Friday, December 28, 2012

A Poem for the New Year

As we approach a new year, I thought y'all might enjoy the little sonnet entitled A Global Message on New Years Eve by Dr John Celes.

When God can change destinies of nations:
Appoints, rejects and re-appoints leaders:
Safe-guards, allows the fall of prime bastions:
Converts hearts, minds and souls of His readers!

When God can usher changes unforeseen,
And rules the fates of earth’s every creature,
And changes all landscapes and every scene,
Controlling furies of Mother Nature,

When God forever cares about all things,
And watches lovingly whatev’r He made,
With fairness meted to paupers and kings,
And judgments that can never, ever fade,

My future lies secure in His safe Hands,
Despite the fleeting, transient Time’s sands!


Copyright by Dr John Celes 12-29-2007      

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Parents and toddlers
Esther Allen-Pickett was among the Austin Seminary
toddlers and parents who visited the zoo.

Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice (1 Sam. 2:18-20). Like Hannah, who prayed for Samuel's life and provided for his service, many people participate in the preparation of ministers for the church. It is often through these faithful men and women that God's call is heard and because of them that potential servant-leaders can respond.

Some encourage them to consider the vocation of ministry. Others pray for them or give money for scholarships and libraries, or teach them. Others help them hone their skills in field education placements. Later, some call them to lead a congregation.

And in the midst of this, some of them - husbands, wives, children - make personal sacrifices to serve alongside them. That was the case for Jessica Allen-Pickett when she and her husband, Greg, decided to move to Texas so he could enroll in Austin Seminary. It was Greg's call, but it was one Jessica also had to answer. It meant forgoing a promotion to high school principal. It meant leaving behind their home and support system and moving their family of three a thousand miles from their life in Colorado.

It was to be a leap of faith - hers as well as Greg's. But Jessica put her trust in that call. The scholarship support Greg received meant that Jessica could stay home to care for their baby, Esther, an opportunity they feel is their gift to her. And now, with Greg immersed in the life of a seminary student, Jessica coordinates activities for seminary spouses and has found a supportive group of friends. That's because, as Greg gratefully reminds her, "God doesn't do coincidences."

- Randal Whittington, director of communications, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - The Evergreen Word


1 Peter 1:23-25 

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” That word is the good news that was announced to you.


A Devotion by Mary Baird (Texas, USA)

Every spring my husband and I plant colorful flowers in four large pots, and my husband dutifully tends to the lawn by planting fill-in seed, watering, and fertilizing. At first we can barely see the plants above the rims of the pots, but in a few weeks they begin to rise from the dirt as if some magnet were pulling them upward. The grass turns a lush green, bringing the weekly chore of mowing. Every morning we have coffee on our patio. My eyes never tire of the luminous array of colors. Then, as if someone pulled the plug, the beautiful flowers begin to fade. The blooms fall off, leaving only ugly stems. The once-luxurious green lawn turns a dingy brown; and seemingly overnight, all the colors are gone. Winter has arrived. Almost everything wears out, grows old, or fades. However, one thing that is always new and reliable is the word of God. For thousands of years, the Bible has continued to offer the message of salvation, to bring comfort to the weary, and to show us the right path to walk. It never withers, fades, or grows obsolete. It remains as fresh and lovely as those first blooms of spring.

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday's Sermon - Leaving the Manger

Hebrews 10:5-10
 
5Therefore, when he came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you don’t want, but a body prepared for me, 6burnt offerings and offerings for sin, you don’t like. 7Then I said, ‘See, I have come, in a scroll of the book it has been written concerning me, God, to do your will.’" 8Earlier, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and offerings for sin, you don’t want nor do you like," these are offered according to the law, 9then he has said, "See, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order that he might confirm the second, 10by that will we were made holy by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

Leaving the Manger


A couple of weeks ago, something kind of interesting happened. I got a question that caught me a little bit off guard. I think it was a Tuesday morning, and I was doing what I do before I start every day. I was getting a cup of coffee, and I knew it was going to taste good because Marcia hadn’t rinsed out my cup in a couple of months. Any way, as I was pouring it into my 1997 Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl mug, Martha, the cook for The Children’s Academy, a woman who makes a killer meat loaf, she asked me a question that caused me to pause. You see, she was looking out the window of the kitchen, and she asked, "Where’s baby Jesus?"

Where’s baby Jesus? What kind of question was that? I mean, was she looking for some theology or was it sort of a rhetorical question to which she was going to give me the answer or had she just gone nuts. At the time, I didn’t know, and so I asked her what she meant. And then she pointed out the window to the Nativity at the back of the church, and she said, "Where’s baby Jesus? Isn’t he supposed to be in the manger?" Well, I went over to the window. Now, understand from that angle all you can see are plastic backs and the manger itself, and sure enough, save a couple pieces of straw, that was one empty manger. No, baby Jesus there. Then she said, "See what I mean. Isn’t he suppose to be in the manger?" And you know, as I stood looking, well, she was right. Where was baby Jesus; because, as we all know, he really is supposed to be in the manger.

And although at the time I was more worried about who in heaven’s name would steal a plastic Jesus, after reading the passage we just read, you know the one from Hebrews, something else started bothering me. You see, it seems to me that, for a whole lot of Christians, Jesus never leaves the manger, not really. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of folks kind of like it that way, having a Christ who’s all cute and cuddly, you know, all sweet and innocent. I mean, deep down they want to worship a savior who’s clothes are always clean and bright, who’s the tallest and best looking and usually the fairest man in any crowd, a guy who’s beard is neatly trimmed and hair sort of feathered. I mean, John the Baptist may have been a mess but not Jesus, not our Jesus.

You see, this is the Lord an awful lot of sincere and dedicated believers want to follow, and the reason, well, I don’t think that’s all that difficult to understand. My goodness, this gentle Jesus is almost perfect, at least when things are going well. Good night, he gives us a lot, and I’m talking about a lot of stuff we just plain love, you know, like comfort and success and happiness. Man, this is the kind of Savior who knows the value of health and wealth and so he naturally showers them on folks that he likes. And if this weren’t good enough, while the gifts are great, the demands, well, they’re all pretty low. I mean, for them, what does Jesus want? A lot of intangible stuff, right? Jesus wants your life, but not necessarily your bank account. He wants your soul, but not your television. He wants your heart, but not your little Mini Cooper, ain’t it great? All he wants is stuff that doesn’t really involve giving anything more than promises, IOUs that he can collect after we don’t need them any more. You see, that’s the kind of innocent and indulgent Lord that many Christians sure sound like they want to follow. And I’ll tell you, I think that’s a great reason to keep him in the manger as long as possible.

