Thursday, March 31, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - It’s All Good

Psalm 104:1-13, 24-30

1-13 O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
hay for the animals that plow the ground.

24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

A Devotion by Sue Briggs (Michigan)

In early spring I like going into the damp woods near our home to find the purplish liverleaf, the first delicate wildflower to bloom. The droopy yellow Canadian violet blooms next, then the flashy three-lobed white trillium. Then come many more — all blooming and fading during the brief period of warm weather before the trees leaf out. Exactly why God created these beautiful, short-lived flowers I don’t know, but I’m sure there were reasons. God had reasons for the nearby great lakes with their squishy sand, magnificent sand dunes, and myriad fish, and reasons for the hot, dry deserts with their lizards and twisty-armed cactus. God even had a reason for creating pesky mosquitoes.

God has created for us great variety — many kinds of beauty many, forms of life. Some life we cannot see; probably some we have not yet discovered. God called every part of creation good.

We can glimpse the reason for some things. We know that green plants produce oxygen for us and absorb the carbon dioxide we breathe out. But we cannot comprehend God’s entire, intricate, wonderful design that makes it possible for us to thrive in this world. That doesn’t matter. We can still be thankful and respect, cherish, and enjoy this beautiful world God made for us.

Luke instructor headed for Thunderbirds

by Stephen Delgado
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Michael Criss, crew chief and instructor at Detachment 12, 372nd Training Squadron, looks for leaks in the hydraulics system of an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air Force Base. Sergeant Criss has been an F-16 crew chief for nearly 10 years and was recently selected to join the Air Force Thunderbirds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Many baseball players dream of playing major league baseball, as well as football players aspiring to play in the National Football League. In the Air Force, many aircraft maintenance personnel dream of someday being part of the Thunderbirds.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Criss, Detachment 12, 372nd Training Squadron, B-Flight, mission-ready airman instructor has taken a trip on the runway of dreams and is scheduled to join the Thunderbirds Sept. 1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

"I applied several months ago and found out that I was a selectee a couple of weeks ago," Sergeant Criss said. "I had applied when I was a senior airman, and wasn't chosen, but was encouraged to try again. It will be a three-year controlled tour, with each year being different."

However, Sergeant Criss' first order of business after arriving at Nellis AFB will be a 21-day program, which has to be successfully completed before being issued the blue Thunderbird uniform and prestigious Thunderbird patch.

"The program will include a variety of items from polishing the Thunderbird emblem in the hangar twice daily to an exhaustive look at Thunderbird history," he said. "At the end of the program I will face a board which will ask numerous questions in a rapid-fire manner. I must score at least 80 percent. If I pass the program, I will get my Thunderbird patches along with my blue pants and shirt.

"The first year, I will work various shifts and will be a crew chief conducting regular maintenance and phase inspections at a predetermined interval, which include replacing all worn out parts and returning the aircraft to service."

Showtime

The second year requires submitting an application for the show line, according to Sergeant Criss.

If accepted, there is a tour-travel schedule that would make any rock band proud.
"We travel to many destinations, and I would be gone from my home station for 270 days per year," he said. "The Thunderbirds perform throughout the United States and overseas. It's a dream come true to be able to be part of this tour."

In year three of the tour, it's back to crew chief duties at Nellis.

"I return to being a crew chief, with the mission being to keep the Thunderbirds in flying condition," he said.

Sergeant Criss goes to his new assignment with a plethora of experience.

He has more than nine years of experience in aircraft maintenance and has been on loan from the 82nd Training Wing, Sheppard AFB, Texas, as a MRA instructor teaching students maintenance on older F-16 models.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Change Your Mind

Philippians 4:4-8

4Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. 5Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. 6Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. 7Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

8Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.


A Devotion by Charles P. Axe (Pennsylvania)

In many ways, being in prison is hard. Nevertheless, whenever I am asked what is most difficult to deal with, the answer readily comes to mind. It is not the cold steel bars, the imposing stone walls, or the peril behind them. It is the separation from family, the abandonment by friends, and the despairing heart. It is loneliness that truly imprisons.

I will not be released from prison anytime soon. However, I am managing some measure of liberation from the duress of loneliness. I’ve changed what I can — my attitude. Doing so has led me to see and experience things differently, to see and experience the goodness that God compassionately offers. Whether we are behind prison walls or the closed doors of our home, loneliness can be the most difficult challenge any of us ever has to face.

Even though we may not be able to change or control our outward circumstance, the Bible tells us we can change our attitude toward our situation. Having the “mind of Christ” (See Phil. 2:5.) will change our life today — and all our tomorrows.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yesterday's Sermon - So What

Romans 5:1-11

1Then, since we’re made right from trust, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ 2through whom we also have access by trust into this grace in which we are standing and we boast in hope of glory from God. 3And not only that, but also we boast in the pressure because we know that the pressure produces patience 4and the patience a proven character, and the proven character hope, 5and the hope isn’t put to shame, because the love from God has been poured out in our hearts through [the] Holy Spirit which was given to us. 6For Christ, when we were without strength, at the appointed time, on behalf of [the] ungodly died. 7For scarcely on behalf of those who are right might a person die. For on behalf of a good person perhaps a person might even dare to die. 8But God introduces his own love to us, that while we were sinners, Christ on our behalf died.

9Then all the more, now that we have been made right in his blood, we’ll be saved though him from the wrath. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God thought the death of his son, than all the more will we who were reconciled be saved by his life. 11But not only that, but also we, who boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, now through him received reconciliation.


So What

Over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of stuff in my travels, but you know, maybe one of the most important things I’ve learned is this: even though we may know all about the “what,” the “so what” is also important. In other words, we may have all the facts and all the information and all actions and words and feeling down pat, but we may still be trouble if we’re not also clear about why all that stuff is important. Now that’s something I’ve learned.

And you know, that kind of thing really hit home when I was teaching high school history. Of course, this is what I taught because I simply love history, you know all those stories about what happened in the past. I can’t get enough of them. But my kids, most of them were less than enthusiastic. They just weren’t into “old stuff,” and so they didn’t want to learn it. In fact, most couldn’t even understand why they had to take history in the first place. I mean, in their heart-of-hearts, they kind of understood why they needed to know some math and English and science. Man, they could even see how a foreign language or PE or vocation ed might come in handy, but history. Why did they have to know about a bunch of dead white guys? And although I’d say things like “Well, it’s to make you a more well-rounded person” or, and this is a good one, “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it,” I’ve got to admit, I didn’t say any of that with much passion. I mean, give me a break, it was doubtful that any of my kids would be constructing a federal constitution or face the decision to lead the United States into a global war. Maybe another hour of math a day would be better than learning the five causes of World War I. At least that would help them know how to make change if the cash registers go down. For those fifteen-year-olds, why was the history of the world up to the year 1500 important? And even though I had all this history down in my mind, until I came up with a good answer, it was going to be a challenge for me to teach and them to learn.

