Saturday, March 30, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - A Tale of Three Tombs


Matthew 28:1-15 

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.


A Devotion by Gus Browning (Texas, USA)

Years ago I visited the tomb of Russia’s Vladimir Lenin in Moscow and then later, China’s Chou En-lai in Beijing. In each tomb, the body of the former leader was preserved in a clear coffin where his faithful followers could see it as they paid their respects. As I emerged from each of those tombs, the same thought went through my mind: Where could Jesus’ followers go to see his body? The answer, of course, is nowhere!

I also have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built around the traditional site of Jesus’ tomb. I personally liked another site better, one called Gordon’s Garden Tomb. While it may or may not have been the tomb of Jesus, it was more like what I imagined his tomb to be. I went inside past a large stone in a groove to permit rolling it to seal the tomb door. I saw where a body would have been laid, but no body lay in either of these two Jerusalem tombs.

No major religion except Christianity claims that its founder rose from the dead. If this claim by Jesus’ followers had not been true, all that the authorities would have had to do was point to his dead body. They tried to say his disciples stole it but would those who hid on Easter evening “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19) have later sacrificed their lives if they knew the Resurrection was a lie? Three leaders, three tombs, but only one leader is alive today!

From The Upper Room.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cove’s Bulletin for Easter, March 31, 2013


Below is a copy of our Easter bulletins. First, there's a copy for our early praise service, beginning at 8:00 a.m. And second, there's a copy for the 11:00 worship service. During this second service, we'll focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and share in the baptism of Robbie Townsend.


  

 






Cove’s Bulletin for Good Friday, March 29, 2013


Below is a copy of the bulletin for Good Friday. During the service, we’ll focus on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

 



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


On Sunday, March 31, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Barbara Maze
Bonnie Bowen
Bonnie Kirtley
Charles Saffle
Christy Cybulski
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dino Buffington
Doug Friends
Eleanor Deuley
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Gen Meyer
Harman
Hattie Black Marcum
Heather
Holly
Jamie Edwards
Janice Torrance
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Joan Gallagher
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Joy Zaslocke
Justin Vogel
Kermit Kowalski
Kevin Buckley
Linda Caleffie
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Hvizdak
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Richard Ceraolo
Robert Krupp
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Roxanne Berry
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Isaac & Emily Stephens
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

Church Families
Jim & Jean White
Enid Williams
Gary & Vicki Williams

Local Church
Resurrection Lutheran Church

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

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches
The Presbytery Administrative Team – The Rev. David Demarest, Commissioned Ruling Edler Connie Quinn and The Rev. Andy Woods
The Presbytery Council – The Rev. Byron McElroy

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Kay Manley – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Margaret Heaton – Heritage Place, 608 N 10th Street, Weirton, WV  26062-2423
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

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.

PLEASE RETURN . . .
your Lenten Prayer Boxes to the basket located on the table in the church narthex. Thank you!

MYRTLE MCHENDRY CLASS MEETING . . . .
will be held on Tuesday, April 2 at 12:00 p.m. at Paris Presbyterian Church.  You are asked to bring a sandwich, homemade soup and beverage will be provided in their gathering outreach area.   Rev. Dr. Christina Hosler will present the program. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to call Betty Virtue at 304-748-8196.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We will be practicing  our weekly anthems. New member are always welcome!

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN’S WORKSHOP . . .
Thursday, April 4 at the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church in Wellsville, Ohio. Contact Linda Spencer for further details.

BOARD OF  TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, April 8  at 6:30 p.m. in the board room. DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING . . .
is scheduled for  Monday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the library.

BOARD OF SESSION MEETING . . .
will be held on Tuesday, April 9th at 6:30 p.m.  in the board room.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN’S . .
Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room.
Monthly Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 17 at noon in fellowship hall. You are asked to bring a lunch to the regular meeting. Beverages and a dessert will be provided. All ladies are invited!!

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will next meet on Thursday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. We’re studying the last week of Christ’s life, and during this session we’ll look at Matthew 27.

SPRING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. . .
and so is Spring Cleaning!!  The deacons ask that you remember their upcoming April 20 Flea Market for your unwanted items. All gently used household items, unwanted collectibles, small appliances, decorations, books, toys and children’s clothes will be greatly appreciated. The items may be dropped off at the church or you may call the church to arrange to have your items picked-up.  Money that is earned will be used for the Deacons Outreach Programs.

BOB EVANS COMMUNITY FUNDRAISER . . .
sponsored by Cove Deacons will be held on Wednesday, April 24 at Bob Evans Restaurant in Weirton from 10:00a.m. till 10:00p.m.  Included in the bulletin is a flyer that must be presented at check out. With the flyer, 15% of your sale will be donated to the Deacons Outreach Funds. Please stop out enjoy a delicious meal without the work and raise money for the Deacons.   Additional flyers can be obtained on the table in the narthex, from any deacon or in the church office. We thank you in advance for your continued support!!

ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING:
WHY WE GIVE . . .In Mark 12, Jesus explains that the two most important commandments are to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Through One Great Hour of Sharing, the Presbyterian Church responds to these commandments by helping our neighbors in their time of greatest need. Whether we’re offering relief in the wake of a devastating storm, providing food or access to clean water, or assisting in the empowerment of our oppressed and marginalized brothers and sisters, One Great Hour of Sharing is an annual opportunity for us to show our love globally to our neighbors in a very tangible way. Envelopes are included in today’s bulletin for your convenience. We thank you in advance for your generosity.

1052 ITEMS COLLECTED . . .
is the amount of distributable food items collected by the Cub & Boy Scouts during their March 9 “Scouting for Food Drive”. 190 additional items were collected- with expired dates- and were discarded. We express a sincere “Thank You” to all the boys, leaders and parents that participated in this endeavor. The community’s generosity will enable Cove’s Deacons to assist families in need in the upcoming months.

WE HAVE SEVERAL FOSTER FAMILIES . . .
within our church family and community, and God has given us the chance to help them in this very special ministry. If you’re interested in offering help, please contact either  Chris Connell, Ed Rudiger or the church office.

PRESBYTERIAN  WOMEN . . .
are collecting the following items for The Shack Neighborhood House:
 • For the children’s programs: wooden puzzles for pre-schoolers,  magic markers,  coloring books, colored pencils, colored sidewalk chalk, dry erase markers, board games, jump ropes, nerf footballs, hand sanitizer, wet ones, small plastic cups and bowls, plastic forks and spoons, paper napkins, glue sticks, construction paper, and art supplies,
For baby layettes: Diapers, Onesies, baby shampoo, diaper cream, baby wipes, baby lotion, receiving blankets, and bibs,
Cleaning supplies for families: laundry detergent, paper towels, disinfectant cleaner, dish liquid, scouring pads, and dish towels.
Personal items for families: shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, soap- face and body, body lotion, soap in pump dispensers and tampons.
Summer items: sun screen and flip flops.
Items that you wish to donate may be placed in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. $ 228.55 . . .
is the amount of money that Cove Church recently received from The Kroger Company for the Community Rewards Program.  Just a reminder if you are a member of the Community Rewards Program you must re-enroll after April 1, 2013- NO SOONER- for Cove to continue earning rewards this year. It costs you nothing, only time to register, and Cove will receive quarterly checks from Kroger for monies spent. If you have any questions, please call the church office or 1-800-KROGERS. We wish to thank you in advance for your support in this endeavor.  FYI- to confirm that you are registered the bottom of your receipt should read - You requested Kroger to donate to Cove Presbyterian Church.

BOARD MEMBERS . . .
please take a few minutes to empty your mailboxes. Copies of board minutes, your quarterly contribution statements and items of importance have been placed in the mailboxes for your reference.

UNCLAIMED  JACKETS. . .
there have been a few jackets and coats left on the coat racks in the main hallway downstairs. If one belongs to you, please take it with you. If the items are not claimed by the end of March, they’ll be donated to a local clothes closet.

DOORS . . .
please take a minute when entering or leaving the building to be sure the exterior doors close completely.  This action will ensure the security of the building and also aide us with heating costs.

HAND SANITIZERS . . .
are located on the entrance wall downstairs past the door to the kitchen. Also a hand sanitizer is located on the far wall in the narthex. Using them will hopefully help decrease the spread of germs this season.

PRAYER CHAIN UPDATE . . .
we will be updating our prayer chain monthly. If you wish to have someone remain on the prayer chain for a longer period of time please contact the church office or Floy Fetty.

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 and/or 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 five 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.
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.

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.

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.  FYI . .. .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.

Betrayal, Crucifixion And Resurrection


As a way to prepare us for the celebration of Easter, I want to share with you a poem by David Harris entitled “Betrayal, Crucifixion And Resurrection.” I hope you find it as meaningful as I did.

What three words 
emphasise Easter to all of us. 
The three words we associate with it, 
betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection.

Betrayal is what happens 
when a friendship 
is sold out by another 
or lies are spread about our intentions.

Crucifixion is what we feel 
when the backlash comes. 
We feel the venting of someone’s anger 
for something we have never done.

Resurrection is a process we go through 
after the dust has settled. 
We look around for a new start 
somewhere nearer paradise.

As for those who betrayed us, 
sadness now covers their brow 
as they find themselves an outcast 
for what they have done.

Maybe one day they might realise, 
that things are not always, as they seem, 
and they should leave well alone, 
things of which they do not know.

Good Friday Minute for Mission

My grandma smuggled me from China to Burma when I was three. The purpose, according to her, was to rescue me from the torment of the Cultural Revolution. My grandparents were Burmese citizens, but there were no provisions for them to bring their families to Burma legally.

