Saturday, May 31, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Beyond Spiritual Jealousy

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/.


Numbers 11:24-29

So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"



Beyond Spiritual Jealousy

According to the passage, Joshua must have been jealous. And even though we might be shocked that it was Joshua, I’m not surprised that one believer might be jealous of the spiritually of another. My goodness, it happens among ministers all the time, when one pastor is talking about all the wonderful things happening in his or her church while the rest of us are just trying to keep their noses above water. The clergy aren’t above envy. And even if folks don’t admit it out loud, I think, deep down, most Christians believe that there’s a hierarchy of spiritual gifts, with those that are most public and that lead to what the secular world considers success being the ones most valued. And since spiritual jealousy was a problem back in the time of Moses, I guess that means that in this one area, things having changed very much.

But that doesn’t mean that things can’t change or shouldn’t change. You see, I think we can get beyond spiritual jealousy by keeping two things in mind. First, regardless of how the world defines success, we’re been called and equipped to do the best we can with what we have. In other words, we’ve been inspired to use the gifts we have, not the gifts we want. And second, I think we need to remember that when the “green-eyed monster” creeps into our faith, this is something we can confess and experience forgiveness. And then we can leave the past behind and move into the future with faith and hope.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 31, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 31, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 17:1-29; John 19:3-42; Psalm 119:129-152; and Proverbs 16:12-13 . The readings are from The Message...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, June 1, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Psalm 66:1-20, one of the passages we'll consider this Sunday. There are two “bulletins,” one ...

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, June 1, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we'll consider how we might develop the same focus and unity that was found in the early church. We'll also recognize the young people within the congregation who have graduated and award our scholarships.









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.

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS. . .
Chad Pickens Scholarships are being awarded to
Morgan Abbott a 2014 graduate of Weir High School. Morgan plans to attend West Virginia University's Honors College and major in Microbiology and Immunology;
Mitchell Viakley  a 2014 graduate of Weir High School. He plans to attend either West Liberty University or Fairmont State and major in business and
Allison Viakley a current student at West Virginia University.
Ashley N. Pryor a 2014 graduate of Oak Glen High School is being awarded the Helen Hamill Scholarship. Ashley is planning to attend West Liberty University and major in finance.

COVE'S PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN ASSOCIATION . . .
are collecting their annual "Birthday Offering". Envelopes are in today's bulletin for the collection. No more than five projects are selected to receive this special support. In thanksgiving, we give as we are blessed.

BOARD OF DEACONS . . .
will hold their last meeting until September tomorrow,  Monday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY FRIENDSHIP LUNCHEON. . .
will be held on Tuesday, June 3 at the Serbian-American Cultural Center beginning at 11:30 a.m.  Barbara Losey will lead the devotions. Following our lunch a Social and Fun hour will be held. Hostesses for the event are Corinne Ferguson, Barbara Losey, Betty Virtue and Bonnie Nichols.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will not practice again until fall. They will be leading the congregation is song thru June 8, then will be taking a much deserved break. Special music will be provided each Sunday during the summer. If you would like to participate in the special music program this summer, please contact Janice Torrance. Any type of special music (solos, duets or any other type of special music) would be greatly appreciated.

OUR BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet on Thursday, June 5, beginning at 12:31 p.m., we'll discuss Acts 5:1-42.

DAY OF PENTECOST . . .
will be observed on Sunday, June 8.  Communion will be served during the morning worship.

BOARD OF SESSION MEETING . . .
Monday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
will be held on Tuesday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THEIR BIBLE. . .
on Tuesday, June 10, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., we're starting a new study. Lead by Pastor Rudiger, we'll consider the historical and theological background for the different books within the New Testament. This study will offer an outstanding overview for the part of the Bible that's distinctively Christian, and everyone is invited to come.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN . . .
will have their last board meeting before summer break, on Wednesday, June 11th beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the board room.
The regular monthly meeting with Bible Study will be held on Wednesday, June 18th beginning at noon in fellowship hall. The executive board will provide a salad smorgasbord luncheon.

SUMMER BREAK . . .
just a reminder that most groups suspend their activities for the summer months, if you wish to meet at the church please contact the church to be sure someone will be available.

UNCLAIMED ITEMS . . .
if you leave an item at the church please mark who or what the item is for. If items are not marked, they become the property of the church and will be dealt with accordingly after one week.

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 four 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.
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.

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

On Sunday, June 1, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Carol Caston
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Chuck May
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dan Tenaglio
Dick Spencer
Doug Haller
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeff Grant
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
Randy Willson
Robert Hans
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sam Fortunato
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

In the Hospital
Dick Spencer – Allegheny Hospital
Connie Francis – Weirton Medical Center
Charles Saffle - Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
Betty Virtue
Cinthia Virtue, Brandi, Logan & Sidney
Betsy Watson

Local Church
Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church

Special Friend
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Rm 507 B, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
First Presbyterian Church, Barnesville, OH – Rev. Michael Mistic
Bellaire Presbyterian Church, Bellaire, OH – CRE Pete Walburn

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 - The Little Blessings

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

This morning it hit me that it’s really easy to overlook the little blessings, and I’m talking about, blessings that, at the time, seem insignificant and unimportant and yet that can never be repeated and may be treasured in the future. And I realized this because of something that happened yesterday. Let me explain. I’ve tucked my daughter into bed almost every night of her life. And since she was able to talk, we’ve followed a very specific ritual. She says her prayers: “Now I lay be down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. The angels watch me through the night and wake me at the morning’s light.” Of course, that’s really better than the version I used to say when I was kid: “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Anyway, after she finishes, I kiss her on the forehead and say, “Maggie, I’ll love you forever,” to which she says, “I’ll love you forever, too, Daddy.” And then I give a command that I sincerely hope she repeats with her children. I say, “Sleep tight.” She repeats, “Sleep tight.” I say, “And don’t let the...”, and she answers, “...bedbugs...”. And I say, “or the...”, and she says “gorillas...”. And we close by saying “bite” together. Then I tuck her in, dim the lamp on her dresser and close her door as I leave her room.

