Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Minute for Mission for Good Friday

Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—let him rescue the one in whom he delights! (Ps. 22:8)
If anybody knows what happened to Don, that story has never come forth. Police found his body in a mangled vehicle near the place where he loved to go and pray.
He was born a white South African. In 1975 he arrived at the Presbyterian church in Fort Victoria, Rhodesia. The young assistant pastor often comforted government soldiers. Five years later, though, the rebels won the war. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Many white Presbyterians left.
Don stayed on. He started a family and took charge of the dwindling congregation. When the church could no longer afford its building, he rented a classroom—and kept searching for hope. Outside the town center was a large black community. Don discipled some local youths. Together they ran crusades.
The church they planted in the black community soon outgrew its parent church. Don remained true to both sides, however: one parish, one pastor, one biracial session. In terms of prophetic and compassionate ministry, he was way ahead of his time.
On a summer night in the year 2000, Don experienced a spiritual crisis. Accused of moral failing by an unstable acquaintance, he drove to his quiet place and never returned. Some believe that he never saw the truck that hit him. Others call it suicide. Still others suspect foul play, wondering if government agents framed and ambushed him and then faked the accident. I once witnessed Don confront the ruling party over a matter of human rights. In Zimbabwe that can be highly dangerous.
Four men whom Don mentored, all of them black, lead congregations today. When I served that region on behalf of our denomination, I also experienced part of his legacy. Don’s death was tragic, but it was never the last word. Good Friday teaches us not to be surprised.
Rev. Ted Wright: pastor, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, Maryland; former PC(USA) regional liaison to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Tuesday, March 31, 201...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Tuesday, March 31, 201...: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 71:1-14), Old Testament (Isaiah 49:1-7), the Letters (1 Corinthians 1:18-3...

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Cove's Brunch with the Bunnies

Here are some pictures from our Brunch with the Bunnies, yesterday afternoon. I want to thank all the deacons for the involvement and hard work to make this a success.














Cove's Worship Service - Palm Sunday (Isaiah 50:4-9a)

Below is a copy of the Sunday worship I led in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia, on Sunday, March 29. You can also find a podcast of this service at The Cove Podbean page.

The Order of Worship
Palm Sunday – March 29, 2015

Prelude

The Greeting and Announcements


Enter Worship with Praise

Entry of the Word: "This is the Day that  the Lord Has Made"

Praising God Through Song
Hymn: "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna"
Hymn: "I Come to the Cross"
Our Song for the Children: "Hosanna!"

Approach God with Humility and Thanks

A Special Time for Children

The Choir Offering Praise through Music: "Hallelujah To The King "

Our Congregational Prayer, followed by The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

Our Song Glorifying God: Gloria Patri

Giving Back to God: "In Humble Adoration"

Song of Praise: Doxology

Our Prayer of Thanks and Dedication

Affirming Our Faith: From the Confession of 1967
The life, death, resurrection, and promised coming of Jesus Christ has set the pattern for the church's mission.  His life as man involves the church in the common life of men.  His service to men commits the church to work for every form of human well-being.  His suffering makes the church sensitive to all the sufferings of mankind so that it sees the face of Christ in the faces of men in every kind of need.  His crucifixion discloses to the church God's judgment on man's inhumanity to man and the awful consequences of its own complicity in injustice.  In the power of the risen Christ and the hope of his coming the church sees the promise of God's renewal of man's life in society and of God's victory over all wrong.

Hear the Word with Understanding

The Word Read: Isaiah 50:4-9a
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens–wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

The Word Proclaimed: Beyond the Palms

Leave Worship with Joy

 Hymn: "The Old Rugged Cross"

Charge and Blessing

Congregational Response    

Postlude: "The Power and the Glory"

Sunday’s Sermon – Beyond the Palms

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page.