I was adored as a little boy for being able to sing many Chinese national songs and recite poems, but now, in Burma, I was hushed each time I opened my mouth to sing: “Stop singing those songs! The Burmese will find out that you are from China, and the police will put you in prison and then send you back to China. Do you know what the Chinese Communists will do to you? They will hang you upside down on a tree, peel your nails off, and rub salt on your fingers.”

“If Burma doesn’t want me and China is hell, where do I belong?” Gone was my self-worth, my sense of belonging, my sense of security, and my voice. Soon I became virtually mute, because I feared someone might hear me and find out about me.

Fortunately, we attended church every Sunday. The healing message of the church that kept me sane was that we are citizens of the kingdom of God. Yes, there I found a sense of belonging! Moved by the message of the cross, certain missionaries had risked their lives to come to the highlands of southwestern China and present the gospel to the people there, including my great-grandparents. Now I am a fourth-generation Christian and also a third-generation minister.

I can’t imagine what life would be like without the good news of the cross. Let us remember Burma and the well-being of all children around the world in our prayers.

—Rev. Dr. Samuel Maung Stone, pastor, Trinity Presbyterian, Paramus, NJ

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Why Don’t You Help?


Colossians 1:15-23 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers--all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him–provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.


A Devotion by Gavin Campbell (Western Cape, South Africa)

We had just finished a particularly busy Holy Week and Easter weekend when our 15-month-old son was injured. He pulled a tablecloth from a table, and the cloth brought with it a square, rough-cut glass vase that sliced his nose open as it fell. It was a serious cut. At the hospital, we had to wait six hours for treatment; they had to delay administering anesthesia because he had eaten just before the incident. When his treatment time came, his mother and I accompanied him into the operating room to keep him calm; but he panicked anyway. As the medical team struggled to hold the mask over his face long enough for the anesthesia to take effect, they bumped his nose, starting the bleeding again. Blood was everywhere; it even ran back into his eyes. With those blood-filled eyes he looked at us as if asking, “Why are you standing and watching them hurt me like this? Why aren’t you doing something to help me?” I told him that this was the only way to “make it better.” Then it dawned on me: God watched Jesus dying on the cross, as Jesus asked, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But Christ’s death was God’s only way to “make it better,” to heal us and to take away the pain and the penalty of our sin.

From The Upper Room.

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Resurrection of the Lord/EasterOne Great Hour of Sharing


Man
Haitian farmer Childeric Placid
The prophet Isaiah speaks of a time when a new creation will come to pass, when “they shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. . . ; they shall not plant and another eat” (65:21–22). Haitian farmer Childeric Placid, who also serves as a facilitator and community trainer with longtime Presbyterian Hunger Program partner the Mouvman Peyizan Papay, had the opportunity to taste the reality of this promise as the result of a seed-and-tool program funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing after the 2010 earthquake: “The seeds, when they arrived, were deliverance for me. I was able to plant corn and Congo beans. I’m eating the [harvest] even now, and in the future I will be able to plant the saved seeds, and I’ll eat again. Yesterday, I ate from my garden. Can you imagine? You have a product at your house that you made; you didn’t have to buy it in the market to be able to eat. I’m not like other people that don’t even have a cup of beans. Do you see how you’d feel? How you’d feel like you are a man? That’s what this is for me.”

The preservation of the dignity of Haitian farmers wasn’t merely a relief-and-recovery effort. It was a chance for Presbyterians to meet the responsibility God has given all of us to care for God’s people in a way that is life affirming and empowering. Your generous gifts matter and are a tangible way to walk hand in hand with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jessica Maudlin, program assistant for resources and leadership development, Presbyterian Hunger Program

Maundy Thursday Minute for Mission

Menaul School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of the PC(USA)’s historically racial ethnic schools. It serves students in grades 6 through 12 and offers a first-rate educational experience for college. Menaul School has also been seen as a mission school since its founding in 1896. Even though it is a private school, many of the students who attend receive tuition assistance. The school receives gifts from individual churches and support from the Christmas Joy Offering, one of the four special offerings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
People and a cross
Menaul School mission week
 
Being seen as a mission school means that we not only receive but also give back to the community. During Holy Week, each grade plans and participates in giving back, through painting of churches, cleaning churches and area missions, cooking and feeding at local soup kitchens, or even leading congregations in discussions of racism.

Maundy Thursday reminds us to love and serve one another as Christ loves us. Jesus, facing his own imminent death, took time to celebrate a meal with his disciples. We are to put our gratitude in action by serving and giving back to one another, especially our community. The Menaul community appreciates the gifts that allow us to maintain a great school and sacred community, so in turn we do the same for those who seek our labors of love. Although at times our resources are stretched thin, we realize—just as the disciples do in Mark 6:38—that we have enough loaves to share.