Now like I said, we’ve done this same thing for I bet ten years, but last night, we didn’t to it. You see, Citizen Kane was on TCM, and even though I’ve seen the movie at least a dozen times and I’d already missed half of it, when Maggie said she was ready for bed, I let her go by herself. Now, I did tell her that I’ll always love her and challenged her to avoid both bedbugs and gorillas. And I did kiss her on the forehead. Still, I didn’t leave the sofa to do it. And without asking me to tuck her in or voicing any disappointment at all, Maggie went to bed, and I watched Charles Foster Kane’s life unravel and discovered the significance of “rosebud” for the twelfth time.

And I’ve got to tell you, I really didn’t think anything of it, until I got Maggie up this morning. And as I stood there, watching my twelve-and-a-half-year-old sleep, it hit me that I’d overlooked a genuine gift last evening, one that God has blessed me with for these last ten years but that may have become so routine that I didn’t put it on the same level of significance or importance as watching an old movie I’d seen before. At least for one night, I let something very precious pass me by. And so, as I watched her sleep, I felt this pang of regret. You see, I realized that my time with her is limited, that’s she’s growing up and any day our nighttime ritual may go the way of our morning wake-up routine, which involved about twenty minutes of talking stuffed animals and the fact that if a stuffed monkey or pig or bear eats chili the night before, it just might go right through them the next day. That’s what we used to do every day, but don’t do anymore. She’s outgrown it. And I miss it, but thank God that it was something my daughter shared. And so, this morning, sometime around 6:30 I was reminded of the importance of the little blessings.

And I think that’s something for us all to remember. Sometimes the most precious blessings are the ones that are the easiest to overlook. And yet, these gifts from God can not only sustain us when times get tough, they can also enable us to see other divine blessings and gifts, if, that is, we take the time to look.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 30, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 15:23–16:23; John 18:25–19:2; Psalm 119:113-128; and Proverbs 16:10-11 . The readings are from The ...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Little Changes Can Make Big Differences

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 athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Matthew 28:16-20

And the eleven disciples when into Galilee, onto the mountain to which Jesus directed them. And after they saw him, they knelt before him, but they doubted. And Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and upon earth was given to me. When you go, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I myself am with you all the days until the completion of the age.”


Little Changes Can Make Big Differences

One of the many things I took from seminary was the ability to read Greek. And even though a lot of the other stuff I learned I’ve forgotten during the intervening thirty years, Greek is the one things I’ve kept up. As a matter of fact, up until this last December when I decided to preach from the Old Testament, I translated the New Testament passage each week. Of course, I’m humble enough to keep another English translation open as I’m translating. And generally, when there’s a discrepancy, it’s my fault.

But every now and then there’s a passage in which I think the “top-of-the-line” translators missed the point, and even fewer when that “miss” makes a real difference in the meaning of the text. And right here, at the conclusion of Matthew, I think we have that kind of situation, and in these verses. In fact, right here I think there’s not just one but two pretty important oversights. For example, first, nearly all translations read, “when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” The problem here is simple: there’s no “some” in the Greek. I think a better translation is, “...after they saw him, they knelt before him, but they doubted”. In other words, although they all still felt some doubt, they were all still able to worship the risen Lord. And that’s important at least it is to me, because I seem to doubt a lot. In fact, I’m not sure that I’m 100% sure of anything, maybe 99.4% but not 100%. And this verse reminds me that I can still worship God and be called to do his work even when I’m less than perfect in my faith. That’s one.

And second, most translations read, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”; and even though that’s possible; based on Greek grammar, I think a better translations is this: “When you go, make disciples of all nations.” In other words, Christ assumed that we’ll be going. I mean, the disciples will leave the mountain, and we’ll be constantly moving through life. We don’t need to be commanded to go. But we may need to remember that, as we go, we constantly have the opportunity to share the gospel through our words and work. You see, for me, these are two instances in which the translation can make a big difference.