Isaiah 50:4-9a

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens–wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Beyond the Palms

When I was kid, Palm Sunday was one of the few Sundays during the entire year that I actually enjoyed going to church. You see, I grew up in the 1960s, and I’m not sure anybody would call that a “child-friendly” time. Now that’s not to say that there weren’t children; man, we were all over the place. It’s just that no one really seemed to care if we got anything out of the worship service at all. We were just sort of there, in the background, but not really a part of what was happening. I mean, it was pretty clear, at least to me, that worship was for adults, not for kids. In fact, for children, the service itself seemed like something to endure, not enjoy, but then even the adults didn’t seem to enjoy it very much. Good night, back then, few people smiled, because worship was serious business. I’ll tell you, looking back, all I was expected to do was to sit there on those unpadded pews for what seemed like forever, in my uncomfortable “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes, listening to a lot of stuff I certainly didn’t understand and trying to find something to entertain myself that didn’t involve movement or noise. And I had to do it, until the guy up front finally stopped talking. And when he finally reached his last point, and the adults sang their last song (I never knew the words so I couldn’t sing), after that, I was free, free at last, thank God almighty, I was free at last. And even though it was a little better around Christmas (at least we got to sing a few carols that I knew and that were actually fun to sing), for me that was worship.

But there was one Sunday that was different, and it wasn’t Easter. In fact, in some ways Easter was worst, because the clothes were even more uncomfortable than usual and the guy up front seemed to talk longer and as I sat there, I knew I had a bunch of peeps just begging to be eaten. No, the one Sunday that was different was Palm Sunday, because during that service I actually had a role to play, what a radical thought, children being involved in worship. You see, as the adults sang, we got to walk in waving palms. And when we were marching, the adults actually looked happy that we were here, not the usual annoyed look we got when we did anything louder than unwrap a piece of candy.  I’m telling you, as I went down that center aisle at Ocean View Presbyterian Church, I felt like I was important, you know, that I belonged. You see, back in the day, that’s something that happened on every Palm Sunday.

Of course things have changed, personally I think for the better. I mean, I hope we’re doing some things to help the children feel more comfortable in worship than I felt. But you know, regardless of what we may or may not be doing, Palm Sunday is still special, because it focuses on the Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, something that Mark described like this, and I’m reading this from the Contemporary English Version: “The disciples left and found the donkey tied near a door that faced the street...[and] led the donkey to Jesus. They put some of their clothes on its back, and Jesus got on. Many people spread clothes on the road, while others went to cut branches from the fields. In front of Jesus and behind him, people went along shouting, ‘Hooray! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! God bless the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. Hooray for God in heaven above!’” Now that’s what Mark wrote, and even though there’s no mention of palms (that’s something that’s only in the Gospel of John), this is the story of Palm Sunday, a day that should be full of excitement and joy and hope. And that’s a good thing.

But before we just smile and move on, I think we might want to pause and take just a few minutes to look beyond the palms. In other words, rather than just to jump from the excitement of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter, I think it’s important to spend a little time thinking about what happened in between, and in particular, at four things that Isaiah seemed to envision  when he wrote the passage we read a little while ago and that we might want to consider before we leave this day. Let me tell you what I’m talking about. You see, first, when we look beyond the palms and consider what he did during his next five days, I think we find Jesus teaching some pretty uncomfortable lessons. I mean, give me a break, he hit three topics that I know that I really don’t want to preach and frankly, I don’t think y’all want to hear. For example, one, he talked about money, and in particular, how people have a tendency to spend a lot more time thinking about what they have than what they’re able to give. And then, two, he talked about the importance of bearing fruit and how we, if we choose to focus our attention on ourselves rather than on our neighbor, how we run the risk of becoming just like that fig tree which withered and died because it bore not much of anything. And then, three, he taught about how people better get themselves straight and start doing the stuff they knew they were suppose to do, because the day of judgement was going to come “like a thief in the night.” Now, like it or not, that’s the kind of stuff Jesus taught during his last week. And I’ll tell you, these are lessons that I think we also need to hear, because we can become so gummed up with issues that are theological and political that we completely forget that Jesus gives us two commands that he expects us to do, something else he taught during this time: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Frankly, this is our job, and it may involve spending money, and it should certainly result in fruit, and we’ve only been given a limited time to do it. You see, this kind of stuff we can find in these uncomfortable lessons. And I think that’s the first thing we’re going to see when we look beyond the palms.