Rev. Buddy Monahan, chaplain, Menaul School

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Light the World


1 John 1:5-7 

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 Malinda Fillingim (North Carolina, USA)

I collect flashlights of various shapes and sizes. I have a small one in my purse, a stand-up one in my car, a variety of old ones in my closet, and several sturdy ones posted around the house in case of an emergency. Why collect flashlights? Because I feel afraid in the dark. Because Jesus said he is the Light of the world, I know that wherever I go, whatever happens, I have the most powerful Light in the world with me and I need not be afraid of what the future holds. Christ is my source of light, and as his follower, I am to light up the world around me with love and grace. We are each different vehicles of the light of Christ, but each one of us has the responsibility and joy of bringing this light into a dark world. Together, we light the way to truth so others can find their way to God.

From The Upper Room.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

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

Psalm 91:1-16

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust."

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;

he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,

or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place,

no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

 

the Bible in the hospital
A Devotion by Avis Hoyt-O’Connor (Maryland, USA)

The woman I was visiting had asked me to read the psalm to her; so I should not have been surprised that as I read, she whispered the words, "You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty." When I stumbled in my reading, the words poured forth from her. She told me afterward she had carried that psalm in her heart through some difficult days. She had been a refugee from a country torn by poverty and violence. After making a new life in the United States and starting a family, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was her hospice chaplain. I spent time each week reading to her and praying with her. I was new at the job, and she showed me that the words of scripture are themselves balm to a tired soul. I had read scripture in private devotion, Bible study and worship, but I had seldom read scripture when I visited those who were ill. Now I read scripture during many of my visits. The word of God, without commentary or preaching, comes into our darkest valleys as a source of great comfort and peace — for my patients and for me.

From The Upper Room.

Friday, March 22, 2013

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


On Sunday, March 24, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Bill Moulds
Bonnie Bowen
Bonnie Kirtley
Bryan Foster
Charles Saffle
Christy Cybulski
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dino Buffington
Dorothy Saffle
Doug Friends
Eleanor Deuley
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Gen Meyer
Harman
Hattie Black Marcum
Heather
Holly
Jamie Edwards
Janice Torrance
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Joan Gallagher
Jodi Kraina
John Hallenborg
John Schlotter
Joy Zaslocke
Justin Vogel
Kermit Kowalski
Kevin Buckley
Linda Caleffie
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Hvizdak
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Richard Ceraolo
Robert Krupp
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Roxanne Berry
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Isaac & Emily Stephens
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

Bereaved Families
The Family of Betty Spencer

Church Families
Michael Weaver
Pam, Kelsey & Rachel Weaver
Doug, Sue, Steven & Summer Wesie

Local Church
Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church

Special Friends
Thelma Longacre – Unit 210, Chambrel at Montrose, 100 Bookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches
Woodsfield Presbyterian Church, Woodsfield, OH – Rev. Susan Lehosky
Rainbow Counseling Center – Rev. Dr. Claudia Brown

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Kay Manley – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Margaret Heaton – Heritage Place, 608 N 10th Street, Weirton, WV  26062-2423
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

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.

PLEASE JOIN US . . .
for an All You Can Eat Pancake & Sausage Brunch after worship this morning. We’ll dine from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $ 5.00 for adults and
$ 2.50 for ages 10 and under. You also have the chance to have photos taken with The Easter Bunny.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove’s Reading Group will meet on Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, March 27 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are putting the finishing touches on our Easter music and are practicing  our weekly anthems. New member are always welcome!

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet on Thursday, March 28, at 12:30 p.m. We’re studying the last week of Christ’s life, and during this session we’ll look at Matthew 26.

SOUP NEEDED . . .
for the Maundy Thursday Dinner. If you are able to assist session with this task and  wish to make soup  for the dinner please contact Sue Willson at 304-748-5338.

MAUNDY THURSDAY, MARCH 28 . . .
Soup and Bread Dinner Love Feast will be held in Fellowship Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m.
This dinner is to remind us of Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples. Communion will be served.

CHURCH AND OFFICE CLOSED . . .
March 29, 2013 in observance of  Good Friday.

GOOD FRIDAY. . .
Tenebrae Service, will be held in the sanctuary beginning at 7:00 p.m.  This Service of Darkness will depict the last hours of Jesus’ life and His death on Calvary.

1052 ITEMS COLLECTED . . .
is the amount of distributable food items collected by the Cub & Boy Scouts during their March 9th “Scouting for Food Drive”. 190 additional items were collected- with expired dates- and were discarded. We express a sincere “Thank You” to all the boys, leaders and parents that participated in this endeavor. The community’s generosity will enable Cove’s Deacons to assist families in need in the upcoming months.