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Rural Life

Elder Dena Burk handing out disinfecting wipes at a back-to-school fair Photo by Wendy Downing
Elder Dena Burk handing out disinfecting
wipes at a back-to-school fair
I was asked, when I stood my examination before the presbytery, what I thought the most important mission field was in our day. I think people thought I should say Africa or maybe the Middle East. But I said that we should focus on the mission field right outside our doors; that all of us can do mission in the communities where we live, because some kind of ministry always needs doing, and the place we live is the place whose needs we know best.
Our town of Fisk, Missouri, is approximately 340 people. It would be easy for small, rural congregations to feel like, “Oh, we’re too small; there’s not much we can do.” But I have found just the opposite attitude here. We in small towns know that no one else is going to do it if we don’t. There aren’t big agencies close by to bail us out or to make sure our neighbors are fed.
As rural communities, we have the advantage of knowing most of the people we help. When flood waters come, church members help each other sandbag. When fire destroys a home, we take up an offering, go clear rubble, and take clothes for our neighbors to wear. Our little congregation provides items for the annual school-supplies drive, adopts a local family at Christmas, and donates canned goods to the local food banks. And it takes up a “noisy offering” each month for mission projects of the presbytery, so we don’t neglect the needs farther away from home.
Rev. Wendy Downing, Fisk (MO) Presbyterian Church

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 29, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 14:1–15:22; John 18:1-24; Psalm 119:97-112; and Proverbs 16:8-9 ...

Minute for Mission - Ascension of the Lord



I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints. (Eph. 1:15)
Summer Youth Programs
The monthly meeting of Donaldina Cameron House’s board of directors always opens with a personal reflection by one of the members. “After graduating from college, I wandered from job to job,” Edmund began, “and then one day a social worker at Cameron House handed me a job announcement from the Chinatown office of Social Security. I was hired—over 30 years ago—and now I’m a regional district manager overseeing 500 employees and I love my job!” He went on to say that the skills he gained as a youth volunteer at Cameron House are valuable and being used every day on the job.
HistoryStarted by Presbyterian women in the 1870s as a response to prayer, the Presbyterian mission home has always offered a wide array of services to anyone who walked through its doors. In 1942 the home was named after the beloved Donaldina Cameron, who served as its director from 1895 to 1935.
The historic red-brick building on the steep San Francisco Chinatown street is easy to spot. It’s worth every labored step up the hill to experience the love of Christ. Whether a child seeking help with homework, a high schooler yearning for a safe place to interact with peers, an immigrant family reaching out for support as they adjust to a new culture, a senior citizen on a fixed income needing a bag of food—they all can find what they need at Donaldina Cameron House.
As we celebrate Cameron House’s 140th anniversary, we acknowledge those who came before us to serve in Chinatown, those who have faithfully supported this mission with their prayers and resources, and the staff and volunteers today who are carrying on the important ministry—ever evolving—of meeting the needs of the next person who walks through the door.
Jeanette Huie, member, board of directors, Donaldina Cameron House

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, June 1, 2014: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35) and from the New Testament (John 17:1-11, Acts 1:6-14, and...

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 28, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 13:1-39; John 17:1-26; Psalm 119:81-96; and Proverbs 16:6-7 . Th...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – More Love, Less Heat

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/.


1 Timothy 2:1-6

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all - this was attested at the right time.


More Love, Less Heat

Recently, I had an online exchange with another believer. It started as a disagreement surrounding an interpretation of scripture, but I must have said something that offended her, because she responded by writing I was an out-and-out liar and a disgrace to ministry and Christianity in general. When I wrote that I’d rather not get into name-calling and correspond with respect and kindness, she responded with this: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I guess her point was that I shouldn’t be sharing my faith unless I was ready to get “down and dirty” with another Christian who might disagree.

Now, I guess that’s what she was thinking, and frankly, I find it sad, because that doesn’t seem to be what the Bible teaches. Without sacrificing or compromising our faith, Paul wrote “...that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, [even] for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” And the reason for this seems clear; in fact, it just makes common sense. I mean, it’s more likely that the person with whom we’re talking will listen to the good news when it’s presented with respect and kindness than with hostility and names. Maybe it comes down to what motivates our witness. If we’re motivated by a desire to draw attention to ourselves, we’ll turn up the heat and be as nasty and dismissive as we want. But if we’re motivated by a sincere desire to help another person understand the love of the Father and the grace of Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, then we’ll present this message with as much love and as little heat as possible.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sunday’s Sermon – In the Middle of the Areopagus

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 17:22-31

And after Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus, he started to speak. “Men, Athenians, in everything I see how devout you are. For as I was walking and looking at your objects of worship, I even found among them an altar with the inscription: ‘To an Unknown God.’ Now what you don’t know, you revere, this one I myself proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he himself who of heaven and earth is lord doesn’t in hand-made temples dwell nor by human hands is served because he needs of something; he himself gives to all life and breath also to all things. He made from one every human nation to dwell upon the whole surface of the earth, and he determined their appointed time and the bounds of their territory to seek God, if they might grope for him and might find, and indeed he is not far from each one of us. For in him, we live and we move and we are, just like some of your poets have even said, ‘For we also are of his family.’

“Now because we are part of God’s family, we ought not suppose that gold or silver or stone, a sculpture from human craftsmanship and reflection, God is like. Since God overlooked a time of ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he’s set a day in which he will judge the inhabited world with righteousness by a man whom he’s appointed, and he’s given an assurance to all by raising him from death.”


In the Middle of the Areopagus

You know, I really love this passage and that’s true for several reasons. For instance, as a guy who enjoys history, I’ve got to tell you, there’s a lot of good stuff here. You see, Luke wrote that Paul was in the ancient Greek city of Athens, in the middle of something he called the Areopagus. Now that’s where he was, but the term itself, well, it might refer to a location, a place named after Ares, the Greek god of war, “Mars Hill” according to the Romans. That could be what Luke meant. Or he could be referring to a group, you know, a council of civic leaders who, in the first century, functioned sort of like a court. And which of these did Luke have in mind? Well, this is something historians can argue about for hours, and as a guy love this kind of stuff, I think that’s really cool.

