Friday, August 31, 2012

Remembering Labor Day


Below is an article from the TLC website entitled Why do we celebrate Labor Day? Since we celebrate the day on Monday, it might be helpful to know a little bit about it's background. And after the article, I've printed a poem entitled "A Song for Labor Day" by Walterrean Salley.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

Peter J. McGuire, general secretary
of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and
Joiners and a cofounder of
the American Federation of Labor
For a lot of people, Labor Day means two things: a day off and the end of summer. But why is it called Labor Day? Labor Day is a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women. It has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States and Canada since 1894.

­­Labor unions themselves celebrated the first labor days in the United States, although there's some speculation as to exactly who came up with the idea. Most historians credit Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, with the original idea of a day for workers to show their solidarity. Others credit Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J.

The first Labor Day parade occurred Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. The workers' unions chose the first Monday in September because it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The idea spread across the country, and some states designated Labor Day as a holiday before the federal holiday was created.

President Grover Cleveland signed a law designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day nationwide. This is interesting because Cleveland was not a labor union supporter. In fact, he was trying to repair some political damage that he suffered earlier that year when he sent federal troops to put down a strike by the American Railway Union at the Pullman Co. in Chicago, IL. That action resulted in the deaths of 34 workers.

In European countries, China and other parts of the world, May Day, the first day in May, is a holiday to celebrate workers and labor unions. Before it became an international workers holiday, May Day was a celebration of spring and the promise of summer.

Membership in labor unions in the United States reached an all-time high in the 1950s when about 40 percent of the work force belonged to unions. Today, union membership is about 14 percent of the working population. Labor Day now carries less significance as a celebration of working people and more as the end of summer. Schools, government offices and businesses are closed on Labor Day so people can get in one last trip to the beach or have one last cookout before the weather starts to turn colder.

A Song for Labor Day


Labor Day was founded
In the 1880s
To be celebrated
By working men and ladies.
It grew to become
A national holiday.
A phenomenal hit
In every way.
Street parades and festivals
Celebrated such time, 
Topped by Labor Sunday
To rein-in the chimes. 
As the years have passed, 
It’s a bit toned down, 
But is yet a hit
In every state and town.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What’s Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?


Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday’s bulletin.

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 choose from to fit your needs.

CHURCH & OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED . . .
Monday, September 3 in observance of Labor Day.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY. . .
will resume their meetings and socials on Tuesday, September 4 at 6:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. The program will be Music and Mission presented by members of Cove’s  2012 Mission Group.

BOARD OF SESSION . . .
will hold their regular monthly meeting  on Tuesday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

CHANCEL CHOIR PRACTICE . . .
will resume on Wednesday, September 5 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. New member are welcome to join!!

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet Thursday, September 6 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We’ll look at 1 Corinthians 16:1-24.

RALLY DAY . . .
will be held on Sunday, September 9. We will be kicking-off our fall Sunday School programs. Everyone is invited to attend!

BOARD OF TRUSTEES . . .
will meet on Monday, September 10 at 6:30 in the board room.

BOARD OF DEACONS MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the church library.  We urge everyone to attend, we will be discussing our upcoming fall events.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN’S BOARD MEETING . . .
Is scheduled for Wednesday, September 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room.  The regular meeting of the Presbyterian Women will be held on Wednesday, September 19 at noon in Fellowship Hall.

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the family of Beverly Ann Zeff, sister of Frank Bohach who died on Wednesday, August 15 in Virginia.

CHURCH  OFFICE . . .
items are often left in the office  for individuals to pick-up, sign, or dropped off  therefore I am asking that you please do not write on, rearrange  or remove anything from the office  as this has been creating difficulties for us. Also if you leave an item in the office, please leave a note as to who or what the item is for. I thank you in advance for your understanding in these matters. Marcia

IF YOUR GROUP OR ORGANIZATION WILL BE RESUMING  MEETINGS . . .
in the near future, please take a minute to notify the church office so we can put your information on our calendar.  Summer breaks will be ending soon and we need to have up-to-date information to accommodate everyone.

THANK YOU . . .
Mary and I wish to extend our heartfelt thanks for all the many expressions of love and sympathy you have shared with us and my family after the passing of my sister Beverly Ann Zeff. While my heart is saddened by her loss, I have been comforted by two things: One is the love and support of my Cove family and two, my sister has now taken her place in God’s house as Jesus promised us.
My family and I will always be grateful for everything you have done for us.
Frank Bohach

MALAWI   PARTNERSHIP . . .
as many of you are aware of Karen Edwards  will be embarking on a Mission Trip in the upcoming month. As part of her trip the Presbyterian Women have partnered with her to collect items that will be distributed to the churches in Malawi. A list of the items being collected is printed below:
Pens
Pencils
Small pencil sharpeners
Erasers
Inexpensive reading glasses
Scarves
2/3/4 magnification - from Dollar Tree
Toothbrushes
Material for dress making
Hot Chocolate
Hats with visors
Toothpaste
Raincoats in a bag
There is a drop- off box for the donations in the main hallway downstairs.  Any items that you can donate will be greatly appreciated. Items will be accepted thru today, September 2nd.

BOARD MEMBERS . . .
remember to check and empty your mailboxes periodically. Meeting minutes and other items of importance are  put into the boxes for your reference.

BULLETIN DEADLINE . . .
if you wish to have an article published in the weekly bulletin, please have the article into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Thank you for your cooperation.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW ADDRESS,. . .
new phone number or new e-mail ? Please contact the church office so we can update our records. We like to keep everyone informed of our events.  If you don’t receive mailings from us,  we may not have your current/correct information.