And second, I don’t think we can avoid the fact that the disciples, and I’m talking about the ones closest to Jesus, man, these guys provided to be a big, fat disappointment. Of course, that’s really not all that surprising. I mean, earlier in the story, while Jesus was talking about how we was going to “...be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again,” the apostles were doing important, spiritual stuff, right: you know, like arguing about who was greatest and trying to shut up a man who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus and pushing away the children. Now, that’s what I’m talking about. And so they haven’t been anything to write home about, especially after Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi, but in this last week, they reached new lows. It’s like a minister told me years ago when I was discouraged about attendance. He said, “At the end, Jesus had twelve followers left: one betrayed him, one denied him, and the rest ran away. Why would you think that you could do better than Jesus?” Let’s just say, those disciples proved to have feet of clay, something we might notice with all of us if we took off our shoes and socks. You see, I think we need to remember that even though we’ve been redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, and chosen to follow him, there are times when we fall short, and when we’re less than loving toward God and neighbor; therefore, humility should probably always be our attitude de jour. And that’s the second thing I think we’ll understand when we look beyond the palms.

And third, I think it’s also hard to miss that during that same time, the enemies of Christ sure seem to get the upper hand, something that Isaiah knew would happen when he wrote, “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” I mean, just think about what happened during Jesus’s last few hours. He appeared before the Sanhedrin, sort of a council of Jewish leaders, where he was accused and convicted of blasphemy. And then he was taken before Pontus Pilate, the Roman governor, who would ultimately signed his death warrant. And then he was made to stand before the crowds only to hear those people whom he’d healed and fed and taught, shout “Crucify him!” And during that whole time, Jesus was mocked and flogged and then nailed on a cross. As Mark wrote, “Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.” Now that’s what happened to Jesus. And yet we know that story didn’t end here. And I’ll tell you something, as we consider our own lives, that’s something I think we also need to remember. You see, our story also won’t end with ISIS or plane crashes or global warming, and it won’t end with or sickness or pain or even death. I mean, even when evil seems to have the upper hand, it’s only temporary. Man, I’ve seen the movie; spoiler alert, God wins, and that’s the third thing we can see.

And finally, when we look beyond the palms, we can appreciate the absolute separation Jesus endured on the cross. I mean, think about it; he was certainly separated from this disciples; to a man, they’d all abandoned him. And the ones who were around us as he suffered and died on the cross, this is what Mark wrote: “Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.” And I’ll tell you, when it came to people, Jesus was alone. But that wasn’t the worst of it, when Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, I think he even felt separated from God. In other words, on that cross, Jesus experienced the very depth of human emptiness and despair which I believe comes not from pain, but from complete and total isolation. And you know, that’s important for us to know, because it means that when we lift up to him all that stuff that troubles us, and I’m talking about our fears and doubt and loneliness, we’re talking to someone who really understands, because he experienced those feelings himself. And I think that’s the fourth thing that’s there beyond the palms.

Now I believe Palm Sunday is suppose to exciting, and even though I hope we’re more sensitive to our children than my church was in the sixties, I hope the kids still like the palms. This is a good day. But before we jump on to Easter, let’s spend some time thinking about the week that followed. I mean, let’s take seriously those uncomfortable lessons and feel some real humility when we consider the failure of the disciples. And let’s remember that whatever advantage evil has, it’s only temporary and that when he died on the cross, Jesus totally identified with us on our worse day. Let’s think about this stuff before we move on to Easter; because these are some of the things we might learn, when we take the time to look beyond the palms.

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, March 30, 2015...

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, March 30, 2015...: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 36:5-11), Old Testament (Isaiah 42:1-9), the Letters (Hebrews 9:11-15), an...