And from a Biblical perspective, I also love what’s going on here. You see, this is really part a bigger passage, one that began when Paul came to Athens and became upset by all the idols he saw. And while he was there, Luke wrote that “...he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there...”, including both  Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. And because they thought he was sharing a some kind weird religion, which for the Greeks he was, “...they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.’” You see, from a Biblical perspective, I also find this pretty exciting.

But I’ve got to tell you, what I love most about this passage is how well I think it relates to what’s going on right here and now. You see, I think Paul faced something in Athens that’s very much like the society in which we live; therefore, what he did just might serve as an example to us as we try to live and to share our faith. Let me explain.

Although Athens may seem a lot different from the Ohio Valley, in two ways I believe they’re very much alike. You see, from a Christian perspective, both places had and have some real spiritual issues. Of course, that’s pretty obvious with Athens. Good night, like I said, Luke wrote that “while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” Of course, that shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, Athens was a pagan city for crying out loud. Talk about confusion; they had gods coming out of their ears. But even with that, there seemed to be a real spiritual hunger going on there. I mean, right before our passage begins, Luke wrote this: “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.” Man, these guys were searching for something, weren’t they: something new, something different, something meaningful. And of course, Paul himself said, “Men, Athenians, in everything I see how devout you are.” You see, according to Luke, those Athenians were both spiritually confused and hungry.

And I’ll tell you something, I think that’s a pretty accurate description of people not only in the Ohio Valley but across the United States. I mean, I think I’m pretty safe in saying that, for the most part, you could say that American culture is at the very least spiritually confused. Good night nurse, according to polls, the “nones”, and I’m talking about the folks who have no faith connection at all, that group seems to be getting bigger every year, especially among young people. And outside of a vague belief in God, even among the non-nones, I think the faith of most Americans is pretty fuzzy. But I’ll tell you, the hunger for something spiritual isn’t. I mean, although we’re looking at a whole mess of people who’ll never attend a traditional Christian worship service, I believe these same folks are looking for something, some kind of meaning, some kind of direction, some kind of community, but it has to be a meaning that speaks to them and a direction that relevant to their lives and a community that reflects their tastes and addresses their concerns. You see, that’s what we’re facing, a society of spiritual blank slates that are ready to have someone write a message that’s meaningful to them. And in that way, I think Paul’s Athens and our Weirton really have a lot in common, at least I think so.

And if I’m right, I think that’s really good news, at least for us as we struggle with how we might respond to the call of Jesus Christ within our culture and our community. You see, if we’re spiritually like Athens, then the example offered by Paul, well, it can be really helpful for us. In fact, it’s an example we can claim. And if that’s what we decide to do, I think there are two things that Paul did both in his ministry and within this passage that we can start doing right now.

I mean, if we want to follow his example, first, I think we really need to be focused in what we believe, and I’m talking about our faith and mission. Of course, that was certainly the case with Paul. Good night, I think he knew exactly what he believed, and that’s why in every single sermon he preached in Acts he talked about two things: he mentioned the resurrection and he challenged his audience to repent, in other words, to reorient their lives. Remember, near the end of our passage, he said, “Since God overlooked a time of ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he’s set a day in which he will judge the inhabited world with righteousness by a man whom he’s appointed, and he’s given an assurance to all by raising him from death.” Now this is what Paul believed. And as to his mission, Paul sure acted as though his job was to share this message with everyone. In fact, he seemed to take seriously the mission Jesus gave to his disciples right before the ascension: “...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” You see, I think Paul had a laser-like focus on what he believed and what he’d been called to do.

And I’ll tell you, if we want to follow his example, I think we need to same kind of focus. I mean, we need to be crystal clear about what we believe, and I’m talking about what we believe about God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and how we see his relationship with us and our relationship with him. My gosh, as we live in a society in which people are confused and distracted, we have to know what we believe. And if we don’t know, then it’s right here, in the Body of Christ that we need to find out. Man, that’s got to be a priority. And as to our job, I think we need to be focused too. And although this is not what a lot of church-going Christians seem to believe, Jesus never says that our primary job is to pull inside and take care of ourselves and hope that people come to join us. As I said a little while ago, right here in Acts, chapter one, Jesus told the disciples to be his witnesses all over the world. And remember, at the end of Matthew, Jesus said, “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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Man, it seems to me this is what we’ve been called to do, and I think than also needs to be a priority. I’ll tell you, if we’re going to follow the example of Paul, I think we’ve got to focused on what we believe. That’s one.

And second, again if he’s our guide, I think we need to be open in how we share it. In other words, without compromising what we believe, and I’m talking about both our faith and mission, I believe we need to be constantly looking for the best ways to share “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”; because, I’ll tell you, that’s what Paul did. I mean, just think about what’s happening here. Not only did go to where the people were, first to a synagogue and then to a market place and then to the Areopagus, he also presented the good news to those Athenians in the best, most persuasive way possible. Both literally and emotionally, he spoke to them. I mean, instead of talking about the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, something that would mean nothing to a bunch of Greeks, and then blasting them for being a bunch of godless pagans, which by the way is kind of an oxymoron, he said, “Men, Athenians, in everything I see how devout you are. For as I was walking and looking at your objects of worship, I even found among them an altar with the inscription: ‘To an Unknown God.’ Now what you don’t know, you revere, this one I myself proclaim to you.” My goodness, he even quoted a pagan poet. Not only did he speak with images that they could understand, he did it in a way that was inviting and positive. But you know, it’s interesting; when he spoke in synagogues, although the core of the message was the same, his presentation and images were very different. I’ll tell you, I think Paul was die serious when he wrote to the Corinthians, “...though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” You see, to share his faith and accomplish his mission, Paul was open to different ways to it.