REMINDER, PLEASE COVER  . . .
the top of the church’s tables before they are used for any activity. They will stain and are hard to clean, this can be avoided with a little cooperation.

GREETERS NEEDED . . .
if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

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.

CHRISTMAS IN NOVEMBER . . .
is being sponsored by the Myrtle McHendry Class on Friday, November 16th and Saturday, November 17. The ladies are accepting holiday decorations and new or gently used items that can be used or given as gifts. The items can be dropped off at the church at anytime, just mark what they are for and we will pass them along.

YOU’RE INVITED TO JOIN US . . .
on a 10-Day Journey Through the Holy Land sponsored by Grace Presbyterian Church, Martins Ferry. Set for March 2 — 12, 2013, this tour will make the Bible come alive in a safe and unforgettable way. Your 10-day fully escorted tour covers airfare from Pittsburgh to Tel Aviv, all airport transfers and land travel as well as entrance fees, full breakfast every day, 6 three-course dinners and all lodging in either Superior First Class or First Class hotels. This is a tremendous opportunity for all those who want to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ. For additional information, call Sherry (740) 633-3933 or Rev. Bill at Grace Church (740) 633-2699.

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.

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

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 receive copies of the Sunday Bulletin 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 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 or live plants 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 . . .
Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Center.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs.
Greeting Cards are being collected. Please drop off your Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked.
Can Tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container locate in the main hallway downstairs.
We thank you for your participation and support of our mission endeavors.

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service


On Sunday, September 2, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Andrea Vincent
Andy DiRemigio
Ann Berach
Anthony Calpo
Bob Saffle
Bobby Leonard
Carol Kraina Mowl
Chad Haller
Charles Saffle
Chrissy Zatta
Christy Cybulski
Connie Francis
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dinny Walford
Domenick Notarantanio
Doug Friends
Emery Edwards
Jamie Edwards
Jan Moncrief
Jeff Grant
Jennifer Dahlem
Jesse Lescallette
Jim Hanna
Joan Gallagher
Joanne Westbrook
John Brothers
John Ross
Joshua Crow
Judy Lindquist
Judy Mason
Kelly Stephens
Lindsey Ward
Lisa
Marjie Dinges
Martha Meadows
Mary Hopewell
Mary Louise Boggia
Mary Ola Taflan
Maurene Roth
Michelle Hano
Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
Nick Palavis
Nora Coleman
Paul Maine
Paul Moore
Paul Rosnick
Peggy Murphy
Penny Mourat
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Jeffers
Richard Redfern
Ron Sekersky
Rose Sanders
Roxie Sosenko
Ruth Coates
Sherry VanGilder
Susan Ponville
Turner Family
Virginia & Paul Welch

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brandon Wares
Brody McUmor
Danielle Phillips
Emily Icard
Hunter Stafford
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Kylee Leathers
Lily Ghrist
McKenna Popish
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec
Zoe Purcell

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

Church Families
Ed & Linda Kennedy, Jessica & Jacob
Doug & Maureen Keer
Richard L. Kimmel

Local Church
Shiloh Apostolic Church

Special Friend
Carl Hamill –  365 Moon Clinton Rd, Apt 4, Moon Township PA 15108-2455

Presbyterian Churches
Longs Run Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool – Rev. Stephen Kramer
Trinity Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool – Rev. Stephen Kramer

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2526 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Jim Hanna – Weirton Geriatric Center
Marge Black – Weirton Geriatric Center, Room 223, 2528 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2530 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH  44333-3091

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, September 2, 2012

Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. I’ll preach from James 1:16-27, and the title of the sermon is “Ask the Waitress.” I hope to see you Sunday.









Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A New Devotion on the Cove Prayer Line - Not Judging

Luke 14:7-14

Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them:

When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.

When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:

When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.


A Devotion by Miriam Marchini de Freitas (São Paulo, Brazil) 

One morning when cleaning the seedbeds of my garden, I found among the flowers an orchid plant that once had been beautiful and exuberant. Now it was ugly and withered. With disdain, I pulled it out and threw it into the middle of the garden. Some time later while watering the garden, I came across the most beautiful orchid I had ever seen. To my surprise, it was growing from the little plant I had thrown away.

This event brought to my memory the Bible story about the barren fig tree and the patient gardener (Luke 13:6-9). I compared my experience with the orchid to this. The patient gardener in that story is a good example for us. Instead of rejecting those who are downtrodden and burdened, such as prostitutes, homeless people, abandoned children, and others society has forgotten, we can realize that all have gifts and talents.

We can welcome those who live on the margins of our cities and towns. When we do, we live in the spirit of Jesus Christ, who said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” (John 12:47)

From The Upper Room: August - September 2012.

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Christian Vocation


I remember the day that the fog lifted and I realized that the word "undecided" no longer needed to appear after my name and major in the school directory. It was right after a college professor tapped me on the shoulder. Figuratively, anyway. He had been paying attention to my gifts and had seen my face light up in class. He could see where my passions were, yet was also aware of a place that needed that combination.

As I had strained to listen for a way God may be calling me to use my gifts and skills, I struggled in silence. I wrestled inwardly, waiting for some sign: a burning bush, a voice in the night, an angel. What I had not yet realized was that God calls us into community as well. Others, like this professor, were helping me explore and had identified what I had trouble seeing on my own.

