Friday, December 31, 2010

Prayer Requests for Sunday, January 2, 2011

Adults
• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• Rita Mentzer
• John Brothers
• Catherine Zinc
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Jack & Mary Games
• Paul Buck
• Denni Stillwagoner
• Madeleine Jackson
• Bill Churchman
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Thelma Brooks
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Kim Sabor Family
• Marge Greco
• Pam Haller
• Richard Reed
• Eleanor Cline
• Mary Torchio
• Jenni
• Bonnie Kirtley
• Geri von Ramin
• Rhonda Donahoo
• Robby Lucas
• Mary Harvey
• Kim Draper
• Mark Harris & Family
• Kelly Stephens and her family
• John Hearn
• Megan Schlotter & family
• Jamie Schmidt Baker & her family
• Holy Bine
• Judie Anderson
• Brian Leathers

Kids
• Jonah Becker
• Shelby Kamarec
• Brody McUmor
• Dustin Parr
• Zoe Purcell
• Daisy Emmerick
• Georgie Platt
• Audri King
• Alec Barnhart
• Brandon Wates
• Robert

Military
• Michael Criss
• Jonathan Criss
• Chad Peppler

Teens & College Students
Troops:
Our troops all around the world need our prayers for strength, endurance, and safety.

Church Families:
Evelyn Buckley
Chuck & Linda Caleffie
Matt & Jennifer Caleffie & Alex, Eric & Nick Delancey

Local Church
Oakland Presbyterian Church

Announcements for January 2-9, 2011

Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin:

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.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children carry 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 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.

BOARD MAILBOXES. . .
Please empty your mailbox this morning. New board member mailboxes will be set-up tomorrow, Monday, January 3, 2011. All material not picked-up will be discarded. If you are staying on the board, please be sure to take items from the appropriate box.

AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE HOLE IN THE SANCTUARY CEILING . . .
we are experiencing some roof leaks. We have been informed by the roofing contractor that due to the age and brittleness of the roof, major work needs to be done. Please bear with us as we are working to get this problem corrected as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding.

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING. . .
will be held tomorrow, Monday, January 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the boardroom.

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

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, January 5, at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. Please note the time change. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . . .
Thursday, January 6, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 3:1-36. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

A JOINT BOARD MEETING . . .
is scheduled for Saturday, January 8 from 9:30 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. Please try to attend.

ORDINATION & INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS . . .
will take place next Sunday, January 9 during the morning worship.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet Monday, January 10 , at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

WINTER COMMUNION . . .
will be observed on Sunday, January 30 during the morning worship.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
will be held on Sunday, January 30 after the morning worship. Please have all annual reports turned into the church office by Friday, January 21 to have them included in the report booklet.

WINTER WEATHER . . .
please be advised that if Hancock County Schools are closed due to severe weather, the church and office will close that evening and all activities for that evening will be canceled. We thank you for your understanding in this matter.

2011 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
are available on the table in the narthex. Please pick-up your box and also any neighbors or friends that you might be able to deliver saving us postage. If you would like a box of offering envelopes but did not receive one please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561.

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 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.

“SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF MY FAMILY . . .
I want to thank y’all for you generous Christmas gift. I also appreciate your support during the last year. And I’m excite about how God will use us in 2011.”
Ed Rudiger

IT IS THE DUTY OF THE DEACONS . . .
to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress both within and beyond our community of faith. If our Deacons can be of service to you, please contact a deacon or the church office.

MISSING A DISH, BOWL OR BAKING PAN?
Check the pantry in the kitchen. There are a number of items, bowls, plates and utensils that have been left after various functions, one may belong to you.

SHOP 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.

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.

LOOSE CHANGE OFFERING . . .
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. The Deacons thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is $16.00 a vase. 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 telephone 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.
• Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women and can be dropped off in the container located in the main hallway downstairs.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, January 2 , 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for Scio, First - John Visser, Pastor and Shadyside, First - Vacant Pulpit. Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster.

Resolutions for the New Year

Well, here we are, the last day of 2010. And I think I'm safe in saying I won't be seeing most of y'all until next year. Of course, today and tomorrow are the days to make resolutions for the new year, aspects of our lives that we want to change in the next 365 days, things that we'll either start or stop doing before we reach December 31, 2011. And even though we may make these resolutions with great sincerity and dedication, in fact we may even write them down, I think we all know that most will be forgotten by Super Bowl Sunday, until we make them again next December. As they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

And yet, even though I understand that this kind of thing applies to all of us, I'm going to suggest humbly a few resolutions that we might want to consider for the next year. Now some of these things we can do alone but most involve us working together. With that said, here are some of my ideas:
  1. Let's get a handle on negativity. Although people in our society seem to enjoy dirt, let's make a decision not to participate. And I think this is fairly easy to do. I mean, first, we can decide to start our description of every person with something positive. Now this may be a challenge if we're talking about Hitler or Stalin, but let's face it; how often do they come up in conversation. And second, whenever a person starts trashing someone else, we can subtly change the conversation by saying something like, "Jesus loves us" or, for the less theologically minded, "how 'bout those Steelers."
  2. Let's make definite plans to grow in our faith and understanding. Sadly, for a lot of believers, their study of scripture stopped when they left Mrs. Neil's Fourth Grade Sunday School class. And even though there might be a Bible somewhere under the coffee table, the spine still cracks when you open it. We can change that this year. Together we can read the Bible daily. And we can join and encourage the formation of Bible studies. And we can make the decision to listen to some folks who might challenge us to grow rather than only to people who allow us to stagnate.
  3. Let's share with others what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. Now, I want you to notice that I didn't say "invite people to church," although that's something else we can do. We live in a world in which many if not most people have no real background in the church; therefore, inviting them to sing 100-year-old hymns to an instrument that they've never heard played as part of service that follows a structure they don't understand may not be best form of evangelism. Rather than setting ourselves up for disappointment or feeding some kind of martyr mentality, we can simply follow the example of Christ and show the kind of compassion that he showed. In other words, we can demonstrate our love of God by loving others. And when those "others" ask why we're doing something so culturally strange, we can simply share that we love them because God loves us.
Now these are just three ideas. With a little thought, I'm sure we can come up with a whole lot more. But you know, if we do these three, I think that 2011 just might be a year worth remembering.

