Friday, January 31, 2014

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

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

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Brett Hannah
Bruce Oiler
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Doug Haller
Elisa Archer
Emery Edwards
Ethlyn Dellaria
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
James Woolfolk
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jen's Mom
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Mbanda Nathaniel
Megan Dughton
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Patricia Mitchell
Paul Walch
Pauline Oiler
Randy Willson
Robb Starck
Robert Hans
Robert Krupp
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Robbie Lucas
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Hospital
Jack Hatala – Washington Hospital
Virginia Welch – Weirton Medical Center
Richard Spencer – The Laurels

Bereaved
The Family of Robbie Townsend on the passing of Robbie Townsend
The Marsh Family on the passing of Bill Marsh

Church Families
Paul & Gwen Miller
Danielle Milliken, Ayden Munoz
Eric & Tracy Minor, Arden & Ben

Local Church
Trinity Lutheran Church

Special Friend
Wanda Morgan – 3608 Hanlin Way, Weirton, WV  26062-4406

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Community Presbyterian Church, Warnock, Ohio – Rev. Diane Jefcheck
Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, WV – Rev. Dr. Ed Rudiger

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV 26037

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.

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service. We still need some volunteer help.  We thank those of you in advance who help to care for the future members of our Cove Family.

SOUP-ER BOWL LUNCHEON . . .
compliments of the Board of Deacons will be served today, February 2, 2014 immediately following morning worship. Outgoing Cove Board Members will be recognized at the luncheon. Sandwiches and a  variety of soups along with beverages will be available.

MONTHLY DEACONS MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, February 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room. All members are urged to attend as we discuss our upcoming projects and our 2014 budget.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will be practicing on Wednesday evening, February 5th at  6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary. We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Easter Cantata.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 9, immediately following morning worship.  All Cove members are urged to attend.

THE SESSION HAS CALLED A JOIN MEETING OF THE THREE BOARDS . . .
for Sunday, February 9, right after the congregational meeting. During the discussion, we’ll share lunch.

BOARD OF SESSION . . .
will meet on Monday, February 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the church library.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES . . .
will meet on Monday, February 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the families of
Robbie R. Townsend a member of the Cove Family and brother of
Deana Maine who died on Sunday, January 26, 2014 and
William “Bill” Marsh, father of Fred Marsh who died on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

$456.70 . . .
is the generous amount that was collected in Loose Change for the Deacons in 2013. Through this money and the money budgeted to the Utility Assistance fund a total of $ 1,360.00 was used to aid 34 people last year.

WINTER WEATHER. . . .
Please remember - that the church follows Hancock County School’s schedule during the winter months. If school is canceled due to inclement weather the church will be closed that evening. Please call the church office to reschedule your meeting or activity.

SCHEDULING . . .
There are a number of different groups and organizations that use our church and facilities. We ask that you call the church office to confirm a
date before scheduling any activity. We try to accommodate everyone, however scheduling is done on a first come basis.

COOPERATION NEEDED. . .
we are in need of everyone’s help. We are asking you please DO NOT TOUCH any of the electric boxes, especially the ones in the hallway leading to the narthex. Recently, the main breakers have been turned off, this will cause  problems. If something needs turned on or off please ask church personnel to do it for you. We thank you for your understanding.

2014 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
have been moved to the church library. If you do not locate yours and would like a box please contact the church office.

DOORS . . .
with the change in the weather we ask that you please check to be sure the doors are closed when you enter or leave the building.  Hopefully this will help with the heating costs.

A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE . . .
can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove’s Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com.

WE WILL BE UPDATING OUR PRAYER CHAIN . . .
regularly. If you wish to add someone to the prayer chain contact the church office.

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.

OUR SERMONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON . . .
covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

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.

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.

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  in the Narthex for your contribution. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.

IF YOU DON’T PLAN TO TAKE YOUR BULLETIN HOME . . .
feel free to drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is  $16.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours. 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.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2014. . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for:
Warnock, Community  - Diane Jefchak, Pastor
Weirton, Cove - Ed Rudiger, Pastor

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.

Friday's Essay - When I'm Confused

On Wednesday, I did the funeral service for Robbie Townsend; and for me, this one just didn’t seem right. I mean, usually, when I do a funeral, I’m talking about a person who’s lived a long life or who’s died after a long illness. And at those times, it kind of makes sense. Now I’m not saying that I’m not sad or that I won’t miss the person or even that there’s not a feeling that it’s all kind of unfair; I’m not saying that at all. It’s just that in those situations, well, it makes sense, I can understand why it happen. We may not like it, but at least we understand.