And you know, I think we have the same kind of issue when it comes to our Christian faith. I mean, I think most of us have a pretty good idea about what we believe, don’t we? And I think we’re at least a little excited about it. My goodness, why else would you have dragged yourself out of a nice, cozy bed to come down here this morning. No, I think we’re pretty much on the same page about the story, you know, how God, the Father, sent his son and how Jesus lived and died and rose again and how the Spirit came so that we might believe. We agree on that, right? And I think we’re also together on how our trust in what Jesus said and did can move us closer to God and start us living a “Christian” life. Now, that’s kind of the gospel in a nutshell, and although when you start talking about some of the details there may be some disagreements, I believe we’re all pretty close on the basics. In other words, we’re all pretty good on the “what” of Christianity.

What we’re not as good with is the “so what,” put another way, the “why” of Christian faith. I mean, why have we and why should they trust in Jesus Christ? Why? Now if you get pass the shock of a minister asking the question in the first place, a satisfying, Bible-based answer isn’t so easy. And I guess that’s why we sort of step away from the scriptures a little bit and come up with answers that well, that fit into what we may want to believe, you know, that makes sense to us therefore, it must make sense to God. In a sense, we create our own reasons, you know, that will help us sell the gospel. Of course, some of the stuff we come up with is really positive, you know, like how we get all kinds of tangible blessings when we believe, and I’m talking about blessings we can take to the bank. On the other hand, though, some of our reasons are downright scary, you know, like how we’d better believe or else we’ll be going to place even hotter than Florida, but less humid.

Left on our own, I guess to justify the decisions we’ve made, this kind of stuff becomes our reason for faith, and sadly, these assumptions often have more impact on how we actually live and on what we share with others than what the coming of Christ is actually all about according to the Bible. You see, just like it was with my kids in history, the “so what” is important.

And you know, I think Paul understood that too, and that’s why he wrote what he did in the passage we just read. You see, I think in the first four chapters of his letter to the Romans Paul clearly established that “we’re made right [with God] from trust” in Jesus Christ. That’s the core of our faith. In other words, as he started the passage we read, he knew that he’d already covered the “what.” And so now, it was time to deal with the “so what,” you know, with the implications of what we believe, namely that through grace God cleared out our own trash so that we could be right with him, a relationship made complete when we trust that it’s already been done.

And why is believing that so important? Well, for Paul it changes both our present and our future. For example, it certainly changes our lives right now in two very important ways. First, using his own words, “since we’re made right from trust, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, while our other relationships may be confused and frustrating, there’s an order, a gentleness, a calm in our relationship with God, the one who caused grace to overflow on us. That’s one.

And second, “we [can] boast in hope of glory from God.” You see, when we trust, we’re able to look forward, confident that because God is in control, his promises are secure. In fact, we can become a lot like Abraham, the guy we talked about a couple of weeks ago; “hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations...’” Now, that’s what Paul meant by boasting in hope. But that’s not all. As Paul wrote, “And not only that, but also we boast in the pressure because we know that the pressure produces patience and the patience a proven character, and the proven character hope, and the hope isn’t put to shame.” Now I’ve got to tell you, I find this really, I mean, really exciting, because not only can we feel confident right now about the future, we can also feel the same way about the present, even when what’s happening now isn’t so hot. You see, just like God controls the future, he’s also the Lord of our lives right now. And as a loving father, we wants the best for his children; therefore, whatever problems we’re now facing, whatever pain we’re now enduring, we can be sure that the outcome will be good. You see, now that we have peace and can boast in God, our present has changed.

And for Paul, so will our future. Again, this is what he wrote: “Then all the more, now that we have been made right in his blood, we’ll be saved though him from the wrath.” And I’ll tell you, Paul was really clear about God’s wrath. It was a big deal, at least in this letter. He wrote that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth” and a little later, “but by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ...for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” Now, for y’all who think what the church is in trouble because there’s not enough “hellfire and brimstone,” well, here it is. But for Christians, we trust that we will be saved from this wrath. And although I believe on Judgement Day, God is going to hold us accountable for what we’ve done and left undone, in the end, the wrath, the punishment is gone. Why? “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God thought the death of his son, than all the more will we who were reconciled be saved by his life.” Put another way, our salvation awaits just around the bend. Our future has changed. Now for Paul, that’s why faith is important.

And I’ll tell you, when we recognize that fact, I mean, when we accept that through Christ both our present and future has changed, I’m absolutely convinced that so will we. My gosh, it’s got to change how we live. Instead of believing that following Christ is a lot like winning the lottery or carrying a “get out of Hell free” card, we can live with a sense of peace, even confidence. Because regardless of what happens, we’re going to be O.K. As Paul will write a little later in this same letter, “if God is for us, then who can be against us” and that “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Someone say “amen.” And along with the peace will come genuine hope, and not the kind that has more to do with wishful thinking than anything else. No, our hope is grounded in this, “that while we were sinners, Christ on our behalf died.” Our lives will change.

And so will our message. I’m telling you, look out at the world. Most folks just aren’t buying what the church is selling any more. And although we can sit around and blame them, the reality is that most people are just not moved by a God who’s more like a magic genie then the creator of the universe or a Christ who came to sell fire insurance. Man, they want something more, something basic, something real. And with this passage in our back pocket, we can share with them not just the God we trust but also how that God can absolutely and totally transform our lives. Man, we can tell them how he’s right now leading us through the present into a new and glorious future. I’m telling you our message has got to change. And you know, when it does, I think it’ll truly be something that can be called good news.

Now, when I was teaching and kids would ask why they had to study history, I finally came up with an answer that made sense to both them and me. I stopped talking about personal roundness or repeating the past, and I simply told them that if they didn’t take history and pass at least two of the state exams, they wouldn’t graduate, period, close the book, Elvis has left the building. And even though I think you could say that reason was less than noble, it was both true, and it just plain got the job done. And for us who trust that we’ve been made right with God through Christ, well, in the present, we have peace with God and we can boast in our hope. And in the future, we’ll be saved from God’s wrath. Now for me, right there is the “so what” of our faith.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Daily Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.


A Devotion by Terri Meehan (Surrey, England)

I used to wonder what a day of continuous prayer would be like. I assumed that constant devotion to prayer was only achievable by ordained clergy who have dedicated their lives to worshiping God. However, those of us in the secular world find the idea of continual prayer a bit daunting. We lead busy lives. With so much to accomplish throughout the day, we rush from one activity to another. Is it any wonder we feel stressed out at the end of the day?

I decided to try to “pray continually,” not knowing how to begin except to repeat formal prayers that I knew. Eventually, I began conversing with God as I would with a good friend. Once we begin to be deliberate about prayer, we come to see God in every part of our lives. Often, prayer requires no words at all. Love and kindness shown to another person are prayer in action.

Minute for Mission - Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary

"For I know the plans I have for you,'' declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'' (Jer. 29:11, NIV).

My career path has been full of surprises. After earning a degree in architecture and African American studies from Princeton University in 1985, I went to New York City and landed an entry-level job in advertising. Surprise.

Advertising was exciting, but as the months passed, my work left me increasingly unfulfilled. Surprise. I changed jobs three times in five years, but the sense of purpose I longed for eluded me.

One Sunday a friend and I, both prodigals, went to church. Standing anxiously outside Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in East Orange, New Jersey, she asked, “Do you know anything about Presbyterians?” “No, do you?” “No. Let’s sit near the door.”