And although there’s a lot of perks to having this kind of Jesus, I think there’s a couple a huge problems. First, this Christ is just too small and shallow to help when we really need him. I mean, even though it might be alright to worship an incipient savior when things are going well, you know, when you’re soaking up the blessings and life is good. But what happens when things turn south and you need a genuine source of comfort, a solid rock to which you can cling, a strong shoulder on which you can lean. Let’s face it, babies are just too soft and weak to provide much help when you really need it, and that can be a real problem if Jesus never outgrows the manger. Now, that’s one. But you know the second problem, that may be even more important. You see, if in our minds Jesus remains all weak and dependent, we’re going to completely miss why he came. You see, God didn’t enter our space to give us stuff. He didn’t come so that we could feel good about ourselves, who we are and what we’re doing. And he certainly didn’t come to convince us to allow him to do things that evidently he couldn’t do without our help or permission. In other words, he didn’t come to be a baby. This isn’t the reason the light entered a dark world. This is not the reason the word became flesh and literally pitched his tent among us. No sir, this is not the reason, as our Call to Worship reminds us, that Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. ...He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." Now that’s what she said, and I’m telling y’all this is a whole lot more than a helpless, dependent little baby could do on his best day. And yet, that’s exactly who Jesus was and what he came to do. But we’re going to miss that if we keep him in the straw.

And for that reason, we need to allow Jesus to leave the manger. Because, brothers and sisters, what he came to do, well, it could only be done by the Son of God himself. And I think this is really what the writer of Hebrews was getting at when he said, "Earlier, [God] said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and offerings for sin, you don’t want nor do you like,’ these are offered according to the law, then he has said, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order that he might confirm the second, by that will we were made holy the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all."

Now, this is important stuff, especially on this Sunday before Christmas. You see, Jesus came to do away with (in Greek the literal meaning is "put to death") he came to destroy, to abolish, to demolish all the animal sacrifices and offerings that people used to make, you know, that old legal system that depended on human beings doing the impossible and I’m talking about making ourselves holy and pure and sinless. Thanks to Jesus, that old system is dead. And in it’s place he established, he made to stand something else, something that was always in the mind and will of God, namely the only way for imperfect humans to be seen as righteous in his eyes. Jesus Christ, the almighty God incarnate, the perfect and sinless high priest sacrificed himself, the perfect and pure sacrifice, something that was so effective that not only did it never need to be repeated, it covered every person who has been or would be born. In other words, we are cleansed not by someone who just gives us what we want, not by someone who can be manipulated by our words, not by someone stuck in a manger. No, this was done by Jesus the Christ, the one who’s birth we’ll celebrate in a few days.

And I’ll tell you, when we realize that, I mean, when we accept that the manger is empty and Jesus did everything he was called to do, we’re going change. My goodness, the way we view the past, well, it just can’t be seen in the same way. I’ll tell you, through the death of Jesus Christ not only have we been forgiven, as I’ve said before, we’ve been cleansed. Man, we’ve been sanctified, made holy, but not because of we’ve done. It’s all about Jesus. And because of that, how we live right now has got to change. I mean, just think about what God has already done for us. He’s cleansed our past

and he holds our futures in his hands. This is already a done deal. Now, just think about how we might express our thanks to him. Last week Maggie took little gifts to thank her teachers, and yesterday, Debbie bought little presents so that I could thank the folks who work here at the church (yes, I’m a lucky guy.)

Considering what we’ve already received, maybe it’s time for us to seriously consider how we might thank God, especially since we’re about to celebrate his coming. This is something we can do. And I’ll tell you, as we think about this, I believe a great place to start is with two commandments that I feel like I mention every Sunday. Maybe it’s time we thought seriously about how we can show that we love God with everything we’ve got and that we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. You see, once the baby leaves the manger, we have a real savior to follow.

Remember the conversation I was having with Martha, you know, when she asked "Where’s baby Jesus?" Well, after checking, nobody stole him nor did the wind carry him across the parking lot. Not having a permit, I think he could have been ticketed. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, when you look at the figures, Mary is holding Jesus in her plastic arms; therefore, an extra baby in the manger would just be confusing. Mystery solved. But more than that, maybe it can also be a lesson learned. Although there might be good reasons to keep Jesus cute and weak, innocent and incipient, that kind of savior has some major drawbacks, the biggest of which is leading us away from why he came in the first place. But you know, when we recognize that God entered his creation to change the way things are done, we might just be changed ourselves. But I’ll tell you, that’s only going to happen when we accept that Jesus left the manger.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Christmas Eve


1 John 1:1-7 

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us–we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.


A Devotion by Leslie Coleman (Florida, USA)

For years my husband and I have celebrated Advent by lighting the candles of an Advent wreath.... Each Sunday, we wait for our sons or our grandchildren to stop by so we can include them in our worship time. Our grandchildren delight in lighting the candles. The questions in the litany cause us to pause and reflect. And as we talk, we learn more about one another and our faith. This year, early on Christmas Eve we lit the four advent candles of hope, peace, joy, and love. Then, after lighting the Christ candle, we left them burning. That evening, I found my eyes continually drawn to the wreath while our home filled with laughter and music, excited children, and adults telling old memories and stories. Late into the night, I was seated nearby, watching as the candles began to burn out. The candle of hope burned out first, followed by the candles of peace, joy, and love. Yet the Christ candle burned on. And I realized once again that when all seems lost, I need only Christ to show me the way.

Response to school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is reaching out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, and praying for those impacted by the school shooting.

Members of the National Response Team (NRT) attended Sunday morning worship services in local churches to be a presence of care and to especially help with the youth. They also participated in the ecumenical worship service where President Obama spoke and are working with various churches and the Newtown ministerial group to help with emotional and spiritual care.

Nearby Presbyterian Churches include Valley Presbyterian Church in Brookfield and First Presbyterian Church in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Rev. Adele Crawford of the Valley Presbyterian Church shared, “I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the team you sent in Kate, Suzanne, John and Bob. They arrived in Connecticut just about 24 hours after news of the tragedy began to surface. All of us at Valley Presbyterian Church-Brookfield are ever so thankful, as is our whole community. May God continue to bless you all in your work around the globe.