But I’ve got to tell you, with Robbie, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why a guy who was in such good shape died so young, and since he and I were the same age, I’m going to say “young”. And I don’t understand why Robbie died of pneumonia, pneumonia for crying out loud. That’s not suppose to happen anymore. And as a Christian, I sure don’t understand why this had to happen to a guy who was just starting a new phase in his life with God. You know, it was ten months ago that I baptized Robbie; and even though as I remember, he was really nervous, he stood up in front of the whole congregation and said that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and dedicated himself to being his faithful disciple. Man, he was just starting this journey. But now he’s gone. And I’m not going to see him walking across the Milsop parking lot in shorts and a tank top. And I’m not going to hear him call me “Reverend”, something no one else calls me. And I’m not going to be able to shake his hand and see that smile that he had, a smile that, as they say, can be imitated but never duplicated. It was way too soon. And I don’t understand why. And along with feeling sad, I also feel a little angry and a lot confused.

But of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve been angry and confused. In the last twenty-five years, I’ve done a funeral for baby who passed away in his crib during the night and for a teenage  girl who was a passenger when her car was hit by a drunk driver. I’ve done a memorial for a small town police officer, in fact the only one in this little, bitty town, who was shot serving a summons and a father of three young children who died suddenly of a heart attack. And just last year, I was involved in the community memorial service right after the Newtown shooting, and I’ve got to tell you, I didn’t understand why any of those things happened either. And each time I was angry, because I wondered if they could have been avoided. But mainly I felt confused.

But you know, whenever I hit that point, there are two things that I hold on to, and man, I hold on to them with bloody fingernails. I’m telling you, when things just don’t make sense and all the great words of wisdom and faith just sound like a lot of noise; for me, these two truths provide something solid that I can believe when everything else fails. And here they are.

First, I believe that we are loved by God. He’s not our enemy. He’s not out to get us. He’s not ready to drop us into Hell unless we can convince him not to. And he’s not detached, unconcerned, uncaring. No, I believe that God loves us. Why? Well, it’s not because we’re so loveable. It’s because God is love. And that love was shown by Jesus Christ, the one who was hung on a cross to save the guys who drove the nails and who was raised to show that time has expired, the game is over, and death lost. And it’s a love we can feel right now through a spirit that is flowing around us and through us, bringing us closer to God and to one another. God loves us. And that’s one thing I hang on to when nothing else makes sense.

And second, I believe that those who’ve died, man, we’re going to see them again. And like it says in Revelation, it’s going to be in a glorious world, a recreated world, a place where there’s no cancer or pneumonia, no drunken drivers or deranged shooters, no pain or parting, no suffering and death. And my grandparents are going to be there. And the baby and the teenager, the policeman and the young father, and all those Newtown children and teachers, they’re going to be there. And Robbie and Bob and George, Joyce and Eleanor and Dorothy are going to be there, too. And I’ve just named a few. You see, we’re going to see all those who have gone a head of us in a glorious, new world. It’s all in God’s hands, not ours; and I can trust in his grace and love. And when all else fails, that’s the second thing I hang on to.

Sadly, it life, things happen, and often we don’t know why. And those things make us angry and confused. I guess that’s part of living. But when that happens to me, I know that there are two things on which I can count. First, that God loves me, that God loves you, that God loves us. And second, we’ll see those who have gone ahead of us in a new world. And although these two truth really don’t give me any answers, they at least help me live with some of the questions.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, February 2, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll focus on why and how we might offer our thanks to God. After the service, you’re invited to a free Souper Bowl dinner. And make sure you wear your team colors to the service.









The View from Cove












A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - String Cross Reminders

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


A Devotion by Jay T. Basinger (Florida, USA)

I have retired from teaching physical education, but I found a new sense of purpose a few years ago. David, a camp volunteer, taught me how to make string cross necklaces. Each cross takes four minutes and costs about four cents to make. David gave these to summer campers as a gift, a symbol of God’s love and forgiveness for each of us. He still makes string crosses by the thousands to give to whomever he encounters. I was inspired by David to take up making string cross necklaces as my purpose and mission for Christ. I think wearing such a symbol could be a good reminder for others and for ourselves to reflect and radiate the love of Christ to those around us. So how will we represent the cross of Christ — the love he gave us as a sacrifice for our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins? We can wear the cross as a reminder to share the meaning of the cross in words and in acts of love.

For instructions on making Jay’s string crosses, go to devotional.upperroom.org.

From The Upper Room.

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Souper Bowl of Caring

Souper Bowl of Caring (SBoC) is a national youth-led movement that works to spread awareness of and fight hunger in the United States with every penny collected by participants. This was the elevator speech I wrote over four years ago at my first SBoC National Youth Advisory Board meeting. Souper Bowl of Caring will send anyone who asks everything necessary to start a donation drive, at a time of year when most food banks are depleted from the holidays. But the best part is that you get to choose where the money goes in your local community. No money gets sent to the organization; all you do is report your total amount raised.
Souper Bowl of Caring is so much more than that, though. It does amazing things for communities around the country, not just through collections but through planned service events too. At Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, we always participate in the citywide Service Blitz, in which countless groups spend a day at community shelters and food banks. It is a day that everyone looks forward to.
Because SBoC is led by youth, it provides one of the greatest opportunities for young people to grow and mature into caring adults who live the rest of their lives giving back. I am the person I am today because of SBoC. Although my school does not have a SBoC group—I now give my time to Children’s Miracle Network through Auburn University Dance Marathon—I still thank SBoC every day for the opportunities it gave me to lead and give back. The youth who started it over 20 years ago took a God-given opportunity and grew it into something fantastic that has helped countless people. All it took was a prayer: “Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those without even a bowl of soup to eat.”
Michael Hobensack, member, Spring Valley Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - A Light in the Basement