And I’ll tell you, I think that must apply to us too. Now I know, hearing me talk about sharing our faith, well, I know that may send chills through some of y’all, and that’s alright. I mean, we get the idea that this kind of thing can only be done through words, but I don’t think that’s true at all. We can also share what we believe by our actions, by our compassion, by our willingness to serve. Good night, I think the best way to communicate love is by being loving. But regardless of whether we’re talking about words or work, I think we still need to open just like Paul. For example, if we’re serious about sharing our faith, we really need to go to where the people are. And this just makes sense; If we serious about this “to the ends of the earth” business, man, we need to be sharing our faith at school or at the office, maybe around the neighbor or around the kitchen table, maybe through the internet and social media. But the specific location really doesn’t matter, either as individuals or as a church, we need to be where the people on the other side of the stained glass hang out. That’s where we need to be. And like Paul, we need to be open in how we share what we believe. You see, together, I think we need to explore different ways that we can communicate the same faith and accomplish the same mission. And to do that, well, I think need to be every bit as open as Paul. And that’s two.

I’ll tell you, the image of Paul standing in the middle of the Areopagus, as a guy who’s into both history and the Bible, I love it. But I’ve got to tell you, I love something even more, and it’s the example offered right here in these verses, one that I think applies to us and that challenges us to be focused in what we believe and open in how we share it. And if we take up that challenge, I believe we’ll see something exciting start happening, I’d even call it a revival, right here in our church and our community.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 26, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 9:1–11:27; John 15:1-27; Psalm 119:49-64; and Proverbs 16:1-3 . The...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Reading May 25, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Reading May 25, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 7:1–8:18; John 14:15-31; Psalm 119:33-48; and Proverbs 15:33 . The readings are from The Message b...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Doing the Will

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 athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Matthew 7:13-21

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”


Doing the Will

Last night, my daughter and I watched one of our favorite shows, “Shark Tank.” Now, if you haven’t seen it, this is its premise. People who have started businesses present their product or service to a group of investors. Now if they like what they hear, they’ll invest; if they don’t, they won’t. And more often then not, this decision isn’t based on the idea itself or the presenter. It’s determined by whether or not the business is making money. That generally determines whether an investment is made or the investor goes out.

And in a real way, Jesus is challenging us to do the same kind of the thing in the passage we just read. You see, if we want to know if a messenger is trustworthy or a message is true, we need to look past eloquence and logic so that we can see the fruits. In other words, if a preacher or sermon leads to anything other than the two things Christ commanded us to do, namely to love God and to love neighbor, I think we need to be really careful. As history has shown, an awful lot of hatred, jealousy and violence has been committed in the name of the Lord. And for that reason, I think it’s crucial that we remember that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 24, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 4:1–6:23; John 13:31–14:14; Psalm 119:17-32; and Proverbs 15:31-32...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, May 25, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Psalm 66:1-20, one of the passages we'll consider this Sunday. There are two “bulletins,” one ...

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Presbyterian Heritage

Changing trains on the way to Grinnell, Iowa, for the Westminster Youth Assembly Photo courtesy of Mora Mae Collins Gilley
Changing trains on the way to Grinnell, Iowa,
for the Westminster Youth Assembly
Many young Presbyterians in the 1940s and 1950s participated in Westminster Fellowship programs. Whether through summer camps, youth conventions, Bible studies, or service projects, Presbyterian young people aged 12 to 23 joined together to enhance their relationships with God, the church, and their peers all over the world.
A major gathering of Presbyterian young people occurred in the summer of 1950, when representatives from 45 states descended upon Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, to attend the second Westminster Fellowship National Assembly. Modeled after the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the gathering provided “an occasion for deep thinking, and penetrating examination of beliefs.” Activities included miniature assemblies, seminars, worship, lectures by Presbyterian leaders, singing, sports, and the publication of a daily newspaper, all focused on the theme “Set Aflame His Story.”
Of the 1,800 delegates, 40 came from outside the United States. The start of the Korean War as delegates traveled to the National Assembly drew particular attention from attendees.
During the assembly, youth discussed and debated other pressing issues of the day. Delegates supported the call for a desegregated church and society, and wrestled with the issue of academic freedom in public schools.
Through Westminster Fellowship, Presbyterian youth created new venues for worship, work, study, and friendship that helped them “discover God’s will for their lives” and participate in a larger youth movement centered on their faith.

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, May 25, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. Using the Paul sermon to the Athenians, we’ll look at how we might be more effective in sharing the love of God to others.









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.

CHURCH & OFFICE CLOSED . . .
Monday, May 26 in observance of Memorial Day. Have a safe holiday!

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will not practice again until fall. They will be leading the congregation is song thru June 8, then will be taking a much deserved break. Special music will be provided each Sunday during the summer. If you would like to participate in the special music program this summer, please contact Janice Torrance. Any type of special music (solos, duets or any other type of special music) would be greatly appreciated.

