Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Devotion on Our Prayer Line - Welcome!

John 14:1-7

1-4 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”

5Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”

6-7Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”


A Devotion by Bill Willis (New South Wales, Australia)

On a recent overseas trip, my wife and I arrived at our destination at 5:30 A.M. after a 20-hour flight. We had expected a delay in being transferred to our hotel and were delighted to be greeted at the airport by a driver sent for us. Our joy increased when, on arriving at the hotel at 7 A.M., we were welcomed and told, “Your room is ready.” We were grateful that everything had been prepared for us.

This made me think how much more wonderful it is to know that when we make the great journey from this life to the next through the doorway of death, we will be met not by a driver but by a wonderful friend waiting to greet us and tell us, “Your room is ready.”

Our friend and savior has promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). This is Christ’s promise to all who put their faith in him. What a wonderful and thrilling prospect!

Prayer Requests

The following people will be lifted up in prayer during our Sunday worship service and by the Cove congregation during the following week. If you have a name to add to this list, please let me know.


Adults
• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• John Brothers
• Catherine Zinc
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Paul Buck
• Denni Stillwagoner
• Madeleine Jackson
• Bill Churchman
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Kim Sabor
• Pam Haller
• Mary Torchio
• Cheryl Hargast
• Jenni
• Bonnie Kirtley
• Ray & Madeline Greco
• Benna Milliken
• Connie Francis
• Rachael
• Mary & Jack Games
• Betty Kraina
• Karen Hornberger
• Vicki Williams
• Delbert McLaughlin
• Leota McPeek


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


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.


Bereaved:
• Family of Elaine Fraga
• Family of Marge Greco


Church Families:
• Ruth Coates
• Tim & Chris Connell
• Lou, Renee, Joey, Sierra & Ella Contumelio
• Gary & Sandy Crawford


Local Church
St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church

Announcements for January 30 - February 6

The announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin are below:

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.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet Monday, January 31, at 6:00 a.m. in the board room.

BOOKMARKS. . . .
Cove’s Reading Group will meet on Monday, January 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

THE ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, February 2, 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.

THE CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, February 2, at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us. We will also practice the cantata, Who Do You Say That I Am?, to be presented during the Palm Sunday Worship Service.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . . .
Thursday, February 3, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 5:1-47. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

FOOD DONATED . . .
a “special thank you” is extended to three special young ladies, Maddie DiLullo, and Meghan & Britney Foster. They recently used their Christmas money to purchase and deliver 110 items to the Food Pantry.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
will be held today, Sunday, January 30 after the morning worship. All members are encouraged to attend.

CHALLENGE SUNDAY . . .
is scheduled for Sunday , February 13. The theme is Show Some LOVE for Cove Church. The purpose of this event is to aide with the upcoming sanctuary roof expense. The rubber roofing project is estimated to cost $ 28,500. Challenge Sunday is being done to help defray the costs.

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.

RESERVE A DATE. . .
before scheduling an activity at the church, please call the church office to check that the date is available.

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.

LIKE TO READ? LIKE NEW RECIPES? . .
a large amount of books have been donated and have been placed on tables in Fellowship Hall, stop in and browse and take any that appeal to you. Donations accepted.

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 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.

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, 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 were 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. You may also call the church office or e-mail the church with the information.

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. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a plastic vase for you to take with you.

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. We’ll post items of interest and pictures of events at Cove 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 in Morgantown, West Virginia. 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.

SHOE BOX PROJECT . . .
Kyle Truex, a Boy Scout with Troop 334 has extended his Eagle Scout Project to include continuous donations for Appalachian Outreach Inc. Brochures with envelopes attached are located on the table in the narthex.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for Toronto- First - Mike Bongart, Pastor and Toronto Hill Top - Robert Meyer, Pastor. Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster Presbyterian Church.

But Baby It's Cold Outside

Another snowy Friday. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a change. Frankly, I'm becoming sick of snow. I mean, sleigh bells are fine on in the middle of December and "But baby it's cold outside" is cute for a while, but give me a break. When am I going to be able to walk from the house to the garage without getting snow in my shoes? For me enough is enough; I'm ready for "a heat wave, a tropical heat." That's what I want.

But you know, I have to remember it's really not all about me. Whether I freeze or thaw, well, that's in hands well above my payscale. You see, whether I like it or not, God is in control. And that little fact applies to more than just the weather. Without my pushing it, the world will still turn. And without my assisting them, the Steelers are playing in another Super Bowl. And without my permission or control, God is still warming hearts and opening minds so that people can feel his presence in their lives and understand that his love for them was shown in Jesus Christ. You see, my choice isn't whether I make or prevent it from happening. It's going to happen with or without me. I have to decide whether I'm going to be involved, whether I'm going to put myself in the position to see lives change and to celebrate with the newly found those changes that they feel. And that's something I need to remember, especially when I start seeing myself and my ideas as indispensable to the furtherance of the gospel. As we'll talk about on Sunday, when you get right down to it, it's really not about me. It's all about God.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Our Way, or God’s?


Matthew 11:28-30

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


A Devotion by Yaneth Orozco Zapata (Valle del Cauca, Colombia)

I was resting on the couch in the living room when I noticed my four-year-old son in the hallway. He was crying as he struggled to open a container with a tight lid. I asked him to bring the container to me so I could help him, but he resolutely wanted to open it himself. He continued to cry and his frustration grew. When exhaustion overcame him, he finally decided to allow me to help. He then saw how easy it was for me. He could have avoided the frustration had he come to me earlier.

This incident became a spiritual lesson for me about how to handle difficult situations. Too often, rather than seeking God’s help, we try our own methods to solve our problems — and we often end up frustrated or in tears. But God’s promise is before us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” God has the solution to our problems: We can believe in and trust in God’s word — and ask for God’s help.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yesterday's Sermon - Christian Unity

1 Corinthians 1:10-19

10And I urge you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that everyone might speak with the same [voice], and that there might be no splits among you, and that you might fit together in one mind and in one opinion. 11For it has been made clear to me concerning you, my brothers, concerning those of Chloe’s household that there are rivalries among you. 12I say this, that each of you says, “I am Paul,” “I am Apollos,” “I am Cephas,” and “I am Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he; nor were you baptized in the name of Paul, were you? 14I give thanks that I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius, 15so that no one might say that into my name you were baptized. 16But I also baptized the household of Stephanas. For the rest, I don’t know if I baptized any others. 17For Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to proclaim the good news, not with words of wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of meaning. 18For the word of the cross to those who are on the road of perdition is foolishness, but to those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power. 19For it has been written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will annul.


Christian Unity

Unless you’ve got a special kind of calendar, you may not know that we’re in the middle of what’s called the Week of Prayer for Christianity Unity. And although it was first suggested in 1908 by an English priest named Father Paul Wattson, it’s grown into a global observance. Now this is what the website for the World Council of Churches says about this special time. “At least once a year, many Christians become aware of the great diversity of ways of adoring God. Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbors’ ways are not so strange. ...Traditionally celebrated between January 18-25, the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged, and special ecumenical worship services are arranged.” In other words, for at least one week a year, all the denominations get together and accept that Jesus may not have intended that his body become all these little competing Christian franchises (each with it’s own, unique Happy Meal of course) and that for seven days we’ll say that we actually believe that the 95% we have in common is actually more important than the 5% that separates us.