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
Is extended to the family of Betty Spencer, mother of Richard Spencer, who died on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

PRESBYTERIAN  WOMEN . . .
are collecting the following items for The Shack Neighborhood House:
For the children’s programs: wooden puzzles for pre-schoolers,  magic markers,  coloring books, colored pencils, colored sidewalk chalk, dry erase markers, board games, jump ropes, nerf footballs, hand sanitizer, wet ones, small plastic cups and bowls, plastic forks and spoons, paper napkins, glue sticks, construction paper, and art supplies,
For baby layettes: Diapers, Onesies, baby shampoo, diaper cream, baby wipes, baby lotion, receiving blankets, and bibs,
Cleaning supplies for families: laundry detergent, paper towels, disinfectant cleaner, dish liquid, scouring pads, and dish towels.
Personal items for families: shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, soap- face and body, body lotion, soap in pump dispensers and tampons.
Summer items: sun screen and flip flops.
Items that you wish to donate may be placed in the box located in the main hallway downstairs.

WE HAVE SEVERAL FOSTER FAMILIES . . .
within our church family and community, and God has given us the chance to help them in this very special ministry. If you’re interested in offering help, please contact either  Chris Connell, Ed Rudiger or the church office.

$ 228.55 . . .
is the amount of money that Cove Church recently received from The Kroger Company for the Community Rewards Program.  Just a reminder if you are a member of the Community Rewards Program you must re-enroll after April 1, 2013- NO SOONER- for Cove to continue earning rewards this year. It costs you nothing, only time to register, and Cove will receive quarterly checks from Kroger for monies spent. If you have any questions, please call the church office or 1-800-KROGERS. We wish to thank you in advance for your support in this endeavor.  FYI- to confirm that you are registered the bottom of your receipt should read - You requested Kroger to donate to Cove Presbyterian Church.

BOARD MEMBERS . . .
please take a few minutes to empty your mailboxes. Copies of board minutes, your quarterly contribution statements and church envelopes have been placed in the mailboxes for your reference.

“SHARING BRINGS JOY . . .
To Others, to God, and to Us.”  This is the theme of our One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. Currently projects are underway in 100 countries, including the United States and Canada.  The funds are used for ministries of disaster relief, refugee assistance and development aid. Envelopes have been inserted in this week’s bulletin for your contribution. We thank you for helping those less fortunate. FYI. . .each denomination partaking in this collection decides how their funds will be used.

SPRING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. . .
and so is Spring Cleaning!!  The deacons ask that you remember their upcoming April 20 Flea Market for your unwanted items. All gently used household items, unwanted collectibles, small appliances, decorations, books, toys and children’s clothes will be greatly appreciated. The items may be dropped off at the church or you may call the church to arrange to have your items picked-up.  Money that is earned will be used for the Deacons Outreach Programs.

UNCLAIMED  JACKETS. . .
there have been a few jackets and coats left on the coat racks in the main hallway downstairs. If one belongs to you, please take it with you. If the items are not claimed by the end of March, they’ll be donated to a local clothes closet.

DOORS . . .
please take a minute when entering or leaving the building to be sure the exterior doors close completely.  This action will ensure the security of the building and also aide us with heating costs.

HAND SANITIZERS . . .
are located on the entrance wall downstairs past the door to the kitchen. Also a hand sanitizer is located on the far wall in the narthex. Using them will hopefully help decrease the spread of germs this season.

PRAYER CHAIN UPDATE . . .
we will be updating our prayer chain monthly. If you wish to have someone remain on the prayer chain for a longer period of time please contact the church office or Floy Fetty.

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 and/or 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 five 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.
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.

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.

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.  FYI . .. .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.

Friday's Essay - Palm/Passion Sunday


Sunday is an interesting day on the church calendar. You see, it can be celebrated in two different ways. On one hand, it’s Palm Sunday, the day Christians remember Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. On the other hand, though, it’s also Passion Sunday, that Sunday before Easter when we focus on the crucifixion.

Now, in terms of mood, these two days seem to be polar opposites. I mean, when Jesus rode that donkey, as folks waved palms and put on the road branches and cloaks, this marked a high point in his earthly ministry. While the crowds had been standing on the noncommital edge, now they’d gathered on the road into Jerusalem shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” According to Matthew’s gospel, “when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’” This was a time of incredible joy. And that’s why it’s shocking that within a week, Jesus would be betrayed, denied, arrested, tried, convicted, and nailed to a cross. And the crowd that called him “the Son of David,” they would be standing in Pilate’s court and shouting,“Let him be crucified!” Now, both these ideas are present on this day.

And you know, I think that’s appropriate. I mean, it’s easy for us to separate them, not only the stories but their impact on our lives. We can focus on the triumphant Christ, the “king of Israel,” the one who will establish his kingdom on earth just like it is in heaven. And we can approach this Christ with all our hopes and dreams, and we can expect him to satisfy us by granting them all. And when it happens, we can be content, knowing that we’ve received what we wanted; but when it doesn’t, we can leave disappointed and irritated, because we didn’t get what we deserve. If it’s all palms and “hosannas,” that’s what we can expect. Of course, we can also focus on the other extreme and see Jesus through the eyes of Mel Gibson. And we can concentrate on the pain, forgetting that in the Roman world, tens of thousands of people endured the save torture faced by Jesus, including the two who were crucified with him. In fact, we can focus so much on the pain that we lose sight that Jesus came to save not just endure, and the cross is the ultimate sign of victory, not defeat.