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The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 30, 2015: Today our passages are Deuteronomy 13:1–15:23; Luke 8:40–9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 12:5-7 . The readings are the Contempora...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 29, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 29, 2015: Today our passages are Deuteronomy 11:1–12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 12:4 . The readings are the Contemporary En...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – God’s Plan

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion if you on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) and a podcast on the church page at Cove Presbyterian Podbean page.

Romans 11:25-36

So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
”Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
          he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
“And this is my covenant with them,
          when I take away their sins.”
As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
          Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
          to receive a gift in return?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

God’s Plan

When it comes to how we view the world around us, I think we often misunderstand both the word “God” and the word “plan.” I mean, sometimes it seems as though everything around is chaotic and confused, that nothing has a real purpose or lasting structure and the future is determined by probability and chance. And as we live in the middle of this mess, any kind of plan seems hard to come by. But even if we’re able to decipher a plan, we often assume that it’s actually determined by us, you know, that it conforms to our desires and interests. Of course, we may say that the author is actually divine, but that doesn’t change the fact that in this world view, God is actually a secondary player, supporting what we believe is right and accomplishing what we believe he should do.

But as I said, this distorts both the idea that there’s a plan within creation and that the plan is in God’s hands, a perspective that Paul corrects when he presents to the Romans what he calls a mystery and then explains why Israel rejected Jesus Christ. You see, it was all part of God’s plan to redeem not only the people of the promise but also all humanity. And whether or not we understand it or agree with it or would have done it that particular way ourselves, that’s irrelevant. What’s important is this: “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.” That’s God’s plan, something that, if we choose to accept it, can change the way we see ourselves and others.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 28, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 28, 2015: Today our passages are Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; Luke 8:4-21; Psalm 69:19-36; and Proverbs 12:2-3 . The readings are the Contemporary ...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, March 29, 2015: Below are puzzles for children focused on Isaiah 50:4-9a. There are two “bulletins,” one for ages 3-6 and the other for ages 7-12. Feel free...

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll focus on how Jesus’s triumphal entry into the Jerusalem shouldn’t distract us from the cross.









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

On Sunday, March 29, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Beatrice Sobolak
Betty Michael
Bill Manley
Carol Mowl
Chad Wilson
Cindi Livingston
Concordia Poblete Nazaire
Corinne Ferguson
Darcy Keffer
Dave Rogerson
Deloris Chesebro
Dennis Wayne Allen
Dick Spencer
Edward Morgan III
Emery Edwards
Emmy Martinez
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Goldie Baly
Greta Billham
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Jim & Shelley Pearson
Jo Magnone
Joanie Lawrence
John Guglielmo
John Philips
John Schlotter
Jonathan Smith
Judy Edmonds
Karen Lombardi
Kelly Stephens
Laurie Lehman
Lindy Starck
Lou Ann Seevers
Marcia Cooper
Martha Meadows
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Frank
Mike Churchman
Mitch Baltich
M'Liz Held
Olivia Young & family
Paul D. Welch
Peggy Stewart
Perry Pursifull
Phyllis Manley
Randy Willson
Rob Roy Jones
Robert Hans
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sam Fortunato
Sharon Wheeler
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Sue Marsh
Susie Kurcina
Vicki Williams
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Basil Collen Slater
Ella Marsh
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Leyton Burket
Lily Ghrist
Lucian Hill
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Cory Shumard
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Bereaved Family
The Starck Family on Robb Starck

Church Families
Amy Hawkins Shenton
Bob, Jessica, Bobby & Lexie Shuble
Theresa Skiles

Local Church
Church of Christ, Colliers Way

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

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Executive Round Table – Rev. Sam Monte, Chairperson
Bills & Overtures Committee – Rev. David Demarest, Chairperson

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Corinne Ferguson – Woodland Hills, 608 North 10th St., Weirton, WV  26062
Dolores Edwards – Wyngate, 100 Wyngate Dr., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664
Margaret Heaton – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin.

CHANCEL CHOIR PRACTICE . . .
is being held at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings in the choir room.  Anyone wishing to praise God through song is welcome to join us! There will be no practice on Easter Sunday.  See you on Sunday, April 12.

