Monday, March 31, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - An Example to Follow

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


1 Samuel 16:1-13

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Until when will you mourn for Saul, since I myself rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go; I’m sending you to Jesse from the Bethlehemites, because I saw in his sons my king.” And Samuel said, “How can I go. If Saul hears, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take in your hand an heifer from the herd and say that I come to sacrifice to the Lord. And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will make known to you what to do and the one you shall anoint is the one I will say to you.”

And Samuel did what the Lord spoke, and he came to Bethlehem, and the elders of the city were trembling at his coming and said, “Are you coming in peace?” And he said, “Peace. I’ve come to sacrifice to the Lord. Set yourselves apart and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he set apart Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.



And it happened: they entered and he saw Eliab and he said, “Yes, I am in front of the Lord’s anointed.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “You must not look at his appearance nor to his physical height, because I’ve rejected him, because I don’t see as people [see], because people see by their eyes and the Lord sees by the heart.” And Jesse called to Abinadab, and he passed before the face of Samuel, and he said, “This one isn’t chosen by the Lord.” And Jesse made Shammah pass, and he said, “This one isn’t chosen by the Lord.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before the face of Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Have we come to the end of your children?” And he said, “There still remains a small one and he is shepherding the flock.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him, because we won’t gather until he comes here.” And he sent and [the boy] came with him, and he was ruddy with beautiful eyes, and his appearance was good. And the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him, because he is the one.” And Samuel took the horn of oil, and he anointed him in the middle of his brothers. And the breathe of the Lord rushed into David from that day forward. And Samuel rose and went to Ramah.


An Example to Follow

I don’t watch a lot of network television, but there are a few exceptions. For example, later this evening, Debbie and I will watch The Great Race. And on Thursday, Maggie and I will watch Hell’s Kitchen. And on Friday, hallelujah, there’s a show all three of us like. At nine o’clock sharp, we’ll settle in and watch Shark Tank.

Now, if you’ve never seen it, the premise is pretty simple. There are five really rich people, one of whom is Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. And one by one, budding entrepreneurs come in to pitch their businesses, hoping that one those five people will make an investment.  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But you know, I think it’s really interesting that often the people who come in, well, they seem to be looking for more than just money. I mean, often they also seem to want a mentor, you know, an advisor. In other words, they’re looking to these very successful business men and women to provide an example that they might follow into the future.

And I’ll tell you, I think that desire, well, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, regardless of what we want to do, doing it is a lot easier if we can follow is the footsteps of someone who’s done it before. And it’s even better if the people we’re following actually got it right. I mean, a kid generally doesn’t learn to shoot a foul shot or swing a golf club, to bake a loaf of bread or do a little needlepoint, to study hard and practice their piano, generally they don’t learn to do this kind of stuff by reading a book or watching a video. Instead, it comes from some person who actually did what the child wants to do, maybe a coach or teacher who showed him the steps he’d need to follow to be successful, or better yet, a parent who demonstrated by his or her work ethic what it takes to do the job. That’s what I’m talking about by following an example. And even though there are plenty of people who’ve pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, more often than not our lives settle into the patterns of the folks we’ve followed, both good and bad. That’s just the way it is.

And I think that same sort of thing also applies to Christians, I’ll tell you something, and trust me, there are times when this sends a chill up my spine, those kids who come in every Sunday morning with the streamers, they’re learning about the faith from us, just like we learned from others. In other words, how they see the church in their future is being shaped by what they see and hear coming from us right now. Yikes.

But fortunately, we’re not the only examples. They’re also learning about a lot of folks from the Bible, you know, men and women who can show them about what faithful people believe and how they live and love. As a matter of fact, those great biblical people can serve as examples to us all regardless of our age, and they can shape how we share our faith through both our words and work. And you know, I think we’ve  got a great one right here in the passage we just read, and I’m talking about Samuel, not necessarily David. I mean, this just happens to be one of those stories that everybody who’s been around the church for a while or who went to Sunday school when they were young, it’s one of those stories that we all know. But I’ll tell you, I think the appearance of David can sort of distract us from the one with whom we can all identify and the example we can all follow. But let me show you want I mean.

I want you to think about how Samuel was presented in these verses. Now I’ve got to tell you, in some very clear ways I think this guy was a lot like us. I mean, just think about it. Good night, he certainly knew want sadness was all about. The first thing the Lord said to him was, “Until when will you mourn for Saul, since I myself rejected him as king over Israel?” In other words, “How long are you going to feel sad about what happened to Saul, the first ruler of Israel, the one you yourself anointed as king?” You see, Samuel was sad, because it wasn’t all that long ago that this happened: “Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said [to Saul], ‘The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his heritage...’” You see, that’s what happened, but now, thanks to Saul’s inability to do what God told him to do, Samuel had to say this to him, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” Man, Samuel was depressed, but that’s not all.

And he was also scared, wasn’t he? I mean, when God told him to anoint another king while there was still a king on the throne, Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears, he will kill me.” Excellent point, only a remarkably stable king would voluntarily surrender power, and Saul was anything but stable. In these verses, Samuel showed that he was scared.