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Isaiah 9:1-4

The people who are going in darkness
they see a great light,
those who are dwelling in a land of death’s shadow
light is shining over them.
You have not multiplied the nations;
you have made great their joy;
they rejoice before your face
as rejoicing in the harvest;
as people exalt
in dividing blunder.
For the yoke of their burden
and the staff of their shoulder,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have shattered as in the day of Midian.
For all the boots
of the warriors are quaking
and the garments
rolled in blood
and will become for burning
fuel for fire.


A Light in the Basement

On Friday, I was reminded of one of my biggest northern panhandle frustrations. As a matter of fact, it’s something I never experience before moving to Weirton, West Virginia. Now, before I say anything else, let me tell you, it’s not the cold. I know, some of y’all may be thinking, “Here yu’ns got this old southern boy, way up north where the thermometer actually goes below freezing. Why this temperature must be as strange to him as calling a shopping cart a buggie.” Now, that may be what some of y’all are thinking, but just let me remind you, I lived in eastern Montana, western North Dakota for five years, a place where we used to say, the cold keeps out the riff-raff. And by-the-way, do you know what we used to call the kind of weather we’ve been having around here lately? We called it “Spring”.

No, my frustration really has nothing to do with the cold. It has everything to with the house Debbie and I bought up on Marland Heights. You see, we have a detached, two-car garage, something that really attracted me to it right off. And beside the garage is a sort of drive way that goes into the basement. Anyway, every evening, when I get home, I park my car in the garage and go into the house through the basement. And it’s right there I run into my big frustration. You see, since the sun sets kind of early this time of year, when I get home, it’s usually dark. And I’ll tell you, if it’s dark outside, it’s really dark in that stupid basement. And there’s only two sources of light: a lamp beside my computer about midway through and a couple of bulbs that are controlled by a switch at the top of the stairs. And so, if I forget to leave a light on in the morning when I leave, every evening I stumble through the maze of mess that stands between the back door and the stairs to the kitchen.

And you know, as I was working on my sermon yesterday, at my computer there in the basement, it kind of hit me that that’s really how a lot of people live their lives, and I’m including even a lot of Christians. I mean, we sort of stumble our way though, as though we’re living in the dark. Now to tell the truth, I really don’t think that’s what any of us intend to do. I mean, I don’t think anybody wakes up in the morning and says to himself,  “Today I think I’ll just sort of stumble through life like a blind man in a strange room.” No, I don’t think that’s our intention; it just kind of happens that way. I don’t know, maybe we don’t know any better or haven’t been told about the switches. I don’t know. But regardless of the reason, often I think we end up in the same place, fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out what to do. And I’ll tell you, the longer we do it, the more some of those wonderful feelings start rising, and I’m talking about stuff like confusion and frustration, even sadness and fear. Those things just tend to happen. But I’ll tell you, what may be even more confusing and frustrating is the fact that even though we know the problem, we’re not always clear about the solution. And so there we are, in the dark, stumbling through life, and pretty sure that we’re going to be making the same trip tomorrow.


And you know, it’s right here that we may want to think about what Isaiah wrote in the passage we read a little while ago and about how that’s related to us right here and right now. I mean, just consider what he said; it seems pretty clear that Isaiah believed that a great light was coming. He didn’t know when, but it was coming. Good night, he wrote, “The people who are going in darkness they see a great light, those who are dwelling in a land of death’s shadow light is shining over them.”  You see, Isaiah could see that the people were sort of trapped in darkness, confused and frustrated, sad and afraid. Like he wrote a little earlier, “...if one looks to the land—only darkness and distress; and the light grows dark with clouds” or a little later, “...justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.”  That’s what life was like, struggling through a dark world. But it’s into this darkness, this distress, this despair, it was into this world that God would enter. It’s like he wrote in another passage,  “for darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” And when that day came and when he’d arise among his people, there would be light, and the world would change. As he wrote, “On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.”

And that light, I’m telling you, in Isaiah’s eyes, man, it was going to fill the people with all kinds of joy. Like he said in our passage, “You have not multiplied the nations; you have made great their joy; they rejoice before your face as rejoicing in the harvest; as people exalt in dividing blunder.” It’ll be just like the prophet Zechariah described: “Then the people of Ephraim shall become like warriors, and their hearts shall be glad as with wine. Their children shall see it and rejoice, their hearts shall exult in the Lord.” Now, for Isaiah, that was going to happen.