DON'T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL  . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.

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.

PANCAKE BRUNCH. . . with the Easter Bunny, sponsored by Cove's Deacons, is being held today, Sunday March 29 from 12:00 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. in fellowship hall. Menu includes pancakes, sausage, and beverage. $2..50 ages 10 and under; $5.00 adults. Pictures will be taken with the Easter Bunny or Valentine, the Academy's live bunny.

OUR TUESDAY EVENING STUDY . . .
will  meet on Tuesday, March 31, at 6:30 p.m. to continue our study of the Gospel of Mark. During this session, we'll discuss Mark 10:32-52. And so bring your Bibles and get ready to grow in your understanding of God's word to us.

SCHEDULE FOR HOLY WEEK . . .
Maundy Thursday – April 2, 6:00 p.m. "Love Feast" communion will be served.
Good Friday – April 3, 7:00 p.m. "Tenebrae Service."
Easter – 8:00 a.m & 11:00 a.m.

HOME-MADE SOUP NEEDED. . .
Session is in need of individuals who are willing to make soup for the Love Feast on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd.  If you can help with this soup and bread dinner you are asked to contact Sue Willson or the church office.

FAMILY PICTURES . . .
will be taken once again this year.  Karen Edwards will be taking family pictures before and after the 11:00 a.m. service Easter Sunday in the narthex.

SHOW & TELL. . .
and sharing old memories we know so well is the theme of the Myrtle McHendry Social on Tuesday, April 7 at 12:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall following our business meeting.  Remember when- each Easter we got a new bonnet - with ribbons and flowers and such?  We were so proud to show them off. Although those bonnets were put away and we don't wear hats so much today - just dig them out and bring them to our meeting. We'll have an old fashioned Easter Greeting.  Devotions will be led by Esten Jezerski and the hostess is Jenny VanGilder. The program will be led by Bonnie Nichols, Diana Durst and Enid Williams.

SPRING GATHERING . . .
of the Presbyterian Women will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at Longs Run Presbyterian Church in Calcutta, Ohio from 9:00 a.m. till noon. All ladies are invited to attend as our own, Karen Edwards will be installed as moderator for the Presbyterian Women of the Upper Ohio Valley. Congratulations Karen!

OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the family of Robert J. Starck who died on Friday, March 20 , 2015.  Robb was currently serving on the board of Session and was an active Fifty Year  Plus member of Cove's family joining on April 6, 1958.

I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME FOOD . . .
is the theme of One Great Hour of Sharing sponsored by Presbyterian Mission. The One Great Hour of Sharing campaign  supports programs providing food and safe water to those in need and also aide to those affected by crises or catastrophic events with tools necessary to improve their lives. An envelope is included in your bulletin for your contribution. We thank you for your continued support of this special project.

$241.87. . .is the amount that we received recently as Cove's quarterly share of Kroger's Community Rewards Program. Once again, we beg you if you are not registered to please do so, its FREE -  it cost nothing, no one receives your information, you retain all your points while earning money for your church. If you are registered, the bottom of your sales receipt will read - You requested Kroger to donate to COVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.  Thank you one and all for your continued support!! If you have any questions, please contact the church office.

WHEN YOU'RE SPRING CLEANING. . .
REMEMBER - -  THE FLEA MARKET!! Please save your unwanted items for the Deacons upcoming Flea Market & Bake Sale on Saturday, May 2. All usable "treasures" will be gladly accepted- housewares, figurines, books, small appliances, children's toys, children's clothes and furniture. Please no computers or televisions as those items do not sell!  Items may be dropped off at the church at anytime or call the church office to arrange to have the items picked-up.

MISSING ANYTHING . . .
a jacket, sweatshirt, hat, dishes, or kitchen containers? Please check the main hallway downstairs or the pantry in the kitchen for the item. There have been a number of items left at the church, if the items are not claimed by the upcoming Deacons' Flea Market they will be donated.