OUR BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet on Thursday, May 29, beginning at 12:31 p.m., we'll discuss Acts 4:1-31.

COVE'S PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN ASSOCIATION . . .
will collect their annual "Birthday Offering". Envelopes will be in the June 1 bulletin for the collection. No more than five projects are selected to receive this special support. In thanksgiving, we give as we are blessed.

SCHOLARSHIPS. . .
will be awarded by the Endowment Committee next Sunday, June 1st during the morning worship. GRADUATING SENIORS will also be recognized  next Sunday.

BOARD OF DEACONS . . .
will hold their last meeting until September on Monday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY FRIENDSHIP LUNCHEON. . .
will be held on Tuesday, June 3 at the Serbian-American Cultural Center beginning at 11:30 a.m.  Barbara Losey will lead the devotions. Following our lunch a Social and Fun hour will be held. Hostesses for the event are Corinne Ferguson, Barbara Losey, Betty Virtue and Bonnie Nichols. Reservations must be made by Monday, May 26. Our callers will be contacting you. If you are not a member but would like to share this time with us, call Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

DAY OF PENTECOST . . .
will be observed on Sunday, June 8.  Communion will be served during the morning worship.

CONGRATULATIONS . . .
Penny Mourat who  was the recipient of the handmade afghan for Mother's Day.
`
CHOIR FESTIVAL. . .
was a huge success with eight area choirs participating. A "Love Offering" was collected at the end of the program. A total of $365.15 was collected. The monies will be distributed to The Community Bread Basket and our Deacons Outreach Program. We sincerely thank everyone for their hard work and support of this endeavor!

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the family of Richard Watson, husband of Betsy Watson, who died on Saturday, May 17. Dick was a long-time member of the Cove Family joining on April 6, 1966. He served on the Board of Deacons, Board of Trustees and participated in various church groups.

SUMMER BREAK . . .
just a reminder that most groups suspend their activities for the summer months, if you wish to meet at the church please contact the church to be sure someone will be available.

UNCLAIMED ITEMS . . .
if you leave an item at the church please mark who or what the item is for. If items are not marked, they become the property of the church and will be dealt with accordingly after one week.

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.

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

On Sunday, May 25, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Chuck May
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dan Tenaglio
Dick Spencer
Doug Haller
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeff Grant
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
Randy Willson
Robert Hans
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

In the Hospital
Dick Spencer – Allegheny Hospital
Connie Francis – Weirton Medical Center

Bereaved Families
The Watson Family

Church Families
Joan Villa
Audrey Vincent
Kayla, Eric & Rudy Violet

Local Church
Paris Presbyterian Church

Special Friend
Connie Francis – 125 Joseph Blvd., Weirton, WV  26062-3017

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Self-Development of People Committee – Rev. Steve Cramer, chairperson
Stewardship Committee – Rev. Jim Cochra, chairperson

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 - Some Thoughts for Memorial Day

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

File:DecorationDayMcCutcheon.jpg
There are many ways to remember Memorial Day. For some it marks the unofficial start of summer; therefore, it’s celebrated with barbecues, baseball games and the opening of swimming pools. For others, it’s simply a day off, one that can be spent either relaxing, shopping or doing some cores around the house. Still others see this a day to display patriotism and love of country, and so they put out flags and bunting. But regardless of how it’s viewed, I think it’s important not to forget why the day was set aside. You see, the intention has always been to give us the time to remember the men and women who’ve died in service of their country. And even though the cook-outs, gardening and flag waving is fine, I think we need to be careful not to forget the solemn purpose for this day.

And for that reason, I’ve printed something that I used to read to my class when I taught about the Civil War.  It was written by a man named Sullivan Ballou, who served as a major in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment. Now, he wrote this letter to wife a week before he fought and was mortally wounded in the First Battle of Bull Run.

Sullivan Ballou.jpgJuly the 14th, 1861

Washington D.C.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

For me, this is what Memorial Day means.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 23, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 23, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 2:12–3:39; John 13:1-30; Psalm 119:1-16; and Proverbs 15:29-30. Th...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – A Purple Monkey

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 athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”


A Purple Monkey

Suppose I said to you, “Don’t think of a purple monkey. Whatever you do, don’t think of a purple monkey. As a matter of fact, a purple monkey is the last thing you should be thinking of; therefore, DON’T THINK ABOUT A PURPLE MONKEY.” Now, right now, about what are you thinking?

Of course, at least for me, the answer is obvious. And I’ll tell you, I believe the same thing can happen as we read this passage about worry. Jesus said, “do not worry.” But you know, if we’re not careful, this can actually be an invitation to worry about all kinds of things. I mean, for many of us, after reading this, we’ll need some time to think about all the stuff about which we shouldn’t worry, and then feel guilty about worrying.