And the reason, the reason they’d be so happy, I think that would come down to what the light was going to do for the people. Remember, he wrote, “For the yoke of their burden and the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor, you have shattered as in the day of Midian.” You see, the warning that prophet issued in the chapter right before ours would be made real: “Band together, you peoples, and be dismayed; listen, all you far countries; gird yourselves and be dismayed; gird yourselves and be dismayed!” Change was on the way, and the world as it had always been, would never be the same again. I’ll tell you, all that stuff that made the darkness so scary, all that stuff that made it so threatening, all that stuff that caused the people so much confusion and frustration, it was going to be snapped like a twig, and the people would be delivered just like they were when, according to the Book of Numbers, “...Moses said to the people, ‘Arm some of your number for the war, so that they may go against Midian, to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian.’” That was Isaiah’s hope. The day was coming when a great light would shine on these people who’d lived so long in the dark.

And for us, here’s the good news: what was for Isaiah a hope, for us it’s a reality. You see, according to the evangelist Matthew, this is exactly who Jesus was and is. This is what he wrote, “Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” You see, that’s exactly what Jesus came to do, to bring light, that same light that Isaiah believed would fill the people with joy.

And the reason, well, I think that was clear too. Because Christ came and because he lived and died and was raised, the yoke, the staff, the rod of the oppressor was lifted. And this was something our savior already knew. Remember, Jesus himself said, “Come to me, all you that ware weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” No, instead of a heavy yoke or rod, Christ offers an opportunity and a promise. First, he gives us the opportunity to repent, to change, to turn from what’s bound us in the past and to turn with confidence and faith toward the future. That’s one.

And second, he gives us a promise, a promise that the rule of God is present with us right now. Of course, it may seem as a small as a mustard seed or as insignificant as a little bit of yeast is a lump of dough, but that’s going to change, because right now it’s growing. And one day our prayers will be answered and it will come on earth just as it is in heaven. You see, because Jesus, the light, has come, we can feel joy right now.

And I’ll tell you, that should take care of all the wandering in the dark we might be doing in life. And that’s got to be good news. Of course, it won’t help with the stumbling I do through my basement every evening. But you know, I think there’s a fairly easy way that I might move closer to what Jesus has already done for me, and I’m talking about how I might feel the same kind of joy Isaiah wrote about in his prophecy. In other words, I think that I can solve my problem by doing what God has already done for us all in our world. I can always put a light in the basement.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Remembering Our Brother Robbie Townsend

ROBBIE R. TOWNSEND, 56 of Follansbee, WV passed away Sunday January 26, 2014 at Weirton Medical Center. He was born May 6, 1957 in Weirton, WV. The son of the late Edward L. and Gwendolyn Jamison Townsend. Robbie was a member of Cove Presbyterian Church, an avid sports fan who enjoyed playing basketball at the Millsop Community Center. He also enjoyed having breakfast with the "guys" at Bob Evans, Steubenville, OH. He was employed at Undo's Restaurant/Weirton. Surviving are his daughter, Jaime Jo Townsend; sisters, Roxeanne Helba(David), Deana K. Maine; niece, Jenna Maine, all of Weirton, WV; special Aunt and Uncle, Susie and Bob Leonard; half-sister Linda Alberti(Rich) of Arkansas; half-brother Randy Townsend of Weirton, WV. He is also survived by aunts, uncles, & cousins. Visitation will be Wednesday January 29, 2014 2-4 & 6-8 at Steel & Wolfe Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., 380 Penco Road, Weirton, WV. The funeral and committal service will be held at the funeral home on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. J.E. Rudiger presiding. Interment will be at Unionport Cemetery, Unionport, OH. Robbie's family would like to express their thanks to all for the concerns expressed as well as to the CCU caregivers at Weirton Medical Center. www.steelandwolfe.com
VisitationVisitation will be Wednesday January 29, 2014 2-4 & 6-8 at Steel & Wolfe Funeral Home &
Cremation Services, Inc., 380 Penco Road, Weirton, WV.
ServicesThe funeral and committal service will be held at the funeral home on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. J.E. Rudiger presiding.

IntermentInterment will be at Unionport Cemetery, Unionport, OH.

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Out on a Limb

Luke 19:1-10 

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”


A Devotion by Teresa Cannady (Florida, USA

I’ve traveled to more than 50 countries. I’ve seen people living in the lap of luxury and on the edge of poverty. I’ve met and worked with people of all faiths, socioeconomic classes, and political persuasions. I’ve learned that what people want most, no matter where they reside, is to live and love, enjoy their friends and family, and provide a better future for their children. Yet our perception of differences can create misunderstanding and a sense that “we” are right, so “they” must be wrong. Even though we may feel compassion or sympathy for others, we may find it difficult to reach out to them — to go to their place as Jesus did with Zacchaeus. Jesus called Zacchaeus from that tree and went to his place — the place where he ate and slept and lived with his family. Jesus didn’t ask him to come down and head for the nearest church. If we are to follow the call of Christ, we must go where people are to truly know them. If we really want to reach them, we may even have to climb some trees. But when we do, the view might be amazing.