A MEMBER OF OUR CHURCH FAMILY NEEDS OUR HELP. . .
Please let us know if you're able to do some light housework and offer personal help to a part of our congregation who needs our assistance.

NOTE THE CHANGE IN OUR OFFICE HOURS. . .
the church office will be open on Monday thru Thursday from 7:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m.  The office will now be closed on Fridays.

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.

THE CELEBRATION OF A CHURCH ANNIVERSARY . .
is significant because of its threefold impact: It expresses gratitude to God, appreciates members for their diligence and hard work, and looks toward the future.  The Board of Elders is seeking volunteers for the 225th anniversary celebration committee to include members who have abilities and interests in worship, publicity, and organization.  Let us seize the opportunity to gather the members of our congregation to celebrate God's faithfulness to our church and together step forward in faith.  Please contact the church office if you are interested in participating on the committee.  Celebrating God, recounting His blessings, and renewing Christian fellowship — that's a recipe for a great 225th anniversary celebration.

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.

SERMONS, DEVOTIONS, LESSONS, AND ESSAYS ARE AVAILABLE ON . . .
the Cove PodBean page (covepresbyterian.podbean.com) and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have eight 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 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.
Living the Faith in the Real World (http://livingthefaithintherealworld. blogspot.com/) - Our beliefs shape both our opinions and actions. And even though that's true for everyone, often people of faith struggle to apply their understanding of the divine to both practical and political issues. This becomes particularly challenging when we hear multiple voices, all claiming to represent the truth but coming to different conclusions. This Blog will provide a forum where we might share how our faith shapes our perspectives on some specific issues. We hope that through this sharing, we might all better understand how the sacred impacts the profane. We'll pose a question and invite you to respond. We only ask two things of you. First, we ask that you avoid profanity and demeaning language. Second, we want you to write the truth as you see it.
The Question of Faith (http://thequestionoffaith.blogspot.com/) - I believe that there are basic ideas that all people of faith share, but once you get below those "basics," there are many different ways to understand God and our relationship with the divine. Even within Christianity, Christians disagree about the nature of God, the identity and work of Jesus Christ, and how we might or should respond to his coming. As a matter of fact, some people consider certain things absolutely essential to the Christian faith while other believers are indifferent to the same ideas and actions. We hope this Blog provides us the opportunity to share and to understand better what we believe. We'll offer a question, and you'll have the chance to respond. And even though many of the questions will be distinctively Christian, we hope that you'll still share your insight even if it's from other faith traditions.
O, That's Interesting! (http://cove-talk.blogspot.com/) - The great thing about being part of a community is that you have the chance to share with other folks. Now, there are times when you're dealing with matters of great weight. But other times you may be talking about general plans, special memories, and personal hopes. Through this site, we hope to encourage you to share your thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics that may be meaningful to you. We hope you see this Blog like a water cooler or a kitchen table, in other words, as a place to share.
Growing in Grace (http://sproutsoffaith.blogspot.com/) - Although we're saved by God's grace, we can grow in our understanding of grace. At Cove Presbyterian Church, we offer a variety of different classes for children and adults, many of which are recorded and the podcasts posted on our PodBean (covepresbyterian). In this Blog, we'll offer the link to the podcast and notes from the particular session. You may also ask any question you might have and enter into a discussion with others.

IF YOU'RE ONLINE...
"like" us on Facebook (Cove Presbyterian Church,  https://www.facebook .com/Covepresbyterian) or join our Facebook group (The Cove Community, https://www.facebook.com/groups/115579235630/). You can also connect with Pastor Rudiger on Instagram (rev_ed).

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?
if you know of someone who is in the hospital please contact the church office, due to privacy laws the hospital is unable to contact us. If you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger or to receive communion please contact the church office. Also if you would like to receive 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 . . .
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.

Memories of Malawi - Dr. Stephen Cramer

Mueli Bwanji!  Greetings and peace to you from your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.  The phrase that echoes through Malawian worship is: “God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.
 