But I think the best sign of his true humanity was this: Samuel proved that he could be wrong. Yes, I said it, a guy who has two books in the Bible named for him; the great prophet Samuel was wrong. Now, I know, that’s not what we generally expect from our biblical heroes, but that’s exactly what we got in Samuel. I mean, after he got to Bethlehem and after he got Jesse to get his sons, do you remember what happened when he saw the first pig to the trough so to speak? “And it happened: they entered and he saw Eliab and [Samuel] said, ‘Yes, I am in front of the Lord’s anointed.’” Or as one might paraphrase it, “Hot dog, we’ve got a winner.” But of course, we all know the Lord said to Samuel, “You must not look at his appearance nor to his physical height, because I’ve rejected him, because I don’t see as people [see], because people see by their eyes and the Lord sees by the heart.” You see, along with being sad and scared, Samuel was just plain wrong.

And I’ve got to tell you, those are some things with which I can identify, all three. Trust me, there are plenty of times when I feel sad, even depressed. Man, I’m personally sad every time I look at empty pews, knowing that we have a message that can change the world but we’ve chosen, I’ve chosen to present it in a way that doesn’t engage the very folks who need to hear it. And that makes me sad. And think about this, in less than a year, my daughter will become a teenager and in six years she’ll be going to college, and racking up bills that I can’t even imagine now; I’m scared. And whether you’re talking about buying a birthday present for my wife or trying to lead the people of God, I make mistakes on a daily basis and most of them are based on assumptions that prove to be just plain wrong. In this way, Samuel’s really a lot like me. And what about you? Do you ever feel sad or scared, and have you every done something that you thought was right but turned out wrong? Of course, if your answer is no, let me suggest you either write a book or share with the rest of us what you’re drinking? No, the last time I looked we’re all human, right; just like Samuel.

And you know, I think this is the reason he can be such a good example for us. In other words, it’s because he’s so much like us, that we can actually be a lot like him. I mean, even though he oozed humanity, just think about some of his signs of faith, signs that I believe we can claim. For instance, even though he was sad, he still listened to God, and he listened even though God told him that something was going to happen that he didn’t want to see and to do something he sure didn’t want to do. I mean, I’ve got to believe that the last thing Samuel wanted to hear was this, “Fill your horn with oil and go; I’m sending you to Jesse from the Bethlehemites, because I saw in his sons my king.” I think he’s have been much happier if God had said that Saul would be forgiven and everything would stay the same and they could all live happily ever after. I don’t think he wanted to hear that the times, they were a-changin’, and yet he still listened to the voice of God.

But he did more than that, he also trusted God; even though he was scared. And let me tell you, he had good reason to be afraid. Kings get very cranky when they think they’re getting replaced. And yet, he still trusted God enough to get his oil-filled horn and head to Bethlehem, a town whose name in Hebrew literally means “House of Bread,” to see which of those “dough boys” would be king. You see, he trusted that God knew what he was doing.

And even though I think it was probably a humbling experience to be told by God that not only was his first choice wrong but his judgement was not exactly godly, Samuel still did what he was told to do. He was obedient. I mean, he watched son after son pass by. And then he waited for them to fetch the sunburned kid with Zack Efron eyes from the field so that he could anoint the one whom God had chosen and would fill with his breath, his spirit. Now that’s what Samuel did.

And we can do the same. In other words, even though we’re sad about changes that we’re seeing in our country and community, in our congregation and in our own lives, even though things may make us really sad, we can still listen to the voice of God, because I’ll tell you, no matter what it is that makes us sad, God is still in control and he’s still with us and he’s still moving us all into his future. I mean, if we listen, we’re going to hear God say something I think I mention every Sunday, but darn it, it’s just that important. We’re going to hear him say that nothing, nothing can separate us from the love he showed us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Sadness doesn’t have to close our ears.

And when we’re afraid, afraid about things happening that we don’t understand, afraid of both the present and the future, we can do what Samuel did and simply trust God. Of course, I’ve got an idea what y’all are going to say: “But Ed, the Russians are massing on the border of Ukraine”; simply trust God. “But Ed, the Democrats are ruining our country with all their regulations and the Republicans with their obsession with guns”; simply trust God. “But Ed, my daughter’s about to be a teenager and she wants to go to Princeton”; simply trust God. Fear can’t destroy our faith unless we let it.

And finally, even though we’re wrong a lot of times, even though we make plenty of mistakes, and even though we might pay some pretty big consequences for those mistakes (remember Massah and Meribah), we can still do what God has called us to do. We can still obey.And what have we been called to do? Man, it’s not rocket science. We’re called to make disciples of all nations and we’re called to love both God and neighbor. You see, just like it was with Samuel, our mistakes don’t have to prevent us from doing what God has called us to do and from being what God has created us to be.

You see, we don’t have to go on a television show to find a faith mentor. I’m telling you, a good one is right here in the passage we read this morning, a man who just like us knew what it was like to be sad and scared and wrong but who also kept listening and trusting and doing what he was called and created to do. I’m telling you, that’s who we have in Samuel, an example that we all can sure follow.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Situation Report - Washington State Mudslide

Rescuer and dog in mud
Photo of Lisa and her dog, from Northwest Disaster Search Dogs.
Photo by Spc. Matthew Sissel, National Guard (from 
flickr)
Stephanie Fritts, Chair of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Advisory Committee, is Director of the Pacific County Emergency Management Agency. Following is information she has shared on the situation in Washington.
March 2014 has been an exceptionally rain-filled month in Washington State.  As of this writing (March 26, 2014) annual rainfall has exceeded normal by close to five inches.  The morning of Saturday, March 22, 2014 was an atypical sunny morning, but one of the largest disaster events related to rainfall occurred that morning in Oso, Washington.  An extremely large and unexpected landslide befell Snohomish County at approximately 10:45 a.m.  Authorities were first alerted by a 911 call reporting severe flooding.  As it ended up this was not flooding, but a mud/landslide that had wiped out the town of Oso and portions of the town of Darrington.  The landslide was not truly land, but mud, as the slide also traversed and blocked the Stillaguamish River.  Responders reported sinking while attempting rescues, even with ladders, sheets of plywood and makeshift supports, attempting to dig through mud estimated to be up to 20' deep.  The mud was often described as "quick sand" and is dangerous if not impossible to traverse. 
The rescue effort has continued since Saturday morning (and is ongoing as of this writing), with 24 identified fatalities and up to 176 individuals listed as missing.  This event is larger in terms of personal impact than the 1980 Mt. St. Helen's eruption.  57 people died in the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's.  Those persons were a disparate group of researchers, photographers, and more, without personal community connections.  The impact of the slide on Snohomish County is distinctly different in that the numbers of fatalities is expected to be much larger and the impact is close and personal.  This is a community that knows each other well, and neighbors cannot walk down the street without seeing a person in grief. 
Presbyterians can follow the rescue and recovery effort on Twitter by following the hashtag #530slide or the hashtag #Oso.  The Snohomish County Emergency Management Agency website is full of current information as well as links to video that provide a true scope of the event.  In addition, a search of Facebook will turn up an active Snohomish County Landslide Victims Memorial Page.

PDA Response

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has been in touch with the Presbytery of North Puget Sound to offer One Great Hour of Sharing funds and other assistance. At their request, PDA has sent two members of the PDA National Response Team (NRT) to help in the response. In many situations, NRT members meet with local Presbyterian pastors, tour impacted areas when appropriate, and discuss opportunities for collaboration with the broader faith community.

How you can Help

Give:  Support the One Great Hour of Sharing offering or share your financial blessings by designating gifts to DR000015 – USA Disasters and Emergencies.  Individuals may give through their local Presbyterian congregation, online, or by mailing a check to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.  You can also text PDA to 20222 to donate $10. 
Act:  Like us on Facebook PDACARES and share updates with your congregation or others.
Pray: The Presbytery of North Puget Sound has specifically asked for your prayers. Please pray that through the response of the faith community, the people and communities impacted and those offering assistance will be reminded of the faithful hope found in Christ.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, March 30, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll consider how we might follow the example of Samuel.









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.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor. The book selection is "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline.

RE-REGISTER FOR KROGER REWARDS PROGRAM. . .
Please remember that you need to re-register after April 1 for the coming year's program.   It costs you nothing while raising money for Cove Church. It's a WIN, WIN situation for all concerned!

MYRTLE MCHENDRY CLASS . . .
will meet at noon on Tuesday, April 1 at "The Gathering Place"  of Paris Presbyterian Church.  Ladies bring a sandwich. Hostesses Evelyn Buckley and Esten Jezerski will provide dessert.  Betty Morgan will lead the devotions, followed by a demonstration of the making of plastic " Mats for the Homeless."

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will  practice on Wednesday, April 2nd at  6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Palm Sunday Cantata, The Day He Wore My Crown.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING. . .
Monday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN. . .
will have their monthly board meeting on Wednesday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room. The regular monthly meeting and Bible Study of the Presbyterian Women will be held on Wednesday, April 16 at noon in Fellowship Hall.  

BOARD OF SESSION. . .
regular monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 14 in the church library.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES. . .
monthly meeting will be held on Monday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

HOLY WEEK SERVICES. . .
Palm Sunday, April 13, The Day He Wore My Crown Cantata during the Morning Worship Service.
Maundy Thursday, April 17 Soup & Bread Dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. in fellowship hall.  Communion will be served.
Good Friday, Tenebrae Service (Service of Darkness) April 18th at 7:00 p.m.
Easter Sunday, April 20, Praise Service at 8:00 a.m. and Morning Worship at 11:00 a.m.

SUNDAY, MAY 4. . .
you are invited to attend our Second Choir Festival beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the sanctuary featuring seven area church choirs.  Refreshments will be served. You are invited to enjoy an afternoon of Christian music and fellowship.

RADA PRODUCTS. . .
are being sold by members of the Myrtle McHendry Class. Contact a class member to see a catalog. Items included are knives, bake ware, candles, serving utensils,  gift sets, dips, cookbooks and meal starters. We ask for you to support this fund raiser enabling the ladies to continue with their mission projects.  For more information please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134 or Ways & Means, Chairperson,  Diana Durst at 304-723-4469.

ITEMS NEEDED . . .
the Presbyterian Women are currently collecting items for The Shack near Morgantown West Virginia. Items being collected are:
Cleaning supplies - laundry detergent, dish liquid, paper towels, dish towels and disinfectant cleaners.
Children's program supplies - small plastic cups and bowls, plastic forks and spoons, paper napkins, disposable  table clothes, and hand sanitizers.
Health and hygiene products - toothbrushes, tooth paste, combs, shampoo and conditioner. There is a box in the main hallway downstairs for your donations. The ladies thank you for your generosity.

 FAITH ENDURES . . .
is the theme of the 2014 One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts."
(Romans 5:5).
 This longtime ecumenical offering is used to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food for the hungry and assist in the empowerment of the poor and oppressed.  There are "Fish Boxes" placed throughout the church that you  may take to collect your donation thru Lent.  The included bulletin inserts will enlighten us on how the funding has been used in previous years. Your giving to One Great Hour of Sharing  helps to transform suffering into healing and hope by supporting programs like the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Envelopes will be placed in your Palm Sunday and/or Easter bulletins for your contribution.

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.  You may  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 used 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.

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - “I’m Only Thinking of You”

Below is a link to a new devotion I just left of the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you’re interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Mark 7:17-23

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”


“I’m Only Thinking of You”

“Now, I’m only thinking of you. That’s why I’m saying this. I have no thought of myself. It’s all about you.”

Now when I hear someone say this kind of thing, I know something bad is coming. In fact, I feel a lot like a colleague told me he felt whenever he went into a business that had some kind of sign announcing, “We’re a Christian business.” He used to say, whenever he’d see that kind of sign, he’d always put his hand on his wallet, because if they really were, they probably wouldn’t need to advertise it. And I think the same thing is going on here. I mean, if they feel as though they need to announce it, they may not actually mean it. And what follows those words may be pure venom, of absolutely no help to anyone. It’s just like Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

And I’ll tell you, I think that’s something pretty important for us to remember as we relate with one another. You see, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re the speaker or the hearer, I believe we need to keep in mind that pure, unadulterated evil can flow from the human mouth. Therefore, when we’re speaking, we might want to consider what we’re about to say before we let the words fly. And when we’re listening, we might want to check into the accuracy and the underlying motivations before we take the observations as gospel. You see, I think doing that will save a lot of heartache in the end.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday’s Essay - Before We Cross the Line

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

In the last couple of weeks I’ve come to understand the difference between disliking a person, style, action, or event and really being offended by it. As a matter of fact, without going into details, I’ve been forced to think about this twice in the last ten days, give or take a day. And as I’ve thought about what happened in both “offensive” situations, I think that I now have a better understanding about the difference and why we should resist becoming offended, unless it’s absolutely necessary and appropriate. And I’ll tell you why.

Although in our society I think we’ve been conditioned to viewing them as the same thing, it seems to me that there’s a profound difference between dislike and offense. You see, even though they both carry a rational and emotional component, for me, offense deals with morality and ethics as well. For example, there’s some music I like and some I dislike. I enjoy classical, jazz, classical rock, and music from the theater. But for whatever reason, I don’t like heavy metal, rap and country. Now I’m sure my feelings are a combination of all kinds of things. But having said that, with some exceptions, I don’t find the music I dislike offensive. If it’s on the radio in my car, I may change the channel, but I don’t consider the music, in and of itself, morally or ethically bad. Now I may be offended by some lyrics, but not the music. You see, if it were up to me to plan a wedding, I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t have the bride walk down the aisle to a rapper’s beat or a country twang. Still, if that’s what she wants, so long are the lyrics aren’t obscene, I’d do the service without hesitation. For me, there’s as big a difference between dislike and offense. When I’m offended, for me, it’s always about more than preference; it involves morals and ethics.

And because of that, being offended can cause all kinds of problems, depending on what we decide to do about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, dislike can make things difficult, but I think offense can be far more damaging to a group, because it has that moral component. I mean, when I’m asked why I don’t like something, I tend to focus on the thing disliked, you know, on rational and emotional reasons why I don’t like Jay Z but kind of enjoy Pit Bull.  But when I’m offended, I’m not talking about preference any more. My focus is not just on that the thing, the lyric, the comment, or the action. It’s also on the source. As a matter of fact, when I take offense, I think I may be most offended by the one who sang or said or did it. It’s far more personal and interpersonal. And for that reason, when folks are offended, it nearly always causes divisions. In other words, when it’s just something we dislike, we can compromise. In fact, we might even decide that we can live with it or grow to accept it. But even if that never happens and we never like what we dislike, that doesn’t mean the community, the family, the nation, or the congregation has to divide. It’s like agreeing to disagree; I have many friends who like things I don’t like or who have opinions that I don’t share. But if those opinions are offensive, then it’s pretty hard to accept or to ignore them.

But I also think there’s some good news here, because I also believe that offense is a choice. In other words, I choose to be offended. And since it’s a choice, I can also choose not to be offended. Now, maybe someone far wiser than me might offer all kinds of reasons why what I’m about to say is wrong, I don’t choose to dislike something, I just do. I dislike collard greens. I don’t know why. My mom and dad love them. But the very thought of that big pot of greens, with the salt pork and the green, slimy dumplings and potatoes, well, I can tell you that the vision is doing anything positive for me right now. And as a kid, my life would have been much easier if I just liked them, but I couldn’t. But I wasn’t offended by collard greens, although I guess I could have chosen to be. I mean, I could have thought that collard greens were tools of Satan, and I could have identified all those who like the demon weeds as moral degenerates. I could have made that choice, but I didn’t. I chose not to be offended. And as we deal with the things, people, music and messages we don’t like, we can make the same choice. Of course, I’m not suggesting that this is easy nor am I suggesting that we should never be offended. There’s genuine evil in our world, and as Christians, we should always be offended by those who perpetuate hatred and violence. I don’t see how a people dedicated to loving God and neighbor can ever simply dislike evil, poverty or injustice. But I do think we may need to be very careful before we slap an “offensive” label on something and then condemn everyone who produces it and who has the audacity to like it. Knowing how destructive it can be, we might want to pause before offense kicks it so that we can be sure that we haven’t decided to be offended by something we may just dislike.

Now, in the last week I’ve thought a lot about difference between dislike and offense and the damage offense can cause. And speaking for myself, I hope I can have the patience to pause and the insight to determine what to do with the feelings I might be experiencing. And if being offending is appropriate, I hope that I react with love. And if it’s not, I pray that I have the inner strength to keep the dislike from crossing the line.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Global students at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Photo by Ashley P. Schaffner
Global students at Louisville Presbyterian Theological
Seminary
Photo by Ashley P. Schaffner
Global students: their stories are captivating. Told by young adults who have served God in India, sub-Saharan Africa, and mountain villages in South America—and amid the crushing poverty of a North American city—they captivate, move, and inspire, not because of the exotic locations but because of the love, life, and light of God in which they’ve participated.
Many of the students at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary today bring with them the rich experience of active service in global mission, which transforms the life of our seminary. Whether in a New Testament class or worship in Caldwell Chapel, whether in table fellowship in the Winn Center, in late-night conversations in student housing, or at a field-education site, the experiences of these students are igniting new fires of imagination here and beyond. Confirming the line from the old campfire song, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,” we see these fires spreading.
Two aspects of Louisville Seminary’s strategic plan, Covenant for the Future, relate directly to the global mission experience of these students: our Doors to Dialogue and Black Church Studies programs. Both programs provide students vital knowledge and deep understanding to assist them in ministry in our diverse and pluralistic society. Professor Amy Plantinga Pauw has said: “Presbyterians have a big vision of God’s grace, beauty, and sovereignty. God is bigger than any one of us can grasp. That means Presbyterians need a big vision of the church.” Many of the students coming through our doors these days, together with the professors who teach them, are expanding the vision of our church to match what God is up to in God’s world.

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - God’s with Us All the Way

Below is a new devotion I just left of the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you’re interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Genesis 46:1-7

When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.”

Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. They also took their livestock and the goods that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.


God’s with Us All the Way

I’ve found that sometimes life takes us to unexpected places at unexpected times. I know that as I look back on my own journey, there’ve been many twists and turns: times when things were exactly the way I wanted them to be or even better, times when life seemed to be unraveling for no apparent reason, and times when I made choices that turned out to be so bad, I’m still paying the consequences. My life has been less than smooth, but I’m not sure anybody lives without some bumps and bruises.

And as we go along our own individual journeys, I think it’s important that we remember that we’re never alone, even when it feels as though we are. God is with us every step of the way. I mean, just think about the example of Jacob in the passage from Genesis. I’m sure he didn’t expect to pack up all his stuff and move to Egypt, in other words, away from the land promised to his father and grandfather. And yet that’s what he did, trusting that the same God who was with him at Beer-sheba would be with him in the land of the Pharaohs.

Of course, as I look forward, I really expect more twists and turns. And although I hope my decisions improve, things are still going to occur that will sweep me off my feet and knock me on my backside. I guess that’s just living. But as I go along my own path, I pray that I remember that, no matter what happens, God’s with me all the way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - Mudslide in Washington


A large mudslide caused by rains that had saturated the soil, occurred Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Washington state.  At least 14 people were killed, several were injured, and numerous homes were destroyed. Many people remain missing.
The mudslide, reportedly 45 yards wide and 60 yards across, was in Oso, a small town approximately 17 miles east of Arlington, Wash., in Snohomish County. While there are no Presbyterian Churches in that small community, there are a number of churches within 15-20 miles of the town. 
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has been in contact with the leadership of the North Puget Sound Presbytery to offer financial assistance from One Great hour of Sharing funds and a ministry of presence by members of the PDA National Response Team.
Please hold the community in prayer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - God’s Not Obsessed with “Ts”

Below is a link to a new devotion I just left of the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you’re interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Hebrews 10:4-10

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5onsequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
     “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
          but a body you have prepared for me;
   in burnt offerings and sin offerings
          you have taken no pleasure.
   Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
          (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


God’s Not Obsessed with “Ts”

Yesterday, I had an interesting exchange with a woman on Facebook. In response to a post, she asked if the word “Presbyterian” is in the Bible and where in the Bible am I commanded to wear a collar. Well, I certainly think those are good questions and so I explained that Presbyterian comes from the Greek word “presbytos” meaning “elder”. In the Presbyterian system, the congregation is ruled by Elders/Presbyters elected by the congregation. And then I said that no where in the Bible am I commanded to wear a collar. Rather, I wear one as a personal reminder to me that I’m a servant and that’s why I wear something based on a slave’s collar. Now that what I wrote. Well, she responded by sending me chart that indicated that members of a Presbyterian, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist or any other church that doesn’t have “Christian” in it’s name are members of a false church, irregardless of whether they worship Jesus Christ as Lord. In other words, you can’t be a Presbyterian or wear a collar and be a genuine Bible-based Christian.

Now as I read it, I was struck by the damage that an obsession on details could cause. It can lead one group of Christians to believe that they have the right to judge and condemn others, even brothers and sisters whom they don’t know. Of course this danger is something Christ understood, and that’s why he confronted the Pharisees about their focus on tithing the right amount of mint while neglecting human justice. And this very narrow perspective also overlooks passages like the one from Hebrews. I mean, here the writer seems pretty clear that our relationship with God isn’t grounded on our sacrifices and offerings. Instead it’s grounded on God. And in response, God simply wants us to do his will. And what is his will? Well, I don’t think it’s about dotting every “i” and crossing every “t”. Based on the words of Jesus, God want us simply to love him and our neighbor. You see, in my opinion, God’s not obsessed with “Ts”; we are.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - Eating Cookies & Drinking Tea

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


Exodus 17: 1-7

And all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin on the journeys as dictated by the Lord, and they encamped in Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give to us water, and we will drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why quarrel with me? Why are you testing the Lord?” And the people there were thirsty for water, and the people murmured against Moses and said, “Why did you do this, bring us up from Egypt to put us to death and our sons and our cattle from thirst?”

And Moses cried to the Lord, saying, “What will I do for these people? A little further and they’ll stone me.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the face of the people and take with you the elders of Israel and the staff with which you smote the Nile, take it in your hand and walk. Behold I will stand before your face there on the rock of Horeb, and you will smite the rock, and water will come from it, and the people will drink.” And so Moses did before the eyes of the elders of Israel.

And he called the place by the name of “Testing” and “Quarreling” because of the quarreling of the sons of Israel and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”


Eating Cookies & Drinking Tea

As y’all probably know, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I mean, I was ordained as a “minister of word and sacrament” on June 14, 1987. Now that’s what my certificate of ordination says. And understand, things in the church have changed so much since then, that according to the new Book of Order, I’m no longer a “minister of word and sacrament”. As a matter of fact, that office no longer exists. I’m now a “teaching elder”. Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, the times they keep a-changin’.

But you know, even though things are a-changin’ all the time, some things never seem to change. And one of the those things is how the scripture assigned for the week often seems to relate directly with something that’s going on in my life or in the life of the church or even the nation. It’s almost as though, each week, I choose the passage, but I don’t do that. I preach from the lectionary and all the passages are assigned on a three-year cycle. And since I’ve been here six years and I’ve preached every gospel lesson and every lesson from the letters, I decided to preach the Old Testament for the next three years, and that’s something I decided to do back in November. And so, trust me, I didn’t pick out this particular passage earlier in the week.

But I’ll tell you, it really, and I mean really reflects on some of the stuff that’s happened to me personally. And in case you’re wondering, that’s also directly related to my sermon title. For instance, and this is just one example, back on Tuesday evening, I got a call from the president of an organization in which I’m a member, and she was really upset about a meeting we were having later in the week, and she called me for my advice. Now, it’s important to understand that there’s been a lot of turmoil in the group lately, you know, quarreling and complaining. And without going into details or blaming anybody, I can tell you, it’s made the meetings very stressful and not very pleasant; you know what I mean, not the kind of thing you’d attend if you weren’t already committed. Anyway, she called on Tuesday evening and I talked with her for about forty-five minutes, you know, about how she might conduct the meeting to minimize the conflict. Well, Maggie was listening to my side of the conversation. And after I hung up, she naturally asked what was going on, and all I told her was that I was helping a friend deal with a difficult situation. And after she thought for a minute, she said, “I don’t understand why people fight all the time. Why don’t they just eat cookies and drink tea.”

Now that’s what she said, and I’ve got to tell you, as soon as those words vibrated my ear drums, I thought about this story from Exodus, you know, the one assigned for this particular Sunday. Weird, right? Good night, this whole story is about conflict, isn’t it; and in particular about quarreling and complaining. I mean, according to the passage, “...all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin..., and there was no water for the people to drink. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give to us water, and we will drink.’ ...And the people there were thirsty for water, and the people murmured against Moses and said, ‘Why did you do this, bring us up from Egypt to put us to death and our sons and our cattle from thirst?’” Of course, the fact that these guys were fighting and scrapping and acting silly, well that really shouldn’t be a surprise. Man, the people of Israel had made quarreling almost a hobby. For example, a little bit later according to the Book of Numbers, “the people quarreled with Moses [again] and said, ‘Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord!’” And as to murmuring and complaining and griping among themselves, good night nurse. In Exodus, chapter fifteen, “And the people complained against  Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?’” In Exodus, chapter sixteen, “The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.” And according to Numbers fourteen, as they were getting ready to enter the Promised Land for crying out loud, this is what happened: “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become booty; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.’” Now you tell me, that’s some mighty good murmuring. I think they deserved a little cheese with that wine, am I right?

But you know, doesn’t that kind of describe us too? It sure seems that some folks just love a good fight, even ones that they start. I mean, they’re always starting up with somebody, and regardless of what’s going on in their country or their community, their family or their church, they just don’t like it. Man, they seem to confront just for the sake of confrontation. Do you know folks like that? I do, and often they act an awful lot like Israel in the desert. And as to those who murmur and gripe and whine behind the scenes, you know, who always seem to have something about which to complain, folks that I call “pot stirrers,” because they just love to keep things stirred up. In the late nineteenth century, they were called “muckrakers”. I swear, they seem to be happiest when they’ve made others uncomfortable and dissatisfied and miserable. I mean, “Do you know what he said about you?” “Let me tell you what she did.” “Can you believe they’ve decided to do that.” “I just don’t like it and never will.” Maybe misery does love company. No sir, I don’t think humanity left quarreling and complaining behind when Israel entered Canaan, and if you have any doubt of that, just watch an hour of Fox News or MSNBC. No, it’s alive and well and living right here in the U.S. of A. That hasn’t changed.

And I’ll tell, neither have the cause nor consequence. I mean, remember what happened as a result of all the whining and quarreling and complaining, and I’m talking in the passage we read. Well, Moses put his finger right on the cause; he said that the people were actually “testing” God. In other words, those whining gripers, their problem wasn’t in their relationship with him; Man, it wasn’t even about water or thirst. There was something wrong with their faith in God. I mean, right after they complained to him, “...Moses said to them, ‘Why quarrel with me? Why are you testing the Lord?’” In other words, Moses suggested that if they trusted God more, the people might have quarreled and murmured less. For Moses, a lack of faith resulted in all this. And I’ll tell you, if the cause was bad, the consequence was even worst. All their quarreling and all their complaining, well, it was going to be remembered. As a matter of fact, from that day on, there would be a permanent record of their attitude and action. You see, every time a person went to a place called Massah, they would be reminded of what Israel had done, because that’s the Hebrew word for “testing.” And when they went to Meribah, all folks would remember how the people had quarreled and complained. In fact so that nobody forgot, their attitude would be recorded for the future in the ninty-fifth psalm, which was the call to worship we read at the beginning of the service: “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.’ Therefore in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Now, to me, those were some pretty stiff consequences for quarreling and complaining.

But you know, when we do the same thing, what if, for us, the cause and the consequence are same? I mean, if I choose to quarrel with my wife or daughter, if I choose to start an argument in a committee or in a group, and if I chose to broaden that conflict by getting other people fired up, maybe I have a problem with my faith, maybe I don’t trust God enough to straighten things out, maybe I’m too quick to take things in my hands and too arrogant, believing that mine are the best hands to handle the situation? Maybe I’m testing God. That’s the cause for my actions. And as to the consequences, well think about it. If I get a reputation as a pot stirrer and a muckraker, if people see me as a person who complains behind scenes and behind backs, you know gossip about folks and stir up trouble, I mean, if I become known as a whiner, a person who always has something negative to say, a guy who never seems to be happy and who really doesn’t want other people happy either, if that’s how people see me, I just may be leaving a pretty nasty legacy for my daughter and her children, and as I think about my family and my friends and my church, maybe they’ll be painted by the same brush. I mean, if that’s who I am, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised if my church doesn’t grow but actually divides. And if that applies to us, because that’s what we’ve become, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised either. I mean, who wants to be around people who quarrel and complain all the time and who’s ever going to attend a congregation with that kind of reputation. We’ll be dead in the water, lost in the wilderness, when we change our name from “Cove” to Meribah Presbyterian Church. The consequences may still be high.

But having said that, I want you to know, so is the love. And I’ll tell you, I’d be wrong to close this sermon without mentioning something that’s also clear in this passage. You see, even though those people quarreled with Moses and murmured among themselves and even though Moses said that by doing this, they were testing God and that what they’d done would be remembered by their children and their children’s children, even though all that was true, God did a remarkable thing in this story. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pass before the face of the people and take with you the elders of Israel and the staff with which you smote the Nile, take it in your hand and walk. Behold I will stand before your face there on the rock of Horeb and you will smite the rock, and water will come from it, and the people will drink.’ And so Moses did before the eyes of the elders of Israel.” You see, in spite of the fact that his people had all kinds of issues and would pay some very stiff consequences, God still gave them something to drink. In other words, the Lord still loved them so much that he gave them water in the wilderness.

And I’m telling you, that love hasn’t changed. I mean, even though we might all decide today that we’re going to ease up on the quarreling and complaining, we’re still going to slip. Man, we’re only human. Somebody’s going to pick a fight with a spouse and somebody going to stir up some trouble by complaining. I think that’s going to happen, we’ll fail to be faithful. And even though we’re going to face the consequences, God still loves us. He loved us before the foundation the world. And he’ll love us when our prayers are answered and his kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. God loves us. You see, when Paul wrote that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”, I believe that “nothing” means “nothing” and that if he’d wanted a “but” at the end, he’d have put it there himself. We are just plain loved by God.

And you know, if we really believe that, maybe we’ll get along better and we’ll be able to follow Maggie’s advice. Sadly, that certainly didn’t happen at the meeting that motivated the call. It was a mess. But then, it didn’t happen with the children of Israel in the wilderness either. And sadly, it might not happen with us. I mean, whether you’re talking about countries or communities, families or congregations, I’m expecting plenty of quarreling and complaining in the future. That’s just who we are and what we do. Faith always seem to be an issue. And because of that, we’ll probably continue to face the consequence, and our sour reputation will live on. But even though that may be true and even likely, that in no way cancels out the love of God. What we didn’t earn, we can’t lose. And maybe, just maybe, in that new heaven and earth, we’ll actually be able to sit down with everybody and start eating cookies and drinking tea.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Dead Tired

Below is a new devotion I just left of the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you’re interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Psalm 31:1-5

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;
          do not let me ever be put to shame;
          in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
          rescue me speedily.
     Be a rock of refuge for me,
          a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
          for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
          for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
          you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.


Dead Tired

As I write this, I’m dead tired. Of course, that’s not a good thing right now. It’s Saturday afternoon, and I haven’t started my sermon. I guess you could say that this last week has been especially stressful, and I’m worn out. But I think we all end up feeling like that from time-to-time. Life throws in front of us slightly more than we can handle. Things come up that distract us, and we spend too much time with the distractions. We’re hit with changes we never expected but to which we have to respond. Those are all reasons for stress. But regardless of the specific reason, we end up feeling drained.

And at it’s at this point that we need to hear these word of the psalmist, that no matter what happens, God is always close, and he’s ready to lead us through the chaos of life. And he’s there to provide a place for emotional rest and restoration. Of course, when we’re hanging by a thread, these might just seem like words. But if we repeat those words, I believe the truth they represent will take root and enable us to endure even the valley of the shadow of death.

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, March 23, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During we’ll consider what quarreling and conflict might show about our faith in God.









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.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will  practice on Wednesday, March 26 at  6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Palm Sunday Cantata.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor. The book selection is "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY CLASS . . .
will meet at noon on Tuesday, April 1 at "The Gathering Place"  of Paris Presbyterian Church.  Ladies bring a sandwich. Hostesses Evelyn Buckley and Esten Jezerski will provide dessert.  Betty Morgan will lead the devotions, followed by a demonstration of the making of plastic "Mats for the Homeless." The Telephone Committee will be in contact with you for reservations.

THANK YOU!  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!. . .
for all the cards, Birthday Greetings, telephone call and the beautiful flowers placed in the sanctuary in honor of my birthday. I appreciate your kindness and generosity.
Janice Torrance

RADA PRODUCTS. . .
are being sold by members of the Myrtle McHendry Class. Contact a class member to see a catalog. Items included are knives, bake ware, candles, serving utensils,  gift sets, dips, cookbooks and meal starters. We ask for you to support this fund raiser enabling the ladies to continue with their mission projects.  For more information please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134 or Ways & Means, Chairperson,  Diana Durst at 304-723-4469.

KROGER REWARDS PROGRAM. . .
Thank You! To everyone who is registered at Kroger with Cove being the recipient of their Rewards Program.  Cove's recent share of the rewards program amounted to  $ 180.47.  Please remember that you need to re-register after April 1st for the coming year's program.  

ITEMS NEEDED . . .
the Presbyterian Women are currently collecting items for The Shack near Morgantown West Virginia. Items being collected are:
Cleaning supplies - laundry detergent, dish liquid, paper towels, dish towels and disinfectant cleaners.
Children's program supplies - small plastic cups and bowls, plastic forks and spoons, paper napkins, disposable  table clothes, and hand sanitizers.
Health and hygiene products - toothbrushes, tooth paste, combs, shampoo and conditioner. There is a box in the main hallway downstairs for your donations. The ladies thank you for your generosity.

 FAITH ENDURES . . .
is the theme of the 2014 One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts."
(Romans 5:5). This longtime ecumenical offering is used to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food for the hungry and assist in the empowerment of the poor and oppressed.  There are "Fish Boxes" placed throughout the church that you  may take to collect your donation thru Lent.  The included bulletins inserts will enlighten us on how the funding has been used in previous years. Your giving to One Great Hour of Sharing  helps to transform suffering into healing and hope by supporting programs like the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We thank you for your generosity.

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.  You may  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 used 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, March 21, 2014

Friday's Essay - Is Unity Possible?

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

This has been an interesting week for me, one that’s forced me to think about who we are as a church, to question some of the assumptions I’ve held in the past and to reconsider how we might move into the future. Now for a little background, from the very beginning of my work within the church, I’ve rejected the idea that Christians can’t unite around a common faith and put aside individual differences for a common good. Although some colleagues have called me naive, I’ve resisted things that I thought would divide the Body of Christ, things like providing different services that cater to different age groups or hymn preferences. I’ve always been leery of doing something like that because not only does it separate us from one another, I’ve seen it lead to different groups within the same congregation judging the faith and spiritually of other groups. It also seems to deny “contemporary” groups the best from the past and those who are “traditional” the wonderful new things that are happening every day. Good night, trees need both roots and leaves; they’ll die if denied one or the other. And when you think about it, we don’t do this kind of things in other aspects of life. I know very few people who would go to a “traditional” doctor who refuses to use new-fangled stuff like penicillin and by-pass surgery or to a “contemporary” doctor who’s ignorant of the medical advances in the past. For thirty years, I’ve believed that Christian should be able to put certain things aside so that together we can present the “old, old story” in ways that are meaningful in a new and changing world. Now that’s what I’ve believed.

But now, I’m not so sure. In the last week, I’ve encountered three situations, two of which involve Christians with the church, where that blending seems very difficult, if not impossible. And what’s made these situations particularly challenging is that all the people involved are well-intentioned; they just don’t seem to be willing to do something that’s become a dirty word in our divided republic, and I’m talking about “compromise.” To blend, everyone needs to be willing to compromise for a cause greater then themselves. And I think it involves being willing to do some things that we may not particularly like because it’s important to someone else. But, in these groups, I’ve seen differences in preferences, perspectives and personalities that have caused me to wonder if this ideal is possible, if what I described as “blending” should be considered an ideal at all. You see, right now, I’m questioning what I’ve believed. For example, I find myself wondering if my perspective needs to change because no matter how well-intentioned, different generations may not be able to live together in peace, at least not at the same service.

Having said that, I could use your help. Whether you’re within the Cove congregation or connecting on line, I’d like you seriously consider these questions:

  • Are blended services, committees, presbyteries, and congregations possible in 2014? If so, how can we do it? If not, what’s the alternative?
  • What is our higher purpose as Christian brothers and sisters, and how can we get there?
  • Is unity even possible or have we come to a point where people who disagree must be separated? And if unity is possible, how can we enhance, promote and live it? And if we must be separated, how can we do that without bitterness and anger?

Now, these are just a few of my questions, and I would appreciate any insight you might have.

Usually in these Friday essays, I come to a neat conclusion, with a clear challenge or lesson. Today, well, I don’t know. But as we think and pray and talk together, we just might come to some really good answers.