From The Upper Room.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Minute for Mission: Criminal Justice

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. (Isa. 9:1)
HOPE Pre-Release Program, Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburgh Photo by Caitlin Werth
HOPE Pre-Release Program, Allegheny County Jail,
Pittsburgh
On one of our first dates, my wife and I passed a man in a baseball cap who was hanging out on the corner, smoking. As we got closer, he looked up. I assumed that he was going to ask for money, so I felt around in my pocket for some loose change.
But he surprised me. He didn’t want money; he wanted to thank me for visiting him in jail. The last time I had seen him, he was wearing a red prison jumpsuit. Out of context, he looked so different that I hadn’t recognized him. It was wonderful to see him out of jail. He told us how God was moving in his life. We wished him peace and said goodbye.
“I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt. 25:36b). Jail can be a desperate and hopeless place. But the God of life and love brings hope and light into even the darkest places: “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa. 9:2).
Not all of us are called to go into the jails. Some are called to advocate for more just laws or to care for people reentering the community. There are many ways to serve, but it is the same Spirit who calls us to that service. How is God calling you to serve?
—Rev. Steven Werth, member, PHEWA/Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network leadership team; pastor, Appleby Manor Memorial and Crooked Creek United Presbyterian Churches, Ford City, Pennsylvania

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Saturday

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


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.


A Devotion by Carolyn Buford (North Carolina, USA)

My father left us when I was six years old. I never knew my dad as a provider, protector, or promise keeper. He would promise my sisters and me that he would come to see us on Saturday, then not show up. I remember that once after we were grown, we made a “date” with him one Saturday to go out to dinner for our birthdays. We got all dressed up, and as you can guess . . . he did not show up. Because of my poor relationship with my earthly father, I had a hard time relating to God as my heavenly Father. I trusted that God could save me but wondered, Will God provide for me when I am lonely? Will God protect me from those who would do me harm or from myself when I make bad decisions? Can I trust God’s promises? Will God “show up on Saturday”? During the years of my Christian journey, I have come to realize that my dad is my dad — and God is my God. I can trust my Creator with my triumphs, my trials, and my tears. And I thank God for the chance to live a more abundant life. (See John 10:10.)

From The Upper Room.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, January 26, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll focus on how we might experience the joy that comes from living in the light. We'll also share in the communion of our Lord Jesus Christ.









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

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

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Brett Hannah
Bruce Oiler
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Doug Haller
Elisa Archer
Emery Edwards
Ethlyn Dellaria
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
James Woolfolk
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jen's Mom
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Hannah Leasure
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Mbanda Nathaniel
Matthew Kirtley
Megan Dughton
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Patricia Mitchell
Paul Walch
Pauline Oiler
Randy Willson
Robb Starck
Robbie Townsend
Robert Hans
Robert Krupp
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Robbie Lucas
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Hospital
Richard Spencer – Trinity West
Robbie Townsend – Weirton Medical Center
Jack Hatala – Washington Hospital

Church Families
Gen & Joe Meyer
Benna Milliken
Grace Michell

Local Church
Tri State Church of God

Special Friend
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Hill Top Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ohio – Rev. Robert Meyer
Roney’s Point Presbyterian Church, Triadelphia, Ohio – Rev. Darrin Jones

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV 26037

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.

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service. We still need some volunteer help.  We thank those of you in advance who help to care for the future members of our Cove Family.

WINTER COMMUNION . . .
will be observed today,  Sunday, January 26 during the morning worship. If you know of someone who  would like to receive communion please contact the church office to arrange for a home visit.

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING . . .
is scheduled for today, Sunday, January 26 immediately following morning worship.  All Cove members are urged to attend.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday evening, January 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will be practicing on Wednesday evening, January 29 a 6:45 p.m. in the choir room. We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Easter Cantata.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

WINTER BREAK . . .
Thursday's Brown Bag Bible Study is taking a short break. The study will resume in March.

SOUP-ER BOWL LUNCHEON . . .
compliments of the Board of Deacons will be served on February 2, 2014 immediately following morning worship. Outgoing Cove Board Members will be recognized at the luncheon. Sandwiches and a  variety of soups along with beverages will be available. You are requested to wear your "TEAM COLORS" to church that day.

$456.70 . . .
is the generous amount that was collected in Loose Change for the Deacons in 2013. Through this money and the money budgeted to the Utility Assistance fund a total of $ 1,360.00 was used to aid 34 people last year.

WINTER WEATHER. . . .
Please remember - that the church follows Hancock County School's schedule during the winter months. If school is canceled due to inclement weather the church will be closed that evening. Please call the church office to reschedule your meeting or activity.