Now that’s what this week is suppose to be about, and I’ve got to tell you, I think it’s a pretty good idea. I mean, we’re all Christians for crying out loud. We all believe in the same Father, we claim the same savior and we’re inspired by the same Spirit. And I really don’t think we should be all bent out of shape by the amount of water used in baptism or the number of times communion is served. It just doesn’t make sense.

And frankly, when I’m standing before the judgement seat of God, I don’t want to be in the position where I have to explain to my creator why I spent more time and energy trying to convert unhappy Methodists and unhappy Baptists and of course unhappy Presbyterians, than in proclaiming the gospel to those who don’t know about Jesus at all. It’s not like we’re running out of non-believers, right? For the sake of the gospel, Christian unity just makes sense, at least it does for me.

And although I believe that, I also recognize that most of our disunity, particularly within individual churches, usually has very little to do with theology or church government or whether the person up front is called a minister, a pastor or a priest. I mean, I think everybody here this morning knows that the reasons that congregations split and/or people leave are a whole lot more personal than theological, right? Now later there might be all kinds of theological issues given to, you know, justify the move. Usually, though, when it happens, the actual reason has a lot more to do with things like being hurt, you know, feeling neglected and ignored and just unhappy. Or maybe they think that they’re the subject of gossip or rumors, you know, being talked about. My goodness, it may be that things have changed too much or not changed enough or changed in ways that they don’t like. In other words, without getting into whether they’re justified or not, the reasons congregations split into little warring groups are generally personal, not theological. But just because it’s not about deep and profound issues, that doesn’t make the divisions and the pain they cause and the damage they do to the body of Christ just as real. And for that reason, especially in these situations, we also need some concrete, Christian unity. But how to get it, well, that’s the challenge.

But you know, right here, we might be in luck, because when we read this passage from his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul faced the exact same problem himself. Just listen again to what I read a little bit ago. This is Paul writing to the Corinthians: “And I urge you, brothers [and sisters], by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that everyone might speak with the same [voice], and that there might be no splits among you, and that you might fit together in one mind and in one opinion. For it has been made clear to me concerning you, my brothers [and sisters], concerning those of Chloe’s household that there are rivalries among you. I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am Paul,’ ‘I am Apollos,’ ‘I am Cephas,’ and ‘I am Christ.’” You see, Paul was dealing with the same kind of stuff we deal with, imagine that. And we know that because not only did he urge them to come back together, to mend the splits and restore the unity so that they might be on the same page when it came to their understanding and judgements, not only did he make an appeal that was both clear and caring, he also held no punches about the problem.

You see, it was pretty clear to everybody with eyes that there were what he called “rivalries” among the church membership. Now, this is a word that’s been translated several different ways in different passages, like “strife” and “quarreling,” but I’ll tell you, the context is always personal, and it’s never good, like when he wrote to the Romans, “They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips;” or to the Philippians, “Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill;” or in his next letter to the Corinthians, “For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” Now that’s what Paul was talking about. And you know, because of this, I think he would have probably felt very comfortable with us, because the problem he faced in Corinth was the same one we face in Weirton.

And although that’s a shame for the Corinthians, it’s really good for us, because what Paul recommended for them can be, no that’s not strong enough, it must be applied to us. You see, in his response to a church that was being hammered by all kinds of personal stuff, Paul wrote this: “Has Christ been divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he; nor were you baptized in the name of Paul, were you? I give thanks that I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one might say that into my name you were baptized. But I also baptized the household of Stephanas. For the rest, I don’t know if I baptized any others. For Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to proclaim the good news, not with words of wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of meaning. For the word of the cross to those who are on the road of perdition is foolishness, but to those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power. For it has been written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will annul.”

Now, to me, this is really cool, because instead of taking sides, I mean, instead of trying to decide who’s complains were valid and who’s were not and then getting in the middle of all this personal stuff, Paul reminded them and my gosh, he reminds us to focus on what’s most important and that’s Jesus Christ and Christ crucified. The cross is what’s really crucial, and I’m talking about the death into which we were baptized and because of which we have something we never had before, freedom, and that’s freedom from sin. Man, that’s what’s important: not “she said that about me” or “he said this about her,” not “they always get their way” and “nobody cares what I think,” it’s not even about the really important stuff, like “why did we sing this hymn” or “why don’t we say that anymore?” You see, Paul pleaded with the Corinthians and through them, he pleads with us to look beyond that stuff that’s here today and gone tomorrow so that we can focus on what’s eternal and that, my friends, is the good news of Jesus Christ, something that he’s going to spend a lot of this letter explaining again to a congregation that got so gummed up with the little stuff that they’d forgotten what got them into the church in the first place.

You see, for Paul it was all about the cross, how Jesus Christ, the son of God, was hung on a tree for the sake of the people who drove the nails, a message that makes absolutely no sense to those who just don’t get it, you know, to those who assume that they’re smarter than the average bear and who think that they’re actually better off if they control their own lives and the lives of those around them. This “Christ on the Cross” is ridiculous. It’s nonsense. It’s foolishness to the entire world. Except who? “Those of us who are being saved,” I’m talking about those who for reasons they will never understand were reconciled to the creator of the universe through the death of his Son, those men and women who by the will and through the grace of God believe. I’ll tell you, for them, the cross is the power of God, it’s the most profound form of wisdom, and it’s a source of security and of hope and of joy that’s impossible for us to find on our own.

Now, brothers and sisters, I’m going to be straight y’all. If right now, you’re not happy, I mean, if you lack any of the three things I just mentioned, that is security and hope and joy, and if you expect to find what you’re missing with another spouse, or more obedient kids, or of course a better church, give it up. You’re wasting your time. It ain’t going to happen. The only place you’re going to find what you really want is in the cross of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it’s the power of God. And if we want to feel any sense of real unity, he, not me or we, must be our focus.

Now, like I said earlier, I think this week of prayer is a great idea, because I sincerely believe that God will hold us all, but particularly ministers accountable for dividing his church into competing teams while most the world right at our doorstep is desperate to hear anything close to good news. Still, I also believe that the greatest and deepest divisions within a congregation are not theological, rather they’re personal. And since this is the same kind of thing Paul faced in the Corinthian church, let’s respond to his challenge and try as best we can to look beyond our personal feelings so that we can see what’s most important, that Jesus Christ died on a cross to set each one of us free. And with that in mind, let’s come together and make sure every person knows this good news. And you know, it’s amazing, when we get to that place, maybe, just maybe, we’ll have real Christian unity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Announcements for the Next Week

The announcements as they appear in the bulletin are as follows:

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.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet Monday, January 24 , at 6:00 a.m. in the board room.

THE ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, January 26, 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.