Report from Cove's Choir Director

The annual Christmas party was held following practice on Dec. 22 with 19 in attendance. Along with gifts and goodies was a great time of fellowship enjoyed by all. Many thanks to Marcia Shane who gets things ready while we are practicing.


Special appreciation goes out to Faith Bonyak, Shana Pepper, Sue Willson, Enid Williams and Tim Connell for their solos and duets at the Christmas eve services. The faithfulness of the entire choir is greatly appreciated. Praise God!

The Chancel Choir is looking forward to a wonderful 2011 of choral music to praise our Lord. As the bible tells us, we are to use our talents for the Lord. What better way to serve our Lord and Savior than to lift your voice in song for his glory. Anyone interested in joining the choir is welcome any Wednesday at 6:45 in the sanctuary for a one hour rehearsal. You will not be ask to sing a solo. Choir practice will resume on Jan. 5, 2011.

Janice Torrance
Director & Accompanist

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Ugly Bulbs

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 51-57:

35-38Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

51-57But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!



Devotion by Sally Woodard (West Virginia):

What an odd gift to bring to a grieving widow, I thought as I opened the white box a choir member had brought me. Inside were a dozen shriveled, brown bulbs.

She explained, “When our son died several years ago, a friend brought us tulip bulbs to plant. When they bloomed, we were to remember the Resurrection. I want to do the same for you.”
Because my thumb is browner than the soil in which the bulbs would be planted, I enlisted the help of a friend. In the gray, dreary weather of November, we planted those ugly, brown bulbs in the border around the patio where my green thumbed husband had raised many lovely flowers. When spring came, there they were— red arid yellow tulips bursting with life and beauty.

I was reminded of First Corinthians. As the seed must die in order to become a living plant, we too must die in order to enter fully the kingdom of eternal life. That spring I enjoyed the tulips and thanked God for the promise of resurrection.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reasons for Thanks

The following reasons for thanks were shared during Sunday's worship service.
  • That our nephew Colt was released for the hospital
  • I am thankful for my wonderful friends who have been joining us for church.
  • Good results from a heart catherization

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Who Lead?


1 Corinthians 3:4-9:

Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn’t that how ordinary people behave? Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen. I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. What matters isn’t those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow. The one who plants is just as important as the one who waters. And each one will be paid for what they do. Apollos and I work together for God, and you are God’s garden and God’s building.




Devotion by Nola Passmore (Queensland, Australia):

While attending a Christian conference, my friend and I were introduced to a young man who was eager to know God. The conference leader asked if we could explain the gospel to this fellow and show him how to become a Christian. We talked with him about the Bible’s message of salvation, answered his questions, and then led him in a prayer to receive Christ. My friend and I were over joyed that we had played a part in introducing him to Christ.

We had just met this young man, but God had been drawing him toward Christ long before that day. He may have read about God or heard others speak about the Lord. Perhaps other people had talked to him about God and prayed for him. His meeting with my friend and me was a step in his journey, and others would come after us to help him grow in faith.

Whatever our part in helping others to come to Christ, we can remember that God is the one who draws them close and makes them grow. What a privilege it is to join the Lord in that work!

Sunday's Sermon - Why Jesus Came


Hebrews 2:1-18

1Therefore, because of this, we should pay greater attention to what we heard, lest we might be carried away. 2For if through angels the word which was spoken is confirmed, and all transgressions and disobedience receive a just reward, 3then how will we ourselves escape if we ignore so great a salvation, such as was first received to be proclaimed through the Lord to those who heard, to us it was confirmed? 4God bore joint witness by signs and wonders and words of power and distributing the Holy Spirit according to his will. 5For he didn’t subject to angels the world to come, according to what we say. 6But it was solemnly said somewhere, What is man that you remember him, or son of man that you visit him? 7You made him lower, for a short time, than angels, glory and honor, you crowned him. 8All things you subjected under his feet. For in subjecting to him all things, nothing he left not subjected. But now not yet do we see to him all things subjected. 9But for a short time you made him lower than angels, we see Jesus through the suffering of death, when he had been crowned glory and honor, so that by God’s grace, for all he might taste death. 10For it is fitting for him, for whom all things and through whom all things [exist], who brings many sons into glory, to make him the founder and leader of our salvation through suffering to become perfect. 11For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one, for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, I will declare your name to my brothers, in the middle of the assembly I will sing praises to you. 13And again, I myself will be persuaded by him. And again, Behold I and the children whom God has given me.

14Now, since the children have shared in blood and flesh, and likewise he partook the same, so that through the death he might bring to nothing the one who has the power of death, that is the Devil, 15and might free those who were by a fear of death through their whole lives were subjected to slavery. 16For it’s clear that he didn’t take on the nature of angels, but the descendants of Abraham he took on. 17Hence, he had in all aspects to become like all the brothers, so that a merciful and faithful high priest he might become in the things of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18For in that he himself suffered by being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.


Why Jesus Came

Well, it’s over for another year. But I’ve got to tell you, Christmas was quite a morning. Now understand, I didn’t get home from the late service the first time until about quarter to one. And then after I went back to get the camera I left in my office, I didn’t get home again until some time a little after two. But fortunately, what Maggie feared most about the 11:30 service didn’t happen; I didn’t run into Santa Claus when I got home. I’m guessing the storm on the east coast kind of slowed him down.

Anyway, having gotten to bed later than the time I usually settle in, and I’m talking about 9:30, I was a little groggy when Maggie got us up at 5:30, just to remind us that it was Christmas. But luckily, I convinced her to crawl between us, where she slept until a little after 7:00. And then it was heading down stairs, checking out what Santa brought, and then opening the presents from Norfolk and Indianapolis. And after about forty-five minutes of frenzied ripping and tearing, we were done. Maggie started playing with her toys. Debbie washed some clothes they’d be taking on their trip to Indiana. And I retreated to the basement to work on this sermon, with Handel’s Messiah playing in the background. And once more I was amazed at how so much planning and work and worry can be over so fast. And even though, the official church calendar says that we’re now in the Season of Christmas, in a very real way, our celebration of Christ’s birth is done for another year.