In my case, that call from God, that shoulder tap from another person, led me to life as a church professional, a Christian educator. But the pages would be many if the stories about shoulder taps would be published together - the many tales of God's people noticing God's light, God's fruit, in another.

Who tapped your shoulder, identifying gifts they had seen in you and nudging you to use those gifts in a particular way? Perhaps your experience is connected to an occupation, but maybe not. Maybe your page of the book would contain a story about the call and shoulder tap to your role in a family, to speaking out in public life on an issue, to a particular lifestyle.

God moves through each of us, confirming our call to live life as a disciple. Whose shoulder have you tapped lately?

- Elder Martha Miller, associate for certification and Christian vocation,
Office of the General Assembly

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Choose Joy


Jonah 3:1– 4:5

Once again the LORD told Jonah to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.

Jonah obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!”

They believed God’s message and set a time when they would go without eating to show their sorrow. Then everyone in the city, no matter who they were, dressed in sackcloth.

When the king of Nineveh heard what was happening, he also dressed in sackcloth; he left the royal palace and sat in dust. Then he and his officials sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said: None of you or your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals.

You must also pray to the LORD God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will change his mind and have mercy on us, so we won’t be destroyed.

When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.

Jonah was really upset and angry. So he prayed:

Our LORD, I knew from the very beginning that you wouldn’t destroy Nineveh. That’s why I left my own country and headed for Spain. You are a kind and merciful God, and you are very patient. You always show love, and you don’t like to punish anyone, not even foreigners.

Now let me die! I’d be better off dead.

The LORD replied, “What right do you have to be angry?”

Jonah then left through the east gate of the city and made a shelter to protect himself from the sun. He sat under the shelter, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh.


A Devotion by James E. Bell (Missouri)

Most of us have experienced the kind of trials that made us want to blame God for our suffering. Jonah was no exception. He was angry because God had shown mercy on a city known for its wickedness. Jonah’s attitude was anything but forgiving. Expecting to see God rain fire and brimstone on the great city of Nineveh, he instead saw God show mercy to the city.

Forgiving a person or a group of people is hard if they have greatly wronged us; we often harbor anger and bitterness. We may become suspicious and paranoid, letting that wrong affect every area of our lives. Resentment can damage our bodies like a poison and destroy our relationships Ironically, our resentment does not harm those who have injured us. We hurt only ourselves.

On the other hand, forgiving others neutralizes the poisons of anger and bitterness. Instead of misery, we can choose joy. We go on without the heavy burden of anger. Our reward for developing a spirit of love is joy. We begin to appreciate the gifts of God. We learn to value the days God gives us, and we can live every area of life to the fullest. When we possess a grateful and forgiving heart, outside circumstances cannot diminish the joy in each day.

From The Upper Room: July - August 2012.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday's Sermon - Our Box Isn’t Empty

Ephesians 6:10-20

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the might of his power. 11Put on the suit of armor from God so that you might be able to stand against the scheming of the Devil, 12because our struggle isn’t against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the powers of this dark world, against the spirit of evil in the heavenly places.

13Therefore, take up the suit of armor from God, so that you might be able to resist in the evil day and having worked out everything to stand. 14Now stand by girding your loins in truth and by putting on the breast plate of righteousness 15and by shoeing your feet in readiness [to share] the good news of peace, 16in everything, by taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming darts of evil. 17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is God’s word, 18through all things, with prayers and petitions, by praying at all times in the spirit, and in this, [and] by remaining watchful with all perseverance and petition concerning the holy ones 19and for me, so that to me a word might be given when I open my mouth, in complete confidence to make known the witness of the good news, 20for which I’m an ambassador in chains, so that in it, I might speak out freely and confidently as I must speak.



Our Box Isn’t Empty

We’re going to be sorry to see summer end at the Rudiger house, and I can guarantee you, it has nothing to do with the heat. You see, every summer Fox runs some television programs they don’t have during the rest of the year. And one our favorites is called "MasterChef." Now, if you’ve never seen it, it’s really pretty cool. They start with this whole bunch of amateur chefs from all over the country, and the very best are allowed to enter a competition to be called the number one amateur cook in America. Now, each week they have to prepare something and their dishes are judged by three big-time professional chefs. Of course, since not everybody can be the one MasterChef, every episode ends with one contestant going home, until only one is left. Now I said that in each episode, they cook a dish, but that’s not quite right. Sometimes they have to go out of the MasterChef kitchen and work as teams. Sometimes there’s a pressure test in which they have to make something very specific. And all of that is pretty neat, but my favorite competition is when they have to cook with what they find in "The Mystery Box." Now in this challenge, contestants get a bunch of ingredients that they have to use to make a dish of their choice. They’re free to use some or all of what they find in the box, but they can’t use anything else. And sometimes the stuff inside is really wild, you know, like a live crab or a sea urchin. Anyway, once they’re finished, the judges choose three of the dishes to taste. And the winner gets an advantage in the elimination challenge that follows. I’ll tell you, I’m always amazed not only by what each person is able to make but also how many different combinations they put together. But you know, all the contestants are in the same boat. They face a challenge, and they’re given some materials to get their job done.