We ask that you join with us in holding the people of Newtown, their families and loved ones, and all who grieve in your thoughts and prayers.

What You Can Do

Prayer is our best response. Please pray for the people of Newtown, their families and loved ones, and for all those who grieve - that the peace of Christ will overcome the shadow of death, and that the love of God will comfort them. Consider including the Hymn God We Have Heard It in your worship service.
As you reflect on this tragedy, please consider helping your community become more aware of the ripple effect of gun violence by holding a screening of the documentary Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence.

Resources

Two members of the PDA National Response Team have developed Strategies for Pastors Concerning Children’s Messages for the Sunday after a Shooting.
In the Aftermath of Two Mass Shootings This Week, Presbyterian News Story by Gradye Parsons and Linda Valentine
God We Have Heard It – hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Remembering Our Brother Jim Hanna


James H.
James H. “Chief” Hanna 

Born in Parkersburg, WV on May 13, 1931
Departed on Dec. 20, 2012 and resided in Weirton, WV.  
  
Visitation: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm & 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
Service: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012
11:00 am  
Cemetery: Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens  

James H. “Chief” Hanna, 81, of Weirton passed away Thursday, December 20, 2012 in the Weirton Geriatric Center. Born May 13, 1931 in Parkersburg, WV he was the son of the late John H. and Ruby C. Stout Hanna. He was also preceded in death by his wife Dana M. Imm Hanna in 1999, a daughter Tammy L. Hanna in 1998, a brother Robert Stout and a great-granddaughter Hanna Mae Peppler.

Mr. Hanna was a 1950 graduate of Weir High School and attended the University of Kentucky on a scholarship for football and played under Bear Bryant. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was employed by the Weirton Steel Corporation for 31 years as supervisor of the trucking department. “Chief” was an avid sports fan having scouted for the Pittsburgh Pirates, coached the American Legion Baseball Team and Weir High Baseball Team. Mr. Hanna along with Mr. Carl Hamill organized the Midget Football Leagues here in Weirton. He also played professional baseball with the Cincinnati Farm Team and loved spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “Chief” was a member of the Cove United Presbyterian Church, Evert Maki American Legion Post 10, and VFW #2716.

Mr. Hanna is survived by two daughters Lori Hanna Allen and Marcy Hanna Hemshrodt both of Weirton; six grandchildren Shane McGrogan, Mickey McGrogan, Chad Peppler, Cory Peppler, Carly Allen, Danika Allen and three great-grandchildren Katie McGrogan, Riley McGrogan and Destiny Peppler.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday December 29, 2012 at 11:00am from the Greco-Hertnick Funeral Home, 3219 Main St. Weirton. Visitation will be held on Friday from 1-4pm & 6-9pm at the funeral home. Interment will be in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens where Military Services will be conducted by the American Legion Honor Guard.

Memorial contributions may be made to Cove United Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main St. Weirton, WV 26062 in his memory.

Share tributes and memories at www.grecohertnick.com



Saturday, December 22, 2012

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Sweet Treasures


Deuteronomy 11:13-21 

If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today–loving the LORD your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul–then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshiping them, for then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain and the land will yield no fruit; then you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you. You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.


A Devotion by Charlotte Mande Ilunga (Cape Town, South Africa)

When I was a child, my Sunday school teacher gave us stickers for every achievement and candy to everyone who memorized a Bible verse correctly. I began to memorize as many verses as I could each week so I could get extra sweets. I ended up knowing hundreds of verses! During my teenage years, I became a youth leader in a rural area. Most of the young people there didn’t own a Bible, and my knowledge of Bible verses became a big asset to my work with the youth. Now when I look back on those times, I thank God for my Sunday school teacher who encouraged us to learn the Bible. While my memorizing Bible verses began only because I loved candy, that habit matured into meaningful study of the scripture — so that from age 16, I have been able to enrich my life and the lives of others. Now, as a parent, I share my experiences with my children and encourage them in our daily prayer time to learn — yes, even memorize — God’s word.

From The Upper Room.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cove’s Bulletin for Sunday, December 23, 2012


Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. I’ll preach from Hebrews 10:5-10, and the title of the sermon is “Out of the Manger.”









What’s Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?


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


DEACONS . . .
just a reminder that you are asked to arrive at 4:45 p.m. Christmas Eve to help set out the luminaries.

OUR CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE . . .
will be held  Monday, December 24 beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The Chancel Choir will present portions of the Cantata “Mary Did You Know”.

CHURCH AND OFFICE . . .
will be closed Monday, December 24 thru and including Wednesday, December 26. Happy Holidays!

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL NOT PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, December 26. Practice will resume on Wednesday, January 2 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  New member are always welcome!

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will NOT meet Thursday, December 27. It will meet on Thursday, January 3 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We’ll look at Hebrews 8:1–10:18.

GUEST MINISTER. . .
Rev. Byron McElroy will fill the pulpit next Sunday, December 30 as Rev.
Rudiger will be on vacation.

NEW YEAR’S DAY. . .
in observance of the holiday the church and office will be closed . Happy New Year!

BOARD OF TRUSTEES . . .
will hold their regular monthly  meeting  on Monday, January 7 at
6:30 p.m. in the board room.

DEACONS MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, January 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the church library due to the New Year’s Holiday!

A VERY SPECIAL “THANK YOU!!” . . .
is extended to The Myrtle McHendry Class, the ladies have donated $ 1,200.00 towards the roof fund debt. The monies was earned thru their Christmas in November Sale. Thank You again ladies, we appreciate your generosity!

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING . . .
envelopes are included in your bulletin this morning.  The Christmas Joy Offering brings Good News of Great Joy to the poor in circumstance or sprit. This offering is  distributed equally  between the Assistance Program for the Board of Pensions and to support student scholarships at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.

2013 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
are available on the table in the narthex. Please take yours and any neighbors or friends that you can deliver, saving us postage. Also, if you did not receive a box of envelopes and wish one please contact
Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561.

WE HAVE HEARD . . .
that at times individuals do not attend services because they have difficulty getting into the building, if this is the case, PLEASE call the church and we will make arrangements for someone to meet you and escort you to and from church. Please do not stay away!