SCHEDULING . . .
There are a number of different groups and organizations that use our church and facilities. We ask that you call the church office to confirm a
date before scheduling any activity. We try to accommodate everyone, however scheduling is done on a first come basis.
 COOPERATION NEEDED. . .
we are in need of everyone's help. We are asking you please DO NOT TOUCH any of the electric boxes, especially the ones in the hallway leading to the narthex. Recently, the main breakers have been turned off, this will cause  problems. If something needs turned on or off please ask church personnel to do it for you. We thank you for your understanding.

2014 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
have been moved to the church library. If you do not locate yours and would like a box please contact the church office.

DOORS . . .
with the change in the weather we ask that you please check to be sure the doors are closed when you enter or leave the building.  Hopefully this will help with the heating costs.

SPIRITUAL MESSAGE . . .
can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove's Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com.

WE WILL BE UPDATING OUR PRAYER CHAIN . . .
regularly. If you wish to add someone to the prayer chain contact the church office.

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.

OUR SERMONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON . . .
covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

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.

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.

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  in the Narthex for your contribution. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.

IF YOU DON'T PLAN TO TAKE YOUR BULLETIN HOME . . .
feel free to drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is  $16.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours. 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.

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.

Friday's Essay - Using the Past to Face the Future

Even though the coming snow might keep attendance down, we’ve scheduled our annual church meeting for Sunday, immediately after worship. At that time, we’ll receive the reports from different persons and groups within the congregation related to what’s they did during 2013. Now I think taking a look at what we’ve done is important. I mean, it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. I believe our past certainly influences our future.

Still, I also believe it’s important to remember that our future isn’t bound to our past. Far too often, we limit ourselves based on what we’ve already done or left undone. Of course, this can happen whether we’re talking about a congregation or a country, a parish or a person. In other words, we allow the past not only to influence, but to determine our future.

And I think it’s relatively easy to see when that kind of thing happens. In fact, you can tell it by how you respond to two very simple and related statements: “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and “We never done it that way before.” Now, both sound innocent, yet the reaction they prompt is significant. For example, if you hear the first as a prescription, the preferred option when faced with a problem and if you believe that it’s nearly always better to trust the old reliable rather than the new fangled, then you may be allowing the past to fence the future. And if, in the second statement, you hear a reasonable response to an unreasonable suggestion because nearly anything that suggests change is, by it’s nature, unreasonable, then you may have decided to live in the past. Of course, this has profound theological implications. I mean, instead of believing that through Jesus Christ we’ve been cleansed and redeemed, in a real sense, we’ve decided to be condemned to repeat the past, that is until he comes again. And like I said, this attitude can shape any person and organization. And as most of us would admit, it’s probably alive and well in the church.

But it doesn’t have to be. Instead of using the past as an anchor to limit future movement, we can use the past as a story that might have future implications. You see, on one hand, we certainly don’t need to make the same stupid mistakes again nor do we have to reinvent the wheel constantly; therefore, we can interpret our stories in such a way that we can find some direction and meaning as we move forward. On the other hand, though, our stories are involving. God has created us to grow and not become stagnant. Every day offers new ways to share and to live the good news. If our vision is limited to what we’ve already seen, then we’re going to miss these opportunities. For that reason, it seems to make sense to take what’s best from our past and  combine that with an openness and faith in the present so that we can become better in the future. Of course this takes both courage and strength, courage to leave behind what’s comfortable and strength to step forward into the unknown. But as we do this, we need to remember that we’re not doing this alone. God is with us every step of the way.

In the next week, I hope to be able to post our annual report in our blog so that everybody can read about what happened in 2013. And as we move into 2014, let’s use it as a story, with successes and failures, with direction and missteps, with jobs done and hopes not yet fulfilled.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - To Hear the Word

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


James 2:1-9 

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.


A Devotion by David Hosey (District of Columbia, USA)

Our young-adult Bible study group sat outside a sandwich shop in downtown Washington, D.C. We were beginning our discussion of the letter of James when a man approached our table. “Excuse me,” he said; “Are you studying the Bible?” One of us hesitantly answered, “Yes.” “May I join you?” he responded. We glanced at each other. How could we say no? The man sat down and asked if we would read the passage again. We did, and it was stunning. James indicts his audience for showing favoritism to the rich while neglecting the poor. Ray, the man who had joined us, listened intently as we read. Then he told us about being homeless and going into churches and being ignored or even asked to leave because he wasn’t well-dressed or well-groomed. “The worst part of being homeless,” he said, “is having nowhere to hear the word.” He meant the “word of God”; but he could also have meant any word at all. Too often, people who are homeless are ignored; no one speaks to them. After studying the Bible and sharing a meal, we asked Ray if we could pray for him; but he prayed for us. Christ visited us that night. How many other nights have we received a visit from Christ and not realized it?