THE CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, January 26, at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us. We will also begin practice soon on the cantata, Who Do You Say That I Am?, to be presented during the Palm Sunday Worship Service.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . . .
Thursday, January 27, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 4:1-54. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ROB STARCK . . .
he was installed as moderator of the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery during the meeting held here at Cove Church yesterday, Saturday, January 22.

THANK YOU FRANK. . .
after years of service as church treasurer, Frank Bohach has decided to step down. We express our sincerest gratitude to him for all his work and dedication over the years.

FOOD DONATED . . .
a “special thank you” is extended to three special young ladies, Maddie DiLullo, and Meghan & Britney Foster. They recently used their Christmas money to purchase and deliver 110 items to the Food Pantry.

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

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
will be held next Sunday, January 30 after the morning worship.

CHALLENGE SUNDAY . . .
is scheduled for Sunday , February 13. The theme is Show Some LOVE for Cove Church. The purpose of this event is to aide with the upcoming sanctuary roof expense. The rubber roofing project is estimated to cost $ 28,500. Challenge Sunday is being done to help defray the costs.

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.

RESERVE A DATE. . .
before scheduling an activity at the church, please call the church office to check that the date is available.

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 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.

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, 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 were 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. You may also call the church office or e-mail the church with the information.

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. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a plastic vase for you to take with you.

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. We’ll post items of interest and pictures of events at Cove 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 in Morgantown, West Virginia. 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.

SHOE BOX PROJECT . . .
Kyle Truex, a Boy Scout with Troop 334 has extended his Eagle Scout Project to include continuous donations for Appalachian Outreach Inc. Brochures with envelopes attached are located on the table in the narthex.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 23 , 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for Steubenville, Pleasant Hill - William Brown, Pastor; Steubenville, Starkdale - Philip Makari, Pastor. Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - In Christ’s Name


Matthew 25:31-46:

31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”


A Devotion by Carol Purves (Cumbria, England):

I was seriously ill with bronchitis and unable to leave the house to shop for food. My Christian friends came to my aid. I knew that they were praying for my return to health, but their caring did not stop there.

One friend took my shopping list and went to the store for me. This meant I was able to eat foods that would strengthen me. Another friend came and sat with me for a short while each day. This meant I was not lonely. She also kept me up to date with all the church news. This meant I could pray specifically. I had time to pray even more than I usually do. One person took me to the doctor so I could get a diagnosis and obtain the correct medicine. Yet another friend posted my letters for me.

My helpers were all busy people themselves, but they made time to help me in the name of Christ. They were doing what Christ instructs us to do.

Now that I have returned to full health, I too can visit the sick. I can help homebound folks to feel less lonely and can aid those who need the basics. This is the way God wants us to live.

Christian Unity

Yesterday began the week of prayer for Christian unity. The following is a brief description of a woman who had a passion for bringing together Christians for the sake of the gospel. As we try to function as the Body of Christ, let's be challenged to work together for a cause greater than ourselves and our personal desires.

*********

Margaret Flory, who died in October 2009 at the age of ninety-five, was a visionary with a passion for the unity of Christ's church. She began her career in campus ministry at Ohio University, later joining the staff of Presbyterian Women. She offered her considerable talent to the world student Christian movement, her church's commission on ecumenical mission, international religious bodies, and the congregation she served as an elder.

Margaret was prodigiously creative. She became director of experimental ministries for New Directions in Mission. Among the projects she helped form were Junior Year Abroad, Overseas Scholarships, Asian Women's Institute, Bi-National Servants, and Frontier Interns. She was a co-founder of the Women's Committee on Civil Rights. Acting with exuberance, she influenced the lives of thousands.

At one pastor's installation, she issued this challenge: "Help those to whom you minister to push out the walls of the church in their imagination and picture themselves on an ecumenical pew that reaches around the world - people of every race and nationality side by side who also believe in Christ as the hope of this sad world. Each, dependent on the other.''

In 1993, the John Knox Center in Geneva, Switzerland, dedicated its largest meeting hall in honor of Margaret Flory. A plaque in French testifies:

Ecumenism was her passion

The young were her calling

Her journeys were her home

And the world her mission field.

- Rev. Theodore A. Gill, Jr., senior editor, World Council of Churches

Monday, January 17, 2011

Race Relations

On December 24, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the pulpit of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church for what would be his last Christmas Eve sermon. His words echoed his speech at 1963's March on Washington: "I still have a dream.''

Dr. King identified the "giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism'' as interlocking realities that violate God's intention and wound the human family. Against these three, he articulated a dream of racial justice and equality, of poverty overcome, of people working and fed, of peace on earth.

His were not the words of a false prophet proclaiming peace when peace is clearly lacking. He spoke as one who knew hate and horror, violence and injustice, and who refused to allow them to be the final word. Dr. King stood among Jesus' followers who faced the worst that life could bring and still loved, hoped, proclaimed good news, pursued peace, and sought justice.

We have come a significant way since Dr. King was murdered in the false belief that killing the dreamer would kill the dream. A long way remains ahead of us. Racism remains embedded in society's structures. It appeared in some rhetoric and behavior during the debate over health care reform and immigration policy. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The economic divide between whites and people of color remains wide. Armed conflicts rage. Resources that could support schools, rebuild infrastructure, and more are spent on war and making weapons for war.

And still with Dr. King we dream. For the dream is God's. Touched by God's dream, we welcome strangers as sisters and brothers, break down walls of division, dismantle systems of oppression, and create communities of equality. We explore ways for nations to transform conflict, build relationships with those we are told to call enemies, and work to beat swords into plowshares. We feed the hungry and seek ways for people to feed themselves. Through it all, God's dream sustains us, challenges us to look beyond what is to see the new that God is doing (Isa. 43:19), and dares us to live into the Beloved Community.

— The Rev. W. Mark Koenig, Director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, General Assembly Mission Council

Yesterday's Sermon - The Question of Grace

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

1Paul, called an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God and Sosthenes, the brother,

2to the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been made holy in Christ Jesus,
who are called “holy ones,” with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, theirs and ours:

3grace to you and peace from God our father and Lord Jesus Christ.

4I thank my God at all times concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus, 5that in all things you were enriched in him, in every word and all knowledge, 6just as the witness of Christ was made firm in you, 7so you may not be lacking in any gift of grace, as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ 8who will also make you firm until the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9Faithful is God, through whom you were called into the communion of his son Jesus Christ, our Lord.


The Question of Grace

As I’m guessing everyone here knows, about a week ago, a very disturbed young man, Jared Lee Loughner committed a terrible and inexcusable act of violence. And over the last seven days, a question that he asked about two and half years ago has become associated with him: “What is government if words have no meaning?”

And although what he did was absolutely horrible and he’ll have to answer both to our judicial system and to God for it, I think this question is valid, but not just as it relates to government. I mean, what does anything represent if the words we use have lost their meaning? My goodness, how can we even communicate with one another if neither we nor the people with whom we’re talking understand what we’re saying? You see, for us to be able to share thoughts and ideas, the words we use have got to mean something.