We tiptoed inside and found aisle seats five feet from the narthex. The worship began, our fears were allayed, and I knew instantly, intuitively, this was where I belonged. Surprise.

Soon after joining the Elmwood Church, I discerned that I was called to ministry. Surprise. In January 1993, I enrolled at Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary. Seventeen years later, on April 19, 2010, I became its dean. Surprise.

In Jeremiah 29, the prophet assures God's people, who were living under the stress of exile, that even in the face of uncertainty God has a long-term plan for their lives. To find it, they needed only to listen and follow God's leading.

I shudder to think what my life might be like had I not listened twenty years ago to my inner sense of longing. I am a witness that God has purposes for our lives more meaningful than anything we can devise on our own.

— Paul T. Roberts, Sr., administrative dean, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary

Friday, March 25, 2011

Announcements for March 27, 2011

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 see Jenna after the service. We thank you in advance for caring for the future member of our Cove family.

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.

PANCAKE BRUNCH . . .
sponsored by the Deacons will be held after worship this morning. Please stop and support our Deacons, the menu will be pancakes, sausage and beverage. Donations will be appreciated.

OUR MEN’S CLC BIBLE STUDY CLASS . . .
will meet Monday, March 28, at 6:00 p.m. in the board room.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove’s Reading Group will meet on Monday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

THE ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, March 30, 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, March 30, at 6:45p.m. in the sanctuary. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us as we practice our Sunday anthem and also 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, 12:00 p.m. today. We're discussing the Gospel of John, and during this meeting we're looking at John 12:1-50. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS . . .
we’ll all have the chance to learn more about God’s word. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 31, Karen Vida is leading a study of God designed for young Boy and Girl Scouts, but open to all young people. At the same time, Pastor Rudiger will start a four week Bible study entitled “The Stories of Easter.” During this series, we’re looking at the different gospel accounts of the resurrection. This week, we’ll study Matthew 28:1-20.

THE DEACONS HAVE CALLED FOR A FOOD CHALLENGE . . .
for April 10. This is to replenishing our Food Pantry. They are asking that you bring in an item or two that is needed in the pantry for the Easter Food Baskets. Items requested are: can milk, tuna, cereal, pancake mix or syrup, crackers, broth, noodle or rice side dishes, stuffing mix, boxed potatoes, ramen noodles, can spaghetti or ravioli, peanut butter, jelly, icing, boxed meals, spaghetti sauce, noodles, jello and pudding mixes. Single roll paper towels or 4 pack toilet tissue can also be of use.

MISSION: SHARING BRINGS JOY . . .
is the theme of this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. This offering will be collected by Christians throughout the United States on the Easter Holiday to care for Jesus’ sheep. The inserts in the bulletin over the next few weeks will give examples of how the monies have been spent in previous years. FYI...the denomination decides how the gifts its members give will be used with some monies going to the shared ministries of Church World Service to aide people in need, sharing resources and changing lives. The Presbyterian Church roughly divides its money into thirds- Self-Development of People (SDOP) receives 32%; Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) receives 32% ; and Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) receives the balance.

IF YOU LEAVE AN ITEM AT THE CHURCH . . .
for someone or for a specific committee, please take a moment to write the name of who is to receive the item. If there is no name on the item we will assume it is for the church in general.

LIKE TO PLAY THE PIANO?
the church has an Acrosonic Spinet Piano that is no longer needed. If you are interested, it is located along the wall in Fellowship Hall or contact the church office for further details.

JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER. . .
the Deacons are sponsoring another Pie Shoppe Sale. Items available are pies, pumpkin rolls and specialty items (nut log or Easter bread). To view an order form contact the church office or check-out the order form posted on the main bulletin board downstairs. To place an order contact any deacon. Orders are due by Sunday, April 3. Delivery is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20.

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’s 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.

SATURDAY, MAY 7 . . .
the Deacons are having a Flea Market and Bake Sale! They are in search of slightly used - furniture, small appliances, decorations, housewares, sports equipment, children’s toys and children’s clothes. If you have items you no longer use, you may drop them off at the church at anytime or call the church office at 304-748-5980 to arrange to have the items picked-up.

RESERVE THE DATE. . .
before scheduling an activity at the church, please call the church office to check that the date is available. Also, if you change the date or time of a meeting here at the church please let us know so accommodations can be made for you.

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. Items not claimed by the end of April will be donated to the Deacons Flea Market.

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 from 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 their 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 bulletin board located in the hallway by the church offices. Past event pictures are also on display 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. These labels are being collected for the Weirton Christian Center.

SHOE BOX PROJECT . . .
Kyle Truex, an Eagle 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, MARCH 27, 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for: Wintersville, Two Ridges - Bill Lawrence, Pastor and Woodsfield - Susan Lehosky, Pastor
Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Friday Essay - Why Trust in Jesus?

This afternoon I have two questions for y'all. First, Maggie keeps asking me if this is the last snow fall of the season. Twice I've told her "yes," and twice I've been wrong. For all the northern panhandlers, when will I ever be right? That's question number one.

And the second, well, this one's a little deeper. Right now, why should a person trust in Jesus Christ? Now, I want you notice that I wrote "right now;" therefore, the answer can't involve anything about avoiding Hell in the future, even if that's what you believe faith enables us to do. No, the question deals with life in the present. Put another way, what difference does it make to us right now if we recognize that Jesus is Lord and that through the power of God, we have a righteous relationship with him?

Of course, I have a reason for posing that question. Sometimes it seems as though we're better at explaining what we believe then why. In fact, if we accept that we're not in control and that our eternal destinies are in the hands of someone far above our pay scale, then often we have very little to say. And yet, how we answer that "why" question is going to have an enormous impact on how we bear witness to Jesus Christ.

And so, during Sunday's service we're going to look at Romans 5:1-11 and discuss the "so what" of Christianity. I hope that you're able to be with us.

Prayer Requests

Below are the prayer requests that will be lifted up to God during our Sunday worship service.

Adults
• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• John Brothers
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Paul Buck
• Madeleine Jackson
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Pam Haller
• Mary Torchio
• Cheryl Hargast
• Jenni
• Bonnie Kirtley
• Red Nichols
• Rachael
• Connie Francis
• Mary & Jack Games
• Betty Kraina
• Claudia Recchio
• Karen Hornberger
• Vicki Williams
• Delbert McLaughlin
• Jennifer Dahlem
• Charles Saffle
• Bob Saffle
• Colleen Wetzel
• Shirley DeLuca
• Rose Mader
• Kendrick Roebuck
• James Woolfolk & family
• Tricia Smith & family
• Amanda Hankey’s aunt
• Karen Darin
• Ila Shingler
• Michael & Kaylie Keffer
• Numero Phiri
• Cara Smith
• Mel Olson
• Paula Leather
• Steve Cordle
• Eleanor Williams
• Julia Maine
• Mary Porco
• David Drobish’s Mother
• Greg Zook
• Karen Tomich
• Jenn Johnson
• Maxine Bulick
• Pete Jones & Family

Kids
• Jonah Becker
• Shelby Kamarec
• Brody McUmor
• Dustin Parr
• Zoe Purcell
• Daisy Emmerick
• Georgie Platt
• Audri King
• Brandon Wates
• Hunter Stafford
• Michael Liptak
• Justus Loughry
• Jeffrey Konovich
• Tyler Trushel
• Maia Metcalf

Military
• Michael Criss
• Jonathan Criss
• Chad Peppler
• Kendra Mader
• Stephen Mader

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

Church Families
• George & Elaine Ferrari
• Valentine, Crystal, Brianna, Haley, Mason & Emma Fierro
• Marie Fodor

Local Church
St Joseph the Worker Church

Other Presbyterian Churches
Please pray for The Two Ridges Presbyterian Church in Wintersville, Ohio where The Rev. Bill Lawrence is Pastor. Also, please pray for The Woodsfield Presbyterian Church in Woodsfield, Ohio where The Rev. Susan Lehosky is Pastor.