Now I think that kind of thing happens, but I don’t believe it’s Jesus’s intention. You see, in this passage, I think he’s making two points about worry. First, it’s not productive. No one gains a single meal or year by worrying about it. As a matter of fact, from what I’ve read, worry doesn’t increase, but rather decreases a person’s life-span. That’s one problem. And second, in the end, worry is unnecessary. God holds us in his hands, and our destinies are secure. He loved us before the foundation of the earth. In this we can trust. Therefore, even if life is a struggle, we can be confident as we move into a “purple monkey free” future.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 22, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Samuel 1:1–2:11; John 12:20-50; Psalm 118:19-29; and Proverbs 15:27-28. T...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 25, 2014: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 66:8-20) and from the New Testament (John 14:15-21, Acts 17:22-31, and 1 P...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, May 25, 2014: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 66:8-20) and from the New Testament (John 14:15-21, Acts 17:22-31, and 1 P...

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 21, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for May 21, 2014: Today our passages are 1 Samuel 29:1– 31:13; John 11:54–12:19; Psalm 118:1-18; and Proverbs 15:24-2...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - There Will Be No Surprises

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 athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.


There Will Be No Surprises

The rest of my day is pretty much planned. Right now, I’m in the office, writing a devotion that I’ll record in just a little bit. Then I’ll eat lunch, make a few phone calls and begin to work on Sunday’s scripture passage before I pick up my daughter from school. I’ll then come back to the church for a meeting I have at 4:30 and then, I’ll make a hospital visit, which will take me right up to the Preschool Graduation this evening at 7:00. Now, I think this is a pretty busy afternoon and evening. And although I may feel a little tired just thinking about it, I’m not nervous or scared. I mean, unless something unexpected happens, there should be no surprises.

And I think we can say the same thing about our ultimate destinies. I mean, if we believe that God loved us before the foundation of the earth and if we believe that the resurrection of Jesus was the first fruit of those who’ve died and if we believe that the presence of God is with us right now, we have absolutely nothing about which to worry as we think about our futures. Instead, we can live as best we can, using the gifts and talents that we’ve been given and trying to love God and neighbor. And then, when it’s our time, we can enter immorality trusting that, as Paul wrote, “God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.” For those who trust God, there will be no surprises.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Reading for May 20, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Reading for May 20, 2014: Today our passages are 26:1–28:25; John 11:1-53; Psalm 117:1-2; and Proverbs 15:22-23. The readings are from The Message by Eugene...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - Grand Opening

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 7:55-60

And since he was filled with the Holy Spirit, into the heavens he gazed and saw the glory of God and Jesus to the right of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens, because they’ve been opened, and the son of man at the right of God standing.” But they shouted with a great voice and covered their ears, and they rushed together against him; and after they threw him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their outer garments at the feet of a young man who was named Saul; and they began to stone Stephan as he invoked and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit.” And after he fell upon [his] knees, he cried out in a great voice, “Lord, don’t hold against them this sin.” And after he said this, he fell asleep.


Grand Opening

If you’re a yogurt lover, the last month and a half has been big, and I’m talking about really big. My gosh, we’ve seen the grand opening of not one, but two frozen yogurt places right here in Weirton. I mean, unemployment may still be high and whole cars have disappeared into some of the potholes around the city and thanks to the irreversible melting of Antarctica’s western ice sheet, oceanfront property may be opening up off Main Street in the next hundred years or so, but who really cares! We have two brand new frozen yogurt shops right around the corner: “I ♥ Yogurt” there on Penco and “The Fuzzy Peach” on Three Springs. And so, who cares what’s happening in Ukraine, I can now go to “the ONLY 80‘s themed frozen yogurt shop on the Planet[, with] 12 flavors over 50 toppings, 80‘s Video Games, Retro Sodas, and Candy!” or I can head to a place that serves “...a Dannon based product made with Grade A milk and real yogurt cultures..., which is great for your digestive system and is even Kosher Certified.” (I got that stuff from their Facebook pages.) Now you understand what that means? If I want to relive my carefree seminary days, I can go to one. And if I want to feel either cultured or Jewish, I can go to the other. And like I said, they both celebrated their grand openings in the last month and a half.

But I’ll tell you, as exciting as all that is, there’s another grand opening that makes frozen yogurt fade in comparison, one that’s far more important, but that I think most Christians don’t really appreciate. You see, according to Luke, “since [Stephan] was filled with the Holy Spirit, into the heavens he gazed and saw the glory of God and Jesus to the right of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens, because they’ve been opened, and the son of man at the right of God standing.” You see, that’s the grand opening I’m talking about, the grand and glorious opening of heaven, something that Stephan recognized had already occurred and that had an enormous impact on not just his life, but also his death. And I’ll tell you, I think it can have the same affect on us. You see, I believe that since heaven has been opened, we experience the same kind of thing Stephan experienced in these verses and this is what I’m talking about. Right here and right now, we have a source of power, an example to follow, and a reason for hope. Let me explain.

First, because the heavens have been opened and the barrier between humanity and divinity has been pierced, we have a genuine source of power, and that power is called Holy Spirit. And I’ll tell you, this is something Stephan knew first hand. I mean, look at the beginning of passage; Luke wrote that Stephan was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” And like I said, I think that’s related to the opening of heaven, because this is how Luke described the coming of the Spirit in the past. I mean, when it came upon Jesus, this is what he wrote: “...when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.” And then, when the same Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, he described it like this: “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” You see, the Holy Spirit came because the heavens had been opened.