And I think it’s right here that we often run into trouble, because it sure seems to me that a lot of the words we use have become kind of vague and a little bit confusing. And although it doesn’t stop us from using them, what they mean is difficult to understand. Take for instance, the word “hero.” Now we hear that word used all the time, but it’s meaning isn’t always easy to understand. Now, according to Webster, a hero is “a person who is admired for his or her courage or outstanding achievements.” O.K., that’s pretty simple. But who is called a hero now-a-days: every soldier, every police officer, every teacher, every single one. As a matter of fact, when Maggie was younger, she used to watch a show on the Disney Channel called Higgletown Heros,” and the premise was that everybody could be a hero if they did something that might help someone else. And although that used to be called being dependable or competent or just a nice guy, now doing a job for which you’re paid is considered heroic. And in that sense, we can all be considered heros. Of course, if that’s true, I’ve got to agree with a Marine Corp veteran who said, “If everyone is a hero, no one is a hero.” You see, although we use it all the time, the word isn’t what it used to be, and people aren’t entirely sure what it means.

And I’ll tell you, I think this kind of thing happens with words we use to describe our faith, including the word “faith” itself. I mean, even though we use them all the time, their meaning shifts and changes depending on who’s talking, and it happens so much that, at the end of the day, we’re not always sure what the person is actually talking about. And you know, when that happens, I think we all lose, because all of a sudden words that can offer us all kinds of stability and unity and hope just lead us into confusion and disagreements and doubt. And for that reason, when we find something in the Bible that can help us nail down the meaning of a word that should be central to our faith, I think we need to grab it and hang on. And in my opinion, that’s exactly what Paul gives us right at the beginning of his first letter to the Christians in the Greek city of Corinth. You see, right after introducing himself and his audience, Paul defined a word that he wanted the Corinthians to see as central to their relationship with God and one that can be the exact same thing for us.

And as you can see in the passage, that word is “grace.” As he wrote, “grace to you and peace from God our father and Lord Jesus Christ.” And so that no one would just read over this as a greeting that sounds nice but has no real meaning, before plowing ahead with the rest of his letter, Paul very careful answered a couple of questions about what grace is all about and how it can affect our lives. And I’ll tell you, in these answers, we can find meaning for ourselves.

You see, right after wishing them grace and peace, he answered the question, what is grace, by telling them exactly what it was. Paul wrote, “I thank my God at all times concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus.” Now, right here, Paul was a crystal clear about what grace is; simply put, it’s a gift which God himself gives in and though Jesus Christ. In other words, it’s not something we earn or deserve by doing or saying or thinking the right things, you know, pleasing God. Instead, it’s something that’s given to us by God, out of his pure and simple generosity and love. According to what Paul will later write to the Romans, “there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” or, as Eugene Peterson translated these verses in his paraphrase of the Bible called The Message: “Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.”

You see, that’s what grace is, a gift of God, a restored relationship, and an opportunity to live a life in response. And it’s given to us, and I’m talking about to you and to me, because he loves us just that much. And because of that, it’s not hard to figure out why, in his second letter to the same church, Paul wrote, “...they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” And so, what is grace, it is the indescribable gift given to us by God. That’s the answer to the first question.

And the second question, how can grace affect our lives; again Paul offers an answer. You see, after establishing what grace is all about, Paul wrote, “...that in all things you were enriched in him, in every word and all knowledge, just as the witness of Christ was made firm in you, so you may not be lacking in any gift of grace, as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will also make you firm until the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is God, through whom you were called into the communion of his son Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

Now, in case you didn’t notice it, in these verses Paul changed the tense of his verbs three times, each time dealing with what God did, is doing or will do. I mean, he started with the past, “you were enriched” and later “was made firm in you.” And then he shifted to the present tense, “may not be lacking” and “as you wait.” And then he closed it by talking about the future, “who will also make you firm.” Now that’s what he did, and I think that tells us the kind of impact grace makes in the our lives.

You see, first, grace affected us in our past. It became the way God poured out his riches into us. In other words, it was through grace that God opened our ears so that we could hear the good news found in his word, and that’s why we believe. You see, it was through his action, not our efforts that we could hear and understand the message of reconciliation, the truth that we’ve been put into a right relationship with him through Jesus Christ, the awareness that he loves us so much that he did for us something we couldn’t do for ourselves: he forgave our sins and adopted us into his own family. That’s the word he enabled us to hear. And through grace he poured into us knowledge. Again as he wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, “...it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” All that we know about God was given to us though grace. But even more than that, it was through grace that this witness, and I’m talking about the witness of Christ, it was through this gift that the good news was made firm, it was guaranteed it was unshakably established in us. Now that’s what God has already done for us in the past.

And second, in the present, through this same grace, God gives us what Paul calls “gifts of grace,” in Greek, χάρισμα. Now this is going to be a major topic later in this letter. In fact he’s going to write a lot about it in chapter twelve. You see, through grace, we receive all kinds of spiritual gifts right now and are brought together for a purpose greater than anything we could do on our own. As Paul wrote, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” You see, right now, God graces us with all that we need to proclaim his gospel in our community. And now it’s up to us to decide to work together in a way that compliments us all to get the job done. You see, that’s what grace offers us right now.

And third, as we look into the future, grace offers the ultimate source of hope. You see, because of what God has shown us in the past and the gifts he offers us in the present, we have the assurance that his love won’t change in the future. He’ll make us firm until the end. In other words, through grace, he guarantees our future; therefore, we know that when the last page is written and the day of our Lord Jesus Christ comes, we know that we will be irreproachable. We’ll be blameless. And how can we be so sure? Simple, because we know that “faithful is God, through whom you were called into communion of his son Jesus Christ, our Lord.” You see, that’s our future. And this is exactly how grace can affect our lives.

Now, I’m afraid that through repeated use, the meaning of some words will continue to be a little vague, and so when we hear them used, we may still have a lot of questions about what the person talking is trying to say. And I think that will probably continue to happen even to some of the words we use to describe what we believe and how we relate to God. But as it applies to grace, I think we’re pretty lucky, because right here Paul answers some pretty important questions. I mean, he tells us what grace is and how it can affect our lives. And even though that’s wonderful, I think there’s still another grace-related question that Paul doesn’t answer, because that really involves us. You see, some where at the end of the day we have to answer this: In light of what we know about God’s grace to us, how are we going to respond?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Someone at the Door

1 Timothy 6:17-19:

17-19Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.


A Devotion by Shaun McHardy (Western Cape, South Africa):

It is easy for me to get trapped in the daily routine of life. I work, get paid, pay bills, go shopping. But am I doing enough of the most important things? Am I making a difference in God’s world and for God’s people by giving to others from a heart of love? As time passes, we may come to ignore those knocking at our door or begging at street corners. All they may want is something to eat or a warm coat to wear. How often do we tend to think, I give enough, or, I give to my church and other charities, or, My family comes first?

One day a man who had knocked on my door many times arrived again. This time I asked him to leave without even listening to him. After a few minutes my son said, “Dad, are we being Christian by turning him away?”

His question was like a nudge from God. We got in the car and found the man walking down the road. We picked him up and took him home, showing hospitality as the scripture tells us to. My son gave some of his own money to help the man’s needs.

Do we really give enough — time, money, assistance — in church and community? Even more, do we give without expecting something in return? After all, we are doing it for God and God’s people.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Prayer Requests

The following people will be lifted up in prayer during our Sunday worship service and by the Cove congregation during the following week. If you have a name to add to this list, please let me know.


Adults
• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• The Mentzer Family
• John Brothers
• Catherine Zinc
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Paul Buck
• Denni Stillwagoner
• Madeleine Jackson
• Bill Churchman
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Marge Greco
• Pam Haller
• Richard Reed
• Mary Torchio
• Cheryl Hargast
• Jenni
• Bonnie Kirtley
• Ray & Madeline Greco
• Rhonda Donahoo
• Robby Lucas
• Mary Harvey
• Kim Draper
• John Hearn
• Judie Anderson
• Brian Leathers
• Yvonne
• Susan Maull
• Judy Waugh
• Joshua Nichols
• Hannah Worley

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

Teens & College Students

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

Bereaved:
The family of Rita Mentzer

Church Families:
Bill, Marian & Amy Cattrell
Darald & Patricia Channing
John & Patricia Chihocky

Local Church
St. Michael’s Orthodox Church

Announcements for January 16 - 23, 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.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet Monday, January 17 , at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

THE ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, January 19, 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.

THE CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, January 19, at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY WILL MEET . . .
Thursday, January 20, 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.

THE UPPER OHIO VALLEY PRESBYTERY WILL MEET . . .
on Saturday, January 22. Rob Starck will be installed as moderator. Although the dinner has been planned, we need you to make desserts for the meal. Please bring your baked goods to the church on Friday, January 21.

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.

CHALLENGE SUNDAY . . .
is scheduled for Sunday , February 13. The theme is Show Some LOVE for Cove Church. The purpose of this event is to aide with the upcoming sanctuary roof expense. The rubber roofing project is estimated to cost $ 28,500. Challenge Sunday is being done to help defray the costs.

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.

RESERVE A DATE. . .
before scheduling an activity at the church, please call the church office to check that the date is available.

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. We’ve also posted the minutes from the deacons, trustee and session meetings. 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 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.

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, 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 were 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. You may also call the church office or e-mail the church with the information.

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. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a plastic vase for you to take with you.

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. We’ll post items of interest and pictures of events at Cove 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 16 , 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for: Smithfield - Darrin Jones, Pastor and Steubenville, First Westminster - Jason Elliott, Pastor. Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster Presbyterian Church.

A Congregational Vision for the New Year

I hope you're having a wonderful day. Even though there's snow on the ground, I hope you're feeling the warmth of God's love.

Last Saturday morning, we had a joint meeting of the session, deacons and trustees, and we focused on 2011. I presented the following, a focus within our broader vision statement. And although this will guide the leadership of our congregation, we going to need the help and involvement of everybody. With that in mind, look through the statement, think about how it might apply to you and your family, and then pray about how you might be involved. Thanks.


The Cove Vision
Approved April 20, 2011

Vision Statement:
Cove Presbyterian Church and it’s membership are dedicated to loving God, loving one another and loving neighbor.

Explanation:
Jesus Christ commanded his disciples to love (ἀγαπάω/ἀγάπη). During his life, he identified three foci: God, neighbor (Mark 12:30-33), including our enemies (Luke 6:27-35), and one another (John 15:12). Jesus Christ is the definitive example for this love (John 15:12); therefore, his words, actions and relationships can serve as a guide to us. We can also find direction in the letters of Paul (e.g. 1 Corinthians 13) and the letters of John (e.g. 1 John 2 – 5). As the church and the membership function, we’ll rely on the direction of scripture as it applies to the situations we face within our community.

Application of this Vision
The threefold love commanded by Jesus will shape every aspect of our ministry as a church. As we approach every decision, this focus will initiate and guide the discussion. It will also inform the work of our ministry committees: worship, stewardship, evangelism, Christian growth, and fellowship. It should also inform the work done by the pastor, the staff, the deacons, the trustees, session administrative committees, and all groups affiliated and which use the church.


Special Focus for 2011:
During the next year, as governing boards, we’ll make a special effort to demonstrate the love of God through Jesus Christ to the youth of our congregation and community.

Rationale for this Focus:
I suggest this focus for the following reasons:
  1. With The Children’s Academy and the number of scouts who meet in our building, God seems to have given us a unique opportunity to reach out to young people.
  2. A majority of the persons who’ve become involved in our congregation over the last year have had young children.
  3. We already have a group of children who’ve developed a sense of identity.
  4. We have a congregational history of child-related programs (Christmas Smile, Sprouts of Faith, Baby Play and Sign Classes)
  5. Within the congregation, we have the experiences and skills to initiate and sustain youth programs.
  6. The presbytery is focused on offering more assistance to congregational youth programs.
By offering this focus, I’m not suggesting that we neglect any group within the our congregation or community nor that programs be exclusive to one age group.

Related Objectives or 2011 (may involve new programs/activities):
  1. To hire a youth director according to the job description approved May 14, 2010
  2. To maintain a graded Sunday School program for youth and young adults
  3. To provide a worship experience for children during the 11:00 worship service
  4. To sponsor or provide space for Scouts, Christmas Smile, Sprouts of Faith, Baby Play and Sign Classes, VBS, etc.
  5. To develop and implement at least two new programs in coordination with The Children’s Academy and scouting groups
  6. To have the young people involved in at least two presentations at the Weirton Geriatric Center
  7. To provide at least one weekly class of interest to young families
  8. To schedule and provide a program for four family/youth related fellowship activities
  9. To provide a youth-friendly/focused worship service on the fifth Sunday of appropriate months
  10. To have 50% of our youth and young adults pledge
  11. To sponsor and aid in the establishment of at least one young adult fellowship group
  12. To establish contact between each young person and a senior member of the church
Accomplishment of the Objectives:
The different groups within the session, deacons, trustees and other congregational groups will work together to accomplish these objectives.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Lord of the Dance

Isaiah 55:1-5:

1-5 “Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,
the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love.
I set him up as a witness to the nations,
made him a prince and leader of the nations,
And now I’m doing it to you:
You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of,
and nations who’ve never heard of you
will come running to you
Because of me, your God,
because The Holy of Israel has honored you.”


A Devotion by Beena Abraham (Karnataka, India):

My daughter was born with curved femur bones in her legs. As a child, she had difficulty running and walking. Discouraged by not being selected in sports and dance activities much of her life, she always tried to accept her disappointment with a smile. As she grew up, she gained strength in her legs and began to participate in dance programs. I noticed that she had rhythm but lacked grace, she danced like a stick!