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Chambrel at Montrose
100 Brookmont Rd, Akron OH 44333-3091
Thelma Longacre, Unit 210

Calcutta, Ohio
Beth Milby

Wyngate
100 Wyngate Dr, Weirton WV 26062
Father of Mary Ann Ianni

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

Ila Mauk
1234 Swearingen Rd
Weirton WV 26062-4331

Weirton Geriatric Center
2525 Pennsylvania Ave
Weirton, WV 26062
Marge Black, Room 353
Mary Kay DePaolo
Dorothy Sobolak, Room 223
Bob Morgan
Mike Valiga
Alice Orr

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Life of Mission

1 Kings 19:1-9

1-2 Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

3-5When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.

Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”

6He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.

7The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”

8-9He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.

Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”


A Devotion by Philip Polo (Nairobi, Kenya)

First Kings 18 tells how Elijah, the prophet of the Lord, had a contest with the prophets of Baal. The outcome demonstrated that the Lord, not Baal, is the only true God to be worshiped. Afterwards, Elijah had to flee for fear of his life as Jezebel threatened to kill him. Fear overcame Elijah, and he forgot what God had done through him and that God could protect him from Jezebel.

God appeared to Elijah and asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah pleaded with God to take his life because he was the only prophet of the Lord remaining. Possibly, Elijah had forgotten or purposely decided not to accomplish the work God wanted him to do.

Sometimes I too find myself overcome by worry and fear — worry about not having enough money, food, clothes, and good health. Fear of not knowing what the future holds or where I am going to be or of not succeeding in my career can engulf me. These become constant distractions that can divert my attention from my life’s mission and what God wants me to do. But as I depend more on God, I can worry less and remain focused on what’s really important: serving in God’s kingdom around me.

A Letter from the Trustees

Dear Cove Presbyterian Member and Friend:

This letter is being sent by the Board of Trustees to inform you of a serious undertaking here at Cove Church. As we am sure many of you are aware of this past December we started to experience some roof problems in the sanctuary. The roof in the sanctuary is over twenty-two years old.

The companies that came when the leaking began advised us that it could be patched but that was only a “band-aid.” The roof is old and needs replaced. They were however, able to temporary patch the roof to stop the leaks and get us through the winter. After much discussion and meeting with the roofing companies it was decided to contract Jeffrey A. Smurthwaite, Inc. DBA Charley Company, of Follansbee, West Virginia to replace the roof. A rubber roof system with a rubber flashing membrane will be installed over the main roof areas and also the front entrance to the church. Upon completion there will be a fifteen year warranty on the roof. Total cost of the project will be $ 28, 500.00.

Monies collected for the Roof fund project as of March 20, 2011 is $ 7,964.28. We had a Challenge Sunday several weeks ago and we know some have already given, but those that haven’t been in church in the last month should be given the opportunity to contribute to the fund.

We appreciate anything that you can do to help. This is an expensive undertaking but we are sure with God’s guidance and the dedication of Cove’s family we will succeed.

Thank You,

Board of Trustees

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New Devotion for the Prayer Line - Lives that Shine

Matthew 5:13-16

13 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.


A Devotion by David S. McCarthy (South Carolina)

At age 16 I became excited about being a Christian and began to explore ways to share my faith. Under cover of darkness I walked through neighborhoods leaving gospel tracts on the windshields of cars. A youth magazine printed my testimony, and I wrote letters to people I hardly knew about God’s offer of salvation. Despite my well-intended efforts, I never heard of any one making a commitment to Christ because of what I did.

Later, while attending a youth camp, I was hurt in an auto accident. Several campers came to visit me, and I told my friends how God was helping me cope with my temporary limitations. Soon after I was able to return home, my pastor received a letter from one of the campers. She said that despite growing up in a Christian home, she had never made a profession of faith. “However, when I saw the joy and peace in Dave’s life in spite of his pain, I decided to commit my life to Jesus.”

That day I hadn’t intentionally tried to persuade anyone to follow God, yet in everyday living, God spoke through me. I learned that while God can use literature and persuasive sermons, some people come to faith only when they see a flesh-and-blood example of Christianity in action. Our most effective witnessing may be happening when we don’t even realize it’s taking place.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yesterday's Sermon - Abraham for Example

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

1Now what will we say Abraham, our father according to flesh, found? 2For if Abraham from works was made righteous, then he has a reason to boast, but not before God. 3For what does the writing say? “But Abraham trusted God and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4But to the one who works, the wages aren’t counted as grace, but as something due.

5But to the one who doesn’t work but who trusts in the one who makes righteous the ungodly, his trust is counted as righteousness. 13For it’s not through law that the promise was made to Abraham nor his descendants, that he would inherit the world, but through righteousness that comes from trust. 14For if the inheritance was from law, then the faith has been emptied and the promise has been nullified. 15For the law brought about wrath. But where there is not law neither is there violation.

16For this reason, it is from trust so that it might be according to grace, so the promise to many descendants might be firm, not to those from the law alone, but also to those from Abraham’s trust who is the father of us all. 17Just as it has been written, “As father of many nations, I have set you,” before the one whom he trusted, God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist into existence.


Abraham for Example

On Thursday, Maggie reminded me of something that I think is both remarkably simple but also incredibly profound. You see, her third grade class has started to work with division. And one afternoon Maggie was doing her homework, and right there, on her paper was the problem: Twelve divided by six equals blank, with the division sign one of those colons with a dash between the dots. Well, evidently she was a little stuck so she called me over for help. Yes, this was one of those special times I really felt like a father.

I looked at the problem, took a sheet of scrap paper, and wrote “twelve, slash, six.” She looked confused.

“It’s a little easier to figure out when you write it this way.”

“But Ms. Glyptis said to write it like this.”

“I don’t care how she said to write it, this is easier.”

“But what does the slash mean?”

“It’s like a fraction.”

“But we haven’t done fractions yet.”

“Fine.”

I erased the problem. Thought. Light bulb went off. “Now, you’ve done multiplication, right?”

“Yes, daddy.”

“O.K., it’s like multiplication in reverse.” Pretty good, right? I wrote on the scrap paper: six times x equals twelve. “Now, all you have to do is find ‘x.’”

“Which one?”

“What?”