And you know, I think that applies to us too. Now, I don’t think anybody here is surprised that I’m saying this, because I swear I mention it one way or another every Sunday, but that’s because I think it’s just that important. I mean, when I thank God for his Spirit that’s flowing around and through us, man, I believe it, and I want you to believe it to. In other words, right now, God is here. And he’s helping us do something that may be impossible for us to do on our own. You see, through the Holy Spirit, God is shaping our minds so that we can understand who he is and what he’s called us to do and he’s softening our wills so that we can trust his power and love and he’s drawing us together so that we can truly function as one body, the Body of Christ. Just like Stephan, we’re being filled with the Holy Spirit, and although I know that sometimes it’s difficult for Presbyterians to smile, especially during a worship service, and when we do, generally we don’t like it, I’m telling you, if this doesn’t fill you with joy, I don’t know what will. You see, because the heavens have been opened, we have a source of power. That’s one.

And second, for Stephan and for us, this opening offers a real example that we can follow. I mean, just think about the passage. Because the heavens had been opened, Stephan was able to see something that I think was incredibly important. According to Luke, “into the heavens he gazed and saw the glory of God and Jesus to the right of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens, because they’ve been opened, and the son of man at the right of God standing.’” Now, like I said, I think that’s important, because this is the only time a person other than Jesus calls him the “son of man.” It’s the way Jesus describes himself and the way he emphasizes his identification with us. In other words, he’s not just the Son of God, he’s also the son of man. And when Stephan saw the man Jesus in the heavens, at the right hand of God, that’s the one he saw, the one Paul described when he wrote, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.” This was the one who stood at the right hand of God; and because of that, the life Jesus led here on earth had new meaning. In a sense, it received the official endorsement of God. It represented something worth following both in living life and facing death; therefore, personally, I’m not surprised that when Stephan died, he said almost the same things Jesus said. I mean, remember Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit” and from the cross, “...Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’” And Stephan saying, “Lord, don’t hold against them this sin” sounds a lot like “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” You see, Jesus, the son of man, gave another son of man, namely Stephan, an example he could follow.


And I’ll tell you, we have the exact same thing ourselves. We can follow the example of Jesus Christ. We can do it by the compassion we show others, the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for those around us, and I’m even talking about folks who don’t like us very much. And we can do it by standing firmly for what it true and right. I’ll tell you, Jesus wasn’t a shrinking violet and he had no qualms about confronting the rich and powerful when he thought they were wrong. Good night, he wasn’t stoned, instead, he was nailed to a Roman cross, which means he must have ticked them off. You see, like both Jesus and Stephan, we can stand up and stand firm, and we can do it without hatred and malice, but with courage and grace. You see, because the heavens have been opened, we still have an example to follow. That’s two.

And finally, this passage reminds us that, we have a reason for hope. And again I think this is grounded on the reality that, in Jesus, heaven and earth touched. And I think it’s also reflected in the life and death of Stephan. I mean, after the mob had gotten it’s way and Stephan was stoned, Luke described his death like this. He wrote, “And after he said this, he fell asleep.” Now I find that interesting, because although other people die in the books of Luke and Acts, in only one other verse is death compared to falling asleep. In fact, the only person in the New Testament who used sleep like this is the Apostle Paul. Just listen to what he wrote the Thessalonians: “We don't want you to be without knowledge, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you might not be sad just as even the rest who have no hope. For if we trust that Jesus died and rose, then also those who have fallen asleep through Jesus God will bring with him. For this to you we say in the Lord’s word, that we who live and are left behind at the return of the Lord, we will absolutely not arrive before those who have fallen asleep, because the Lord himself, with a summons, with a archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise first, after that, we who live and who are left behind together with them, we will be caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus for always with the Lord we will be. Therefore console one another with these words.”  And then to the Corinthians, he wrote this: “But the fact is Christ is raised from death, first fruit of those who’ve fallen asleep. For since through a person there is death; also through a person there is resurrection from death. For just as in Adam all people die, thus also in Christ all people will be brought to life...” You see, in both cases, Paul used the word to focus on a hope that’s grounded in the resurrection of the dead, in other words, the awakening of those who have fallen asleep. And I think Luke wants us to know that this is something that Stephan will experience.

And brothers and sisters, so will we. So will we, when it’s time for us to fall asleep. So will we, and this is something we can know when we simply trust that it’ll happen. Put another way, because the son of man died and rose, all the sons and daughters of men can have hope, hope as they consider themselves and hope as they look toward others. And I’ll tell you, I think that hope can not only lift off some of the pressure we feel as we consider our own mortality, but it can also put other life issues into perspective. I mean, if, through the power of God, the finality of death has been replaced by sleep, all of a sudden some of the things about which we spend so much time worrying, suddenly they just don’t seem that important. Good night, unless you’re in a Jack London novel, falling asleep isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s something I’ll be doing in about three hours. And when I close my eyes, I’ll be at peace, because I believe the time will come when I’ll wake up refreshed. You see, since the heavens have been opened, we have a reason for hope.

Now I’ve got to admit, I pretty excited about the opening of both “I ♥ Yogurt” and “The Fuzzy Peach”, because there’s no two ways about it, I like frozen yogurt, although as the scales remind me, frozen yogurt doesn’t always like me. But I’ll tell you, there’s something I like even more than yogurt, and I’m talking about how heaven’s been opened, something that offers a source of power called the Holy Spirit and an example to follow, namely the life of Jesus, and a reason for hope because even the deepest sleep is only temporary. And all of this is related to the fact that the heavens have been opened. Now that’s a grand opening about which we can be really excited.