From The Upper Room.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - Following the Servant

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Isaiah 49:1-7

Listen, coastlands, to me
and attend people from afar,
the Lord, from the womb, called me;
from the bowels of my mother, he recorded my name.
And he has made my mouth as a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he withdrew me;
and he has made me a polished arrow
in his quiver he hid me.
And he says to him, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will show my beauty.”
And I myself said, “For nothing, I toiled;
for formlessness and vapor, I spent my strength;
surely my judgment is with the Lord,
and my work is with my God.”
And now the Lord says,
the one who formed me in the womb to serve him,
to turn back Jacob to him,
and Israel be gathered to him
and I will be honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God becomes my strength.
And he says, “It is a slight thing that you are a servant to me,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and guard the restored of Israel
and I will give you to be a light to the nations
to become my deliverance to the end of the earth.”

Thus says the Lord,
the one who’s redeeming Israel and his holy one,
to the one who’s deeply despised, to the one who’s abhorred by the nations,
to a servant of the ones who are ruling:
“Kings will see and arise,
and chieftains will bow down,
on account of the Lord is faithful,
the holy one of Israel and he will choose you.”


Following the Servant

Now, around my old neighborhood, we used to play follow the leader all time. Of course, I think most of y’all know about this game. Before Ipads and Xboxes, it was just something that you did. One kid would be the leader, you know, at the front. And everybody else would line up behind him. And then he’d go all over the place and do all kinds of crazy stuff and all the other kids would have to do the same thing, if they wanted to stay in the game. And even though I don’t want to brag, I was pretty good if I don’t say so myself. Man, when I was the leader, I was a tough guy to beat. You see, I wasn’t afraid of bees and so I could really skirt pretty close to the honey suckle bush without freaking out. And back then I was really skinny and Karen Wilson had this tulip tree in her front yard, and I could always squeeze between those big shoots, something my huskier friends couldn’t do. But looking back, I think my greatest advantage, and I’ll tell you, this will probably come as a big surprise to y’all, but I really had very little shame. Not much embarrassed me back then; therefore, I tended to do some really stupid stuff that knocked some of the more inhibited kids out. I’ll tell you, when I was the leader, the kids who lived on Moose Avenue knew what they would be facing, you know, what they could expect, and I’ll tell you, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

And you know, when you think about it, I believe we should probably be able to say the same thing about the one we claim to follow, and now I’m talking about Jesus Christ. I mean, before we sign up as followers of Jesus, we really should have a pretty good idea about what we can and should expect, you know what I’m talking about, the kind of life we can expect to live, the kind work we’ll be expected to do, and the kind challenges we’ll see along the way. I mean, give me a break, before we put our names on the bottom line and start following our leader, we should certainly know what might happen. It just makes sense. But of course, I think we all recognize that that’s not always the case. As a matter of fact, although we might all want to follow Jesus, we’re not always very clear about what following is all about. And as a result, well, I think one of two things often happen, and I’m talking about to the followers. I mean, on one hand, some folks just plain drop out when they see that following is not nearly as easy as they thought. But, on the other hand, I think far more people kind of fudge on the following. Now let me say right here, I don’t think it’s a matter of either dedication or sincerity. I believe these folks are truly dedicated to God and they’re very sincere in their desire to express their faith. It’s just that, as they follow their savior, their sort of veer away from places that are dangerous and avoid getting themselves in what may be a tight fit and tone down some of those things that might be a little bit embarrassing in public. You see, although they technically follow, they steer clear of the hard suff and then wonder why their faith isn’t as fulfilling as they expected it to be.

But, of course, it’s not because of their faith, instead it’s all about the following and in particular how they see the one who’s up there at the head of the line. And I’ll tell you, when we look close, you know, at the leader, I think we see that he’s really not what we expect a leader to be. Instead, the guy we’re following is more like a servant, and if we ever want to be clear about what we can expect, I think we better be clear about that. You see, regardless of what we want to believe or been told in the past, as Christians, we are all following a servant.

And because I believe that’s the case, I think a passage like the one we read from Isaiah is a great place to begin thinking about what we can expect as his followers. Now, before I say anything else, let me be clear about this. I don’t believe that when Isaiah wrote this, he was thinking about Jesus. Maybe he was, but I don’t think so. Based on what he wrote, I think he probably considered the people of Israel to be this servant. Remember, right here, in our passage, he says, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will show my beauty.” That seems pretty clear, at least it does to me. But having said that, I believe that this vision of the servant, you know, the one who suffers, became a part of how the people saw the anointed one, in Hebrew, the “messiah”, in Greek the “christ”. You see, how people saw the Son of God was shaped by this imagine of the servant. And for that reason, when we’re talking about expectations, I think we can look at what they expected from this person to better understand what we can expect.