“You’ve got two xs written down. Which one do I find?”

I erased the problem and wrote: six * x equals twelve.

“What’s the dot?”

“It means ‘times.’”

“Why didn’t you use an ‘x?’”

“Because the * makes it easier.”

“But Ms. Glyptis said to write it like this.”

“Fine.”

And as I sit there, trying to remember the difference between sine and cosines; Maggie said, “Dad, (I was no longer “Daddy”) Dad, is it like I’ve got twelve cookies and six friends. How many cookies will each friend get? Is it like that?” I nodded.

“Oh that’s easy,” as she wrote a big two on her sheet. And even though I was tempted to assume that she finally found “x,” deep down I knew that, when stuck, a good example is priceless.

And you know, I think that’s exactly what we have in the passage we’re looking at this morning, an example that can shed light on something that sure seems confusing to a lot of people. You see, both inside and outside the faith, people seem to struggle with how folks are suppose to relate to God. And I’ll tell you, it seems to me that the more religious they are, the more confused they become. I mean, while a majority of folks on the other side of the stained glass don’t seem all that concerned about where they stand with the big guy upstairs, some Christians seem almost obsessed with how we all can get right with God. And they develop these systems that all ultimately rest on what a person has to do, what we have to do, which by the way is usually stuff they’ve already done. And then they go out to determine who’s done enough and who hasn’t so that they can commiserate with those who have, convert those who haven’t and make excuses and exceptions for loved one who may have sometime in their lives but certainly aren’t now.

But, you know, at the end of the day, doing this kind of thing ends up just about as satisfying as eating a rice cake or a bowl of unsalted peanuts, because, one, what you “need” to do or say or find varies from church to church, and two, no matter how you cut it, it’s always up to us. It’s up to us to do or say or find, and speaking for myself, I don’t want anything as important as my eternal destiny left in these hands. How do we ultimately relate to God? Now, that’s a tough question.

And you know, it must have been tough for the Romans too, because right here, Paul did what Maggie did two thousand years later, and he gave them and us an example that, again speaking for myself, sure helps me get my brain around all this whole relationship business. And it’s all right here in this passage. You see, in these verses, Paul focused on our relationship with God, using Abraham to explain the connection between grace, righteousness and faith. Let me explain.

First, I think Paul wants us to understand that our relationship with God begins with something called grace, a free gift that we don’t deserve and one that we can’t earn. Now that’s what Paul wrote. And although that excites the puddin’ out of me, I’ll tell you, it seems to make a lot of Christians really uncomfortable. I mean, instead of just appreciating this wonderful gift that we’ve been given, they try to add a bunch of conditions to it, you know what I mean: Grace is free, but...; Grace is a gift, but...; Grace can’t be earned, but...” And then they immediately tell you what you have to do to get it, which means it’s not free or a gift or unearned at all. I’ll tell you, for some reason, they seem to have a problem not being in control.

And you know, I think that must have been true back in Paul’s day too, because he seemed to make a point of saying that Abraham’s relationship with God wasn’t based on works, in other words, on anything he’d done. If it had, Abraham would have had reason to boast in himself. And if he’d worked for it, then what he received would have been like a wage, payment for work done. But for Paul, it wasn’t a wage at all. In fact, it wasn’t even based on his obedience to the law.

No, as Paul showed through the example of Abraham, our relationship with God is grounded in God himself. He found us. And he gave us not just the chance but also the ability to respond. I’ll tell you, it’s just like the words to that wonderful hymn that, over the last few weeks, a lot of y’all have said you like to sing: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” You see, just like he did with Abraham, God’s given us grace. That’s one thing Paul wants us to understand.

And second, right here in these verses, he wrote that this gift of grace leads to something called righteousness, in other words, it leads us into a right relationship with God. Now that’s what righteousness is, and that’s exactly what God did with Abraham. I mean, remember the story of Abraham from Genesis. Now if you don’t, don’t worry about it. Now in that story, Abraham wasn’t this godly man who sought God, you know, who was constantly in meditation, who worked day and night to live a life of obedience and dedication. Before God entered the scene, that wasn’t Abraham. Instead, this was how Abraham’s first encounter with God was described: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

You see, Abraham’s righteous relationship with God was first and foremost about God. That’s where it started. And that’s why Abraham had no reason to boast. He’d done no work for which he was due righteousness. Right from the start, the promise he received from God was not about him but rather about God. And I’ll tell you, it’s the same way with us. You see, it’s just like we’ve been talking about. God found us, without us wanting to be found. But he did more than that. He made us righteous. From his side, he established a relationship without our permission, without our help, without our consent. And from his perspective, that relationship will continue whether we acknowledge it or not. Of course, I understand that makes a lot of Christians mad, you know, to suggest that they’re not in control, that righteousness isn’t up to them, that the possibility exists that even the ungodly might be made righteous, gasp. They cry out that this is just not fair. And I’ll tell you, I agree one hundred percent. It’s not fair. It’s far more than we have any right to expect. But then, in Romans, we’ve already read that God isn’t really about fairness. Instead, he’s about love and grace. And that’s the basis for righteousness, the second thing Paul wrote.

And finally, third, according to Paul this righteous relationship is made complete the minute we trust, in other words, the minute we have faith. And I’ll tell you, trust is really what faith is all about. In fact, it’s what the word actually means in Greek, not knowledge, but trust. And that was certainly what Paul saw happening with Abraham. Through God’s grace, from God’s side a righteous relationship was established with Abraham. And that relationship was made complete when Abraham trusted, when he believed that God had done and would do what he promised, in other words, when he had faith that God would lead him into the future. When that happen, according to Paul, “his trust [was] counted as righteousness.” Put another way, he trusted that God’s grace was real, and it was at that moment that his relationship with God was right from both sides.

And I’m telling you, that applies to us as well. I believe that God has already found everyone here this morning, that’s why you’re here. And like we talked about last week, he’s already poured out his grace so that it’s overflowing on us all. Man, we are dripping with grace, did you realize that? And we’ve already been put in a right relationship with him, which means without us doing anything, anything all that garbage that has separated us from God, all that crud has been pushed aside and each one of us has been given the ability to respond. And if we do absolutely nothing, none of that will change.

But right now, we have an incredible opportunity, and we have this same opportunity every second we’re alive. We have the chance to trust, to believe, to have faith in the one who’s already done it all. And when we do, for us, in our minds, all the promises of God will be firm. The relationship is made complete through faith. And this is number three.