And I think that’s the reason we need to celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday, because both images are true, but without the other, each is also incomplete. You see, the one who came as the mighty son of David was also the anguished lamb of God, the one who was hung on a cross to save the people who drove the nails. The triumphant one suffered, and the one who suffered was made triumphant. That’s what we have when we combine these ideas. And if we’re able to do that, we’ll realize that we have a savior who knows exactly how we feel on our best and worst days. And that’s what we’ll do on Sunday.

Cove’s Sunday Bulletin for March 24, 2013


Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. During the service, the choir will present their Easter cantata entitled “At the Cross.”







Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Passion/Palm Sunday


As at so many schools, athletics are crucial to the social structure and school pride at my own, Ballard High in Louisville, Kentucky. When a big game approaches, we cheer and laud our team, overflowing with excitement. The players are universally given better treatment than anyone else in the school for a brief period of time. We even refer to ourselves as being part of the team. Anticipation tides us over until the game. Soon, game day arrives.

We are overconfident and prideful. The team enters, and we go wild with applause. We eagerly await the referee’s whistle indicating the start of the game. When we score the first several points, we become cocky. We do not believe there is any way we can lose. Often, we are correct. Our team does brilliantly, and we continue to sing their praises until the approach of the next thrilling game.

However, we are not able to win every time out. Sometimes we go down—and we go down hard. Our school’s athletic reputation takes a hit, and we become resentful, searching for someone to blame for this. We generally place the blame on the shoulders of the players. The people we were so eager to associate ourselves with earlier suddenly become pariahs in the halls. We are fickle creatures, unwilling to be seen talking to them until they are considered “cool” again.

Jesus experienced this cold-hearted isolation as well. The people lined the streets, praising and giving thanks for him. Jesus received a portion of the recognition, honor, and respect he deserved from the people. He did not boast, however, nor did he claim himself to be the rightful emperor, king, or supreme authority. I think that some of the people I know could learn a thing or two from our Lord and be less like the fickle people who lauded Jesus one day and crucified him the next.

Mary Cecil, member, Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Jeffersontown, Kentucky

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Life’s Seasons


John 3:1-17 

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”


A Devotion by Debra Pierce (Massachusetts, USA)

The day after my brother’s funeral, a “Nor’Easter” blizzard blew in with winds that whipped the snow into twisting funnels. That was in April. The following day I trudged through the cemetery. It all seemed surreal: my brother’s death, me at his grave, and mounds of snow burying the flowers. Where was spring — the season we associate with rebirth, regeneration, and resurrection? When my brother died, I entered a season of severe depression. I was 40 years old and didn’t attend church or even worship God. But God still heard my desperate cries for help. A desire to attend church came over me, and I began searching the telephone directory. I made an appointment with a pastor for grief/spiritual counseling. In compassion, God had led me there, and I entered a new season of life when I heard the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. My life and my spirit were transformed. I was born again. Our loving and merciful God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). No matter what we’ve done, God offers each of us rebirth through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hope, redemption, and eternal life are God’s priceless gifts to us.

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Judging Others


Romans 14:1-12 

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God.


A Devotion by Diane Haviland (New Jersey, USA)

My husband and I traveled to Israel with a Christian tour group. On the eighth day of our trip, we visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is a massive limestone wall where people come to pray. Men, women, and children of all ages and different religious traditions, dressed in all types of garb, were slowly moving to and from the wall. As I made my way to the wall to insert my prayer list in one of the crevices between the stones, I noticed with great dismay a woman talking on a cell phone. Just like home, I thought. Here we are in a holy place, and she’s talking on the phone! Suddenly the woman moved the phone from her ear to the wall, held it there for a few moments, and then left quietly. She had been helping someone who couldn’t be present to be part of praying at the wall with others. I had just witnessed an expression of the faith of two individuals and a loving act. I often recall this event, and I’ve recounted it to others on several occasions. How many times in the course of a week or even a day do we judge before knowing all the facts? And for that matter, what right do we have to judge another at all?

From The Upper Room.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday's Sermon - When We’re Confident

Philippians 3:4b-14

4bIf anyone thinks he has confidence in flesh, then I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew from Hebrews, with respect to law a Pharisee, 6with respect to zeal a persecutor of the church, with respect to a righteousness that comes from law blameless. 7But whatever was to me gain, these things I consider through Christ a loss. 8But rather I consider all things to be a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, because of whom I suffered the loss of all things, and I consider [them all] rubbish, so that I might gain Christ, 9and I might be found in him, since I don’t have a righteousness from law but because of faith from Christ, the righteousness from God by faith, 10that I might know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering, as I’m being conformed to his death, 11if somehow I might reach the resurrection from death.