My daughter came home excited about a dance program to be held at school. She loves dancing and music, and she had to perform well to be selected for the program. All my efforts to help her failed. Then I sat with her and we read together in the Bible about water— specifically Isaiah 55:1: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” (NIV). I showed her some water and told her to be like that water, letting her body and mind flow without restriction and fear of rejection. She performed extremely well and was selected for the school program. She learned a lesson — not only for the dance but also for life. As we allow God’s grace to work through us, God can help us walk — even dance — through the difficult steps of life!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minutes for the Deacons Meeting - January 3, 2011

Linda Caleffie gave the opening prayer.

Minutes of the December meeting were reviewed. Larry Shane made a motion, seconded by Tina Viakley to approve the minutes. All agreed.

The Treasurer’s report was distributed, copies attached.
  • Beginning balance January 3, 2011 $ 4,213.86
  • Project Christmas Smile monies (972.99)
  • Available funds- 2011 starting balance $ 3,240.87
Flower Fund: Marcia has agreed to order the flowers for weekly services. Colleen Shaw will be responsible for the flower fund account. Sue Marsh will work with Colleen thru January.

Community Outreach:
  1. Linda explained the Loose Change Offering and utility assistance programs to the new deacons. Thru October $ 510.00 was collected in the Loose Change Offering, with about $ 100.00 more to be deposited. Individuals applying for utility assistance have to prove they have all the money raised before our pledge is released and a check sent to the utility company.
  2. Larry reported that the Food Pantry is low. 29 food baskets were distributed for Christmas. 32 applications were taken but some did not meet the criteria- they must live in Weirton and have a photo ID with the address they gave on the application, no exceptions. 25 - $25.00 gift cards from Weirton Shop n Save were purchased. The first 25 applicants receive the gift cards. 5 additional $ 10.00 gift cards were purchased using donated monies from the Girl Scouts. Items needed for the baskets were purchased with the donated monies from the Girl Scouts. Toiletries are also needed. There are 1- $25.00 and 3- $ 10.00 gift cards left.
  3. Marcia exchanges the list of names and addresses of individuals who apply for holiday baskets with the Salvation Army and the Community Bread basket so that individuals are not receiving aide multiple times.
  4. Roger Criss and the Boy Scouts have agreed to do a food drive around the end of March. It was noted by Larry, that a large amount of the donated items have expired dates. These items cannot be used in the food pantry and are thrown away.
  5. Project Christmas Smile canned goods and non-perishable food items were donated by the Girl Scouts.
  6. Ruth Gilmore donated $ 25.00 for the Deacons Projects. A thank you note was sent.
  7. Larry suggested a Thank You letter be sent to Shop n Save.
Old Business:
  1. Project Christmas Smile was successful.
  2. Deacons sponsored a Christmas caroling event and invited the middle school and high school youth. Caroling was done for Cove shut-in’s living on Marland Heights. Attending were Cove Church Girl Scouts, choir members and a few deacons.
  3. 2010 Project Christmas Smile expenditure $ 2788.94
  4. 2011 Project Christmas Smile fund raising goal $ 2500.00
New Business:
  1. The deacons are to be reimbursed for the meat and buns for the Annual Christmas Dinner per Session.
  2. Thursday, January 6 at 6:00 p.m. we will be undecorating the church.
  3. Joint Board Meeting - Session, Deacons and Trustees- Saturday, January 8, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It was printed in the bulletin. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
  4. Deacons meetings are held the Pt Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. with the exception of July and August.
  5. Election of officers - - Moderator - Linda Caleffie; Vice Moderator - Faith Bonyak (will fill in for Linda if Linda can not run the meeting); Secretary - Tina Viakley; Treasurer - Crissy Fierro
  6. Possible Fund Raisers for 2011: Flea Market Bowl-a-thon; 1- Pie Sale; 2-Spaghetti Dinners; 2- Pancake Brunches; 2- Hot Dog Luncheons
  7. Crissy Fierro will chair Project Christmas Smile with help from the Deacons.
  8. Debbie Lawton would like to do a craft fair for Cove. She will come to the February meeting and give a presentation.
  9. $3,240.87 less utility assistance can be utilized for the budget. Postponed the budget discussion until February.
  10. 2011 Holiday Shop n Save Gift Cards $ 1700.00 -75 gift cards total. 25 each - for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  11. Utility assistance varies each year, it is based on the funds available.
  12. Possible fund raisers - Cove decals for vehicles, or T-shirts.
  13. Flowers for Sundays will no longer be put in coffee cans at the end of the service, there are plastic vases in the hallway behind the sanctuary. Vases cost $ 1.00, therefore the 2011 cost for flowers will be $16.00 a vase.
  14. Ushers are needed, please sign up to usher.
Motion to adjourn was made by Crissy Fierro, seconded by Larry Shane. All agreed.

Linda Caleffie closed the meeting with prayer.

Next Deacons Meeting - Monday, February 7, 7:00 p.m.

Minutes for the Joint Board Meeting - Saturday, January 8, 2011

The boards of Cove Presbyterian Church held a joint meeting on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. A quorum was present.

The meeting was called to order and opened with prayer by Dr. Rudiger at 9:40 a.m.

Session members present were Frank Bohach, Dale Biesecker, Christine Connell, Karen Edwards, Suellen Lewis, Bonnie Nichols, Sue Willson. Absent or excused were Roger Criss, Lynn Horvath, Darlene Johnson, Bill Manley, Shana Pepper, Robert Starck, and Karen Vida.

Deacons present were Linda Caleffie, Debbie Rudiger, Larry Shane, Colleen Shaw, Deborah Smith, Thomas Smith, Tina Viakely. Absent or excused were Amy Baker, Faith Bonyak, Michael Bonyak, Staci Cline, Crystal Fierro, Harry Hutch, Lori Lancaster, Deana Maine.

Trustees present were Dean Allen, Bill Catrell, Dan Grant, Burnard Huey, Barbara Losey, Lillian Losey, and Betty Virtue. Absent or excused was Mark Trushel.

Rev. Rudiger made a presentation on the Mission of Cove Presbyterian Church. Following a brief explanation of the mission statement, the focus for 2011 was presented. That focus states: During the next year, as governing boards, we’ll make a special effort to demonstrate the love of God through Jesus Christ to the youth of our congregation and community. The discussion followed with a rationale for this focus, as well as related objectives for 2011.

Rev. Rudiger brought the joint board meeting to a close with prayer at 10:59 a.m.

The Session Meeting was held following the Joint Board Meeting with a quorum present.

Motion was made Frank Bohach, and seconded by Bonnie Nichols that December 14, 2010 session minutes; the trustees report, the deacons report, and the pastor’s be accepted. Motion carried.
The Session Ministry Areas were assigned as follows:
  1. Christian Growth – Karen Edwards, Chris Connell, Lynn Horvath
  2. Evangelism – Bonnie Nichols, Shana Pepper, Rob Starck
  3. Fellowship – Roger Criss, Suellen Lewis, Karen Vida
  4. Music & Worship – Dale Biesecker, Frank Bohach, Sue Willson
  5. Stewardship – Dar Johnson, Bill Manley
Reports from the Session Administrative Committees were assigned as follows:
  1. Academy Relations – Chris Connell
  2. Budget – Lynn Horvath
  3. Building and Church Use – Karen Vida
  4. Financial Review
  5. Membership – Karen Edwards
  6. Memorials – Bonnie Nichols
  7. Mission Support – Shana Pepper
  8. Personnel – Dale Biesecker
  9. Risk Management – Frank Bohach
Report from the Constitutional Committee was assigned as follows:
  1. Nominating – Roger Criss, Rob Starck
Report from the Liasons were assigned as follows:
  1. To the Trustees – Sue Willson
  2. To the Deacons – Bill Manley
  3. To the Presbyterian Women – Suellen Lewis
Motion by Frank Bohach that Richard and Linda Spencer’s membership be transferred from Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Steubenville to Cove Presbyterian Church.. Dale Biesecker seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The trustees reported that $28,500 will be used to re-roof the sanctuary. Bonnie Nichols moved that a Challenge Sunday related to roof repairs will be held on February 15, 2011 with the theme “Show Some LOVE for Cove Church…Frank Bohach seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The deacons submitted the following tentative dates for the 2011 calendar:
  • Church Picnic – August 7/14/21 Picnic needs 2 alternate dates will firm in future.
  • Hanging of the Greens – November 20, 2011
  • Project Christmas Smile – December 10, 2011
  • Children’s Christmas Program – December 18, 2011.
Dale Biesecker moved the dates be approved. Sue Willson seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Preparations for the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Meeting on January 22, 2011 were discussed. Rob Starck will be installed as the Moderator of the UOVP at that meeting.

Rev. Rudiger presided over the burial of John Cox.

Bonnie Nichols moved that we adjourn. Frank Bohach seconded the motion. Motion passed.

The meeting was adjourned with prayer.

The next regular session meeting will be on February 15, 2011.

Karen Edwards, stated clerk

Minutes for the Trustee Meeting - Saturday, January 8, 2011

Members of the Board of Trustees of Cove Presbyterian Church participated in the Joint Board Meeting on Saturday, January 8th 2011 at 9:30 a.rn. Pastor Ed Rudiger, presented The Cove Vision approved April 20th 2010 to be implemented in 2011.

Following the Joint Board Meeting, The Board of Trustees met in the board room.

In attendance:
  • Dean Allen
  • Dan Grant
  • Barbara Jean Losey
  • Bill Cattrell
  • Betty Virtue
  • Lillian A. Losey
  • Burnard Huey
  • Charles Caleffie
  • Larry Shane, Building Manager
The opening prayer was offered by Betty Virtue.

Bill Cattrell was appointed Chairman for 2011 and Betty Virtue, Vice- Chairman.

Larry Shane, Building Manager, informed the Trustees that the church must have either a new roof replacement or major patch job. Larry Shane and Mark Trushel will meet and discuss the contracts presented by

Charlie Company, Jeffrey A Smurthwaite
547 Rockdaie Road
Follansbee WV 26037
304- 527-1783
New roof estimate of $28,500.00

Mansuetto Contracting of Martins Ferry, Ohio
Repairs $4,000.00 - with a new roof within five years

Motion was made by Dean Allen and seconded by Barbara Jean Losey to accept Charlie Company’s estimate of $28,500.00 for a new roof. Motion carried.

Dan Grant made a motion to move money from the Shies account at WesBanco to the money market account at Huntington Bank (manse account) thus closing out the Skiles account at WesBanco. Bill Cattrell seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Barbara Jean Losey made a motion that Bill Cattreil proceed in preparing the budget will all amounts except the Presbytery mandates, remaining the same as the 2010 budget amounts. Dan Grant seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Dan Grant closed the meeting with prayer.

Respectfully submitted,
Lillian A. Losey
Secretary

Next Trustees Meeting - Monday, February 21, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Waddling into Danger

Matthew 7:13-14:

13-14“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.


A Devotion by Michael Lewis (Virginia):

Several weeks ago, my wife arid I were traveling on a three-lane highway at 65 miles per hour. We noticed what appeared to be a ribbon of rubbish blowing across the lane just ahead of us. But as we came closer, we saw that it was not wind-driven trash but a duck with ducklings waddling behind. I swerved past them, painfully aware that ours was the first in a line of cars coming their way. After my racing heart slowed down, I said, “Is that duck crazy? Crossing a busy super-highway?”

As soon as the words left my mouth, memories of some of my past choices flashed before me. Like a duck walking across a free way, I have set out across moral boundaries. I engaged in promiscuous behavior that resulted in depression, fear, guilt, and shame.

In my distress, I asked God to show me a better way. And God did — leading me off the road of self-destructive thinking and living toward freedom in Christ. As I prayed and read God’s word, my heart opened to walking a spiritual path that quieted my restless soul. The more we prayerfully seek God’s will, the less we are inclined to wander into dangerous behavior.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday's Sermon - The Lady GaGa Christmas Album

Acts 10:34-43:

34Peter opened [his] mouth and said, “In truth I grasp that God isn’t one who judges by outward appearances, 35but in every nation, the one who fears him and who works righteousness to him is acceptable. 36The word which he sent to the sons of Israel when the good news of peace through Jesus Christ was proclaimed – he is the lord of all – 37you yourselves know, the words that happened over all Judea, beginning in Galilee with the baptism that John preached; 38Jesus, the one from Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power, who went through doing good and curing many who were subdued by the Devil, because God was with him. 39And we ourselves bear witness to all that he did in the country of the Jews and Jerusalem, whom they also killed by hanging him upon a cross. 40God raised him on the third day, and he granted that he be shown, 41not to all the people but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, us, the ones who ate and drank with him after he rose from death, 42and he commanded us to preach to the people and declare that he is the one who had been determined by God to judge the living and dead. 43About him all the prophets bear witness: forgiveness of sin to receive through his name to all who trust in him.”


The Lady GaGa Christmas Album

Now I know we should be done with Christmas. I mean, it was a couple of week ago. But I’ll tell you, at the house, our tree hasn’t even dropped one needle. Of course, it’s artificial, but that’s beside the point. Still, we should be finished with Christmas, and I promise this will be my last Christmas-reference, but it’s one that I just couldn’t let pass. You see, something really interesting happened this year, and it was all centered about music, or more particularly, around what performers we enjoy hearing sing the old Christmas songs. Now for me, I enjoy listening to people like Andy Williams and Nat King Cole and Perry Como. Let’s just say, if you’re going to play “White Christmas,” it better be Bing Crosby. Of course, I think the reason I enjoy these guys and not some modern “whipper-snappers” is because I’m just getting...smarter. But that’s not the case with my darling wife. She could care less about Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra. She wants to Harry Connick or Kathy Mattea or Sting. And what puts you in the Christmas better than hearing Sting sing “Old Little Town of Bethlehem.” At least, that’s what she thinks. And Maggie, my goodness, it’s got to be Miley Cyrus or Justin Beber or a guy named Fred who sings a song that’s sure to be a classic, “Christmas Is Creepy.” Just ask her later; she’ll sing it for you. You see, we all like different Christmas singers.

But you know, what I think is even more interesting is that they’re all singing the same songs. I mean, with a few exceptions, they all sing the standards, both religious and secular. The only difference is in the tempo and accompaniment and of course whether they’re dead, on one hand, or old enough to drive a car on the other. But I’ll tell you, when you think about it, those young singers are actually doing something that’s important for all of us. I mean, based on how Maggie reacts when I put on Andy or Perry or Bing, a lot of those wonderful Christmas songs would disappear if they weren’t remade by Miley and Justin and Fred, although I just can’t imagine Bing Crosby singing “Christmas Is Creepy.” In other words, those new voices are introducing some wonderful and meaningful songs to a whole new generation of listeners. And no matter how much I complain about it, the old favorites will live on in spite of old coots like me.

And you know, in a real way, we face something very similar with how we share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I mean, it ain’t for nothing that they call it good news, because that’s exactly what it is. And we can get it in a nutshell right here in this passage. I mean, this is the story of Jesus, isn’t? It certainly gives the basics about who he was, the one who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and it’s clear about what he did, how he did good and cured people who were oppressed by the Devil. And then we’ve got what Peter must have seen as the most important part of the story, because this is the stuff he said he witnessed himself, how they killed him by hanging him on a cross and then how “God raised him on the third day.” This is the one about whom Peter preached, the one “who had been determined by God to judge the living and dead” and from whom “forgiveness of sin to receive through his name to all who trust in him.” Now this was the message then and it’s the good news right now. It’s what people have trusted for almost two thousand years, and it still offers peace and hope. That hasn’t changed a bit. The news is still good.

But you know, for us, well, some things have changed, because is some real ways we live in a different kind of world. Even in my lifetime, my goodness, in the twenty-five years I’ve been an ordained minister, I’ve seen things change. And I’ve got to tell you, not always for the better. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about children or adults, people don’t seem to know much of anything about Christianity now-a-days. For example, for years, during funerals, I’ve read the twenty-third Psalm, and when I do, I ask people to say it with me. Twenty years ago, at least half the people could do it, but now, very few lips move. People just don’t know what I’d consider basic, things like the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments and stuff like that. They just don’t know. But more than that, they seem to look at the world in a different way. Things other than God seem to shape what they think and how they feel. Now tell me if I’m off-base, but the world has changed.

And yet human need hasn’t. There are times when people still feel lonely and lost, maybe more now than ever. They wonder if life has any meaning at all. And children, my gosh, children often appear to have no moral foundation on which to build their lives and grow up without a sense that they’re in the hands of someone far greater and more loving then they. The need’s still there. And we have the message.

And right there’s the tragedy. These desperate folks don’t listen to us, because often when we share this good news, we do it in a way they either can’t or don’t want to understand. We use language that confusing to them. And too often we condemn their world and values and sound as though civilization reached it’s peak before they were born. And that’s just like Christmas songs. My daughter might never listen to “O Holy Night,” if all I’ve got is Andy Williams singing it. And so, if we’re serious about sharing the gospel, we need to figure out how to take the old songs and without changing the words, sing them with a new rhythm.

And I think Peter can help us, because not only did he give us the song, the good news, but he also offers some pretty good insight into how we can sing it. And it’s right here in this passage. Now let’s think about it. Do you know who’s hearing this little sermon Peter preaching? It was Cornelius and his family, and according to Acts, Cornelius was a Roman soldier. and so here we have a Jewish Christian who believed that God sent his son to save his people, talking to the ultimate Gentile, a person who didn’t understand anything about the God Peter worshiped much less the messiah he now followed. And even though he was sympathetic and may have even followed some Jewish practices, Cornelius was still part of an occupying army, seen as an oppressor of Peter’s people. That’s who Cornelius was.

And yet, he was also a person who needed to hear good news. He was a person who needed to have a center, a focus in his life. And he was a person loved by God and that’s why God called Peter to go to his house. And in that way, Peter was not in a situation that different from us.

And that’s the reason, we can learn from Peter and become better at sharing the good news ourselves. You see, for one, I want you notice that as Peter talked to Cornelius and his family, he was positive and sensitive. I mean, he didn’t start by talking about sin or about God’s anger or how bad people like Cornelius were. He didn’t do that. Instead, the first thing he said was “in truth I grasp that God isn’t one who judges by outward appearances, but in every nation, the one who fears him and who works righteousness to him is acceptable.” Before he said anything else, Peter made it clear even a Roman soldier like Cornelius could be acceptable to the Father of the Jewish messiah. Peter was positive. And we can be the same as we approach a secular world. Rather than pound away at all the problems that people like them have created for people like us, we can talk about the wonderful things God has done for us all. If all we have to offer are more problems, there’s no wonder that our message has limited appeal. And although this may be another one of those “Da” statements, when sharing the good news, we probably should be positive. That one thing Peter did.

And two, he was also clear and simple. What he offered was a no-frills message, the basics without any theological jargon or digression. He simply stuck to the facts, the basics; something we may want to consider before we try to explain the nature of the Trinity or the assumptions behind predestination to a person who, before talking to us, didn’t know that Jesus was a real person and not some character in a book. As with so many other things in life, when sharing the good news, we can follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. And we can also use language that might be meaningful for the one to whom we’re talking. You know, it’s really interesting. In his little sermon to Cornelius, Peter used some words that aren’t used very much in the Bible. For example, when he said that Jesus “...went through doing good and curing many who were subdued by the Devil,” the Greek words for “doing good” and “subdued” describe the kinds of things secular rulers might do for or against their people. In other words, these were imagines that might have more meaning to gentile soldier than a Jewish rabbi. And that’s something we may want to consider too. Although I love our language about God, it’s probably not going to be very effective if the other person doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Like Peter, we can be clear and simple. That’s two.

And three, like him, we can also be patient. If we’re excited about Jesus and believe that he can absolute change a person’s life, we’re going to want all our friends and family members to trust Christ too. In fact, we might want that so badly that we’re willing to make some promises or cheapen some commitments just to close the deal. But that’s not what Peter did nor should we either. Instead, we can be patient, knowing that whether or not a person believes is really in God’s hands. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And rather than taking things into our own hands, we can simply wait for the Spirit to do his job. You see, that’s what Peter did. And listen to what happened: “...the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.” Wow. If we speak the truth. God will take care of the rest. That’s three.

Remember how I was saying that as it comes to Christmas music, my tastes are pretty traditional while Maggie’s are more contemporary. And because contemporary singers have chosen to record some of the traditional songs in their own way, Maggie enjoys Christmas music as much as I do. Well, with that in mind, I wanted to see if Lady GaGa had done anything for the holidays. And even though she hasn’t done a whole album, she did record a song called “Christmas Tree.” Now, I’m probably not going to enjoy it, but that’s O.K. because it wasn’t written for me. But it is taking something that’s special to me and bringing to a new and different generation. And that’s good. And you know, we can do the same thing with the good news of Christ. And if we’re positive and simple and patient, we might do something a little more important than even a Lady GaGa Christmas album.