I’ll tell you, next time Maggie has a problem with math, instead of writing a formula she won’t understand, I’ll be trying to come up with an example that she will. But if I don’t, she’ll do it. And you know, that’s exactly what Paul did when he wrote his letter to the Romans. He used Abraham as example to illustrate something that’s just as true for us as it was for him. And so, let’s put aside our egos and our desire for control and claim this, that through grace God has put us in a right relationship with himself, something we can grasp the minute we trust that it’s there. You see, this can be as true for us as it was for him, when we look to Abraham for example.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Minute for Mission - Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico

To grow the church deep and wide, we need new visions of what we can accomplish as people of faith. Seminary students respond to God's call impelled by these visions and with great expectations. At the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, one of those visionaries is Varinia Morales. Varinia is a young, inquisitive woman who lost her sight because of diabetic retinopathy. An avid reader of the Bible since she was a child, she knew its content by heart. But her new challenge of faith was how to engage the Scripture once her sight was gone. She saw seminary education as a response, joining a place where she could hear the Bible through a community of interpretation formed by professors and fellow learners. Varinia arrived at the Evangelical Seminary's Juan de Valdes Library early in the morning and committed long hours to scanning books into a computer system that "read'' the pages for her. By listening to both human and virtual voices speaking about faith, she encountered a new vision for ministry - to be a leader of a church called to serve those with physical disabilities. Varinia understood that to make people whole is not only a spiritual task but a social one as well. In her senior year Varinia and two colleagues founded a service cooperative to offer counseling services to people with disabilities. Through this cooperative she has engaged people of her congregation in various areas of service, thus offering her congregation a new space for witness and growing its ministry deep and wide. With students like Varinia, the seminary discovers once again the need to reinvigorate its theological resources to respond to renewed visions of the church and its ministry. The Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico exists to welcome these visions.

- Rev. Jose Irizarry, president, Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico

Friday, March 18, 2011

Prayer Requests

Adults

• Virginia Welch
• Phyllis Manley
• Mary Jane Cummings
• John Brothers
• Mike Cline
• Rhonda Bruich
• Paul Buck
• Madeleine Jackson
• Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
• Eileen Fazi
• Dave Bever
• Julia Zatta
• Janet Paulin
• Corinne Ferguson
• Taylor Harris
• Kim Sabor
• Pam Haller
• Mary Torchio
• Cheryl Hargast
• Jenni
• Bonnie Kirtley
• Red Nichols
• Rachael
• Connie Francis
• Mary & Jack Games
• Betty Kraina
• Claudia Recchio
• Karen Hornberger
• Vicki Williams
• Delbert McLaughlin
• Jennifer Dahlem
• Charles Saffle
• Bob Saffle
• Colleen Wetzel
• Shirley DeLuca
• Rose Mader
• Kendrick Roebuck
• James Woolfolk & family
• Tricia Smith & family
• Amanda Hankey’s aunt
• Karen Darin
• Ila Shingler
• Michael & Kaylie Keffer
• Numero Phiri
• Cara Smith
• Mel Olson
• Paula Leather
• Steve Cordle
• Eleanor Williams
• Julia Maine
• Mary Porco
• David Drobish’s Mother
• Greg Zook
• Karen Tomich
• Jenn Johnson
• Maxine Bulick


Kids

• Jonah Becker
• Shelby Kamarec
• Brody McUmor
• Dustin Parr
• Zoe Purcell
• Daisy Emmerick
• Georgie Platt
• Audri King
• Alec Barnhart
• Brandon Wates
• Hunter Stafford
• Michael Liptak
• Justus Loughry
• Joshua Nichols
• Jeffrey Konovich
• Tyler Trushel


Military

• Michael Criss
• Jonathan Criss
• Chad Peppler
• Kendra Mader
• Stephen Mader


Troops

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


Church Families

• George & Eloise Evans
• Joanne Fell
• Corinne Ferguson


Local Church

All Saints Greek Orthodox Church

Cove Announcements

The announcements as they'll 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, March 21, at 6:00 p.m. in the board room.

MONTHLY TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
Monday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the church library. Please try to attend.

THE ADULT HANDBELL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, March 23, 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, March 23, at 6:45p.m. in the sanctuary. Everyone who wishes to praise our Lord through song is invited to join us as we practice our Sunday anthem and also 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, March 24, at 12:00 p.m. We’ll begin a study of John, by looking at John 12:1-50. Grab your lunch and join us as we study God’s word.

FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS . . .
we’ll all have the chance to learn more about God’s word. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 24, Karen Vida will be leading a study of God designed for young Boy and Girl Scouts, but open to all young people. At the same time, Pastor Rudiger will start a four week Bible study entitled “The Stories of Easter.” During this series, we’ll look at the different gospel accounts of the resurrection, starting with Mark 16:1-8.

MISSION: SHARING BRINGS JOY . . .
is the theme of this year’s One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. This offering will be collected by Christians throughout the United States on the Easter Holiday to care for Jesus’ sheep. The inserts in the bulletin over the next few weeks will give examples of how the monies have been spent in previous years. FYI...the denomination decides how the gifts its members give will be used with some monies going to the shared ministries of Church World Service to aide people in need. Sharing resources and changing lives. The Presbyterian Church roughly divides its money into thirds- Self-Development of People (SDOP) receives 32%; Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) receives 32% ; and Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) receives the balance.

IF YOU LEAVE AN ITEM AT THE CHURCH . . .
for someone or for a specific committee, please take a moment to write the name of who is to receive the item. If there is no name we will assume it is for the church in general.

PANCAKE BRUNCH . . .
sponsored by the Deacons will be held next Sunday, March 27. Menu will be pancakes, sausage and beverage. Donations will be appreciated.

WELCOME . . .
Tyler Anthony Trushel, son of Craig & Dawn Trushel born on Tuesday, March 8, 2011. Tyler is also the little brother of Ethan. Congratulations to proud grandparents Mark & Barbara Trushel.

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
to the family of Jerry Carrie, husband of Susan Robinson, son-in-law of Audrey Vincent, who died on Sunday, March 6, 2011 in New Orleans.

LIKE TO PLAY THE PIANO?
the church has an Acrosonic Spinet Piano that is no longer needed. If you are interested, it is located along the wall in Fellowship Hall or contact the church office for further details.

JUST IN TIME FOR EASTER. . .
the Deacons are sponsoring another Pie Shoppe Sale. Items available are pies, pumpkin rolls and specialty items (nut log or Easter bread). To view an order form contact the church office or check-out the order form posted on the main bulletin board downstairs. To place an order contact any deacon. Orders are due by Sunday, April 3. Delivery is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20.

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’s 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.

SATURDAY, MAY 7 . . .
the Deacons are having a Flea Market and Bake Sale! They are in search of slightly used - furniture, small appliances, decorations, housewares, sports equipment, children’s toys and children’s clothes. If you have items you no longer use, you may drop them off at the church at anytime or call the church office at 304-748-5980 to arrange to have the items picked-up.

RESERVE THE DATE. . .
before scheduling an activity at the church, please call the church office to check that the date is available. Also, if you change the date or time of a meeting here at the church please let us know so accommodations can be made for you.

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. Items not claimed by the end of April will be donated to the Deacons Flea Market.

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 from 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 their 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 bulletin board located in the hallway by the church offices. Past event pictures are also on display 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. These labels are being collected for the Weirton Christian Center.

SHOE BOX PROJECT . . .
Kyle Truex, an Eagle 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, MARCH 20, 2011 . . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for Wheeling, Vance Memorial - Chuck LaPlaca, Pastor; Wheeling, Warwood - David Bruce, Pastor. Please also remember in your prayers, Cove’s Congregational Prayer Partner, Steubenville First Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Give, Act, Pray for Japan


‘When they call to me, I will answer them.’

Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear meltdown. Any one of these disasters could be catastrophic. Rescue efforts continue in Japan following the March 11 tsunami and earthquake and the growing nuclear crisis. Thousands have been confirmed dead, tens of thousands are missing, and hundreds of thousands have been evacuated.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and our ecumenical and mission partners. Already, $100,000 from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering has been sent to provide immediate relief.

While Japan is among the world’s most advanced countries, the damage caused by the unprecedented scale of these multiple disasters is beyond imagination. You can make a difference in bringing God’s healing to this devastated nation, where Presbyterians have been engaged in active mission work since 1859.

What you can do:

GIVE — Financial support for relief efforts wherever disasters occur can be designated to DR000148. Support exclusively for these disasters can be designated to DR000117. Donations may also be made to One Great Hour of Sharing, which supports PDA. Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by mailing a check to: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

ACT — Congregations and individuals can put together Gifts of the Heart hygiene kits and baby kits. Stay informed through the PDA website and Rapid Information Network e-mail reports.

PRAY — Join with others in lifting up the people of Japan and those providing aid.
–Psalm 91:15

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Devotion on the Prayer Line - Drowning?

Mark 4:35-41

35-38Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

39-40Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

41They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”


A Devotion by Andy Baker (Tennessee)

While visiting a public pool recently, I considered the contrast between the lifeguard and those who are in danger. Being the lifeguard is by far the more desirable position. I would pre fer something like the role of lifeguard in my daily life as well. But the truth is, I am often more like the one who is drowning.

I am the one who needs the Lord to provide my daily food, clothing, and shelter (Matt. 6:33). I am the one who has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). As a result, I am the one in need of daily forgiveness as I confess my sins and my need for God (1 John 1:9). I am the one drowning. Like Isaiah, I have unclean lips (Isa. 6:5). Like Paul, I do the very things that I do not want to do (Rom. 7:15). Like Peter, I try to help God and act in ways that my human understanding dictates as a better plan (Matt. 16:22; John 18:10-11) — even though.I am the one drowning.

Aren’t we all more like the one drowning than like the life guard? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit” — those who recognize their need for God — “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The more we recognize our desperate need for God, the closer we come to God’s kingdom.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amen - The stated clerk’s March column

Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
by Gradye Parsons

LOUISVILLE — It looks like spring might finally come after a winter filled with snowstorms, ice, bitter winds and new records for low temperatures. Winter may have a last gasp or two, but in most places things are starting to warm up. On one hand, my irises are, as usual, trying to rush the growing season. On the other hand, my roses are wisely laying low until evidence of several sunny days in a row.

In the congregation where I worship, we have a long tradition of confirmation classes slogging through winter by studying theology, history, polity and Scripture. Now, as spring approaches, these youngsters are writing down their own understanding of what it all means. Soon, they will meet with the session and answer questions about their faith and what they have learned. Elders will most likely gain new insights on their own faith from the conversations. I know my faith has already been enriched through the conversations I have had with the fine young confirmand for whom I am a mentor.

The culmination of this leg of their faith journey will be Easter. The confirmands will stand with smiling parents before the congregation and answer questions that reaffirm the baptismal covenant made years earlier. The minister will pray, perhaps by saying, “Defend, O Lord, your servant with your heavenly grace, that he/she may continue yours forever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more, until he/she comes to your everlasting kingdom” (Book of Common Worship, Pastoral Edition, p. 66).

This particular prayer was made very real to me recently. A member of the Sunday school class I teach monthly died after a long and faith-filled life. According to witnesses who were with her at the end, her last word was “Amen.” The winter of her illness was past; the spring of everlasting life had begun.

As she rests in peace, these young confirmands are on the brink of claiming faith in Jesus for themselves. May theirs also be long and faith-filled lives.

And may you experience anew your own springtime of faith.

Amen.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons is Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

A New Devotion on Our Prayer Line - A Time to Wait

Isaiah 40:26-31

25-26“So—who is like me?
Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
and never overlooks a single one?

27-31Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.


A Devotion by Mark H. Anderson (Pennsylvania)

My wife is quick to remind me that I am not good at waiting. She has often pointed out that I make some situations more difficult, by pushing ahead before I have all the facts or the cooperation of others. I don’t want to be like that — and the first step in changing a behavior is awareness. Coming into these and similar situations over and over again can get our attention and help us become aware of attitudes or behaviors that hinder our relationship with God or create problems for others.

When we are dealing with worry, anger, impatience, or other signs of anxiety, Christ offers us a sense of peace that can transcend whatever challenge we face. When troubles or situations arise that threaten our peace, we can rely on the strength of our relationship with God by calling on God in prayer and choosing to accept God’s peace in place of our anxiety. Remembering Christ’s words in John 14 and applying them in our lives help us to practice our faith when troubles come or when we feel impatient.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yesterday's Sermon - Good News/Bad News

Romans 5:12-19

12Therefore, through one person sin came into the world and through sin death, thus also to all people death spread, in as much as all sin. 13For up to the law, sin was in the world, but sin was not charged to our account when there was no law. 14But death reigned from Adam until Moses and upon those who didn’t sin in the same way as Adam transgressed who is the impression of the one who was to come.

15But not like the lapse, thus also is the gift of grace. For if through one person’s lapse many died, then all the more the grace of God and the gift in grace by the one person, Jesus Christ, to the many overflowed. 16And not as through one who sinned is the gift. For, on one hand, the judgement from one is condemnation, but on the other hand, the grace from many lapses is righteousness. 17For if by one lapse death reigned through the one, then many more will they who receive the overflowing of grace and the gift of righteousness in life reign through the one, Jesus Christ.

18So then as through one lapse to all people was condemnation, thus also through one act of righteousness to all people was righteousness which is life. 19For as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, thus also through the obedience of one, the many will be made righteous.


Good News/Bad News

This morning I want to start by sharing a little joke that I think combines the focus of the message
with the theological season we’re now entering. And of course, I’m talking about the season of baseball. (Now, did anybody expect me to say “Lent,”because if you did, man, you should get to know me better.) Anyway, there are these two guys, Ted and Bill, both huge baseball fans. They went to every game. They followed what happened during the off-season. They even fixed up a room in Bill’s basement to be sort of a baseball shrine, with a big screen TV and a little kitchenette and of course, a fat head on the wall, and if you don’t know what that is, check out fathead.com. Man, these guys loved the game, and they were Pirate fans to boot, which meant they were also gluttons for punishment. In fact, both of them had the team motto tattooed on their arm: “There’s always next year.” These were fans. Well, one day, Ted died, which naturally made Bill very sad. And one evening, about a week after the funeral, Bill just sat in their special baseball temple, mourning the passing of his friend. And then, all of a sudden, right in front of the Andrew McCutchen fat head, Bill saw the image of his late friend. There stood Ted, looking pretty good, especially given the fact that he died in a freak hunting accident. No chains or money boxes or anything. In fact, he was wearing a throwback Pirate uniform, number 8. And as he stood there, Ted began to speak. He said, “Bill, I come from beyond the grave with good news and bad news. The good news is that heaven is wonderful. We play baseball all the time. We all start, we all bat .400 and the heavenly Pirates are never, never lose. Heaven is unbelievable.” And Bill said, “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine anything better. And so what’s the bad news?” And Ted, “I saw the roster; you’re pitching next Tuesday.” Now, that’s what I call good news/bad news.