12Not that already I received [it] or already reached perfection, but I continue to pursue [it] if I might grab it, seeing that I was also grabbed by Christ Jesus. 13Brothers, I don’t reckon to have grabbed it myself, but one thing [I do], forgetting those things that lay behind and press ahead, 14toward the goal, I pursue the prize of the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus.




 
When We’re Confident



Walt Disney said, "Confidence enables us to do almost anything..." And I’ll tell you, that’s sort of illustrated by the picture on the cover of the bulletin. I mean, you’ve got a person, I’m not sure whether it’s a man or woman, and he or she is marching into the mouth of the an alligator, with fists clinched and jaw set and eyes fixed. And there’s the alligator, and I’m telling you, this alligator has been taking steroids or something; man, it’s huge. But not only that, it’s teeth are sharp and it’s jaws is quivering and it’s eye, well, to me it seems like it really looks kind of surprised. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s witnessing either someone who’s read that quote by Walt Disney and is stepping out with all kinds of confidence, "to boldly go where no one has gone before" (I know that’s Star Trek, but you get my drift. That alligator is either witnessing a person of incredible confidence or a nut who will soon be getting acquainted with his reptilian digestive system.

Of course, I recognize that I probably shouldn’t have made this an "either/or." Being confident and being stupid aren’t mutually exclusive. I mean, I come from the south, where the last thing spoken by some of my southern countrymen before the arrival of the paramedics is, "Hold my beer, and watch this." You see, being confident doesn’t really help much if you’re confidence is based on something that’s just wrong or empty or just stupid.

And you know, I think that’s kind of what’s going on in the passage I just read from Philippians, I’m talking about the one where Paul wrote, "If anyone thinks he has confidence in flesh, then I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew from Hebrews, with respect to law a Pharisee, with respect to zeal a persecutor of the church, with respect to a righteousness that comes from law blameless."

You see, according to the flesh and in his case that was the Jewish law, Paul was in Fat City; man, he had all kinds of reasons to be confident. He’d followed the right rituals. He had the right blood lines. He’d joined the right club. And with respect to the rules, the law, the do’s and don’t’s that Paul’s posse thought would make a guy right with God, Paul was "blameless." Man, if this stuff did what it was suppose to do, Paul had it made. He had every reason to be confident. The problem was that it didn’t. Rituals and relatives, joining and obeying, well, it just didn’t make God love him more. And deep down, when Paul was dumping on the church, I think he kind of knew it. You see, his confidence was grounded on the wrong stuff.

And I’m telling you, the same thing can happened to us. Sort of like a relative of mine, he felt all kinds of confidence confronting some mighty tough guys with an unloaded gun. That’s what he used to do. And it worked; they always backed down, until one didn’t and his gun was loaded. It wasn’t pretty. But although I’m sure none of us will be carrying an unload gun into a bar anytime soon, finding confidence in the wrong things won’t be pretty for us either, not when we look to stuff like talent or money or friends to give us confidence. Let’s get real, unless you’re number one in the world, they’ll always be someone more gifted or more wealthy or more popular. And as soon as they come along, our confidence is going to be gone, like it says in a Lady Antebellum song, "Gone like the wind under Superman’s cape."

And I’ll tell you, that’s even the case when we approach God. I mean, if we approach God with all this confidence because we’ve said all the right words and made all the right promises and given him all the right internal organs, let me ask you; what’s going to happen to our confidence when we find out that he really doesn’t want to harvest our hearts and that he is really more interested in whether we’ll give him our televisions than our lives and that he’s really too smart to be convinced and manipulated by our spiritual-sounding words? I’ll tell you, when this kind of thing happens, I don’t think it takes long for our confidence to become disappointment, with a little bit of frustration and fear mixed in. You see, too much false confidence which by the way is also usually self-confidence, can lead us to join the person on the bulletin and walk into the jaws of a giant alligator.

And I’ll tell you, that’s why I think Paul’s experience, the one that he described in the rest of this passage, is really important. I mean, I want you to notice, there was a major change in the life of Paul, when his focus shifted from what he was doing to what God had done and the ground for his confidence moved from self to something else, and now I’m talking about the righteousness that from God and the faith that comes from Christ. Remember, he wrote, "But whatever was to me gain, these things I consider through Christ a loss. ...I consider all things to be a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, because of whom I suffered the loss of all things, and I consider [them all] rubbish, so that I might gain Christ, and I might be found in him, since I don’t have a righteousness from law but because of faith from Christ, the righteousness from God by faith." You see, after all his efforts and all his assumptions, I believe Paul was touched by the Holy Spirit and his eyes and mind and heart were opened. And he realized that it really wasn’t about him and his rituals and work; it was really about God, and I’m talking about the relationship that God had already established with him through Jesus Christ, a relationship that was impossible for Paul to earn and that’s why it had to be given as a gift. And I’m also talking about the faith that comes from Christ, the ability to see what happened and to trust that it was done for him. You see, for Paul, righteousness and faith were the only things on which he could count.

And brothers and sisters, it’s the same way with us. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what God did. As I’ve said before, without our help or permission, God has already put us in a right relationship with himself. And even though we may run around and pretend that it’s not so, I can pretend that I’m no longer bound to the laws of gravity, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to float to the ceiling. We may have to learn to live with the fact that God loves us, and his love was most clearly shown through Christ. And because of that, we’ve been given the gift of faith, the ability to believe that our past is cleansed and our future secure, the chance to trust that no matter how bad things seem to get, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You see, just like it did for Paul, righteousness and faith can give us the right reason to feel confident.

And with that confidence, I think two things will change for us just like it did for Paul. I mean, it changed his view of both the present and future. Just listen to what he wrote, but instead of reread my translation, hear how Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message. He wrote, "Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ — God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back." Now that’s how Paul’s confidence in God changed his life.

And I’ll tell you, right here and now, it can do the same thing for us. You see, once we shake off all the empty ideas and false beliefs that lead us into an empty and false sense of security and we put our confidence right where it belongs, and I’m talking about in the hands of God, once we do that, I’m convinced that two things are going to happen. First, our disappoints aren’t going to hold us back. I mean, remember how it was when we deluding ourselves that we were in control, that we had ultimate power over our lives and our universe, and that we could turn God’s love on and off by our words and promises; remember how disappointed we felt when the day came and we realized that wasn’t true, or using the literal meaning of the Greek word offered by Paul, that it was all "poop." (I could’ve used another word, but Maggie needs to eat and I’d like to be employed tomorrow.) You see, all that nonsense isn’t going to be an anchor on us anymore, because it’s nothing when compared to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re not going to be held back; I think that’s the first thing that’s going to happen.

And second, claiming both the relationship we’ve been given with God and the ability to trust that it’s real, in other words, grabbing onto the righteousness and the faith that comes from God, we’re going to move forward. We’re going to move into the future without fear, but rather with hope, with joy, with confidence. In other words, we’re going to run the race set before us and we going to reach for the prize, knowing the whole time that we’re all winners in the sight of God and the trophy already has our names on it.

Remember how I started this sermon with a quote, you remember, the one by Walt Disney that "confidence enables us to do almost anything..."? Well, here’s another one, this time by Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote, "I have confidence in fools... self-confidence is what my friends call it." And you know, in their own way, I think they’re both right. Confidence can enable us to do wonderful things. In fact, with enough confidence, we can change the world, but only when we put aside the foolish notion that it’s all about us. You see, when we ground our confidence in Christ, disappointments won’t hold us back, and righteousness and faith will move us forward. Even if that means walking right into the jaws of a beast.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Self-Development of People


Twenty-eight years ago a group of economically poor women in Belize started the Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative in Hopkins Village. Three years later they opened a small hotel with two small cabanas and a restaurant. Working hard and reinvesting their money, they added three more cabanas. Fully employed, the women were now able to care for their families.

Three women
Three members of the Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative
 stand in front of their restaurant in Belize.
Disaster struck in May 2005. A fire destroyed the cooperative’s thatch buildings, leaving only two cabanas standing. Discouraged but not defeated, the women began to cook meals in their homes for both tourists and local people, again investing their profits in a fund to rebuild the hotel’s restaurant. It took a year to rebuild the kitchen, but they did, and for the next two years their profits from the restaurant were all invested in rebuilding the hotel complex.

Just as the women thought things were beginning to look up for them, disaster came a second time, in the form of a bush fire that destroyed nearly all their buildings. Once again the women were back at the starting line.

This time Presbyterians were there to help! The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, a ministry funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing, made a grant of $20,038 to the Sandy Beach women to rebuild their restaurant. The women will once again be able to support their families and to generate profits that will be used to slowly but surely rebuild the hotel.

Through their generous giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing, Presbyterians have befriended the women of Sandy Beach. Thanks be to God!

Wayne A. Gnatuk, associate for churchwide relations, Self-Development of People

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Bought with a Price


1 Corinthians 15:1-11 

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you – unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.


A Devotion by Foluke Bosede Ola (Oyo, Nigeria)

Some time ago I got the frightening news that my first cousin had been kidnapped. His kidnappers asked for a ransom. I could not believe it. What I read about only in newspapers had come to my doorstep. The immediate and extended family lovingly contributed their money to save our captive cousin. The ransom was paid, and he was set free. We all rejoiced. This experience made me think about the ransom Jesus Christ paid for the salvation of our souls. The price Christ paid for us became real to me as I thought about what my cousin went through and how we had to buy him back with a price. How could we ever pay for such a gift? People say that salvation is free. It is free to us; however, Christ has paid a dear price for us. Even when we were sinners, Jesus Christ was willing to die for us.

From The Upper Room.