And to tell you the truth, I think that’s probably a good thing, because before Christmas we tend to focus on how Christ came, don’t we? I mean, most of the religious Christmas stories and movies deal with Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem, with shepherds and angels and kings as kind of secondary figures. But they all center on a baby lying in a manger, surrounded by an adoring mother, a bearded step-father in the background, and of course a lowing cow. In fact, it’s exactly like the nativity the kids completed during the candle light service a couple of days ago. Now, that’s the kind of thing we expect as we move toward Christmas, because I think for most of us, this time of year is really about how Jesus came.

And of course, I think that’s great, because I believe how he came is important. Since he came in almost radical simplicity, Jesus really challenges some of our ideas about power and importance. In other words, he forces us to question whether the guy who dies with the most stuff really does win or if the one with the biggest drum should always lead the band. You see, because he came the way he did, our values have got to change.

But now, I think it’s time for us to shift gears a little bit, because even though the how is important, maybe even more important is the why: why did Jesus come? I mean, regardless of how he did it, what was his purpose? What were his goals? And why can we look to him when life is at it’s toughest, I’m talking about when nothing is going right and we feel like we’re drowning; why can we look to him and feel a sense of hope and receive a source of power? Why? Now that question really pushes pass the how, because if all I have is a baby, cooing in straw, well, I doubt that I’ll ever be able to face the world with faith and peace. And so, if I want to experience that, if I want to know and to feel, I’ve really got to get beyond shepherds and mangers, so that I can understand why, why the creator of the universe took on human flesh, to live and to die like us? You see, no matter how you cut it, “why did the Son of God come,” man, that’s a question we need to answer.

And although, as we’ll look at the Bible during the next year, particularly at the letters written by Paul, we’ll run across a lot of answers, this passage from a letter he didn’t write, the Letter to the Hebrews is a good place to start, and I’ll tell you why. In these verses, I think we can get a good idea about two reasons why Jesus came, and both of them can have a major impact on our lives, particularly at those times when we need help most.

You see, according the writer to the Hebrews, first, Jesus came to be our sacrifice, but not just any kind of sacrifice; he came to be our perfect sacrifice, one that’s so effective that not only does it wipe clean our past but it only has to be done once. Now I recognize that most of us really aren’t into sacrifices. I mean, this is something done in the olden days, you know, when people would run around killing animals as a way to make their gods happy. This something even the Jews did, and I’ll tell you, folks were still doing when this letter was written. In other words, the people who read this understood what this sacrifice-business was all about; it was the way to get your sins forgiven. And for them it worked like a charm, but there was just one problem: you had to do it over and over again. I mean, if I sacrificed a goat this afternoon and then went out and cut loose tonight, to be safe, I’d better find me another goat tomorrow. I’m just kidding. It was a little like doing laundry. Even though everything may be neat and folded today, in a week, you’re just going to have to wash your underwear again, because once you wear it, it’s dirty. Now that’s just the way sacrifices worked.

That is until Jesus came, because according to what we just read, “...we see Jesus through the suffering of death, when he had been crowned with glory and honor, so that by God’s grace, for all he might taste death. For it is fitting for him, for whom all things and through whom all things [exist], who brings many sons into glory, to make him the founder and leader of our salvation through suffering to become perfect” and then a little later, “...since the children have shared in blood and flesh, and likewise he[, that is Jesus,] partook the same, so that through the death he might bring to nothing the one who has the power of death, that is the Devil, and might free those who were by a fear of death through their whole lives were subjected to slavery.”

You see, it’s through death of Jesus that God did the same thing for us that sacrifices did for the Jews. Man, he freed us from slavery to sin and death. He freed us from a sin-generated distortion that can prevent us from understanding the truth and a death-focused obsession that can prevent us from living. In other words, because he came, we’re free from the past and it doesn’t matter how bad that past was. It doesn’t matter how ashamed we are of what we’ve done or left undone. And it doesn’t matter how much we’ve let our past dominate our lives. I’m telling you, we’ve been set free, so that we can move into the future. It’s all because Jesus was the sacrifice once and for all, and that’s one reason why he came.

And second, he also came to be our priest, in other words, the one who does the sacrificing and who stands between us and God. You see, that’s what a priest does, he or she takes human needs and hopes and fears to God and then does the same thing for God. Therefore, they need to know and be able to identify with both sides. And that’s why priests are the one’s who do the sacrifices, bringing the people’s animals to God and God’s forgiveness to the people.

And again, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, that’s the role Jesus assumed. As he wrote, “Hence, he had in all aspects to become like all the brothers, so that a merciful and faithful high priest he might become in the things of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. For in that he himself suffered by being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” Of course it’s not hard for us understand how he could understand and identify with God. My gosh, he was God incarnate, God in human flesh for crying out loud. But the writer was also very clear that he was also like us, because “...for a short time [God] made him lower than angels,” just like us. And “since the children[, meaning us,] have shared in blood and flesh, ...likewise he partook the same.” And as I said just a moment ago, “...he himself suffered by being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” Now think about what the writer is saying. Jesus suffered death so that he could become our sacrifice, but he also suffered temptations and testing so that he could become our high priest.

And I’ll tell you, that might be the best news of all. I mean, how often have you felt weighed down, maybe by guilt, maybe by stress, maybe by something else that just seems to drain away whatever strength you might have. As a matter-of-fact, you may be feeling some of that right now, because Christmas can be mighty tough if you’re sad or discouraged or frustrated.

Well, if that’s what you’re feeling, I want you to listen: not only has a sacrifice been made in your name, one so powerful and profound that in God’s sight that past is forgiven and forgotten, but right now, right this minute, you have a priest who really does know your pain because he’s felt it himself. I’m telling you, he knows every weakness, every frailty, every flaw, and he still loves us. In fact, he loves us so much that he sacrificed himself for you and for me. But not only that, we know that we can go to him in prayer, confident that he knows what we’re feeling. Man, he’s heard it all, and we’re still forgiven. And if he can forgive us, then maybe we can start forgiving ourselves and one another. You see, Jesus is now and will be forever our personal high priest. And that’s another reason he came.

Around our home, we wait until epiphany, January 6 to take our Christmas decorations down. And along with the other stuff, our nativity set will be packed away, and we’ll shift away from the baby in the manger. In other words, by the middle of January, how Jesus came will not be quite as important as it is today. But again, that’s probably a good thing, because then we can start thinking about why, why he came. And as we consider all the things he came to offer us, let’s remember that two of the reasons are right here: that Jesus came to be both our sacrifice and our priest.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Jesus at the Saloon


Mark 1:35-39:

35-37While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”

38-39Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.


Devotion by J. Mack Strange (Tennessee):

Over the last 10 years I have conducted Christmas Eve services in some unlikely places — restaurants, firehouses, football-stadium parking lots, and prisons. On Christmas Eve two years ago, I participated as over 350 people, nearly all strangers to one another, gathered for a Christmas Eve service of carols, candlelight and Communion — in a downtown dance hall and bar. In this unlikely venue, I saw God move in the hearts and lives of people, most of whom never would have stepped through the door of a church. It was a powerful reminder to me that in Jesus, God reveals the intention to encounter us where we are.

Many times those of us in the church forget that Jesus was not born in a church or cathedral, he was born “off-site” in the dirt and dung of a stable for ammals. He was born in the midst of the reality of life, not as in some stained-glass portrayal of a royal birth. This was a real God, for real people, in real life. That’s what Emmanuel, “God with us,” means.

The true miracle of Christmas is not found in the pageantry of a great Christmas Eve service. The true miracle of Christmas is the truth that God is with us in the dirt and dailyness and in the reality and imperfection of our lives.

Announcements for December 26, 2010 - January 2, 2011

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.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children carry 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 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 CHURCH OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED . . .
on Friday, December 31. Normal hours will resume on Monday, January 3.

BOARD MAILBOXES. . .
Please empty your mailbox by January 2. New board member mailboxes will be set-up on Monday, January 3, 2011. All material not picked-up will be discarded.

AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE HOLE IN THE SANCTUARY CEILING . . .
we are experiencing some roof leaks. We have been informed by the roofing contractor that due to the age and brittleness of the roof repairing is only temporary, the roof needs replaced. Please bear with us as we are working to get this major problem corrected as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding.

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING. . .
will be held on Monday, January 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the boardroom.

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

CHANCEL CHOIR PRACTICE . . .
will not be held until Wednesday, January 5,at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. Please note the time change. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . . .
next on Thursday, January 6, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 3:1-36. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will not meet until Monday, January 10 , at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
will be held on Sunday, January 30 after the morning worship. Please have all annual reports turned into the church office by Friday, January 21to have them included in the report booklet.

2011 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
are available on the table in the narthex. Please pick-up your box and also any neighbors or friends that you might be able to deliver saving us postage. If you would like a box of offering envelopes but did not receive one please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561.

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 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.

PLEASE TAKE ANY POINSETTIAS . . .
left to those who are shut-in or currently in the hospital.

IT IS THE DUTY OF THE DEACONS . . .
to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress both within and beyond our community of faith. If our Deacons can be of service to you, please contact a deacon or the church office.

MISSING A DISH, BOWL OR BAKING PAN?
Check the pantry in the kitchen. There are a number of items, bowls, plates and utensils that have been left after various functions, one may belong to you.

SHOP 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.

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.

LOOSE CHANGE OFFERING . . .
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. The Deacons thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost will increase to $16.00 a vase effective January 1, 2011. 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 telephone 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.
• 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, DECEMBER 26, 2010 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches join together to pray for Salineville, Bethel - Ted Ludwig, Pastor and Salineville, Calvary - Mary Anne Frischkorn, Pastor

Today Is Christmas Eve!

Well, here we are, Christmas Eve. Before I came to the church this morning, Maggie was up and excited. She's already examined all her wrapped presents and asked when we'll make cookies for Santa. We found our "Elf on the Shelf" in a candy jar this morning, and neither Maggie nor I can figure out how he got there. CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE.

And with that in mind, I want to share with you two things that you might find meaningful. First, there's a letter that I've kept close since I was about ten, when Dad read it to me the first time. And the other is a poem I ran across about a half-hour ago. I hope you enjoy them both.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

**********

December Twenty-Fourth

Tomorrow You are born again
Who died so many times.
Do You like the Candle-light,
Do You like the chimes?


Do You stop to wonder
Why men never see
How very closely Bethlehem
Approaches Calvary?
Eleanor Slater

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - No Amen, Yet

James 5:13-18:

13-15Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

16-18Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.


Devotion by Carol Hatcher (Georgia):

When I was a little girl, I lived two houses away from my grandmother and spent much time following her around. The dark brown cabinets and gold-flecked dinette table in her kitchen represented warmth and security to me. When life wasn’t treating me fairly, Grandmother soothed my wounded heart with peanut butter sticks and stories about the days when riding a wagon into town was the norm.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has walked with assistance — at one time with a cane and now with a walker. My young girl’s prayers were for my grandmother to be able to run again. Daily I prayed that Grandmother’s legs would become stronger. One afternoon as I watched her walk with her typical step-and-hop, my heart reached out to her. “Grandmother,” I said, “I’m praying for your legs, and I haven’t said amen yet.” I had learned the verse about praying without ceasing in my Sunday school class, and for me as a child that meant praying without saying amen.

Our family has laughed over that story for years. But the simple truth is, we should always pray with that attitude. Prayer can be a continual conversation with God. God is a friend we can speak with all day, a close companion who wants to listen to the stories of our heart.

Dying to Live

By Faith Bonyak
Saturday, December 18, 2010

I've been inspired to write this note after a few scheduling conflicts have allowed me to have an intimate one-on-one conversation with someone I respect, admire and consider to be a good friend. During this conversation, we were taken to the ultimate question.... If given the choice, would you deny God and live, or die?

Growing up in the Pentecostal church ,that question was asked of us many times over the years. Each time I really felt, "Well DUH!" , like that was the easiest question ever. Now that I am older and more understanding of the world and what lay beyond, I now know that question isn't as easy as some may think it is. For Christians it's the one test we all want to pass, but none of us want to take.

Even at 31 years old, I really believe that if my life was on the line and I was given that choice, I would allow myself to die. Here comes the twist....what if it wasn't my life on the line? What if it was one of my children? What if it was a stranger's life that was being held in the balance, would I deny God then to save my children or someone I didn't know? I don't know the answer to that, and to be truthful, I don't think anyone can say with any amount of certainty that they know what they'd do if someone else's life was being held in the balance of our Faith in God.

I know this is a very hard subject to broach, especially around the Holidays, but I found it to be very fitting for this time of year. On Christmas we are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jeus Christ. The best gift of all from our merciful and loving God. However, the gift of love doesn't end at his birth...on the contrary, it's just beginning! Jesus lived a life full of hope, love, mercy, joy....the kind that could only come from the Father in Heaven. Essentially, and simplistically speaking, Jesus was Living to Die. He knew from the beginning that the world needed an ultimate sacrifice to save the itself from the sin we are born into. Do I think Jesus was glad to see that day come? No, even as a human he was hoping the world would wake up and see him for who he truly was. He even prayed that if God could allow this to pass him by, to please do it....but he went on and sacrificed himself for our salvation.

Jesus made the decision that we all dread to make someday. He saved us all by dying on the cross. Our lives were hanging in the balance of his decision to die. He chose us over himself. This decision just sends chills up my spine when I think about the love that he had for those of us who were long from being born, but he gave up himself so we could stand a chance to see life eternally. During this holiday season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us pause and think right now are we willing to Die to live?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday's Sermon - It Doesn’t Have To Be Over

Romans 1:1-7

1Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called an apostle, separated for the good news of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in holy writings, 3concerning his son who came from the seed of David according to flesh, 4who was designated Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness from the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ, our Lord, 5through whom we received grace and apostleship for obedience to faith in all the nations for the sake of his name, 6in which you yourselves are also called by Jesus Christ, 7to all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called holy; grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


It Doesn’t Have To Be Over

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to come down to the church, Debbie said, “Do you realize that in a week it’ll be all over?” And you know, that really kind of got me thinking. Of course, her point was that we only have six days left to get everything done before December 25. In fact, the next thing she did was to remind me that we haven’t even sent my parents their presents and that Maggie has already planned out Monday, my next day off. It’s going to be a daddy/daughter day, with she and I hitting the mall to the buy our gifts, because, as we all know, in a week it’ll be all over and then it’ll be too late to do much of anything.

But you know, the more I thought about it, the more it hit me that question has to do with a lot more than buying presents and putting up decorations and of course, baking cookies (chocolate chip and sickerdoodles are my favorites.) You see, it also says a lot about our relationship with Jesus Christ and how we live out that relationship.

I mean, think about what this season represents to a lot of people. I mean in most churches, Christmas Eve is one of the big yearly services. And a lot of folks are so focused on Christ this time of year, that they get all bent out of shape if someone abbreviates the day by writing “Xmas,” even though the “X” is actually the letter “χ,” the first letter in the Greek word “Χριστός,” “Christ.” I’m telling you, some people will actually be offended by a store that puts up a “Happy Holiday” sign, as though that’s another indication that we’re going to Hell in a handbasket.

Now that’s all tied up with the time before Christmas, but what about after, you know, when it’s all over? I think we all know that we won’t see the Christmas Eve crowd until Easter, right? And all this fire about keeping Jesus in the season, well, I don’t see the word “Christ” in football or basketball or baseball. In other words, it seems that for most people, all that religious passion kind of fades once the nativity is packed away, and we move on to something else. Because, let’s face it, when it’s over, it’s over.

But you know, that really doesn’t have to be the case, not with us, because I’ll tell you, this passage reminds us that it wasn’t the case for Paul. The coming of Jesus Christ had an impact on his entire life, on his status and his function and his focus. And brothers and sisters, it can do the exact same thing for us.

And like I said, this is something we can see happening in this passage. Now, on the surface, it’s the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Romans. And it has everything we’d expect to see at the beginning of a letter. I mean it has a greeting, “grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” words that Paul uses in all his letters. And it has the people to whom it was written, “to all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called holy.” But I’ll tell you, it’s the first part, you know, when Paul describes himself, that’s what I find most interesting, because when you compare it to his other letters, it’s by far the longest. And although that makes sense (I mean, unlike the other places to which he wrote, he’d never been to Rome, therefore, Paul was kind of introducing himself), his description tells us a lot about how Paul saw himself in light of the Christ’s coming, a vision that we can share.

I mean, just look at the passage and notice that, first, Paul was very clear about his status. He was “a slave of Christ Jesus.” And even though, in a lot of English versions, the word is translated “servant,” something that I think we probably feel more comfortable with; I’m sorry but the Greek word δολος means you’re a card-carrying slave. In fact, later in Romans, Paul will write: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” No, Paul believed he was owed by and bound to God through Jesus Christ.

And I’ll tell you, so are we. We aren’t just servants, who are free to serve Christ one day and then serve someone else the next. We just aren’t like free agents, trying to sign with the team that can offer us the best package of benefits. Now that may be what we want to think, but it just isn’t true. No, we are slaves, because, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we “...were bought with a price” and because of this, again using his words, we should “...not become slaves of human masters.” We belong, lock, stock and barrel, to God; we do now and we will after Christmas. And I’ll tell you, for me at least, that’s a good thing. Even though it’s a shot at my ego, I mean if I have to think in these terms, I’d much rather think of myself as a master than a slave, this reminds me that I belong to Jesus because he bought me, not because I found him. Without my permission or help, he brought me from sin and from shame and from death, and he gave me that ability to see and to accept and to praise him for what he’d done. And as his slave, I know that no matter what I do, no matter how self-centered and arrogant I become, no matter how often I act like an ignorant,  appreciative jerk by assuming that I’m the one in control, that won’t change a thing. Praise the Lord, I’ll still belong to him. Like Paul, that’s my status. And it’s your’s too, and it’s as true after Christmas as it is before. That’s one.

And second, in this introduction, Paul was also clear about his function. He was “called an apostle.” Now, I know when we hear the word apostle, we usually think of the twelve, and we see them as kind of the inner circle and a closed group. But that really wasn’t how Paul saw them. His understanding was more in line with what the word “apostle” actually means, as one who is “sent out” with a message. As a matter of fact, Paul includes apostles right along with prophets and teachers as people with spiritual gifts found within the church. You see, for Paul, an apostle is a person who takes the gospel to other people, and that’s why he’ll call himself “an apostle to the Gentiles.” That was his function.

And you know, that’s something that applies to us as well. Like Paul, we’ve been called to share the love and grace of God to others and not just at Christmas time. And in that sense, we’ve all been called to be apostles. Of course, I understand that’s a little scary for most people. I mean, most of us don’t feel comfortable going up to stranger and talking about Jesus or knocking on doors and passing out tracts. Most of us just don’t feel comfortable doing that kind of thing. But you know, those aren’t the only ways we can share Christ with others. As a matter of fact, I think the most effective way to witness is just live like a Christian, in other words, to treat others like you’d like to be treated. And when people see that you’re not acting like all those folks who are just out for themselves, when they see that you’re not like them and ask you why, you can say that’s it’s because you trust in Jesus Christ and want to follow his example. In my opinion, if we all did that kind of thing, it would do more for the kingdom of God than a thousand tracts. You see, we can be apostles, like Paul, that can also be our function the whole year. And that’s two.

And finally, in his introduction, Paul is crystal clear about his focus. Using his own words, he was “separated for the good news of God.” And if that wasn’t enough, he explains exactly what the Good News, the victory of God is all about. You see, it was something that was promised from the very beginning, but brought up-close and personal in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the one who not only died on the cross to save the people who drove the nails but who rose from the dead, demonstrating once and for all that nothing, not even death itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. And because of what Jesus did, we (Paul and all of us) we have received grace, in other words, we’ve received something that God has given out of his generosity rather than because of our efforts, man, we have received grace from God himself and we’ve been given the chance to take this wonderful message and to carry it to the nations. This is the good news that served as Paul’s focus.

And I’m telling you, it can be our’s as well. And you know, that’s a pretty good thing, especially after we take a long and hard look at what’s going on in the world. Now, I’m going to be straight with y’all. Life is tough. And I don’t care who you worship or what church you attend, bad things happen to good people. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes we mess ourselves up and sometimes other people do it for us. And sometimes, well it just happens. And there’s going to be times when each one of us will feel frustrated and irritated or maybe lonely and discouraged. I’ll tell you, personally, there are plenty of times when I know exactly what cowboys are talking about when they say that they feel “rode hard and put away wet.” And when those times come and I feel like looking for career opportunities anywhere but in the church, I can remember this good news: that I’m was loved by the creator of the universe before the foundation of the world and that this love was shown by Jesus Christ and if I were the only person who’d ever lived, he would have still come and died and rose again for me and that because of his great love I can step forward without fear, knowing that in spite of everything I may see and feel, I’m safe. My past is forgiven and my future is secure. You see, when things are at their worst, this can be my focus, something that offers me and when you feel that way, it can offer you the same sense of grace and peace it offered Paul.

Now, next week this time, Christmas will be in our rear-view mirror. And for a lot of people, so will the joy and excitement they felt as they prepared to celebrate the birth of the savior. You see, after the day has passed, for many folks Christmas will become just a memory. But that doesn’t have to be the case with us, because if we’re open, the arrival of the Lord can impact us long after the day. As a matter of fact, just like it did for Paul, the coming of Christ can offer us a status and a function and a focus that we can apply the entire year. In other words, if we choose to relax and let the spirit work, on December 26, Christmas doesn’t have to be over, at least, not for us.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prayer Requests for Sunday, December 19, 2010

During Sunday's worship service, we'll lift up people and concern in prayer. If you have anyone to add to the list, please let me know. Thanks.

Adults
• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• Rita Mentzer
• John Brothers
• Catherine Zinc
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Jack & Mary Games
• Paul Buck
• Denni Stillwagoner
• Madeleine Jackson
• Bill Churchman
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Connie Francis
• Thelma Brooks
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Carol Mowl
• Kim Sabor Family
• Marge Greco
• Pam Haller
• Richard Reed
• Eleanor Cline
• Mary Torchio
• Cheryl Hargast
• Geri von Ramin
• Malia Okimaw
• Rhonda Donahoo
• Robby Lucas
• Bill Lawrence
• Mary Harvey
• Larry Cline
• Kim Draper
• Mark Harris & Family
• Kelly Stephens & her family
• John Hearn
• Megan Schlotter & family
• Jamie Schmidt Baker & her family

Kids
• Jonah Becker
• Shelby Kamarec
• Brody McUmor
• Dustin Parr
• Zoe Purcell
• Daisy Emmerick
• Georgie Platt
• Audri King
• Alec Barnhart
• Brandon Wates

Military
• Michael Criss
• Jonathan Criss
• Chad Peppler
• Howard Fell

Teens & College Students

Troops
Our troops all around the world need our prayers for strength, endurance, and safety.

Church Families
• Frank & Mary Bohach
• Paula Boyce & Christian Truax
• John, Leesa, Owen & Madeline Boyd

Local Church
Pleasant Valley United Methodist

Other Presbyterian Churches
• The First Presbyterian Church in St. Clairsville, Ohio where The Rev. Homer Harden is Pastor.
• The Uniontown Presbyterian Church in St. Clairsville, Ohio. They have a vacant pulpit.

Weirton Medical Center
• Corinne Ferguson
• Marie Williamson

Special Friend
Mildred Kimmel, 3061 Lindberg Way, Weirton WV 26062-4443

Chambrel at Montrose
Thelma Longacre

Fox Crest
Beth Milby

Wyngate
Father of Mary Ann Ianni

Weirton Geriatric Center
Marge Black
Mary Kay DePaolo
Dorothy Sobolak
Bob Morgan
Mike Valiga
Alice Orr

Carriage House
Ruth Gilmore
Carriage House Room 215
3106 St. Charles Dr
Steubenville, OH 43952

Ila Mauk
1234 Swearingen Rd
Weirton WV 26062-4331

Announcements for December 19 - 26

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.

WHEN WE BEGIN THE SERVICE. . .
our children carry 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 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.

WE WILL HAVE OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS COVERED DISH DINNER . . .
and children's program tonight, December 19 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The evening will end with a special visitor for the children. You are asked to bring a covered dish to share and your own place setting.

TRUSTEES MONTHLY MEETING . . .
Monday, December 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet on Monday, December 20 , at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, December 22, at 5:30 p.m. We have 1 position that needs filled. We practice from 5:30 - 6:45 from September through May. We play once a month for Sunday services and for holidays. If you are interested in joining, please contact Becky Korosec at 304-748-8449 for more information.

CHANCEL CHOIR PRACTICE . . .
will be held on Wednesday, December 22, in the sanctuary. Please note practice begins at 6:45 p.m. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us as we prepare our music for the Christmas Season. After our practice will have our Christmas party in fellowship hall.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . .
next on Thursday, January 6, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 3:1-36. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

2011 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
are available on the table in the narthex. Please pick-up your box and also any neighbors or friends that you might be able to deliver saving us postage. If you would like a box of offering envelopes but did not receive one please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561.

OFFICE HOLIDAY SCHEDULE . . .
the church and office will be closed Christmas Eve, December 24 and Monday, December 27 for the Christmas Holiday. We will also be closed Friday, December 31. Happy Holidays!!

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 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.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS? . . .
is the theme of this year's Christmas Joy offering. This offering enables Presbyterians to support the unmet needs of families who have devoted their lives to the mission of the Presbyterian Church USA and Presbyterian -affiliated racial ethic schools and colleges enabling students to develop their gifts and find their calling. Inserts have been included in the bulletins each week during Advent telling how monies have been previously used. Envelopes are included in your bulletin this morning and will also be included on Christmas Eve for your gift. We wish to thank you in advance for your contribution.

IT IS THE DUTY OF THE DEACONS . . .
to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress both within and beyond the community of faith. If our Deacons can be of service to you, please contact a deacon or the church office.

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

REMEMBER WHEN HOLIDAY SHOPPING, SHOP 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.

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.

LOOSE CHANGE OFFERING . . .
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. The Deacons thank you for your continuing support of our projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost will increase to $16.00 a vase effective January 1, 2011. 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 telephone 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, DECEMBER 19, 2010 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches join together to pray for: St. Clairsville, First - Homer Harden, Pastor; St. Clairsville, Uniontown - Vacant Pulpit

And He Heard the Bell Ring

There was once a boy named John, who lived in a country far away and in an age long since passed. Now John was what you could call average, at least for a fourteen year old, with no distinguishing features on the surface or beneath. His home was comfortable, his family was typical, his life was ordinary. As a matter of fact, for John, there was only one time of year that broke the pattern of his life: Christmas. How well he knew the smell of spruce and the taste of spiced cakes and the sounds of carols. For at least this one time each year he could live with excitement, expectation, and joy. But don't get me wrong, John knew the meaning of the season. I mean, he knew that this was the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the coming of salvation. In fact, this seemed to give his joy almost a holy glow.

That is, until today. You see, it was only two weeks before Christmas, and although the smells and the tastes and the sounds were all there, something seemed to be missing. John just didn't have the same feelings, the same spirit that seemed to fill him each and every year. Now, when he told his father, he said it was because John was growing up, and although undeniably true, there was something else, something missing. And so John sat in his room, sprawled out on his bed, trying to figure it all out.

And then, in the distance, he heard the bell ring. Now this was hardly a surprise. As anyone in the village could tell you, each day the monks in the monastery there on a hill would ring their chapel bell six times to mark the hours between noon and twilight. This was the time during the day when the large gate was opened and visitors could come and share fellowship with the brothers. But today, the bell got John thinking. Maybe, yes it could be, well they might have the answer. They might know what he could do. Who better to see what's missing, to know how best to celebrate, than people dedicated to the Lord's service? It was all so simple. He'd go to the monastery, and they'd answer his questions. The trip would only take a few hours, and that seemed a small price pay to regain the spirit of Christmas.

And so John leaped from his bed. Since he'd done his chores for the day, he was now free to do whatever he pleased. Quickly, he packed a lunch of bread and ham and cheese. And with a kind of excitement he hadn't felt for almost a year, he grabbed his bag and started toward the door. Soon he'd know. Soon he'd know what was missing. Soon he'd be able to celebrate Christmas to the fullest.

“John, are you leaving?”

“Yes, mother; but I won't be gone long. I've done all my chores.”

His mother sighed; she looked disappointed. “What's the matter mother? It's all right for me to go, isn't it?”

“Of course it is. I was just hoping to take some dinner to Mrs. Cooper this afternoon. She's been ailing you know, and I need someone to watch your brother and sister. But you go ahead on; you've done your work today.”

John stopped and thought. It seemed as though Mrs. Cooper was always ailing, suffering from one problem after another. And he had done his chores; therefore, he had every right to be on his way. And his trip wasn't self-centered anyway, why it was noble, almost spiritual. He had every reason to go. And yet, his mother did need his help.

He put down his bag. “You go to Mrs. Cooper. I'll stay with the children.”

“Are you sure?”

John nodded. His mother left, and while she was gone, he played some of the games he knew children just love to play. When she came back, she thanked him and told him about how much Mrs. Cooper appreciated the visit, and John felt good about the decision he'd made. He picked up his bag and as he was leaving his house, in the distance, he heard the bell ring the second time.

Now, there was no reason to be concerned. I mean, the trip would take only about an hour and a half. And this was a perfect day to walk. The road was smooth and in the sunshine, the air was almost warm. It was like God himself was helping him on his journey. Everything would be wonderful now, and soon he'd have the missing piece, he'd know how to celebrate Christmas. He almost skipped as he walked.

And as he was going along, he noticed a beggar sitting beside the road. His clothes were all tattered and torn, his hands were bony and they shook, and he looked so hungry as he sat there. “Son, can you spare a few coins, just a few so I can get something to eat.”

John paused and thought. Of course, he had no coins to give, so he could answer “no” with a clear conscience. And often he'd heard the men of the village say that beggars were just lazy and had only themselves to blame and that by helping them one was only keeping them from helping themselves. Anyway, his trip was for the Lord, wasn't it? He had every reason to go. And yet, as he looked into a face that appeared so worn and tired, he knew that regardless of the cause, the hunger was real.

And so he sat near the man and opened his sack. “I have no coins, but I do have some bread and cheese and ham. Will you share my lunch with me?” The beggar nodded and smiled. And as they eat, they talked about Christmas and life and hope. When they'd finished, the beggar told John how much he appreciated his generosity. And as he turned back toward the road, John heard the bell ring third time.

And so John continued. There was still plenty of time, and yet, well, he would need to be careful. Once the gates closed at six, he'd have to wait at least another day to talk with the brothers. And so there was no need to hurry but as his mother would say, there was no need to dawdle either.

Now, after walking less than ten minutes, he saw another man sitting beside the road, looking every bit as tired as the beggar looked hungry. The man just sat there, slumped over, shaking his head. And then John saw a horse tied to a tree and a wagon laying on its side. And on the grass were all these barrels that had obviously fallen out when the wagon overturned.

He stopped and thought. Clearly, this man had overloaded his wagon. He hadn't considered the condition of the road. Maybe he was in too big a hurry. When you get right down to it, he probably only had himself to blame. And who knows what was in the barrels, it could be wine or worse. Anyway, John had places to go and people to see and a spirit to recapture. Again, he had every reason to go. And yet, this man obviously needed help regardless of who was to blame.

And so John went over to him. “If you need a hand, I'll help you with your wagon.” The man smiled as he got to his feet. With the help of the horse, they righted the wagon. Then, one by one they stacked the barrels. When they'd finished, the man hitched-up his horse, thanked John profusely, and waved as he rolled away toward John's village. John waved back as he heard the bell ring a fourth time.

Oooh, four times, he could still make it, but now he'd have to hurry. No time to enjoy the scenery, now he'd have to make tracks. But still, he should make it to the monastery with time to spare, not much but some. Or so he thought, until he saw a little girl crying beside the road. For an instant, she reminded him of his sister. She was kneeling, almost reverently in the grass, tears streaming down her checks. And as he approached, he saw a small, motionless body, a little cat with a red ribbon tied around its neck. Wheels and hoofs are always dangerous for little cats.

John stopped and thought. What could he do? Could he breathe life into a lifeless body? Could he make this girl feel better with words? Of course not. And now, time was really getting short; if he stopped the gates might be closed. You see, he had every reason to go. And yet, he knew how she felt.

And so slowly, gently he approached the child, so as not to scare her. Then he listened as she told him about her lost, and you know, he cried too. And then, very carefully, he put the small cat in the bag that once held his lunch. And then using a knife he always carried, he dug a small hole beneath a tree, placed the sack in the cool soil, and covered it with earth and leaves. Together, they said a prayer, and cried again. After the service, he walked the child home, and as she entered her house, he heard the bell ring again.

Oh my gosh, five times, five times it's rung. That meant he had only a short time left and he still had the hill to climb. And the path was no longer straight, and the air was no longer warm. Well, John started to run. This trip cannot be wasted. The time was so short. The birthday of Christ was almost here. He'd come too far to turn back. He had to know. How could he recapture the spirit? How could he celebrate the day? What could he do, what could he possibly do that would prepare him for the one who brought salvation to all people? His mind raced as his feet ran. And there, in front of him was the gate, still open. He'd made it. Thank God, he was there.

And as stopped to catch his breath, he started to think about the day: about his mother and the beggar and the man with the wagon and of course, about the little girl. And then it hit him, he'd already found his answer. He already knew what he could do, how he might best celebrate the coming of the one who brought good news to the poor, and who proclaimed release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and who came to let the oppressed go free. It was amazing; he now knew.

One of the monks who had come to close the gate must have seen him there. The brother approached and asked, “My son, how might I help you?” John, with a big smile on his face, said “Thank you asking, but I already have my answer.” And right then, he heard the bell ring.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - A Sure Elevation


Luke 19:1-10:

1-4Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.

5-7When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”

8Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”

9-10Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”


Devotion by K. Jackson Peevy (Alabama):

Though I am not physically short, my spiritual vision has often been poor because of the short stature of my faith. Just as the tree provided Zacchaeus the necessary elevation for a clear view of Christ, so many individuals have been the “tree” for me in my quest to see Jesus. Ministers have spoken words I needed to hear. Parents have cautioned me when my tendency was to be careless. Peers have had the faithful discipline that I lacked and have witnessed to me with their lives faithfully lived. Mentors “walked the walk” as well as they talked it. My wife’s compassion has served as a pattern for how to deal with a hardened heart. My children love me even when I am not lovable. Even the love shown by non-believers has reminded me of God’s immeasurable grace. All these have been “trees” in my life that have given me a clearer view of Christ.

When we doubt our effectiveness in our Christian walk, we can remember that each of us can be a tree for someone. What an awesome privilege and responsibility each of us has in helping others to see Jesus!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - A Promise of Protection

Read Psalm 91:

1-13You 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 from Megan R. Stafford (South Carolina):

Recently I went on a journey far from home. I traveled alone across the country for eight days. I visited several cities and spent time with friends along the way. Still, my parents were concerned about me. They asked me to call them every day without fail.

Though many of my parents’ friends reassured them I could take care of myself, my parents were uncertain about my well-being when they couldn’t be near me. Because I was so far away from them, in their minds my welfare seemed in constant jeopardy.

But God is always with us and does not want harm to come to us. God’s promise of protection, coupled with paying attention to our inner voices and common sense, keeps us from harm. I’m sure my parents would be surprised to hear that every night on my trek I prayed for safety and that my parents’ fears and worries would subside. If my journey taught me anything, it is that God is with us every step of the way, no matter where we go.