And I’ll tell you, that seems to be a lot like what we face in life. Good night, give me a break, I think we’d all agree that we face a whole bunch challenges just living. I mean, we all face our own pressure tests. And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think the world in which we live makes it any easier. Good night nurse, there’s a mess out there. And it seems as though everybody has their own particular issues to worry about. I mean, if it’s not the economy, it’s the environment. If it’s not gun violence, it’s abortion clinics. If it’s not what Obama has done, it’s what Romney might do. If it’s not Fox News, it’s MSNBC. Everybody has their own hot button issues. And I haven’t even talked about some more local problems. My gosh, up on Marland Heights, our next-door neighbor was broken into last weekend, and in the last seven days, I’ve heard of two people who’ve had stuff stolen from their cars.

And that’s all on the outside; on the inside, and I’m talking about in our minds and hearts, life’s not a cake walk either. I don’t know about y’all, but there are things that I worry about, particularly related to my daughter. I mean, as we kind of use, sell or mortgage everything of value in our country all so our lives right now can be comfortable, I worry about the nation I’m leaving Maggie. And I worry about whether, one day, she’s going to be looking down the wrong end of a gun all because she was in the right place at the wrong time. And I’ve got to tell you, I worry about her having to make moral and ethical decisions in a world where everything seems up for grabs and every moral compass is considered valid. I worry about all that stuff.

But you know, as a Christian minister and father, I think I worry most about the future of the church in America. From where I stand, it sure seems as though we’re becoming more and more irrelevant. And the sad part is that we’re doing it to ourselves. I mean, where else but in the church is something that was written thirty years ago called "contemporary" and we don’t like it, because it’s too new? And where else would you find people saying with a straight face that women shouldn’t be allowed to lead men, because they’re women? Anywhere else, that’s a joke if not illegal. And where else would a group who’s purpose is to share it’s message to others intentionally decide not to learn the language and the values of the very folks we’re called to reach? There’s not a business around that could survive with that attitude. Although I know the body of Christ will continue, I want to leave my daughter more than a shell, you know, like all those great cathedrals in Europe. And those are just a few of the challenges that we face.

But you know, when I read this passage, it hits me that all this stuff, well, it’s not exactly new. I mean, it sure seems as though those Ephesians faced the same kind of thing, that’s why Paul wrote, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the might of his power. Put on the suit of armor from God so that you might be able to stand against the scheming of the Devil, because our struggle isn’t against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the powers of this dark world, against the spirit of evil in the heavenly places." In other words, he wanted them to know that what they faced involved something more than can be solved with a presidential election or a change to the worship service. Behind their struggles, behind their challenges was the tempter, the great deceiver, the one who distracts and distorts and confuses. That’s the one they faced.

And because of that, God had given them protection, armor. "Therefore, take up the suit of armor from God, so that you might be able to resist in the evil day and having worked out everything to stand." And with this armor they’d be able to stand: "Now stand by girding your loins in truth and by putting on the breast plate of righteousness and by shoeing your feet in readiness [to share] the good news of peace, in everything, by taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming darts of evil." But even more than that, this armor was also something they could take as they moved forward. Remember, he wrote, "And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is God’s word, through all things, with prayers and petitions, by praying at all times in the spirit, and in this, [and] by remaining watchful with all perseverance and petition concerning the holy ones and for me, so that to me a word might be given when I open my mouth, in complete confidence to make known the witness of the good news, for which I’m an ambassador in chains, so that in it, I might speak out freely and confidently as I must speak." You see, for Paul, God had given the Ephesians what they needed to be strong. They had what was necessary to stand firm and to take action.

And I’m telling you right here and now, so do we. Although a lot of things have changed and are changing, right now God has given us everything we need to be strong in the face of whatever challenge is thrown against us. You see, God has given us armor that we can take up and use. And this armor from God will enable to stand and to stand firm, and I’ll tell you why. As the world comes at us with values that are about as stable as sand, we’re going to be able to stand on the truth. Our house is going to be built on the rock. And our principles, our values, our morality will be grounded in the one who taught that the entire law comes down to two commandments: love God and love neighbor. "On the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." And we’ll be able to stand knowing that all this isn’t based on our ability to be good enough or to be obedient enough or to be spiritual enough. It’s not about saying the right words or making the right promises. Our righteousness is grounded in the action of God himself. It’s based on him loving us so much that he wanted to know us on our worst day and wanted us to know him. And that’s why he assumed our flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and through the Spirit unites us to himself. As Paul wrote, "we are fully known." And guess what, he still loves us. That’s our breast plate. And thanks again to God, we can stand ready to take that good news, that gospel of peace and love and grace into what often seems like a world where anger and hatred and vengeance have the upper hand. And we can stand, protected by our faith, our trust that no matter what happens, no matter who comes against us, my gosh, no matter where we go or what we do, these words of Paul will never, and I mean never change. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." With the armor from God, man, we can stand.

But I’ll tell you, it’s also something we can take as we move forward. With the assurance that we are saved by the action of God and an understanding of God’s word, we do the very thing we were called to do, and I’m talking about out there in the real world. And we’re going to be successful, when we remember to do two things. First, we need to pray. You see, we need to be a aware that the line of communication with God is always open. In fact, even when we’re not with it, the Spirit prays for us with groans too deep for words. And second, we need to remain watchful with respect to those Paul called "holy ones." And do you know who they are? Look around, you’re looking at the saints, the very folks with whom we need to feel close. And when the Devil drops a little gossip into our community, when he convinces us that it’s important to share a little half truth that we know is going to hurt a Christian brother or sister, and when he tells us that it’s alright to gripe and complain even though we know that it’s not only dividing the body but pushing away people who might want to join, in other words, when Satan starts doing the very thing Satan does so well, together we need to say the same thing Jesus himself said: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." You see, this is what we can take as we move forward.