$ 242.03 . . .
Is the amount of money that Cove received from the Kroger Company for the quarter ending October 2012. Please consider signing up if you have not already done so, with Holiday shopping that will mean free money for Cove.

ANNUAL REPORTS . . .
just a little  reminder, that the annual reports from all the committees of the church  and financial reports for the year ending December 31,  2012 are due by Wednesday, January 16th.  Please drop them off in the church office by the due date so they can be included in the Annual Reports Booklet for the congregational meeting. 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,  we may not have your current/correct information.

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.

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 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 work.

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



On Sunday, December 23, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Amy Kauer
Andrea Vincent
Andy DiRemigio
Anthony LaPosta
Beulah Mallory
Bill Stephens
Bobby Leonard
Cara Nicoleon
Carol Levesque
Charles Saffle
Christy Cybulski
Connie Francis
Dale Brant
Dar
Darrell Glover
Dean Allen
Delores Huey
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dinny Walford
Dolly
Doug Friends
Doug Wesie
Elizabeth McCutcheon
Emery Edwards
Herman
James Mitts
Jamie Edwards
Jan Moncrief
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Jesse Lescallette
Joan Gallagher
John Brothers
Judy Mason
Kelly Stephens
Krim Family
Lindsey Ward
Lisa Smith
Louann Seevers
Marjie Dinger
Martha Meadows
Mary Ola Taflan
Matt Keenan
Maurene Roth
Michelle Hano
Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
Nick Palavis
Peggy Murphy
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Rich Jeffers
Richard Ceraolo
Richard Redfern
Rick Swain
Robert Krupp
Ron Taflan
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Shirley Bails
Susan Ponville
Todd Majoris
Turner Family
Virginia & Paul Welch
Virginia Marston
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brandon Wares
Brody McUmor
Cameron Lancaster
Daniel Marchione
Hunter Stafford
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Kylee Leathers
Lily Ghrist
McKenna Popish
Michael Liptak
Shaw twins
Shelby Kamarec
Valerie Kellenbarger
Zoe Purcell

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Dolores Edwards – Trinity West
George Ferrrari – Wyngate

Bereaved Family
The Family of Jim Hanna

Church Families
George & Bernice Redish
Eric Redish
Charles & Sue Reynolds

Local Church
Trinity Lutheran Church

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

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches
Bethel Presbyterian Church, Salineville, Ohio – Rev. Ted Ludwig
Calvary Presbyterian Church, Salineville, 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
Kay Manley – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2530 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Margaret Heaton – Heritage Place, 608 N 10th St., Weirton, WV  26062-2423
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

Christmas Traditions

As we’re about to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I thought you might enjoy reading about why certain things have become associated with this day. They come from http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/spiritsong/ChristmasLegends.html.


American Holly- Click for Full ImageHolly

The reverence for holly is believed to have originated with the Druids whom some say wore sprigs of the plant in their hair as they went into the ancient oak groves to obtain their sacred mistletoe. In Rome, holly was a sacred plant of the god, Saturn, and during the winter feast of Saturnalia, Romans gave each othe holly wreaths and adorned pictures of Saturn with its branches. All sorts of powers were attributed to it; it supposedly frightened off witches, protected the home from lightning and assured peaceful dreams if hung on the bedpost.

With the growing influence of Christianity, it became associated with Christ’s ‘Crown of Thorns’ (In Scandinavia, it’s known as the Christ Thorn). According to legend, the original holly berries were white, and it was Jesus’s blood that left them with the permanent red stain. Yet another legend tells of a orphan boy living with the shephards when the angels announced Christ’s birth. He wove a wreath of holly for the child’s head, but seeing what a poor gift it was, began to cry. The legend says when Jesus touched the wreath it began to sparkle and the boy’s tears turned into the scarlet berries. (Notice the similarity to the poinsettia legend of Maria and Pablo below)


Candy Canes

While many Christmas traditions have pagan origins, this secular little Christmas goody is steeped in Christian symbolism. According to legend, a candymaker wanted to make a confection to honor Christ’s birth. It had to be hard candy to represent the church being built on solid rock. Because Jesus is known as the ‘Good Shepherd’, it was formed in the shape of a shepherd’s staff (and turning it upside down, it was a "J" for Jesus). The three small red stripes represented the scourging Jesus suffered on his way to the cross. The one large red stripe represented the blood Jesus shed as payment for our sins. The white stripes represented the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Christ.


Poinsettias

These beautiful flowers are native to Mexico, and it is from this country that we we learn the legend of the first poinsettia. The story is told of a poor girl, Maria, and her little brother, Pablo. The two loved the annual Mexican Christmas festival with its large manger scene, but each year were disappointed that they had no money to buy a present for the baby Jesus.

One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo stopped on their way to church to pick some weeds growing along the roadside to give to the baby Jesus. The other children chided them for their gift, but Maria and Pablo knew their gift was from the heart, and it was all they could give. As they began to place their plants around the manger, the green-top leaves miraculously turned into bright red petals. Soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-shaped flowers and became known as Flores de Noche Buena - Flowers of the Holy Night - the first pointsettias.

Poinsettias were first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, amateur botanist and first ambassador to Mexico,when he brought some cuttings to his plantation in Greenwood, South Carolina. Upon his death in 1851, December 12th was named National Poinettia Day in his honor.


Mistletoe

Also known as the golden bough, mistletoe was held sacred by both the Celtic Druids and the Norseman.

Celts believed this parasitic plant held the soul of the host tree, the holy oak. In a special ceremony, the Druid priests would harvest it with a golden sickle making sure it never touched the ground where it’s magical powers would be absorbed back into the earth. The branches were then divided and distributed to the people who used it as a protection from all sorts of evils.

Once called ‘Allheal’, it has been used as a folk medicine to heal toothache, measles, and many other ills.

The practice of ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ has many legends associated with it. Some say the Druids dedicated the plant to the Goddess of Love, and this is where the custom comes from. Others claim it came from England, where mistletoe was hung in doorways for good luck. Since only happiness could pass beneath it, enemies would embrace and seal their peace with a kiss of frienship. Scandinavians also considered it the plant of peace, and if enemies met by chance beneath it in the forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day. Even now, if there is armed conflict anywhere in the world, there is usually a cease-fire on Christmas Day, which is probably a custom that has come down from these practices in antiquity.