And I’ll tell you, I think we have the same thing going on in the passage we just read, only it’s sort of reversed, you know, with the bad news first. Just look at what Paul wrote. I mean, give me a break, I don’t think anybody can read these first two verses and come away with a smile. What did Paul say? “Therefore, through one person sin came into the world and through sin death, thus also to all people death spread, in as much as all sin.” I believe I’ll put that in my next Mother’s Day card.

And I think the meaning isn’t exactly rocket science. According to Paul, through one person, namely Adam, sin entered into the world. Now that’s what he said, and I want to notice that that’s pretty much all he said. In other words, he didn’t go into a lot of details, you know, about how and why it happened. Maybe he didn’t know or maybe it didn’t matter or maybe he just didn’t care. It’s sort of like when I was younger and played basketball; I couldn’t figure out why God had created me so short but made up for it by making me slow. Paul never wrote how or why it happened, just that it had. Sin entered the world. And with sin also came death. Now a little later, he’s going to talk about the relationship between sin and death, but right now, all he wants us to know is that because there’s sin there’s also death. As a matter of fact, death is really the sign that we’re all infected with sin; it’s like a disease for which we can develop no effective cure. And like I said, it affects us all, because, as they say, there’s only two things on which we can all count, and one of them is death.

And I’ll tell you, to me, this is pretty bad news. It’s like walking out of the office after hearing your doctor say that you might as well eat and do anything you want, because it just doesn’t matter any more. You see, because of this sin, which remember entered the world through one person, we are all lost, period. We are all doomed, close the book. We are all toast, Elvis has left the building. Therefore, the best thing we can do is to either throw up our hands or shrug our shoulders and become as comfortable as we can, because not only, as Paul wrote, “...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but also that “the wages of sin is death.” In other words, we’re like the Pirates who’ll somewhere in the middle of July, probably be statistically eliminated from the post season. With our current line-up, there’ll be no World Series for us either. Therefore, unless something changes, we have absolutely no hope. Amen. O.K., let’s close the service by singing...

But of course, we can’t do that, because we’ve only considered the bad news, right? It would be wrong to overlook the other stuff Paul wrote, because in the rest of this passage, well, there’s a lot of good news going on, isn’t there? “But not like the lapse, thus also is the gift of grace. For if through one person’s lapse many died, then all the more the grace of God and the gift in grace by the one person, Jesus Christ, to the many overflowed.” In other words, just like it took Adam to open the door to sin, in the same way, though one individual God gave us grace. And this grace Paul called a gift, because it was absolutely free of any charge. In fact, not only did God give it, God gave it in abundance. It overflowed. Man, that’s even better than an “All You Can Eat” seafood buffet. But even better than that, this grace leads to something even greater, and I’m talking about something Paul called righteousness.

You see, while we were facing judgement, God gave us grace. And while we were prepared for condemnation, God gave us righteousness. And while we could look forward only to death, God gave us life. As he wrote, “...if by one lapse[, one trespass, one stumble] death reigned through the one [person, namely Adam], then many more will they who receive the overflowing of grace and the gift of righteousness in life reign through the one, Jesus Christ.”

And I’ll tell you, for us, this is the very best news of all. I mean, just think about what it means. God himself did for us something we weren’t able to do ourselves. You see, we can obey every law in the book. We can work to center our entire lives on God. My gosh, we can try to become the most spiritual, the most religious, the most downright Christian guy on our block, and it would get us no where. Why? Because we’re sinful. That’s what we are; that’s who we are. Man, we’re in hole; that’s bad news. But then there’s God who loved us before the foundation of the world and who decided that he wanted to be in relationship with us. And so, he did something about it, but not by sending down a ladder, you know, something we have to find and to climb. Instead he sent down his son, Jesus Christ, from whom and through whom this free gift of grace overflowed. And like a toy boat when the bath is filled, that grace lifted us out of that hole right into the embrace of God.

Wow. Now that’s what he’s done, and us, well, I guess we can splash around and assume we’re doing it ourselves and then start worrying about whether we’ve done enough or we can try to dive to the bottom and deny that it’s happening. I guess we can do that, or we can simply relax as God works around and within us. And spiritually we can float to the top, giving him all the praise and thanks because he did for us something we couldn’t do for ourselves. Now that’s the good news.

And I’ll tell you, I think it’s so good, that it absolutely overwhelms the bad. As Paul wrote, “So then as through one lapse to all people was condemnation, thus also through one act of righteousness to all people was righteousness which is life. For as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, thus also through the obedience of one, the many will be made righteous.”

You see, that’s really the bottom line. Even though, when you get right down to it, left all by ourselves, I guess you could say as the children of Adam, we should all face condemnation. Sort of like back in the day, I was condemned to ride the bench most of my limited basketball career; thanks to things beyond our control, we’re all facing life separated from God and his love and his grace. You see, we were made sinners, without hope, and that’s how we would have died, had it not been for that one person, the one who’s going to be hung on a cross to save the guys who drove the nails. And just like it wasn’t really fair that as sons and daughters of Adams we ended up living with sin and condemnation, as brothers and sisters of Christ, we’re going end up receiving overflowing grace and living in relationship with God. That’s not fair either; it’s gracious. You see, this good news is a whole lot stronger than the bad.

And what’s even more exciting is that we can claim that good news right now. In other words, everything has been done. Man, despite our best efforts, God has lifted us out of the hole and through his son, we can know just how much he loves us and by the power of the Holy Spirit, a force that right this minute is flowing through this place, we can see and understand. This is what God has done for us without our help or consent. It’s a done deal. Therefore, let me ask you, doesn’t it make sense to direct some our thanks to God? And doesn’t it make sense to smile at our Christian brothers and sisters because we share something that’s more precious than I can put into words? And brother and sisters, doesn’t it make sense to feel a desire to share just how good the Good News is to those who don’t know? For example, shouldn’t what we believe move us to make sure that every single child that enters our building, and I’m not just talking about just on Sunday morning but all through the week, shouldn’t our joy for God move us to share something with them? I’ll tell you, I believe when we feel grace overflow on us we’re going to want others to feel the exact same thing. When you get right down to it, I think you could say that the good news we’ve been talking about will make us new people, whether we like it or not.

Which kind of brings me back to the joke I told at the beginning of the sermon. Frankly, I don’t know if Ted’s good news changed Bill’s life, that is before his number was called on Tuesday. But you know, regardless of how it affected him, what we read in this passage can sure affect us. I mean, it’s hard to deny the bad news, that we’re all sinners, because death is the ultimate sign of sin and the last time I looked, I think we’re all mortal. But I’ll tell you, the good news is just as real and undeniable, that through the one man, namely Jesus Christ, God gave us the gift that just keeps on giving, the overflowing presence of grace. And through that grace, we have a relation with God, one that no amount of sin and condemnation and death can overcome. Now that kind of good new can absolutely change our lives. And now I can say “Amen.”