And I’ll tell you, when we do, I mean, when we look at a passage like the one we have from Isaiah, I think there are three things we can expect as followers of Christ. Just look at the passage, and notice that if we choose to follow Jesus, we can expect to be frustrated, to be disappointed, to be discouraged. Of course, that’s not the first thing we want to hear nor is it a slogan that would draw people to church, you know, “come to Cove and be frustrated, disappointed and discouraged”, but here it is, the servant looking at his work and saying, “For nothing, I toiled; for formlessness and vapor, I spent my strength; surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work is with my God.” Hot dog, let’s follow Jesus, right? No, the reality is that Jesus’s life was tough and ultimately pretty disappointing, at least in earthly terms. I remember a minister telling me something I bet twenty-five years ago, probably when I was worried about church attendance or church giving, you know, one of those other things we never worry about now-a-days. He said, “Just think about Jesus at the end of his life. The crowds were now hostile, and he had twelve people left. One betrayed him. One denied him. And the rest ran away. How can we expect to do better than Jesus Christ?” You know, the reality is that following Jesus is tough and often frustrating and disappointing and discouraging. And when you think about it, it’s really not hard to figure out why. The message of Jesus is always counter cultural. It tends to confront, not conform to the values of our world. And when you get right down to it, it just doesn’t make sense to folks who don’t believe. I guess you could say that Paul was right on the mark, when he wrote this to the Corinthians: “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” You see, the bottom line is that, if we choose to follow Jesus, we can expect to be frustrated. That’s one.

And second, we can also expect to be busy, busy doing the kind of things Jesus did. You see, I think these words of Isaiah apply to us just like they did to the servant: “It is a slight thing that you are a servant to me, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and guard the restored of Israel, and I will give you to be a light to the nations to become my deliverance to the end of the earth.” You see, that’s what Jesus came to do, and as his followers, that’s our job as well. We’re to lift up those who’ve been pushed down, whether they’re the tribes of Jacob sitting in exile in Babylon or the least of these who are members of our human family. Our job as followers is to offer them a hand not a foot. And it’s also our responsibility to guard and protect those whom God has called to be his own,  and for me, that includes all those people whom God loved before the foundation of the earth and called into his body. You see, we really do have a responsibility to one another. That’s part of our job. And so is our willingness and desire to be a light to the nations, a sign of deliverance and salvation to the ends of the earth. I’ll tell you, it’s just like Isaiah will write a little later, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ ...The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Just like it was for Christ, this is our job too. And when we take that job seriously, I think it’ll keep us plenty busy. And that’s two.

And third, if we choose to follow Jesus, we can expect to be supported. Now I know, this business about being frustrated and busy is probably not what y’all wanted to hear this morning, but I believe it’s worth it, when we think about the support we have. Again, right at the end of this passage, Isaiah wrote, “Kings will see and arise, and chieftains will bow down, on account of the Lord is faithful, the holy one of Israel and he will choose you.” You see, just like it was with our savior, so it is with us. Although there are times when we feel insignificant, the Lord will cause kings and chieftains, presidents and congressmen, bosses and teachers to see us and to arise and ultimately to bow down before the one whom we follow. And we can be sure of this, because our Lord is faithful and holy and he has indeed chosen us to be his people and to do his work. And I’ll tell you, this choosing was a big deal to the Prophet Isaiah. A few chapters before the one we read, this is what he wrote: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.’” You see, I believe we’ve been chosen to follow Jesus Christ; therefore, I also believe God will support us every step of the way. And that’s three.

Now, when we played “follow the leader,” the one who actually was able to do it became the new leader and everybody had to follow him or her. And although that’s not the way it is as we follow Jesus, we can still play the game well, because if we listen, we can know exactly what a follower can expect. In other words, if we choose to follow Jesus, we can expect to be frustrated and we can expect to be busy and we can expect to be supported right to the end. And I’ll tell you, I think that’s really important to know, if we’re serious about following the servant.

Today's Minute for Mission - Race Relations

The hands that poured water over baby Robin’s alabastar head while the alto voice declared, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” had long, tapering fingers, with nails painted tastefully in seashell pink. The water beaded into tiny droplets on the coffee-colored hands of the one performing the sacrament that typical Sunday morning.
Over the years, Robin saw those same hands break bread and pour the cup; heard the same voice declare, “These are the gifts of God for the people of God.” When Robin became a youth elder, she heard the same voice call her session to order, charging the ruling elders to serve God’s people with, as the Book of Common Worship says, “imagination and love.”
It is with imagination and love—as well as insight, intelligence, faithfulness, creativity, and joy—that women of color serve (or pursue calls to serve) in all areas of ministry and mission. The beauty of Robin’s upbringing, especially as a white person, is that she never knew of a time when she could not experience a woman of color as her pastor.
How wonderful it would be for all God’s children to receive and accept the presence and leadership of women of color so readily! Together, let us build bridges and break down barriers, so that we may joyously echo the words of Psalm 40: “God put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Nancy Benson-Nicol, associate for gender and racial justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency