Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 4, 2014: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19) and from the -New Testament (Luke 24:13-35, Acts 2:14a, 36...

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 30, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 30, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 11:1–12:15; John 1:1-28; Psalm 101:1-8; and Proverbs 14:13-14. The readings are from The Message by ...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - A Soggy Bunch of Chariots

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). You can also find more devotions, essays, sermons, and articles at http://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Exodus 15:1-21

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:

“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power - your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.”


A Soggy Bunch of Chariots

I’ve got to be honest with y’all. There are times when I’d love to see “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea.” Of course, I recognize that that’s not possible nor very compassionate. There are no more Pharaohs and if there were, I doubt that I’d want them drowned. That’s a little harsh. Still, there are times that I’d like to see some spectacular display of God’s love and control. I mean, just to know that I’m not a lone and that God is watching over me, that can make a difference in the way I face tomorrow.

But when those times come, instead of wishing for something special, it might be better to focus intentionally on what has God has already given. I mean, we’ve just celebrated Easter, the definitive sign of God power and compassion. If I can concentrate my attention on the cross and empty tomb, maybe I won’t need to see a damp army and a soggy bunch of chariots.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 29, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 29, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 9:22–10:18; Luke 24:13-53; Psalm 100:1-5; and Proverbs 14:11-12. The readings are from The Message b...

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Situation Report - Tornadoes

People walk between two destroyed houses in Mayflower on Monday.
Severe thunderstorms moved across the Central and Southern United States April 25 through April 28, 2014. Strong winds, large hail and at least 30 tornadoes were reported.
Mayflower and Vilonia, two towns located just northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, sustained the most damage from the storm. At least 16 fatalities have been reported in Arkansas. Fatalities were also reported in Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas.
PDA has been in contact with mid councils in the affected areas, and One Great Hour of Sharing funds and funds designated for disaster response in the United States are available for immediate disbursement. National Response Team (NRT) members are enroute to Arkansas at the request of the Arkansas Presbytery to offer support in assessing the damage and developing a response to these storms. 
PDA has no report of Presbyterian Churches affected and will support the ecumenical, interfaith, and community disaster response efforts as well as the response by mid-councils through Presbyterian Churches in neighboring communities.

How You Can Help

You can stand in the GAP for disaster survivors and help the church with this response.
Give.  Share your financial blessings by designating gifts to DR000015-2014 tornadoes. Individuals may give through your local Presbyterian congregation, online, or by mailing a check to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. 
Act. Like us on facebook (PDAcares) and share updates with your congregation and others.
Pray. Please pray for the success of those involved in rescue and early response efforts; and that through the response of the faith community, the people and communities impacted by the tornadoes and those offering assistance will be reminded of the faithful hope that is found in Christ. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 28, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 28, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 8:18–9:21; Luke 23:44–24:12; Psalm 99:1-9; and Proverbs 14:9-10. The readings are from The Message by...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - That’s a Great Question

You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). You can also find a copy of this sermon and other sermons, devotions and articles at http://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Acts 2:12a, 22-32

And everybody was astonished and completely at a loss, and they said to one another, “What does this mean?”

[Peter said, ]“Men of Israel, listen to these words; Jesus the Nazarene, a man who was attested by God to you by miraculous powers and marvels and signs which God did through him in your midst just as you yourselves know; this one, according to the definite purpose and foreknowledge of God, was given up into lawless hands and you took and crucified [him], whom God raised when he released him from the bonds of death, because it wasn’t possible for him to be held by it. For David said [this] about him:
I saw the Lord before my face always,
because he is at my right hand so that I might not be shaken.
on account of this, my heart was glad and my tongue was full of joy,
but more, my flesh will live in hope,
because you will not leave my soul in Hades,
nor will you give your Holy One to see corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life,
you will fill me with gladness before your face.

Men, brothers, it’s permissible to speak with frankness to you concerning the patriarch David, because he also died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Now because we was a prophet and because he knew that an oath was sworn to him that God, from the fruit of his loins, would cause [a person] to sit upon his throne, and because he foresaw, he said this concerning the resurrection of Christ:
he was not left in Hades
nor did his flesh see corruption.
This Jesus God raised, to which all of us are witnesses.


That’s a Great Question

“On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak. Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. They were excited and amazed, and said: Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.” “And everybody was astonished and completely at a loss, and they said to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”

Now, that’s the immediate background, the context for the passage we just read, and if we went a little bit further back, we’d need to talk about the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, something that we just celebrated a week ago. Of course, for them, in Acts, it was fifty days before, but I’ve got to believe, it was still fresh in the minds of those followers who’d gotten together and who felt the coming of the Spirit and who then went outside and started speaking to the crowds. Now this is what happened, and I think it must have blown the sandals off some of the folks there in Jerusalem and so it’s really no surprise to me that they would ask “What does this mean?” I mean, given everything that was happening, man, that was a great question.

And I’ve got to tell you, almost two thousand years later, I don’t think that’s changed at all. I mean, I still think it’s a great question, especially for us right here and right now, and I’ll tell you why. We sort of had a similar experience ourselves. I mean, think about it; along with all the other more secular stuff that’s sort of merged into Easter, a week ago, we just heard about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, an event that absolutely turned the world on it’s ear. Now that’s what happened, but here we are, a week later. And the lilies have started to droop. The peeps have started to harden. And the story has started to fade a little bit. And so for us, I think this is still a great question, not so much because we’re all confused like those Cappadocians and Pamplylians in the crowd, but rather, because if we don’t stop and ask it, the power and meaning of the resurrection could end up with the other remnants of Easter, and I’m talking about either tossed in the trash or stored in the attic until next year. You see, I think this great question is worth asking again.

But not because the question, in and of itself, is so remarkable. No, it’s important because of the answer, the outstanding answer offered by Peter in the passage we just read, an answer that I think can make a big difference in how we not only understand our faith but live in both the present and the future. And for that reason, as we move past Easter, let’s pause, decide to listen for the Word of God, and ask “What does this mean?”

And I’ll tell you, when we do, I think we’re going to get a pretty powerful answer. As a matter of fact, in the answer Peter gave right here, I think we can see three meanings associated with the crucifixion and resurrection, I’m talking about three ways this Easter event can both reveal the nature of the Almighty God and shape the way we live this afternoon. Let me explain.

If we ask the question “what does this mean?” and then listen to Peter’s answer, I think the first thing we can say about Easter is this: This event shows that we have a connection with God through Jesus Christ. I mean, let’s focus on the passage. After getting the attention of the crowd, just listen to what Peter said. He said, “Jesus the Nazarene, a man who was attested by God to you by miraculous powers and marvels and signs which God did through him in your midst just as you yourselves know...” Now that’s what he said, and I find two things in there really interesting. I mean, after saying “Men of Israel, listen to these words,” he then called Jesus a “man,” a word that I don’t think is ever applied to anyone other than a human being in the whole book of Acts. And to make it even clearer, he identified Jesus by his hometown. He was from Nazareth, right; therefore, he was a Nazarene. I mean, Peter seemed to go out of his way to stress the humanity of Jesus, the one who would also be proclaimed in Acts as “the Son of God.” That’s one thing that hit me. And the other, well, it was through this man, this Nazarene, it was through him that God worked. I mean, it was through Jesus that the power, the glory, the nature of God was shown, and we’re talking about miraculous displays of power and authority, wonders in the heavens and signs here on earth. You see, it was in Jesus where humanity and divinity touch, where the sacred and the profane came together. In others words, it through this person that God identified with humanity and humanity could glimpse him. And I’ll tell you, I think that’s still the case. Of course, that might not seem all that important. I mean, we might be satisfied worshiping a God who’s up there, out there, you know, the disconnected Lord of the Universe who only speaks to us through prophets and priests. As a matter of fact, we might even like believing that because he’s so detached from us that we can hid certain things from God, sort of like Maggie once thought she could hid candy wrappers behind the television. I mean, we might even assume that we can pull the wool over the eyes of God by promising him things we know we can’t deliver. But let’s face it, in the long run, if he’s that’s not a smart as me, eventually this kind of god is going to come up short, especially when I need him most. And that’s why it’s so important for us to remember that Jesus is still our connection to God. He’s still the High Priest who brings into God all our fears and doubts, all our schemes and assumptions, all our attempts to fool him and ourselves. And he’s still the one who demonstrates to us that the curtain that separated us from the divine, that’s it’s been ripped in two, from top to bottom. You see, what does Easter mean? It means that we have a connection with God through Jesus Christ. That’s one.

And second, it also means that God is in control and has a plan for his creation, which of course includes us. Again, just listen to how Peter described Jesus: “this one, according to the definite purpose and foreknowledge of God, was given up into lawless hands and you took and crucified [him], whom God raised when he released him from the bonds of death, because it wasn’t possible for him to be held by it.” You see, the crucifixion wasn’t an example of things getting out of control and the resurrection wasn’t God’s Plan B when the cross messed up Plan A. No, not only was this all within the plan, the purpose of God, he knew exactly what would happen. In fact, I believe he knew it before he said, “Let there be light.” And what was the plan: that Jesus would be taken into lawless, in other words, Gentile, Roman hands and that he would be crucified on a Roman cross and that we would be raised, raised to new life so that the power, the control, the bonds of death would be broken forever. You see, it was all part of God’s eternal plan. And I think that’s something we need to remember, particular when it doesn’t seem like there’s a plan at all and chaos is back in charge. Over all things, God is in control. He has a plan. And he’s moving us to a glorious future. Put another way, God has already written the book. And even though we’re living on page 57 and can’t understand what’s going to happen the next page much less the last chapter, we can trust the conclusion is secure, in fact, as secure as an empty tomb. Why? It’s already been written. You see, if we ask, what does Easter mean; I think part of the answer involves God’s control and his plan for creation. That’s two.

And third, if we listen to Peter, I think Easter can also enable us to live with both joy and hope. And I say that based on all that stuff he said about David, you know, about how he was acting as a prophet when “...he foresaw, ...concerning the resurrection of Christ: ‘he was not left in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption.’” You see, for both King David and Peter, the resurrection would be and was important. Like I said, it represented God breaking the power of death and decay and sin once and for all. But this wasn’t just for Jesus; it applies to us as well. As Paul will proclaim to King Agrippa later in Acts, “To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” You see, Jesus the Nazarene, son of man and the Son of God, was the first, the first fruit of those who’ve fallen asleep. He was first, but not the last; the time will come when we’ll follow. That’s God’s plan, for us to be the harvest. Now, to me, that’s pretty good news; something we can trust every day of our lives. And if that doesn’t increase our level of joy and hope, well, I don’t know what else to say. What does Easter mean? I think it means that we can live with joy and hope. And that’s three.

Now, when Peter finished speaking, I assuming some of the folks who heard got it. I mean, according to Acts, “so those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.” Now that’s what is happened back then, but of course, we don’t live back then, we live right now. But you know, the message is the same.  We still have a connection with God through Jesus Christ. God is still in control and still has a plan for his creation. And we can still live with joy and hope. You see, when we ask that great question “what does this mean?”, the answer really is the same. Of course, that may lead to another question, which may be every bit as good and important. Given all this meaning, how are we going to respond?

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 27, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 27, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 7:1–8:17; Luke 23:13-43; Psalm 97:1–98:9; and Proverbs 14:7-8. The readings are from The Message by ...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Momentary Afflictions

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). 


2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling -if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.


Momentary Afflictions

Although I’m not sure it’s ever easy, there are times when life seems to throw at us more than we can handle. And this might come at unexpected times. In other words, everything may seem wonderful, and then, all of a sudden, we get news for which we’re not prepared, news that might or might not involve us directly but which will have a profound impact on our lives.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that these problems can become easy to face or can be handled without sacrifice and pain. Still, when we hold them up against eternity, we might put ourselves in a better position to endure and persevere. You see, regardless of what happens, there are some things that we can believe. First, we are loved by God, a love that was offered before the foundation of the world and that will endure beyond the new heaven and new earth. Second, our past has been cleansed and our future assured by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And third, God isn’t just up there, out there. Through the Holy Spirit, God is present with us all the time. And even though this won’t eliminate either the problems nor the pain, it might enable us to see them as momentary afflictions.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 26, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 26, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 6:1-40; Luke 22:54–23:12; Psalm 95:1– 96:13; and Proverbs 14:5-6. The readings are from The Message b...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, April 27, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Psalm 16, one of the passages we'll consider this Sunday. There are two “bulletins,” one for a...

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

On Sunday, April 27, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

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

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Britney Foster
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Joey Cowher
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

Church Families
Bill & Cheryl Stephens
Jack & Brenda Swaim
John, Tina, Justin, Jarod & Joshua Taflan

Local Church
Mt. Olive Baptist Church

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

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Mission Outreach Committee – CRE Connie Quinn, Chairperson
Pray for the continued growth and understanding between our two partnerships, Dakota Presbytery and Domasi, Malawi, Presbytery. Also for the wisdom to allow the partnerships to grow in the way God intends instead of the way we might want.
New Church Development Administrative Commission – Rev. Dr. Ted Ludwig, Chairperson
Pray for the Community of Joy. Pray for organizing pastor, Larry Kline, and for the core group that has begun to reach out into the community to proclaim the good news and to reach out to the unchurched.

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

Friday's Essay - What’s happened to common courtesy?

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

What’s happened to common courtesy? From where I stand, it seems to have gone the way of black and white television sets and rotary dial phones. Now, when I use the word courtesy, I’m defining it like this: 1 courteous behavior.  2 a polite speech or action, especially one required by convention. This is how it’s defined by the Oxford University Press. And in my opinion, it’s in pretty short supply in our world today.

Of course, maybe that shouldn’t really be surprising, at least not when you’re talking about the United States. Give me a break, a lot of Americans believe shouting, ridicule and exaggerations are natural parts of political commentary and discourse. And even though, as an American, this makes me very sad, I see the same thing happening within Christianity and between people of faith, and I’m talking about something that goes beyond theological disagreements and different ways to interpret the Bible. Of course, I recognize that Christians don’t and won’t agree on all things; that’s why we have denominations. And I also understand that since faith is so personally important to believers, there’s a desire to convert others to your view of God, so that they might experience the joy and peace you enjoy. This I understand. As a matter of fact, I’d like everyone to know the peace that comes from believing that the one who loved us before the foundation of the earth holds our destinies in his hands, that because of the cross and the empty tomb our past has been cleansed and our future assured, and that through the Holy Spirit, the presence of God is right now flowing around and through us. In other words, I wish everyone agreed with a statement and question that was shared with me years ago: “We’re going to have to live with the fact that God loves us. Now, what are we going to do about?” Certainly, I’d like everyone to believe this, but I know that’s not going to happen. What bothers me is that this natural disagreement is often expressed with something less than “polite speech.” Instead of calmly sharing what they believe, Christians often use sarcasm and name-calling to make their points.

And when I encounter this, I just feel sad for two reasons. You see, first, I’m not sure ridicule ever wins a debate or sways a mind. Now, it may make the speaker feel either self-important or martyr-like. And it may impress the puddin’ out of those who are already converters. But in reality, being loud and obnoxious rarely if ever converts the person who’s being dumped upon nor does it persuade those who are listening. As a matter of fact, often the best way to limit the influence of a nasty person is to let him talk. As Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” If I’m serious about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, I don’t want to be thought a fool. I believe my effectiveness increases with my willingness to be courteous.

And this really leads to second reason I find folks who have decided to be nasty for Jesus sad. I thing my willingness to nasty to my Christian brothers and sisters pretty clearly reflects my Christianity or lack thereof. I mean, according to John, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” And in 1 Corinthians, this is how Paul defined love: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Now, if I believe Jesus wants me to love others, including Christian brothers and sisters with whom I may disagree, and that Paul knew what he was talking about when he defined love, than I just don’t understand how arrogance and sheer rudeness can ever be Christian. Good night, Jesus was the mocked, not the mockee. I mean, even though I may disagree strongly, I believe that I still have an obligation to treat you with patience and kindness. Of course, I know that’s difficult, but I don’t think Jesus every promised that following him would be easy.

Now, I don’t expect our society to change, much less our world. Nastiness is in, and until we stop rewarding those mean spirits with our attention, it’ll probably continue. But that doesn’t have to be the case within the Christian faith. I mean, together Christians can promise to discuss our differences without sounding arrogant and rude, because we know that this will not only increase our effectiveness but is more in line with how God has called us to live. You see, this can really start with us. And if it does, sometime in the future, maybe daughter won’t find herself asking: What’s happened to common courtesy?

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.

APRIL IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH . . .
Bob Evans Restaurant is supporting this worthy cause by donating 15% of sales from their locations in West Virginia, Steubenville and East Liverpool, Ohio to the West Virginia Autism Society. If you can support this endeavor,  you are asked to pick-up a flyer from the table in the narthex or one from the bulletin board downstairs. You can enjoy a great meal, without the work and raise money for the Autism Society. Just present the flyer to the cashier to make your donation!

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor. Our discussion book will be Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson.

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

OUR BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
is back! On Thursday, May 1, beginning at 12:31 p.m., we'll begin discussing the Book of Acts.

NEXT 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.

DEACONS MONTHLY MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

ATTENTION  - ALL LADIES . . .
The Myrtle McHendry Class has planned their Annual Salad Smorgasbord Luncheon for Tuesday, May 6 at 12:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. So ladies make your favorite salad or dessert and Jenny will bring her famous rolls. If you are not a member but would like to join us - call Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134 for a reservation.  Enid Williams will lead the devotions and Eleanor Cline, Roxanne Berry and Sue Willson are the hostesses. Oh yeah - we will also enjoy a visit with "Minnie Pearl" so  Y'all come - Ya hear!!

BOARD OF SESSION MEETING . . .
Monday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the church library.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
Monday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN . . .
will have their monthly BOARD MEETING on Wednesday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room. The REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING AND BIBLE STUDY will be held on Wednesday, May 21 at noon in fellowship hall.

SPRUCE-UP DAY. . .
is scheduled for Saturday. May 17 beginning at 8:30 a.m.  We will be doing something different this year, the grounds of the church will be weeded and mulched. The Trustees have decided NOT to  plant flowers, however if any member would like to donate and/or plant flowers they are encouraged and more than welcome to do so.

PRAYER BOXES . . .
may be returned to the basket in the narthex.

ENDOWMENT SCHOLARSHIPS. . .
The Chad Pickens Scholarship is available to high school seniors and students currently attending colleges or universities, etc. The applicant must be a member of Cove Presbyterian Church; must have a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and must plan on entering school in the fall of 2014 as a full-time student or a returning student. Grade transcripts are to be turned in with the application.
The Bud Schmidt Scholarship is available to any  member of the congregation of Cove Presbyterian Church who plans to attend a seminary in the fall of 2014. Chad Pickens and Bud Schmidt Scholarship applications must be received in the church office by Sunday, May 18th, 2014.
Applications for The Helen T Hamill Scholarship are available through the guidance counselor at the area high schools.  Scholarships will be presented to the recipients during the morning worship on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

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.

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.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 25, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 25, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 4:1–5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; and Proverbs 14:3-4. The readings are from The Message by Eu...

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 25, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 25, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 4:1–5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; and Proverbs 14:3-4. The readings are from The Message by Eu...

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Multicultural Church/Immigration

"Stories of struggle. Stories of sorrow. Stories of laughter and tears. Stories of family separation. Stories from powerful and strong members of our community. That’s what I get to hear every day at the Southside Worker Center just through the act of being present,” shared Young Adult Volunteer Stephanie Quintana. The Southside Worker Center in Tucson, Arizona, is a ministry of presence. Volunteers stand with day laborers, some of whom are vulnerable due to their immigration status, in the early morning hours to make sure that prospective employers are willing to pay a fair wage and offer safe working conditions.
Presence, or accompaniment, is a valuable ministry of the church. We become Christ’s hands and feet in the world and stand with others who are facing difficult situations. In today’s reading from Acts, Jesus finds rest in knowing that God was with him when he faced crucifixion. In today’s passage from John, Jesus appears to the disciples after his death, at a time when they were still fearful and meeting behind closed doors. He says to them, “Peace be with you,” and they are filled with joy (John 19b–20). What a joy it is, both to be comforted by someone’s presence and to be that presence for someone else.
“Nowadays, we have access to so many distractions in our daily lives that we forget the power and importance of being present in the moment,” Stephanie says. “The Southside Worker Center is based on the principles of solidarity, justice, respect, and dignity. We learn, together, practical ways to build our community in those shared values. Actively listening to each other as we share our struggles as immigrants, workers, parents, and members of the community is a way to demonstrate solidarity and respect; it is a way to say to each other: ‘I am with you. Your struggle is my struggle!’ By doing so, our community grows empowered by a collective story of hope in the midst of oppression.”
Teresa Waggener, Immigration Issues, Office of the General Assembly

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, April 27, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll consider why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is still important for us.











A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Worship AND Doubt

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). You can also find more devotions, essays, sermons, and articles at http://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Matthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”


Worship AND Doubt

Normally, in these devotions, I read from the New Revised Standard Version, because I think it’s a solid translation of the original text and fairly easy to understand. Today, though, I read from the New American Bible, because of one word. You see, this is how the New Revised Standard Version translates verse 17: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Now that’s similar to how it’s translated in the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the King James Version. They all say “but some doubted.” There’s just one problem; the word “some” doesn’t appear in the Greek. It’s just not there; it’s been added in the translations. And I think this addition is important, because, by including it, the verse sounds as though there were two groups of disciples: the good ones, those who worshiped without doubt, and the not so good, those who doubted. But that’s really not what Matthew said. Instead he said that they all worshiped and they all doubted.

And I’ll tell you, personally, I’m glad that’s what he wrote. Although I can worship Jesus 24/7, I have to admit that there are certainly times when I doubt; doubt that God is actually in control of his creation or doubt that, given some situation I’m facing, God really loves me. You see, for me, faith and doubt often seem to go hand-in-hand. And for that reason, it offers me a lot of peace knowing that, not only did the disciples after the resurrection also feel doubt, Christ still called them to share his message to the world.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 24, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 24, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 2:10–3:31; Luke 22:14-34; Psalm 92:1–93:5; and Proverbs 14:1-2. The readings are from The Message by...

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 24, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 24, 2014: Today our passages are Judges 2:10–3:31; Luke 22:14-34; Psalm 92:1–93:5; and Proverbs 14:1-2. The readings are from The Message by...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, April 27, 2014...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, April 27, 2014...: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 16:1-11) and from the New Testament (John 20:19-31, Acts 2:14a, 22-32, and...

The Bible in a Year: Today our passages are Judges 1:1–2:9; Luke 21:2...

The Bible in a Year:

Today our passages are Judges 1:1–2:9; Luke 21:2...
: Today our passages are Judges 1:1–2:9; Luke 21:29–22:13; Psalm 90:1–91:16; and Proverbs 13:24-25. The readings are from The Messa...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - For These Next Few Days

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 146

Praise the LORD!
     Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
          I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
          in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
          on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
          whose hope is in the LORD their God,
who made heaven and earth,
          the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
          who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
        the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
          the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
          he upholds the orphan and the widow,
          but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever,
          your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!


For these Next Few Days

I think the next couple of days represent my favorite time of year. Now it’s important to understand, I’m not talking about this season into which we’re entering. Since I love football, browns and reds, and turkeys and pumpkin pie, I’m actually a “Fall kind of guy”. But right now, with the smell of grass that’s been cut for the first time in about six months, the sight of flowers blooming everywhere and the feel of a breeze just cool enough that you need to wear a jacket, it’s tough beat these first few days in Spring. Of course, for me, this isn’t going to last. Soon, mowing the grass will no longer be a olfactory delight. The flowers will be replaced by the color green, which is nice but after five months becomes a little boring. And a cool breeze will change over to heat and to humidity. And personally, when all that comes, I’ll been looking forward to Autumn.

But right now and for the next few days, I’m going to enjoy this wonderful gift that the creator God has given to me. And I’m going to take time to smell the cut grass and delight in the pastels and sleep under a sheet, with the windows open instead of an air conditioner plumping. In other words, today I’m going to pause, and without thinking about tomorrow, I’m going to simply praise God for what he’s given to me today.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 22, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for April 22, 2014: Today our passages are Joshua 24:1-33; Luke 21:1-28; Psalm 89:38-52; and Proverbs 13:20-23. The readings are from The Message by E...

Minute for Mission - Earth Day

Earth Day gathering
Earth Day gathering
Revelation 21:1–6 paints pictures of what could be, as opposed to the harsh reality of what is now. This vision is good news. It is God’s call to us to not lose hope. It is also God’s encouragement to take measure of where we are and to draw closer to where God would have us be.
Rather than pretending that we do not face hard times, we first know and name them. The earth is warming faster than predicted, and glaciers are melting. We live in a time of both severe drought and massive flooding, of raging fires and damaging hurricanes. Meanwhile, people who are already wronged by racial and economic injustice also bear the brunt of environmental devastation.
Knowing the overwhelming realities in our world, we are invited to attend to God’s Word. The things that we think are impossible to remedy and the situations that we have decided will never break open—God has promised to set those things right. “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega!” (Rev. 21:6a).
God makes a home in the middle of the city, sets elements of creation (a river of life, the tree of life) right down alongside humanity as part of a restored whole (Rev. 22:1–2). The ending is not the destruction of the earth. Nor is it a recreated, idealistic Eden. It is this place, this city, this urban life: combined with all creation, infused with life-giving natural elements. It is a diverse and just human community joined with a thriving whole.
Rebecca Barnes, associate for Environmental Ministries, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - The Beginning of Something New

You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). You can also find a copy of this sermon and other sermons, devotions and articles at The Cove Community blog.


Jeremiah 31:1–6

At that time says the Lord, “I will be God to all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”

Thus says  the Lord:
“They found favor in the wilderness
people who were survivors of the sword,
when Israel sought their rest.
From a distance the Lord appeared to me,
‘With long enduring love, I loved you;
therefore, I draw you with goodness.
Further, I will build you and you will be built
O virgin Israel;
further, you will be ornamented with your timbrels
and you will go forth with the dancing of those who laugh.
Further, you will plant a vineyard
on the mountains of Samaria,
planters will plant
and will [eat grapes] as common things.
For there will be a day, those who are watching
on the mountain of Ephraim will call,
“Rise and we shall go up to Zion to the Lord, our God.”’”


The Beginning of Something New

Before I say anything else, let me give a special thanks to Sue Ann Livingston, Kayla and Eric Violet, and my wife Debbie for setting up the flowers after the Tennebrae service Friday evening. Y’all did a great job, and speaking for everyone here, we really appreciate it.

But you know, in a real sense, these flowers sort of represent how we celebrate Easter. I mean, just look at them; they’ve all been carefully arranged so they look just right, with colors and types all balanced. Of course, that’s how they look right now. But in about twenty minutes or so, that’s not how they going to look, right; not after everyone who’s ordered an Easter lily or tulip, an azalea or hydrangea; they won’t look nearly as pretty once they’ve been pick up and taken home. And that’s really fine, because even if they stayed up here, by next Sunday, they just wouldn’t look nearly as fresh and pretty. I mean, for the flowers, well, today is sort of the end of the line.

And isn’t that how we kind of see Easter? It comes. It’s here. And it goes and then we’re off chasing other things. As a matter of fact, when you think about it, Easter is like an end to a journey in a lot of ways, isn’t it? I mean, if you’re into Lent as a season, what started on Ash Wednesday ends today. Or if you think about what some people call Holy Week, what started with Palm Sunday ends with Easter Sunday. Or if you’re not into a lot of the religious stuff, let me put it another way: what started with fresh Cadbury eggs and a fancy Easter basket ends with a bunch of black and white jelly beans that no one really wants and those petrified peeps that have kind of merged with the plastic grass. You see what I mean. It doesn’t matter how you understand it; Easter comes; it’s here; and it goes. And then it’s time to move on to other things, and I’m talking about greasing the lawn mowers and making the dental appointments and trying to get the grass that wasn’t stuck to the peeps out of the vacuum cleaner.

But you know, before that happens, and it will, I want us to pause for just a minute. I mean, before we move on to the next big thing, let’s just cool our jets a little bit and think about Easter. I mean, we already here, and we’ve got a few minutes before we tear into the flowers and look for Easter eggs and have lunch, and so let’s pause and think about what this day means and in particular how all this resurrection business might change us.

And I’ll tell you, I think it can. In fact, I think it can change the way we live in the present and face the future. You see, because of the resurrection, I believe we can live with genuine joy and hope. I guess put another way, instead of seeing Easter as the end, let’s view it as a beginning, and I’m talking about the beginning of something new that can absolutely change our lives.

And like I said, I believe this beginning, well, it’s all grounded in the resurrection. And just so that we’re all on the same page, this is what I’m talking about. Just listen to what Matthew wrote: “The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord’s angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. Now hurry! Tell his disciples that he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you.” The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went near him, held on to his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.” Now, that’s the story itself, and although it’s important, I think it’s far more than just a great miracle or a specular end to the life of Jesus. It’s not just the cherry on the top of a spiritual sundae. No, it’s also the beginning of something new and exciting.

And right here, I think it ties into the passage we read from Jeremiah. You see, just like Jeremiah believed that God was about to do something special for those people who’d found favor in the wilderness, those men and women who were survivors of the sword, those children of Israel who’d been seeking rest, when those women listened to the angel and saw the empty tomb and encountered the risen Christ, this was all part of God starting something new for them and for us, something that world had never seen before, something that would change both how we live in the present and move into the future. And I’ll tell you, the reason for this change, this newness, well, it’s the same for us as it was the Jeremiah and for the two Marys. As Jeremiah wrote, “From a distance the Lord appeared to me [and he said], ‘With long enduring love, I loved you; therefore, I draw you with goodness.’ Further, I will build you and you will be built O virgin Israel...” Now, that my friends is love; God’s love; God’s love for us. And I’ll you, it’s the same love that moved Jeremiah to share this message to a people who’d really been pulled through a ringer and that caused those women to feel both afraid and happy as they left the tomb. In fact, it’s the same love that’s shining through the resurrection this morning and that offers us something that can completely change our lives, if we let it.

You see, I want you to believe me, starting today, starting right this minute, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can live with joy and hope. In other words, because of Easter, we can begin to live with real elation, with real happiness, with real joy, and we can start doing it right now. You see, I believe this is possible when we take seriously the resurrection. As a matter of fact, I think we can feel a lot like the people to whom Jeremiah was writing, men and women who’d suffered great loss but who now believed God was starting to build something new. As we look at our lives in the light of the resurrection, I think we can feel as though we’re been “...ornamented with timbrels and [we’ll feel as though we can] go forth with the dancing of those who laugh.” You see, when we take seriously the resurrection, man, we’ve got good reason to feel joy, because when Jesus was raised, God gave his stamp of approval on everything that Jesus said and did, including the crucifixion. I’m telling you, after the resurrection, the cross can never be just a symbol of violence and pain, rather it becomes something far more than that. It becomes a sign of forgiveness, because through this death, the weight has been lifted and our past has been wiped clean. And because of that, we’ve finally been set free. Man, I want you to believe that. We have been set free; it’s a done deal. We’ve been set free from past mistakes and sins. We’ve been set free from the assumptions held by others and the shame that we carry around ourselves. I’m telling you, we have been set free, free to live new lives, lives that are no longer bound to the past, lives that are just crammed full of new possibilities and potential. You see, because of the resurrection, we can begin to live with joy.

But that’s not all, because we can also begin to live with hope, and I’m talking about real, honest-to-goodness hope as we move into the future. In fact, it’s the same kind of hope about which Jeremiah wrote  when he said that the time was coming when “you will plant a vineyard on the mountains of Samaria, planters will plant and will [eat grapes] as common things.” You see, thanks to the resurrection, the future, our future, I’m telling you, it’s going to be glorious. Now, having said that, I’m not saying that from now on everything is going to be great, you know, that if you remember the resurrection, you’ll never face another problem. I’m not saying that at all; I’m not an idiot and neither are you. No, this isn’t the spiritual equivalent of those diet pills that, if you send in the $9.95, you can take, eat all you want, never exercise, and still lose weight. No, the resurrection isn’t a silver bullet. I mean, let’s face it, we all know that life has highs and lows and a lot of time in-between. And we’ll all face situations that are good and bad and mediocre. And as we go forward, there’ll be times when we’ll succeed and when we’ll fail and when we’ll just brake even. I’m not going to blow any smoke and I think y’all could smell baloney before the words left my mouth. The resurrection isn’t going to turn dark clouds into silver linings. But I’ll tell you what it can do, and I’m talking about if we take it seriously. It can remind us that no matter what happens today, an empty tomb is there in our future. And on the other side of that tomb is a new life, one where there’ll be no more partings and pains, no more disease and death, no more fear and frustrations, I’m talking about one where the freedom we can now enjoy will be perfected, because Eden will be restored and all things will be good again. You see, the resurrection reminds us that our ultimate future will be glorious. And even though that might not erase whatever mess we have to face tomorrow, it just might give us the strength to keep moving forward. You see, because of the resurrection, not only we can begin to live with joy, we can also live with hope.

You see, in spite of the fact that most Easter baskets are going to look a little rough tomorrow and in spite of the fact that, in about ten minutes, the front of the sanctuary will look a lot like my Aunt Virginia’s smile, with a lot of space in-between the lilies and in spite of the fact that around the church we’ve got a rummage sale and choir festival in the next couple of weeks, I hope we don’t leave here seeing the resurrection as an end but rather the start of something new, something that might offer us a little more joy as we live in the present and a lot more hope as we move into the future. You see, that’s what Easter can become for us. Therefore, instead of seeing this service as the end of a season, let’s see the resurrection as the beginning of something new.