On MasterChef, we’re down to four contestants, which means soon it’ll be over until next summer. And since they don’t do it every week, we may only have a couple of mystery boxes left. But as it comes to facing the challenges we face, well, that series is on going. But as Paul reminds us, we aren’t without help. Man, we have armor directly from God, something that he’s given us so that we can be strong, equipment that will enable us to stand firm and tools that we can take as we move forward. You see, in a real way, this gift of God is like "The Mystery Box." And brothers and sisters, we can be absolutely sure that our box is definitely not empty.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

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


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 choose from to fit your needs.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet Thursday, August 30 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We’ll look at 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.

DON PIPER, AUTHOR & MINISTER . .
brings his message of hope, healing and heaven to the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery on Wednesday, August 29. His presentation is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. here at Cove Presbyterian Church. In 1989, Piper was on his way home from a church conference when an 1 8-wheeler struck his automobile head on. He was killed instantly - pronounced dead by four sets of emergency medical technicians. Shortly after the accident, a pastor from the same conference arrived on the scene and began praying for the “man in the red car.” Piper was brought back to life - and to a severely broken body - but during the time he was dead, he was granted the extreme privilege of glimpsing Heaven. His book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, details Piper’s accident, death, time in Heaven, and his long and difficult recovery. Since its publication, in 2004, he has shared his dramatic experience and made ministering to crestfallen and hurting people his life’s work. For several years he has traveled across the country and around the world sharing his story. 90 Minutes in Heaven has sold over 2.7 million copies. Piper is also the author of two additional books, Daily Devotions Inspired by 90 Minutes in Heaven, and Heaven Is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy. He is an ordained minister, most recently serving the First Baptist Church, Pasadena, Texas. He is also the founder of Don Piper Ministries. The Wednesday,  August 29th event is sponsored by UOVP’s Resource Center and the Training and Development Committee. Following his presentation, Rev. Piper will hold a book signing. Attendees may bring previously purchased books to be signed or purchase one at the event. Admittance will be by reservation only. To make a reservation send an email to rcenter@uovpresby.org or call 304-232-3490.

CHURCH & OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED . . .
Monday, September 3 in observance of Labor Day.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY. . .
will resume their meetings and socials on Tuesday, September 4th at 6:00 p.m.  The program will be Music and Mission presented by Cove’s  2012 Mission Group.

BOARD OF SESSION . . .
will hold their regular monthly meeting  on Tuesday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

CHANCEL CHOIR PRACTICE . . .
will resume on Wednesday, September 5 at 6:45 p.m.

RALLY DAY . . .
will be held on Sunday, September 9. We will be kicking-off our fall Sunday School programs. Everyone is invited to attend!

BOARD OF TRUSTEES . . .
will meet on Monday, September 10 at 6:30 in the board room.

BOARD OF DEACONS MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the church library.  We urge everyone to attend, we will be discussing our upcoming events.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN’S BOARD MEETING . . .
Is scheduled for Wednesday, September 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room.

CHURCH  OFFICE . . .
items are often left in the office  for individuals to pick-up, sign, or dropped off  therefore I am asking that you please do not write on, rearrange  or remove anything from the office  as this has been creating difficulties for us. Also if you leave an item in the office, please leave a note as to who or what the item is for. I thank you in advance for your understanding in these matters. Marcia

IF YOUR GROUP OR ORGANIZATION WILL BE RESUMING  MEETINGS . . .
in the near future, please take a minute to notify the church office so we can put your information on our calendar.  Summer breaks will be ending soon and we need to have up-to-date information to accommodate everyone.

BOARD MEMBERS . . .
remember to check and empty your mailboxes periodically. Meeting minutes and other items of importance are  put into the boxes for your reference.

BULLETIN DEADLINE . . .
if you wish to have an article published in the weekly bulletin, please have the article into the church office by Wednesday at noon. Thank you for your cooperation.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW ADDRESS,. . .
new phone number or new e-mail ? Please contact the church office so we can update our records. We like to keep everyone informed of our events.  If you don’t receive mailings from us,  we may not have your current/correct information.

REMINDER, PLEASE COVER  . . .
the top of the church’s tables before they are used for any activity. They will stain and are hard to clean, this can be avoided with a little cooperation.

GREETERS NEEDED . . .
if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

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.

CHRISTMAS IN NOVEMBER . . .
is being sponsored by the Myrtle McHendry Class on Friday, November 16th and Saturday, November 17. The ladies are accepting holiday decorations and new or gently used items that can be used or given as gifts. The items can be dropped off at the church at anytime, just mark what they are for and we will pass them along.

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.

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

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 receive copies of the Sunday Bulletin 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 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 or live plants 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 . . .
Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Center.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs.
Greeting Cards are being collected. Please drop off your Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked.
Can Tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container locate in the main hallway downstairs.
We thank you for your participation and support of our mission endeavors.

School Supplies

Back-to-School-Supplies
Well, school is either back in session or soon will be, which means the same thing to everybody who has children. We have to get school supplies bought and packed, and as I've learned with a daughter starting middle school, those supplies change depending on grade. For example, a protractor has replace crayons on her list. And we now carry folders with Katniss and Peeta instead of Tinkler Bell and Barbie. But regardless of the supplies we get, they're all intended to accomplish the same thing. In one way or another, they should all help the students do what they're in school to do. On their own level, the protractors and crayons are intended to help young people learn and grow.
 
And that's what we're going to talk about during the service on Sunday. We'll look at Ephesians 6:10-20:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the might of his power. 11Put on the suit of armor from God so that you might be able to stand against the scheming of the Devil, 12because our struggle isn’t against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the powers of this dark world, against the spirit of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the suit of armor from God, so that you might be able to resist in the evil day and having worked out everything to stand. 14Now stand by girding your loins in truth and by putting on the breast plate of righteousness 15and shod your feet in readiness [to share] the good news of peace, 16in everything, by taking up the shield of faith, with which you are able to quench all the flaming darts of evil. 17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is God’s word, 18through all things, with prayers and petitions, pray at all times in the spirit, and in this, remain watchful with all perseverance and petition concerning the holy ones 19and for me, so that to me a word might be given when I open my mouth, in complete confidence to make known the witness of the good news, 20for which I’m an ambassador in chains, so that in it, I might speak out freely and confidently as I must speak.
And with this passage in mind, we'll consider how we might make effective spiritual use of all the things that God has given us.
 
Of course, if we're apply this passage to our lives, we might be as prepared to face life as Dan McGonagle described in his poem, "The Full Armour of God."
When faced with the powers of Darkness
When evil consumes the weak
Its time to prepare for battle
But there are weapons you must first seek

If your heart is true and noble
Say a prayer bow your head and nod
If your soul is pure and holy
You'll receive the Full Armour of God

Put on the Shoes of Preparation
Make ready the Gospel of Peace
Gird yourself with the Belt of Truth
All lies and untruths will then cease

Next comes the breastplate of Righteousness
With this you can face any wrong
Now add the Shield of Faith to this
Your protection is incredibly strong

Hold fast to the Sword of the Spirit
With this you will bring evil low
Destroying your enemies by the power of His blood
Gods blade brings them down with one blow

Finally the Helmet of Salvation
Now evil has no power over you
For God stands there in the battles midst
Empowering everything that you do!

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - One in Christ Jesus


Galatians 3:24-29

In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.

All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham’s family, and you will be given what God has promised.


Post image for Revolutionary Hospitality [radical hospitality, part four]A Devotion by Maria M. Urdaz (Puerto Rico)

My family and I went to church one Sunday for worship and Communion. Among the visitors was a man who appeared to be Asian. We did not understand his language, and he did not understand ours. Verbal communication seemed impossible.

When the pastor presented visitors to the congregation, the man stood and greeted us with a friendly wave of his hand, smiling effusively. When the call to the Lord’s Table was given, I concluded that while unable to understand all the words of the pastor, the visitor knew the universal language of the Communion liturgy.

As I meditated during Communion, I remembered the Bible’s words, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Heb. 13:1-2). I walked up to stand beside the man and gave him a warm embrace as we wept and took Communion together. With a gesture indicating his gratitude, he smiled at me. Our oneness in Christ overcame our differences and filled us with joy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service


On Sunday, August 26, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Andrea Vincent
Andy DiRemigio
Ann Berach
Anthony Calpo
Bob Saffle
Bobby Leonard
Carol Kraina Mowl
Chad Haller
Charles Saffle
Chrissy Zatta
Christy Cybulski
Connie Francis
Diane Szymanek
Dinny Walford
Domenick Notarantanio
Doug Friends
Emery Edwards
Jamie Edwards
Jan Moncrief
Jeff Grant
Jennifer Dahlem
Jesse Lescallette
Jim Hanna
Joan Gallagher
Joanne Westbrook
John Brothers
John Ross
Joshua Crow
Judy Lindquist
Judy Mason
Kelly Stephens
Lindsey Ward
Lisa
Marjie Dinges
Martha Meadows
Mary Hopewell
Mary Louise Boggia
Mary Ola Taflan
Maurene Roth
Michelle Hano
Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
Nick Palavis
Nora Coleman
Paul Maine
Paul Moore
Paul Rosnick
Peggy Murphy
Penny Mourat
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Jeffers
Richard Redfern
Ron Sekersky
Rose Sanders
Roxie Sosenko
Sherry VanGilder
Susan Ponville
Turner Family
Virginia & Paul Welch

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brandon Wares
Brody McUmor
Danielle Phillips
Emily Icard
Hunter Stafford
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Kylee Leathers
McKenna Popish
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec
Zoe Purcell

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Phyllis Manley – Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
Judy Jackson
Mark & Janine Jerrel & family
Darlene Johnson

Local Church
St Peter’s AME Church, County Road

Special Friend
Doris Lord – 196 Jenny Lane, Danville, VA  24541-6648

Presbyterian Churches
Glenmoore Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool, Ohio – Rev. Velis Veis
Grace Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2526 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Jim Hanna – Weirton Geriatric Center
Marge Black – Weirton Geriatric Center, Room 223, 2528 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2530 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH  44333-3091

The Bulletin for Sunday, August 26, 2012

Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. I’ll preach from Ephesians 6:10-20, and the title of the sermon is “Our Box Isn’t Empty.” I hope to see you Sunday.









Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - Trigger

TRIGGER – Ask for it!
Several programs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have joined together to produce "Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence," a documentary sharing the story of how gun violence impacts individuals and communities and examines the "ripple effect" that one shooting has on a survivor, a family, a community and a society.
In light of the most recent incidents of gun violence in our country, we encourage you to view TRIGGER. The documentary has been selected to be shown on NBC from November 2012 through May 2013 as a part of its Horizons of the Spirit series. While the program is available for nationwide broadcast, local NBC affiliates have the option of choosing to air the program and selecting the time when it will air. This is why we encourage you to ASK FOR IT!
  1. Call your local NBC station. Ask the station to schedule and show the NBC Horizons of the Spirit program "Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence." Request that it be scheduled during a time to reach the most viewers.  Find your local NBC station.
  2. Spread the word. Ask your congregation and other groups to call and help your local affiliates choose to air the broadcast. Tell your local NBC station this program would have a positive impact in the community as it helps to lift up the many effects gun violence has on a community after the immediate shock of the event.
  3. Watch it together. We encourage congregations and community groups to view the film together. Then engage in conversation on how you can become involved in helping address needs within your community related to gun violence from a faith perspective. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has some resources available on its website www.pcusa.org/gunviolence.
  4. Say thank you. After the program airs, communicate your appreciation by sending a note or e-mail of thanks to the station. Be specific about what impact the program had on you and others who may have watched it.

 

Sunday's Minute for Mission - San Francisco Theological Seminary


People holding will work for God sign
The 2011 class of San Francisco
Theological Seminary poses for a photo.
 
Ministry is a balancing act between covenant and challenge.

Today's lectionary passages take us from the dedication of the Temple and a call to living faithfully in the covenant, through a psalm praising the community of the Temple, to Ephesians calling disciples to "put on the whole armor of God," to Christ assuring his disciples he is the Bread of Life but pointing out that not everyone who is drawn toward him will follow him.
The mission of a theological seminary is to nurture the call people have experienced to become ministers for Christ, help them probe and test the call, and determine in the seminary community if the call is of God.

Our students at San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) are being prepared in their Christian faith and for the diverse challenges they will face. Evans Presley-McGowan, class of 2011, accepted a two-year ordained position with the Lily Residency Program at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. His SFTS internship was at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, where he teaches in the Learning Community, helps out with men's ministry, and organizes retreats.

Ray Maleke and Elizabeth Campbell, class of 2011, began collecting books in their senior year to help grow a student library in an Indonesian village where Maleke grew up. Maleke's involvement with Toulour's Forum of Educational Concern began in 2003 before his arrival at SFTS. Through such service the grace of Christ is made tangible and credible in the lives of children and their families.

- Laird J. Stuart, interim president, San Francisco Theological Seminary

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Between God and Me



Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne.

The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.”

Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”

The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

Then the king will say to those on his left, “Get away from me! You are under God’s curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.”

Then the people will ask, “Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?”

The king will say to them, “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”

Then Jesus said, “Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life.”


A Devotion by Steven Philipp (New Jersey)

While driving home from Philadelphia, my wife and I stopped at a red light before crossing the bridge into southern New Jersey. At the light was a poor man wearing rosaries and carrying a bucket of soapy water and a squeegee. He started to wash the car’s front window. I yelled at him to stop and told him that I would not pay him for his labor. The poor man explained that he had to work to eat; if I did not want to pay him, that was between God and me.

My wife pulled out a dollar and gave it to him when he finished his job and the light turned green. My wife was shocked by my behavior and said that turning down someone in need was not like me. She then recited Matthew 25:40. I was speechless; I knew she was right and that I had sinned.

As we pulled into our driveway at home, I realized that I am blessed and that others need help from those more fortunate. Since this incident, I have been more generous toward those in need. I hope and pray that I am never so close-fisted again.

From The Upper Room: July - August.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday's Sermon - Redeeming the Time

Ephesians 5:15-20

15Now look with care how you walk, not as those who are foolish but as those who are wise, 16by redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Because of this, don’t become foolish, but understand what is the will of the Lord. 18And don’t become intoxicated with wine, in what is excesses, but be filled with spirit, 19by saying to yourselves songs of praise and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing in your heart to the Lord, 20and by giving thanks always for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and the father.


Redeeming the Time

Now I know everybody has seen the title of the sermon: Redeeming the Time. Of course, it’s from the passage we just read, even though if you looked it up in some modern translations, it says something a little different. I mean, according to the New International Version, it’s "making the most of every opportunity." In the Contemporary English Bible, it’s "make every minute count." And in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, he writes, "It’s a scandal when people waste their lives..." Now that’s how it’s translated by folks who want to give us more than just the words. They want to help us with the meaning, and so instead of using a phrase that they evidently thought was confusing, they translated it from the Greek in a way they believed was clearer.

And I’ll tell you, what they did, well, it may be right. But as I was working on the passage this last week, the more literal translation, "redeeming the time," well, it kind of got stuck in my mind. But I didn’t really understand why, until I was talking about this sermon with Debbie yesterday. You see, she and Maggie were over at the church, and I was doing what I usually do on Saturday, whining about what I’m going to preach on Sunday. And after I told her a little bit about what I think the passage meant, Debbie said, "Why don’t you say something about what you’ve been thinking about over the last week, you know, Maggie starting middle school and wanting to spend time with her?" Of course, she was right, although "thinking" about her going tomiddle school is a little understatement. I’ve been agonizing about it. I mean, it’s one thing to have her go into another grade; it’s something entirely different about her entering another school. And I’ve to admit, in the last week, I’ve been agonizing about where the last ten years went. I mean, it seems like only yesterday when Debbie, Maggie and I wore matching outfits to the Arvonia Fireman’s barbeque. Debbie thought we looked cute. I still bear the emotional scars. You see, yesterday Debbie encouraged me to consider something like this in my sermon. But, at the time, I just wanted to whine. And as we all know, there’s nothing that gets in the way of a good wine than (no, not bad cheese), I’m talking about a great idea.

But a little later, you know when I was by myself, it hit me that what she mentioned, well, it really was a pretty good approach. I mean, although it’s not identical, just like I wish I could buy back some time with my little girl, Paul was challenging the Ephesians to do the same sort of thing with their lives. And although the reasons were different, I think the desire behind the challenge is very similar, to live the time that we’ve been given in a way that it has meaning and importance.

And I’ve got to tell you, I think Paul’s challenge is just as valid for us as it was for them. In other words, if he were up here in the pulpit this morning, I believe he might very well say, "Now look with care how you walk, not as those who are foolish but as those who are wise, by redeeming the time, because the days are evil." I mean, I think we’d all agree that the challenge we face just living is still pretty much the same. And like I remember when I was out in Montana and had to go across a cow pasture, we sill need to pay close attention as we walk through life. You see, there were these prickly pear up there in Montana. And as we’re strolling along, we have a choice. I mean, we can be foolish, you know, all distracted, not watching where we’re going when all of sudden, squish, we find ourselves standing in...a cactus. Or we can be wise, redeeming the time, giving meaning to this gift that God has given us. In other words, we can, in a sense, redeem a portion of these evil days in which we live and we can use this redemption in a way that’ll make a difference for not only us but also those who live around us. You see, we can do what Paul challenged the Ephesians to do and redeem some of our time.

And I’ll tell you, when you look at the rest of the passage, I think Paul tells us two choices that we have that will determine how we use our time, and we’re going to make those choices whether we want to or not. I mean, just consider what he wrote. We have a choice about how we use our mind, don’t we? As Paul wrote, "Because of this, don’t become foolish, but understand what is the will of the Lord." You see, that’s the first choice we have, if we really want to redeem the time. I mean, we can certainly choose to be foolish, which by the way is the exact opposite of being wise, sort of unwisdom. In Greek, being wise is
σοφός and the word used here for foolish is ἄσοφος. We can choose to be foolish, unwise, which would be a real shame, especially since Paul wrote that this wisdom, this σοφία is really a gift from God. Earlier in this same letter, he wrote, "With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ...." And a little later, "Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." You see, we can turn off our brains and do the exact opposite of what God has enabled us to do.


Or we can choose to understand. We can choose to focus our minds and do what Christ himself said happens when the seed, the word of God, is planted in good, productive soil. Using the words of Jesus, "But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." You see, we can seek out opportunities to hear the word, something that’s not really all that hard to do. My goodness, we’re Presbyterian for crying out loud, the people of the book. Man, we should be studying the Bible. And if you’re not able to attend a study that focuses on Scripture, you let me know, and we’ll get one started. But in the meantime, we can all read the Bible ourselves. And again, if you don’t know where to start, in the bulletin are passages for each day and, if you have access to a computer, I send them out through e-mail and post them in a blog and link that blog to the Cove Presbyterian Church page on Facebook daily. I’m telling you, right now we can either do nothing and be foolish or we can listen for God’s word and understand. If we’re serious about redeeming the time, that the first choice we have.

And the second one, well, it’s right here too, and it all involves the one on whom we’re going to focus our faith. Remember, Paul wrote, "And don’t become intoxicated with wine, in what is excesses, but be filled with spirit, by saying to yourselves songs of praise and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing in your heart to the Lord, and by giving thanks always for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and the father." You see, simply put, right now, we can choose whether we’re going to trust the world around us or to trust God. And if we decide to trust the world and believe that, if it feels good do it and that it doesn’t matter how you threat the person next door or on the other side of the border just as long as you come out on top and that we need to be comfortable right now even if that means destroying the economy and environment for our grandchildren, I’m telling you, if that’s what we believe, then let’s just eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow we might die. You see, if all we have is us and in only us we trust, than maybe killing a few brain cells with alcohol sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It works in every beer commercial I’ve seen.


But of course, that’s not the only possibility, because right now, we can choose to focus our attention on God. We can accept that we are his: we were and are and always will be. And we can trust that he loves us so much that he wants to be part of us and for us to be part of him and that’s why he fills us with his spirit and makes us one with Christ. And since trust is always a decision, this is something we can decide to do. And then we can remind ourselves of what we’ve decided. I mean, like Paul said, we can sing to ourselves hymns or praise songs, it doesn’t matter, just so long as they remind us of who we are in the sight of God and what God has done for us. But more than that, we can decide that we’re going to thank God every chance we’ve got. As a matter of fact, on a daily basis, we’re going to make an intentional effort to show others how much we appreciate the one who holds our futures in his hands. You see, rather than choosing to trust the world and deaden ourselves with alcohol, we can choose to trust God and live our lives thanking and praising him. That’s the second decision we can make if we want to redeem the time we’ve been given.

You know, although I hate to admit it, being a preacher and all, Debbie was right. Just like I’d like to buy back a little bit of the life I’ve lived with Maggie, Paul is calling us to redeem some of the time we’ve been given by God. But do that, we need to be ready to make a couple of decisions that seem, at least on the surface, pretty obvious but that will make a profound difference in how we live our lives. You see, right now, we really have to decide whether we’re going to be foolish or to focus our mind on God and his word so that we can understand his will. And we have to decide whether we’re going to rely on the world for direction or whether we’re going to focus our faith on God and trust that we’ve been filled with his spirit. You see, those are two decisions we’re going to have to make, if we’re serious about redeeming the time.