My favorite legend comes from the ancient Norse people. In it, Frigga, wife of the god Odin, dearly loved her son Balder and took steps to make sure no harm would come to him by earth, fire, water or air. Since mistletoe did not fit into any of these realms, an evil spirit names Loki fashioned an arrow of it and gave it to Balder’s blind brother, Holder. Guided by Loki’s hand, Holder unknowingly shot his brother in the heart, killing him.

The legend has several outcomes. In one, Balder is brought back to life. In another, He was sent to the Otherworld with a Viking’s funeral, on a burning ship, to await the day when He returns to Earth to usher in a new era. In both cases, Frigga swore that mistletoe would never again cause harm; making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passed under it.


Christmas TreeThe Christmas Tree

This symbol of the season has so many legends associated with it, entire books have been written on the subject.

Some say the modern day Christmas tree has its origins in the Pagan Yule celebration. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the branches so they could tell when a spirit was present. Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, was placed atop the tree.

Some say the Christmas tree story began in the 1300's in northern Europe, when performers strolled the streets bearing huge pine boughs laden with apples as walking advertisements for the miracle plays they staged on the church steps. The boughs represented the Garden of Eden in the play about Adam and Eve, traditionally performed on Dec. 24th. Gradually this "paradise" tree, as it was called, transmuted into the tree of life--the Christ Child’s tree

Another legend from the early days of Christianity in England tells the story of a Christian monk who was trying to spread Christianity amond the Druids. One day, surronded by a group of his converts, he struck down a huge oak tree, which, in the Druid religion, was an object of worship. As it fell to the ground, the oak tree split into four pieces and from its center sprung up a fir tree. The monk told the Druids, "This little tree shall be your Holy Tree tonight. It is a wood of peace, for your houses are built of fir. It’s the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are evergreen. See how it points toward the heavens? Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness, but in your homes. There it will be surrounded with loving gifts and rites of kindness."

One of the first written references to a Christmas tree was in 1605 , where a visitor in Germany reported seeing a tree decorated with apples, gilded candies, paper roses and thin wafers. The rose was the symbol of Mary the Virgin; the wafer represented the host of the Holy Communion, and the gilded candies were for children. The writer called the tree "Christbaum".Two hundred years later, it was brought to England by German Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria and found its way to the United States through German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania who put up our first Christmas tree on December 20, 1821.

 **As a little side-story connected with Christmas Trees, the addition of tinsel as decoration comes from a legend about a poor old woman who was unable to provide decorations for her children’s Christmas tree. During the night, spiders lodged in the tree and covered it with their webs. The Christ Child, seeing this, realized that the woman would be sad to see her surprise spoiled. He turned the spider webs into silver, and the next morning the poor family was dazzled by the brilliant "tinsel" that shone on the tree

Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time real silver was used, and machines were invented which pulled the silver out into the wafer thin strips. Though it was durable, it tarnished easily, so some attempt was made to make tinsel with lead and tin. This proved too heavy and breakable, so silver was actually used until the mid 20th century. Today, the tinsel we use is made of plastic.**


File:Jonathan G Meath portrays Santa Claus.jpgSanta Claus

Here’s another one with a slew of legends associated with it.

Some say the jolly fellow descended from legends of the Norse god, Thor, who lived in the polar regions up north and came to our parts of the world on a sleigh that was driven by goats (or on a white horse, depending on the story) bringing coins and bread for the poor. He was said to dole out punishments to bad children and presents to well behaved children. (Knows if you have been naughty or nice?). Some say Santa is derived from pagan cultures worshipping a hearth god who wore red, entered the house through the chimney, blessed those who pleased him and cursed those who didn’t. Food was reportedly left out to appease this god.(milk and cookies of today?) Most accounts attribute the origins of Santa Clause to St. Nicholas who lived in Myra (known as Turkey, today) in the fourth century. Born an only child of a wealthy family, he was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague, and grew up in a monastery, becoming one of the the world’s youngest priests at the age of 17. Many stories are told of his generosity as he gave his wealth away in the form of gifts to those in need.

One of these stories is also probably where our tradition of Christmas Stockings comes from. According to legend, there was once a kindly nobleman whose wife became very ill. When she died, he and his three daughters fell into poverty and despair and when it came time for the daughters to marry, they had no dowries (money and property given to the new husband’s family).

One night after the daughters had washed out their clothing, they hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing the family’s hardship, stopped by the nobleman’s house. Looking in through the window, he saw that everyone had gone to bed and noticed the daughters stockings at the hearth. He took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by one down the chimney landing (by some kind of miracle of physics *smile*) in the stockings.(Another version has him coming in through the window, which is a little more plausible).

The next morning when the daughters awoke, they found the gold in their stockings. The nobleman was able to see his three daughters marry and everyone lived happily ever after.

Some years later Nicholas became a bishop and, after his death, he was elevated to sainthood. Eventually, when the Catholic Church began celebrating Christmas, St. Nicholas was incorporated into the season, but when the Reformation took place, the new Protestants no longer desired St. Nicholas as their gift-giver since he was so closely tied to the Catholic Church. Therefore, each country or region developed their own gift-giver. In France he was known as Pere Noel. In England he was Father Christmas (depicted with sprigs of holly, ivy or mistletoe). Germany knew him as Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). When the communists took over in Russia and outlawed Christianity, the Russians began calling him Grandfather Frost(wearing blue instead of the traditional red). To the Dutch, he was Sinterklaas (which eventually was mispronounced in America as Santa Claus) who rode into town on a white horse, accompanied by his Moorish sidekick, Blackpieter or Black Peter(who, leaping from rooftop to rooftop throwing gifts down chimneys, was probably the forerunner of the Santa’s elves today). All early ‘Santas’ had long white beards and carried gifts for the children.

In 1809, American writer Washington Irving created a new version of the old Saint Nicholas, describing him as a jolly Dutchman who smoked a pipe, wore baggy pants, and rode over the treetops in a horse-drawn wagon dropping gifts down chimneys.

Then in 1823, Clement C. Moore wrote the famous poem, "A Visit From St. Nicholas," now known as "The Night Before Christmas."describing him as the jolly fellow we know today, and trading in his horse and wagon for a sleigh and reindeer.( You can read the poem here.) In 1863, illustrator Thomas Nast solidified this image of Santa Claus by drawing him as Moore had described him and giving him a home in the North Pole. These illustrations apeared in the Harper’s Weekly magazine for 23 years.

Finally, from 1931 to 1964, Haddon Sundblom created a new Santa each Christmas for Coca-Cola advertisements that appeared all over the world. Having a long white beard, wearing a red suit trimmed with white fur, leather boots and belt, and carrying a pack of toys on his back, he’s become the modern version of Santa we know today.


Other Legends from Around The World

Père Noël in France has some competition with Aunt Airie, a kind of fairy who wears a cape and travels on a donkey, and also gives gifts on Christmas Eve.

The Christkind ImagesIf you live in the Netherlands, you put hay and sugar inside a shoe on the night before Saint Nicholas Day. Saint Nicholas’ horse will eat the hay and sugar when they stop at your house. After the horse eats, Saint Nicholas repays you by filling your shoes with candy and tiny gifts.

In Spain, you put straw inside your shoes. The camels of The Three Kings will eat the straw as they pass your house and leave gifts on Epiphany, twelve nights after Christmas.

In some parts of Germany at Christmas you get gifts from a girl called Christkind. She wears a crown of candles and carries a basket full of gifts to give to the children. (A scary being called Hans Trapp is said to go with Christkind, who waves a stick to threaten the naughty children.)

In Italy you may get your gifts in a large jar, called the Urn of Fate. It is said that La Befana, a kindly witch, flies down the chimney and fills each jar with gifts and goodies on Epiphany instead of Christmas. It was in Italy that the nativity scene became popular and spread through the Alps eventually making its way to the United States with German pioneers.

In Poland, gifts are brought to the children by Babouska

There’s the Julbock, or Yule goat, from Sweden and Norway, who had his beginnings as one of the goats pulling the sleigh for the god Thor. Now he carries the Yule elf (called Jultomten in Sweden, Julesvenn in Norway, and Jule-nissen in Denmark and Norway) as he delivers presents and receives his offering of porridge.


Christmas folklore

Superstition and folklore about the Christmas season seems endless. Here’s a sampling:
  • animals will all kneel down as the Holy Night arrives,
  • bees hum the ‘100th psalm’ on Christmas Eve,
  • a windy Christmas will bring good luck,
  • a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People,
  • a cricket on the hearth brings good luck,
  • opening all doors of the house at midnight allows evil spirits to depart,
  • you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you sample,
  • the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck will follow,
  • if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see,
  • hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May,
  • the Twelve Days of Christmas will predict each month’s weather for the coming year,
and so on.....

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Project Christmas Smile - 2012


The Deacons of Cove Presbyterian Church have sponsored Project Christmas Smile each year for the past four years. The purpose is to provide families with a Christmas complete with gifts for the kids and a wonderful holiday meal. A Bowlathon, Spaghetti Dinner, and a Hot Dog Lunch helped to provide funds for the project. In addition to these fund raIsers, congregants are asked to provide presents of clothing...shoes, gloves, coat, pajamas, or an outfit. Contributions of food items and gift certificates are also appreciated.

On December 14th, nine families, including 22 children, came together at Cove Church for crafts and games and a luncheon. Santa Claus then arrived and distributed gifts for the children to open. Santa also provided additional gifts for the families to open on Christmas Day. These are the "North Pole gifts" of Toys and Games! Each family receives a bag full of groceries and a Kroger gift card to help complete their Christmas Dinner.

The Deacons gathered in and around  Santa's sleigh are Staci Breen, Kayla Violet, Tina Viakley, Crissy Fierro, Debbie Rudiger, and helper, Mason Fierro.





A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - The Holy Name


Matthew 6:9-13 

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”

A Devotion by Katherine Reay (Texas, USA)

My six-year-old and I were saying the Lord’s Prayer. Her careful articulation of the words and her sincerity struck me. I have recited the prayer for years, sometimes with little thought, but that night I saw its meaning in a new way. Over Christmas, we will be moving across the country. You might think that “Give us today our daily bread” would have spoken to me that night. But as we prayed “Hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9), I knew that God wanted to be the Lord over all aspects of my life, not just my job or my home. My tendency to worry, my striving to make all things right, our plans for the move, the way we rear our children, my friendships, my care for those in need — all of these are God’s. Praying the Lord’s Prayer made me realize that no matter how crazy our lives or circumstances seem, we can depend solely on God in everything — our joy and all our messy pain. As we move away from what has been home, remembering that we can depend on God is a comforting thought.

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Christmas Joy Offering


My life goes on in endless song:
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

These words from the hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing?” capture the spirit of our New Testament passage. It is the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Both women carry children who will hail a new creation. Even as Mary greets Elizabeth, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy at the mystery of God’s love that is borne by Mary. In response to God’s blessing, Mary lifts up her voice in thanksgiving in the beautiful words of the Magnificat. Through these words, God wants us to remember the unexpected blessings that are bestowed on a woman too old to bear a child and a young woman, poor and not properly married, through whom God will make possible the new creation.

How could Mary and Elizabeth keep from singing? Elizabeth believes she is beyond the age when she can receive God’s blessing, and Mary can’t imagine that she is worthy. Through them, we see the way God enters the world to give us hope and joy. The theologian Karl Barth said that “joy is the simplest form of gratitude,” and, in Mary’s song, we witness her gratitude expressed in joy.

Today, we have the opportunity to express our gratitude to God through the Christmas Joy Offering, which benefits the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and the racial ethnic schools and colleges. We remember the servants of the church who proclaimed the song of God’s new creation and lifted the spirits of those who live amid earth’s lamentations. We also remember the women and men who are the hope of the future and join in the chorus of the endless song of God’s redeeming love. Today, we express our joy and gratitude through our gifts to this Offering.

Rev. Peter Simevice president, Assistance, CREDO and Funds Development, The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - My Gift


Exodus 33:12-17 

Moses said to the LORD, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” The LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”


A Devotion by Bernice Karnop (Montana, USA)

One Christmas when my son, Steve, was about eight years old, he came home from Sunday school with a present from his teacher. “I got a gift with my name on it,” he announced proudly. I was puzzled. I knew that all the children had received similar gifts. Why was it so important to him that the gift had his name on it? He explained that the teacher had chosen this particular version of the gift with him in mind. As he had looked around the room, he knew that Mrs. L. had chosen the gift that was the best one for him. He felt special. God offers me gifts at Christmas, the gifts of redemption, forgiveness, and a restored relationship with the Creator through God’s Son, Jesus. God offers the same gift to everyone, but my salvation is unique to who I am. It is more than a generic gift with a tag that says, “To: Anyone.” It has my name on it. My relationship with God is unique to who I am with my personality, gifts, and abilities. God sees me, and each one of us, as an individual who is special and worth loving. What an amazing gift!

From The Upper Room.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday's Sermon - Joy to the World!

Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. 5Let your consideration be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6Don’t be anxious, but in all things pray and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. 7And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.


Connecticut School ShootingJoy to the World


During an average week, I’ve basically decided what I’m going to preach and how I’m going to preach it by Wednesday. You see, that’s when I get the rough draft of the bulletin to Marcia and that includes the sermon title. And although sometimes that’s kind of tough, I mean, sometimes I look at the passage and I really don’t understand it until I do some more focused digging, which I generally do on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

But this week, well, it was going to be easy. I mean, a little more than a week before Christmas and the passage begins with "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice." Now, to me, that seemed like a slam dunk, a no-brainer. Not only did I have a pretty good idea what to say, but on Wednesday afternoon I had my sermon title. Man, I even had the hymn we’d sing right after. And I’ll tell you, I knew that there’s was no possible way anyone would object to what I said, because let’s face it, you just can’t go wrong preaching about joy on December sixteenth. Or so I thought on December twelfth.

But of course, all that changed on Friday. I mean, in light of what happened in Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, there’s no way I can stand up here and talk about the joy of Christmas, you know, how we should be all happy this time of year. I can’t do it, not after thinking about all those people who died and all those parents who’ll never see their children open the presents they’d already bought. In fact, it really hits me personally. You know, Maggie was five-years-old when we celebrated our first Christmas here. I don’t know what I would have done if this had happened at Weirton Heights five years ago instead of Sandy Hook last Friday. I’ve got to tell you, as a parent who takes his daughter to school five days a week believing that she’s safe, joy isn’t what I’m feeling this morning. Instead, it’s more like frustration mixed with a little fear as I try to figure all this out.

And I’ll tell you, if there’s anybody here who thinks this is easier for a minister to do than someone else, think again. I’ll tell you, in some ways it may be harder, because I believe that God is in control and that he loves his children, that he’s always with us and we’re can never be separated from his love. Now that’s what I believe, and so how do I explain Sandy Hook and what would I say to a parent who lost a child who’s stocking is, right now, still hanging on the fireplace? No, like everyone else, I’m struggling to make sense of this. And I’ll tell you, this struggle is so great, at least within me, that yesterday, I thought about announcing, right at the beginning of the service, that I want y’all to take the sermon title and change the exclamation point to a question mark. Let’s just say, the way I approached these verses changed in the last forty-eight hours.

And so, this morning, instead of preaching an interpretation and application of this passage, I want to share with you a couple of thoughts I’ve had about this whole situation. And although I believe they’re grounded in Scripture, including the passage we just read, I don’t want you to think they’re anything more than what I’ve come up with as I’ve tried to reconcile this horrible event with our celebration of Christ’s birth. Now that’s what I’m going to do, and I hope you find them helpful.

You see, first, I sincerely believe that when you’re looking at something like this, there are no simple answers, not to something as complicated as life and death. And yet, having said that, I know that’s exactly what most of us want. I mean, I think most of us want something that can reduce an event that we just don’t understand to one sentence or one slogan or one bumper sticker that’ll explain it all. And that’s what I see happening with Sandy Hook. Of course, any of y’all who’ve been on Facebook the last couple of days know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll tell you, I’ve read all kinds of reasons offered by folks that claim to know exactly why it happened. But sadly, though these explanations don’t agree, and some, well, I think they’re just stupid. For example, I’ve heard people say that this happened because there are just too many guns out there while others say there just aren’t enough, you know, if more people were armed this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. I even read a post that suggested that every teacher in every school in every grade should be required to carry a handgun into class. And I’ve read that this horror was the result of taking God out of school, as though we have the power to remove God from any place he wants to be. Now, to me, these are all examples of what I’m talking about; trying to find an easy answer that explains everything. There are too many guns; there are too few guns. God’s not allowed in schools; there’s too much godly hatred in our world. The shooter’s crazy; the shooter’s evil. Our society’s too violent; our society’s too lenient. Easy answers.

And although I think they allow us to do exactly what we, deep down, want to do, you know what I mean, to solve the problem by blaming it on people who don’t think like us, frankly, I don’t believe any of them of are worth a hill of beans, because life can’t be explained by something stuck to the bumper of your car. Now I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice if it could, but I think life is a lot more complicated than that.

And so, I don’t think we have any choice but to live with some pretty tough questions. Maybe that’s what it means to live in a fallen world; there’s a lot more questions than answer. And you know, regardless of your politics, I think we all need to have the courage to face the questions head on. For example, maybe, as a society, maybe we need to think rationally and discuss calmly the role guns and violence play in our society. I mean, given the movies and the shows and even the games I see advertised on television every day, exposure to and participation in graphically violent acts are certainly greater today than when I was a kid. My gosh, by the time I was ten, I’d pretty much put away my cap pistol and playing cops and robbers. Now, I know people from five to fifty who play games like Halo and Call to Duty on a daily basis, games in which points are score by digital people killed. Our’s is a violent society, and that can’t be good.

But neither is our hesitation to incorporate the values expressed by the Ten Commandments in our schools. Sometimes it even sounds as though virtues like compassion and humility and self-sacrifice have no place in public education simply because they’re Christian virtues. No, it seems to me that we’re going have to get beyond the simple and simplistic if we ever want to address the complex issues we face as a society, including everything associated with the tragedy in Sandy Hook. Now that’s one observation.

And second, as we do that, I believe that we have to state clearly and emphatically that we believe the coming of Christ still makes a difference. In other words, in the face of the kind of murder we endured last week, both in Connecticut and Oregon, I think we as Christians need to be clear about what we believe. And you know, for me that comes down to two fundamental beliefs, both of which involve the coming of Jesus Christ, in other words, Christmas.

You see, for one, I think his coming gives us peace and hope, peace as we live in a confusing world and hope that goes above and beyond gunmen in elementary schools or shopping malls or movie theaters. I mean, just think about what God did, and I’m talking about what he’s done without our permission or help. As Paul wrote a little earlier in this same letter: "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." You see, this is what Jesus did, and as a result, as I said a few weeks ago, our past has not just been forgiven, man, it’s been cleansed. And our future, well, it’s grounded in the one who’s name is above all others, in heaven and on earth and even under the earth. No wonder, in the passage we read today, Paul could write, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your consideration be known to all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious, but in all things pray and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." You see, that’s one thing that we as Christians have.

But I’m telling you, we have something else, and now I’m talking about an example. You see, I believe that the coming of Christ still offers us an example to follow. That’s number two. Now, I want you to think about how he lived. Remember, he was a human; therefore, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." You see, Jesus knew all about frustration and disappointment, even confusion. But just think about how he responded. In the face of hatred, in the face of anger, in the face of violence, in the face of murder, and I’m talking about his own murder, Jesus showed what? Man, he showed love. And what about us? What about us? Do we do the same? I mean, by our words do we show that we value violence or peace? And by our actions, do we favor hatred or harmony? And by our attitudes, do we seek simplicity or reality? You see, Jesus gave us an example; therefore, when faced by difficult and complex situations, if we have the courage to ask that simple question, What Would Jesus Do, and then the honesty and faith to entertain answers that are different from what we want to believe, then I think we just might be moving toward what’s best. Because, like I said, Jesus does make a difference.

Now at this time, I don’t think anything will make life easier for those who lost children on Friday. I can only pray for them and also sincerely hope that some of the folks who feel compelled to share their ideas about why this happened, I can only sincerely hope that they’ll either come to their senses or come down with a severe case of carpal tunnel or laryngitis. Please, for the sake of the grieving, just shut up. And for me, well, as I wrestle with this, I’m trying to recognize that, first, there are no simple answers and, second, the coming of Jesus does make a difference. And although I’m sure it won’t bring me back to were I was on Wednesday, it just might keep me from putting a question mark at the end of the sermon title.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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


On Sunday, December 16, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Amy Kauer
Andrea Vincent
Andy DiRemigio
Anthony LaPosta
Beulah Mallory
Bill Stephens
Bobby Leonard
Cara Nicoloan
Carol Levesque
Charles Saffle
Cherryl Calijan
Christy Cybulski
Connie Francis
Dale Brant
Dar
Darrell Glover
Dean Allen
Delores Huey
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dinny Walford
Dolly
Doug Friends
Doug Wesie
Elizabeth McCutcheon
Emery Edwards
Herman
James Mitts
Jamie Edwards
Jan Moncrief
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Jesse Lescallette
Jim Hanna
Joan Gallagher
John Brothers
Jose Baez
Judy Mason
Kelly Stephens
Krim Family
Lindsey Ward
Lisa Smith
Louann Seevers
Marjie Dinger
Martha Meadows
Mary Ola Taflan
Maurene Roth
Michelle Hano
Mr. & Mrs. Mario Whitehead & Joyce
Nick Palavis
Peggy Murphy
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Rich Jeffers
Richard Ceraolo
Richard Redfern
Rick Swain
Robert Krupp
Ron Taflan
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Shirley Bails
Susan Ponville
Todd Majoris
Turner Family
Virginia & Paul Welch
Virginia Marston
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brandon Wares
Brody McUmor
Cameron Lancaster
Daniel Marchione
Hunter Stafford
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Kylee Leathers
Lily Ghrist
McKenna Popish
Michael Liptak
Shaw twins
Shelby Kamarec
Valerie Kellenbarger
Zoe Purcell

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Ronnie Taflan – Trinity East - Acuity
George Ferrrari – Weirton Medical Center
Joan Gallagher – Weirton Medical Center
Dolores Edwards – Trinity West

Church Families
Jim, Donna & Derrick Paul
Shana  Pepper
Sherry & Frank Pierce, Tori & Cameron

Local Church
Resurrection Lutheran Church

Special Friend
Ila Mauk – 1234 Swearingen Rd., Weirton, WV  26062-4331

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches

First Presbyterian Church, St. Clairsville, Ohio – Rev. Homer Harden
Uniontown Presbyterian Church, St. Clairsville, 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

Friday, December 14, 2012

What’s Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?


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


COVE’S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PLAY AND LUNCHEON . . .
will be held after worship this morning. Meat, rolls and beverages will be provided. You are asked to bring a covered dish to share and also your place settings. After dinner the children will perform a holiday skit. The afternoon will conclude with a “special visitor” for the children.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, December 19 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are working on our weekly anthems.  We are also preparing to present portions of the Cantata, Mary Did you Know?,at the Christmas Eve Service.  New member are always welcome! After practice the Choir’s Annual Christmas Party will be held  in Fellowship Hall.

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet Thursday, December 20 at 12:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. We’ll look at Hebrews 8:1–10:18.

OUR CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE . . .
is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Monday, December 24.  The Chancel Choir will present portions of the Cantata “Mary Did You Know”.

2013 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
are available on the table in the narthex. Please take yours and any neighbors or friends that you can deliver, saving us postage. Also, if you do not have a box of envelopes and wish one please contact Floy Fetty at 304-670-1561.

WE HAVE HEARD . . .
that at times individuals do not attend services because they have difficulty getting into the building, if this is the case, PLEASE call the church and we will make arrangements for someone to meet you and escort you to and from church. Please do not stay away!

$ 242.03 . . .
Is the amount of money that Cove received from the Kroger Company for the quarter ending October 2012. Please consider signing up if you have not already done so, with Holiday shopping that will mean free money for Cove.

CHURCH & OFFICE CLOSED . . .
Monday, December 24 thru and including Wednesday, December 26 for the Christmas Holiday.  Merry Christmas!

ANNUAL REPORTS . . .
just a little early reminder, that all annual reports from the various  committee of the church  and financial reports for the year ending December 31,  2012 are due by Wednesday, January 16th.  Please drop them off in the church office by the due date so they can be included in the Annual Reports Booklet for the congregational meeting.

CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING . . .
inserts will be included in the bulletins each Sunday during Advent with stories of how the funds have been previously allocated.  Next Sunday, December 23 envelopes will be included in your bulletin for your donation.  The Christmas Joy Offering brings Good News of Great Joy to the poor in circumstance or sprit. This offering is  distributed equally  between the Assistance Program for the Board of Pensions and to support student scholarships at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.

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,  we may not have your current/correct information.

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.

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 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 work.