your support of these valuable endeavors.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2010 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches join together to pray for:
• Mingo Junction, First - Kenn Sickle, Pastor
• Mounsdville, First -Timothy Wilt, Pastor

Why Be Humble?

Well, here we are, another week closer to the November. And I hope everybody in Weirton is enjoying the drop-down, wonderful weather we're experiencing here in God's countrty.

Of course, I don't want to brag, especially considering the passage on which we'll focus on Sunday.

9And he also said to certain people who had trust in themselves because they were righteous and thought nothing of the rest this parable: “10Two people went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and these things he kept praying, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like the rest of people: grasping, unrighteous, adulterers or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice between Sabbaths; I pay a tithe on everything I get.’ 13And the tax collector at a distance stood and didn’t want to lift his eyes to heaven, but kept beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner.’ 14I say to you, this person went down to his house having been made righteous rather than the other, because all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

You see, in this passage, the Pharisee was so busy comparing himself to others that he completely forgot about the one with whom he was talking. And sadly, that's exactly what we often do. We become so focused on how we good we appear to be when compared to those around us, that we lose sight of the fact that we are praying to the one who knows everything that we've done, thought and felt. And although this self-exaltation may make us feel good for a while, in the long run it actually separates us from a source of joy that is above anything we can imagine. During the services on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we'll talk about what we might be missing and how we might claim it for ourselves.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wrinkle Free in my Sunday Best - A mini sermon if you will


by Faith Bonyak

Well, in church this morning, I was moved to write this. Maybe this is for you....

Close your eyes. It's a Sunday morning. You wake up early, get showered, shaved and clean. You brush you teeth. Most of us even iron or press our clothing before heading to church Sunday morning. Growing up in my house, there were six of us. Three girls and three boys, as you may have guessed, only ONE bathroom. Given the number of people and the amount of mirror space, there was a structured way of getting ourselves presentable for church. My mom would wake us up, and outfit by outfit press our Sunday clothes. To my mom at that time, it would have been a sin to allow herself or her children to go to church with wrinkled clothes and unkempt. I would find it easy to believe that many of you did the same things. It's been ingrained that when coming to church there is a sense of appropriateness to wearing dresses skirts, and suits and ties. Not once could I have ever imagained going to Sunday service in what I wore to school....oh heaven's no! My family always went to church Wrinkle Free and in our Sunday Best.

I can't fathom how many hours I've spent getting ready and in my Sunday best. SUNDAY BEST???? This term got me to thinking. A dangerous past time, I know...but why is it that we only give GOD our Wrinkle Free and Sunday BEst on SUNDAY. Is there something in the BIBLE I missed that it specifically says GOD only requires our best on Sundays??? Someone help me...is there a verse I'm missing that say's "Thou shalt only give thy best on Sunday"? No of course there isn't. God has challenged us to do certain works for him. In the last chapter of the book of Matthew God give us what has been known as "THE GREAT COMMISSION". This commission being to go into all the world and preach the gospel. No where does it say, "Go ye there fore into all the world and preach the gospel on Sunday"..... NO, this is something that we are all striving for throughout our whole life. and not just on Sunday. All throughout the week we are supposed to be living WRINKLE FREE and in our Sunday Best. Not only does GOD deserve our best ALL the time, but the lost souls of the world deserve us at our best all the time. How can we possibly believe to reach these souls if we only work on Sunday? I can guarantee that Satan is not just working on Sunday, he's spreading his wrinkles and lies and unkemptness throughout the whole day and all throughout the week.

Matthew 22:37 says that we should love the Lord our God with all of our minds, all of our sould and all of our strength. If I am giving my all I am not putting it on a schedule. We shouldn't try to PENCIL IN our dedication to GOD. We sholdn't have to fit him in between Soccer games and Dance Class. ALL OF OUR MINDS, ALL OF OUR SOUL, and ALL OF STRENGTH. Again, I must be missing the part that says that's only required on Sunday during worship.

Many times I try and think about what life would be like if a regular human being was running the show. We all would be in trouble. Just like elementary kids, we are very prone to tattling on the people around us. He didn't show up last week, her tithe wasn't really 10%, I saw neighbor Jack going into a place that sold alcohol.....on and on and on. We judge the people around us. What if God judged US the same way we are so quick to judge others? What if we got a spiritual memo from GOD today that said "Alright...we are having a Sunday Best Contest....on Tuesday, who will be wrinkle free??" How many wrinkles would you have? I know I would have a few that is for sure. This is why I am so thankful that God doesn't judge us the way we would judge others. He is merciful and gracious and full of an abounding love that I cannot fathom. Jesus loves me even though my Sunday Best is far from Wrinkle free.

The Baptism of Bobby & Alexias Shuble

Below are some pictures from Sunday's worship service, at which we two new people into the church of Christ.






Monday, October 18, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - God's Maze


Proverbs 4:10-19:10-15 Dear friend, take my advice;
it will add years to your life.
I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys,
or wasting time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip.
Guard it well—your life is at stake!
Don’t take Wicked Bypass;
don’t so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
Make a detour and be on your way.

16-17 Evil people are restless
unless they’re making trouble;
They can’t get a good night’s sleep
unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.
Perversity is their food and drink,
violence their drug of choice.


18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;
the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

A Devotion by Sara Severance Weinert (Kansas):

Every fall, farmers in our area cut elaborate mazes in their fields of corn. The corn is taller than head-high; and the end of the maze is hidden from view. Walking a corn maze can be a terrifying experience. Even mildly claustrophobic people tremble as they reach one dead end after another.

Thinking of the corn mazes, I winced when I heard someone describe life as God’s maze. Does God want us to be terrified by our journey? Are we meant to grope along a hidden path toward an unseen goal, encountering one dead end after another?

Then I thought of the mazes my children work in school. The whole maze is in view. Though the lines they draw occasionally go outside the path, the children can successfully find a way through the maze. Our joy is to know that God sees the whole maze. Our goal is reunion with God, and God moves us toward that end with each turn and passage of our lives.

Today as I proceed through the maze that is life, I walk confidently and without terror. This is God’s maze; God sees the path.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - A Prodigal’s Return

Read Psalm 42:1-5:

1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God,
deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
arrive and drink in God's presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
people knock at my door,
Pestering,
“Where is this God of yours?”

4 These are the things I go over and over,
emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
right out in front,
Leading them all,
eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!


5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I'll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

A Devotion by James Davidson (Quebec, Canada):

I had walked into a church hundreds of times before, but this time was different. I remember climbing up the stairs, shaking hands with a couple of greeters, and then looking around to decide where I wanted to sit. It was all pretty normal. But then I started to cry. The same thing happened the next week, and the week after that.

I was surprised by my reaction because I do not cry often. What happened? I’m quite sure it was because I had just rededicated my life to the Lord after many years of not taking my faith seriously.

Like many people, I had allowed my Christian faith to become a casual, rather insignificant part of my life. Yes, I believed in God, but I didn’t think about God very much. I was living a busy life, and God was only one part of it — a very small part of it, unfortunately. My tears were about coming home to God, who accepted me despite my having largely ignored our relationship for a long time. The tears were about realizing deep down that relationship with God is essential, a central part of who I am and who God created me to be.

Church Women United Collecting for UNICEF

Church Women United will hold a tag day for UNICEF from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Weirton Shop N’ Save. Those participating in the planning and execution of the event include, from left, front, President Carol Village, second row, Eloise Evans of Cove Presbyterian Church and Vice President Olivia Curenton Carter of St. Paul AME, and back, Treasurer JoAnn Morrison of First Christian Church and Eleanor Cline of Cove Presbyterian. -- Summer Wallace-Minger

Announcements for October 17 - 24

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service, under the direction of Jenna Maine. We still need some volunteer help. If you can spare time to supervise the little ones, please talk to Jenna after the service. We wish to thank you in advance for giving of your time to care for the future members of Cove Church.

DON’T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. Think about trying out one of our classes. We have a variety of classes to chose from to fit your needs.

THE HOUR BEFORE . . .
the service begins, adults who aren’t already involved in a class are invited to attend a discussion of Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. The discussion is held in the Fellowship Hall, with coffee and cookies served.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children are now carrying red, orange and yellow streamers. This represents the coming of the Holy Spirit, filling the sanctuary as we prepare to worship. At the end of the service, they carry the streamers out, challenging us to carry the Spirit out into the world.

THIS MORNING WE WELCOME BOBBIE AND LEXIE . . .
into the Body of Christ through the sacrament of baptism.

RIGHT SIDE WINS FOOD CHALLENGE. . .
thanks to everyone’s generosity a total of 274 food items were collected. The right side brought in 147 items and 127 was brought in by the left side.

JESUS TIME OFFERS THE YOUNGER CHILDREN . . .
of our congregation, between the ages of 3 and 11, the opportunity to worship in a special experience just for them. The children are dismissed to Jesus Time after a Special Time for Children.

THREE BOARD MEETING. . .
Tuesday, October 19 starting with a covered dish dinner at 6:00 p.m. All Trustee, Deacon and Session members are encouraged to attend. Please bring a covered dish.

FUN WITH SIGNING CLASS . . .
Wednesday, October 20 at 4:00 p.m. in the board room. This class is open to school age children and their parents. This is the third of four classes. For further information contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, October 20, at 5:30 p.m. We have 1 position that needs filled. We practice from 5:30 - 6:45 from Sept. through May. We play once a month for Sunday services. If you are interested in joining, please contact Becky Korosec at 304-748-8449 for more information.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
Wednesday, October 20, in the sanctuary. Please note practice begins at 6:45 p.m. this year. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

BABY PLAY AND SIGN CLASS . . .
will be held on Thursday, October 21 at 10:00 a.m. in the nursery. This is the third in a four class series. Class is open to parents and children infant to preschool age. For more information contact Deborah Smith at 304-914-5677.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . .
on Thursday, October 21, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of Galatians, by looking at Galatians 1:1-12. Grab your lunch and join us as we begin our new study.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet on Saturday, October 23, at 6:00 a.m. in the board room.

MEDITATION CLASSES - SERIES 2 . . .
entitled, “Meditation and the Five Senses.” Next Saturday, October 23 , from 10:00 - 11:00, in the Cove Presbyterian Church parlor will be our last class. We’re discussing and learning about different techniques and of course there is a ‘hands-on’ portion for each class. The only thing you may want to bring with you is a small journal, pen, and your ‘sense’ of adventure! Please come and join us as we explore all of our senses and find the peace that resides within. If you are interested or have any questions, please call Becky Korosec at 304-748-8449.
• Week 6 - Taste (fruit, chocolate, bread...)

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the family of Betty Wilson, who died Tuesday, October 12. Betty was a Fifty Year Plus member of the Cove Family joining on April 5, 1939.

HOLIDAY BAKED GOODS . . .
available to assist you with your meal planning. The deacons are sponsoring another Pie Shoppe Sale. A variety of cream or fruit pies and pumpkin rolls are being offered. Orders will be taken through Sunday, October 31. Orders will be delivered on Sunday, November 14. Contact a deacon or check the bulletin board located downstairs by the offices to view a form and place your order.

WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have six blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They're listed below:
• The Cove Community (www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com) - This is for the whole church. I'll post sermons and announcements. I also invite y'all to send in material that you'd like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read.
• Cove Kids (www.covekids.blogspot.com) - This is tailored for the preteen 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. And they don't have to all deal with the church. We also post artwork from The Gathering service and Jesus Time.
• Glue (www.cove-glue.blogspot.com) - Our teens are running their own blog site; therefore, I have no idea what will be posted.
• Bible Talk (www.cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com) - We've established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we're posting the pastor’s translation of the Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you've done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we'll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
• Let Talk About It (www.cove-talk.blogspot.com) - Through this site, we hope to encourage a conversation on a variety of topics. Since this blog is sponsored by a church, we expect most of the issues to involve the Christian faith. Still we don't want to limit ourselves or you. If you have a topic that you'd like us to discuss, include it as a comment to a previous issue. Please phrase it as a question and offer a summary of at least two positions. We'll add a new item to discuss every three weeks. We hope this challenges you to apply your faith and values to issues that are important to you.
• The Bible in a Year (www.cove-bibleinayear.blogspot.com/) - Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.

REMEMBER WHEN SHOPPING ON LINE . . .
use Good Search and Good Shop search engines to find what you are hunting for. Just list Cove Presbyterian Church as your charity and a percent of your purchase will come back to the church. It’s a simple way to raise money for the Cove Deacons while shopping for yourself!

IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO HEAR PRAYER REQUESTS . . .
on Sunday mornings. If you would like to have someone added to the prayer chain please drop a short note into the collection plate with their name and any other information you would like to share.

PRAYER CHAIN INFO. . .
if you would like someone added to or removed from the prayer chain please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561 or e-mail her at floyfetty@yahoo.com. Thanks to Floy’s dedication, the Prayer Chain is kept up to date.

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?. . .
if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit by Rev. Ed Rudiger please contact the church office. Also if you would like to be included in our weekly bulletin mailings contact the church office.

WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB MINISTERING . . .
to the needs within this congregation, community and world. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as comments.

DUE TO BUDGET CONSTRAINTS . . .
the Board of Deacons has had to seriously cut back their outreach programs. Session has approved the Deacons collecting a “Loose Change Offering” that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is placed in the Narthex each Sunday morning before church for any spare change you would like to donate. We thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS, SILK FLOWERS OR PLANTS . . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is $15.00 a vase or plant. Silk flowers can be purchased for an additional cost. The flower calendar is located on the far wall in the church narthex or you can contact Sue Marsh or the church office to place your order. You may pick-up your flowers after the service.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. . .
newsletters from old friends or articles about or by members of Cove Church, check out the new bulletin board located in the hallway by the church offices. Items of interest and pictures of events at Cove will now be posted in that area.

WE’RE UPDATING OUR PRAYER AND DEVOTION LINE . . .
about four times a week. If you’d like to call and hear a devotional, please call 304-748-7900.

ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . .
• Used can tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House. Deposit your tabs in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Used postage stamps are being collected for Stamp Camp USA. Place your used stamps in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.
• Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women and can be dropped off in the church office.
We thank you for your support of these valuable endeavors.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2010 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches join together to pray for:
• Martins Ferry, Grace - Bill Webster, Pastor
• Martins Ferry, Scotch Ridge -Joe Ellis, Pastor

Sunday Is the Children's Sabbath

Sunday, we're going to have a special service. Not only will we joining two baptisms, we'll celebrate the Children's Sabbath, a day to focus on children. Below is a little explanation of the day.

As children and adults entered the seminary chapel, they found small beachballs to gently bat around the space. In every pew, children’s books were stacked invitingly.

The students planned this Children’s Sabbath at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to include children as liturgists as well as participants. They structured the elements and flow of the service not only to lift up the needs of children, but to give expression to children’s own unique voice.

Shannon Daley Harris is a consultant for the Children’s Defense Fund and the writer of the Children’s Sabbath, the manual that serves as a rich resource for planning Children’s Sabbaths® for congregations around the country. She challenged those assembled to open their eyes to the critical needs of children as well as their hearts to the call to ministries of compassion and justice. On the floor just below the pulpit, children gathered to quietly color or manipulate play dough. A child toddled up to sit with the other children for a time, then returned to his mother’s side. Children were the centerpiece of the proclamation of the Word.

They were literally front and center as well, offering a powerful visual testimony to the solemn commitment we make at baptism.

As Reformed people, we claim the central role of worship in equipping us for service. May our Children’s Sabbath observances affirm our calling to stand strong for all children.

—Elder Martha Bettis Gee, associate for child advocacy, General Assembly Mission Council

Let's all plan to celebrate this special day together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Our Sister Betty Wilson

Betty M. Wilson

Born in Weirton, WV on Feb. 4, 1922
Departed on Oct. 12, 2010 and resided in Weirton, WV.

Visitation: Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
Service: Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010

Betty M. Wilson, 88, of Weirton, passed away Tuesday, October 12, 2010 in the Brightwood Nursing Center in Follansbee, WV. Born February 4, 1922 in Weirton, she was the daughter of the late William K. and Mary Alice Reese Dumbaugh. She was also preceded in death by her husband Robert C. Wilson on May 7, 2006 and brother William C. Dumbaugh on November 14, 2008.

Mrs. Wilson retired from Weirton Steel where she worked in the Stenographic Department. She was a member of the Cove Presbyterian Church, Myrtle McHendrey Sunday School Class and was a Charter Member of the Glamour Girls Card Club.

Betty is survived by her nephew William J. "Jack" Dumbaugh and his wife Maureen P. of Pittsburgh, PA; nieces Kathryn A. Murren and her husband Jeffrey G. of Wyckoff, NJ and Judge Joyce Dumbaugh Chernenko and her husband Marc B. of Wellsburg, WV and great nieces and nephews Ryan Murren, Kylin Murren, Mari Dumbaugh and Julie Dumbaugh.

Visitation will be Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 10 until the 11AM Memorial Service at the Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home, 3219 Main Street, Weirton, WV.

Memorial contributions may be made to Cove Presbyterian Church Bereavement Fund, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, WV 26062.

Remembering Our Sister Mary Compton

Mary Virginia Compton
April 3, 1918- Oct 12,2010

Mary Virginia Conipton, age 92, of Weirton, WV, passed away Yuesday, October 12, 2010. She was born in Clarksburg, WV on April 3, 1918, the daughter of the late Nicholas Alvaro and Flora Alvaro. She was the wife of the late Benjamin Compton since January 31, 1954.

She as a member of Cove Presbyterian Church. Mary retired from the Brooke County Board of Education as a Cook at the former Edgewood School.

Mary is survived by her daughter, Linda Krynicki of Weirton, WV; son, Wesley Compton of New Manchester, WV; sister, Eva Butto of Weirton, WV; six grandchildren and six great grandchildren. She was predeceased by brothers, Henry, Frank, and Adam Alvaro, and sisters, Nellie Rokos, and Liberty Straney.

The family will receive friends on Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8pm at Steel & Wolfe Funeral Home, Inc.,
380 Penco Road, Weirton, WV. Funeral services will be held at the funeral home on Friday, October
15, 2010 at 10:30am with Dr. J.E. Rudiger officiating. Burial will be at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday's Sermon - Ten, Nine, One


Luke 17:11-19:

11And it happened as he was going to Jerusalem and going through the area between Samaria and Galilee, 12and as he was going into a certain village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood some distance away. 13And they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, master, pity us.” 14And when he saw, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

And it happened as they were going, they were cleansed. 15And one from them, when he saw that he was healed, returned with a great voice praising God, 16and he fell prostrate at [Jesus’s] feet, giving thanks to him. And he was a Samaritan.


17And Jesus answered and said, “Ten were cleansed, right? The other nine, where [are they]? 18They didn’t find [it necessary] to return to give praise to God, except this foreigner, right?” 19And he said to him, “Arise and go. Your trust has saved you.”

**********

It’s hard to get away from numbers now-a-days. For example, we’re in the middle of what you could call a political season, you know, with the elections in a little less than a month. And I’ll tell you, it all seems to be about numbers: the number of people who are unemployed versus the number who are living without health insurance, the number of “toss up” elections the democrats need to win to retain control of the Senate versus the number of seats the republican need to take to regain the House, and of course, the number of times we get to hear John Raese say, “I’m not in business to create jobs but to make money,” versus the number of times he says, “I won’t be a rubber stamp for Barak Obama.” For good or for bad, politics has become a numbers game.

But so has sports and school and work. I guess you could even say that life itself is about numbers, at least that’s what my grandfather would have said, you know, the one who passed away a couple of months ago at the age of ninety-seven. There’s no two ways about it, numbers are important.

And I’ll tell you something, that’s also true around the church, isn’t it? I mean, that’s something we think about, numbers, and I’m talking about the number of people in the pews and the number of kids coming to Sunday School and of course the number of dollars in the collection plate. Good night, that’s just what we do. The only thing is that we don’t always agree on what number is most important. I mean, around Cove, which is more important: the number of people who come to appreciate God’s grace or the number of folks who formally join this church, the number of e-mails sent or the number of home visits made, the number of children who are currently on our rolls or the number who attend some non-church function within this building? Now, you tell me, which number is more important?

And although I certainly have my own answers, they may not be the same as your’s. And your answers may not be the same as the person sitting next to you. You see, even though numbers may be important to us all, I doubt that we’d all agree on which should count the most. Of course, that gives us something to fight and to scrap and to act silly about. And we all enjoy that, but agree, I’m not so sure.

But I’ll tell you something, I think that really changes when we read the passage we’ve got before us this morning, and I’ll tell you why. When it comes to the mission of the church, in fact, when it comes to our congregation right here in Weirton, West Virginia, I honestly believe that there’s only three numbers that count, and brothers and sisters, praise the Lord, they are right here in these verses. Now if you don’t have your bulletins open to the passage, you might want to do that as I explain what I’m talking about.

You see, like I said, there are three numbers right here, and the first one offers all we need to know about the scope of our mission, in other words, what we should be doing as a denomination and a congregation and as individual Christians. Just listen to what Luke wrote: “And it happened as he was going to Jerusalem and going through the area between Samaria and Galilee, and as he was going into a certain village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood some distance away. And they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, master, pity us.’ And when he saw, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’”

You see, in this passage, there were ten lepers, right; and they all called out to Jesus at the same time. Now, since he was on the border between Galilee and Samaria, how many were Jews and how many were Samaritans? Luke told us that they were all men, but how many were young and how many were old? I mean, although they all wanted pity, how many really, in their heart of hearts, thought Jesus could solve their problem? And after he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” how many were disappointed because they expected something a little more immediate? How many? We don’t know, right? All we know is that ten men had leprosy, and that regardless of the individual differences within the group, Jesus healed them all. He didn’t heal some of them first. He didn’t break them up into groups. And he sure didn’t tell some that they’d have to wait their turn. No, he healed them all.

And I think that says a lot about our mission in the world. Now I understand it’s tempting to segment and prioritize our outreach, you know what I mean, putting the wants of insiders before the needs of outsiders, focusing on young people rather than those who are older, my goodness, gearing ourselves to reach out to those out there even if that means neglecting those in here. Take it to the bank, doing that kind of thing is really tempting; in fact, it makes a lot of practical to say nothing of financial sense. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t jive with what Jesus did. I mean, if we take him as a guide, an example of ministry, we have a responsibility both to insiders and outsiders, to the young and the old and everything in-between, to those out there and in here. In other words, our mission may be to everyone God has put within the sound of our voice and the scope of our love. And let’s get real, is effective ministry really an “either-or,” them or us? Personally, I believe that external evangelism and internal unity go hand-in-hand. The better we do one, the better we’ll do the other. And which should come first? Man, that’s easy. I think it’s either the chicken or the egg. Now this is something that we can understand when we recognize that Jesus healed all ten lepers, the first number we need to remember.

And the second, well, that’s also in the passage and it gives us a pretty good idea about the response we can expect, you know, when we reach both out and in. Again, listen to Luke: “And it happened as they were going, they were cleansed. And one from them, when he saw that he was healed, returned with a great voice praising God, and he fell prostrate at [Jesus’s] feet, giving thanks to him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, “Ten were cleansed, right? The other nine, where [are they]?”

Of course, that’s a great question, because we really don’t know what the other nine did. Maybe they all went to the priest or maybe they all went to a local tavern or maybe it was some combination of the two. We just don’t know. What Luke did tell us is this: ten were healed and nine didn’t return. Now you understand what that means? In the thanks department, Jesus was batting .100. He completed 10% of his passes. He was one out of ten from the line, a number that’s pretty low regardless of the sport you’re talking about.

And you know something, if those were Jesus’s numbers, how can we really expect to do better? No, I think it’s important to be realistic in our expectations, because if we’re not, two very bad things can happen. On one hand, it’s easy to become discouraged, when we’re sharing the truth of the gospel as best we can and fail to see the results we might expect. In fact, we could easily become so discouraged and frustrated that we give up trying and pull back into our shell like a turtle. That could certainly happen. On the other hand, if our expectations aren’t realistic, we might be tempted to reshape the gospel so that it has a little more crowd appeal, you know, talk about the perks, down play the demands, and make it all so easy a caveman can do it. You see, realist expectations can keep us both honest and moving forward. And that’ll happen when we remember that nine healed lepers didn’t come back. And that’s the second number to remember.

And the final number, well, that might be the most important of all, because this one offers hope. Again, listen to Luke: “And one from them, when he saw that he was healed, returned with a great voice praising God, and he fell prostrate at [Jesus’s] feet, giving thanks to him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, ‘Ten were cleansed, right? The other nine, where [are they]? They didn’t find [it necessary] to return to give praise to God, except this foreigner, right?’ And he said to him, ‘Arise and go. Your trust has saved you.’”

You see, even though ten were healed and nine went somewhere else, one came back, praising God for what had happened in his life, something he certainly didn’t deserve and yet received anyway. And even though he wasn’t the kind of guy anybody would have expected to come back (my gosh, he was the ultimate outsider), that one person experienced salvation, wholeness. In other words, even though with this group Jesus went one out of nine, the one he hit was out of the park. The pass he completed was a ninety-nine yard touchdown pass. The free throw he made won the game in overtime. That one made all the difference.

And brothers and sisters, the same is true for us. If we’re in here and out there doing what we’ve been called to do, in other words, if we’re both proclaiming and demonstrating our love for God and one another and our neighbors, people are going to be touched and lives are going to change. It’s like the parable of the farmer who scattered seeds. Even though he knew some were going to fall on the path and in shallow soil and among the weeds, he also knew some of the seed was also going to end up in good soil where it would take root and grow strong and bear all kinds of fruit. And when you think about it, maybe we’ll all move closer to God when we recognize that if one person comes to know his love because of us, all the work and prayer and concern is worth it. Remember, according to Jesus himself, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” Maybe it’s time for us to start sharing God’s joy. Because one came back we can have hope, and that’s the third number.

As long as we live in a world that values elections and bank accounts and batting averages, I think numbers will continue to be important. And that’s just as true within the church as anywhere else. But around here, I think we may need to try as hard as we can to focus on the right numbers, because in those numbers, I think we’ll find the nature of our mission, the response we can expect and the reason we can feel hope. You see, all that comes when we remember these three numbers: ten, nine, one.