 When I arrived at St. Andrews Church at 8:30 the parking lot was full – all five places were taken.  Hundreds of people had arrived.  I am not sure how many were in worship, but I am sure it was more than 600.  There are two common modes of transportation in Malawi – walking and bicycles.  That is one of the many reasons there is almost no obesity in the country.
 
Our group of six Presbyterian clergy from our area, was treated as royalty.  Each of us preached at a different church, and there were always several hundred people in attendance.  Great attention was made to make sure we were comfortable and welcome.   The service began at 8:30.  After a few hymns, the pastors and all the elders, entered from the sacristy and sat up front.  By 10:15 the Scriptures were read and soon thereafter I preached.  The service ended right on time, three hours later at 11:30.  There were five choirs – 100 members in the children’s choir, a youth choir, mixed choir, men’s choir and women’s choir. 
 
When it came time for the offering, the pastors, and elders all marched out to the offering baskets to place our offerings.  Then everyone in attendance marched forward.  Not everyone put something in the basket, but everyone came forward. At the church Meta was at the elders stayed and counted the offering together with the pastor.  The total was 8,000 kwatcha, which sounds more impressive than it is.  It is about $60.  When you consider Meta gave 1,000 kwatcha (a little over $7, or 1/8 of the total offering.) 

Hospitality is at the core of the Malawian culture.  People will kill their last chicken and feed it to a guest who enters their home.  Their official national slogan is “The Warm Heart of Africa.”  The only time when any of us felt in danger was when a pastor drove us very fast on the two lane roads filled with chicken, goats, pedestrians and bicyclists.
 
Poverty in Malawi is not because of a lack of work ethic.  They are a hard working people, but without electricity, running water, without good paved roads the economy must struggle.  Only the privileged few have computers. Many have had little formal education. 
 
In so many ways it was clear to us we were in a Third World Country, one of the seven poorest countries in the world.  There is one MRI and three 3 Cat Scans in the country.  There is one cardiologist who flies in once a week from South Africa.  At the Mulanje Mission Hospital there are up to 400 patients and one doctor.  The water is so lethal to Americans that you cannot eat raw fresh fruits or vegetables.  The rule of thumb is if its not pealed or cooked, never eat it.
 
When I went to Malawi I feared I would be depressed by the living conditions, the scourge of AIDS and the crushing poverty.   Instead my heart was lifted.   I was inspired by the joyous worship of God’s people.   The Malawians live the teaching of St. Paul, “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice.”
 
God is good all the time, all the time God is good.

Friday’s Essay – Between Palms and Lilies

Below is an essay I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can find a podcast on the Cove Presbyterian Church PodBean page.

On Sunday, we’re going to celebrate Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem, an event that Mark described in his gospel when he wrote,
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
Of course this will certainly a positive time, one that I hope will be reflected in the service, with up-beat songs and an up-lifting message and, even though they’re not mentioned in Mark, palms. As a matter of fact, here at Cove, the Deacons are sponsoring a pancake brunch right after the service, where children can get their picture taken with either a live bunny or the Easter Bunny (and don’t worry, he’s also alive). And so, on Sunday, as they say, a good time should be had by all.

And seven days later we’ll celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the tangible sign that death has officially lost it’s power and that, since his tomb was empty, some day so will ours. Now, if that doesn’t fill you with joy and hope, frankly, I don’t know what will. And even though repeated snowy Sundays may have depressed the number, you can count on plenty of Easter lilies in the sanctuary. Now that’ll happen on April 5.

And for maybe most of us, we’ll move from Sunday to Sunday, from triumphal entry to glorious resurrection, from palms to lilies. And even though I’ve been around the church long enough to expect it, I hope we at least pause for a minute and remember that there are two pretty important days in between, remembrances that mark two more sober events that give both the entry and resurrection meaning. You see, on Thursday, we’ll celebrate Maundy Thursday, at 6:00, and again participate in the meal he shared with his disciples before his passion. And during that special service, we’ll remember that Jesus is always with us, something that we can believe is true every time we break the bread and share the cup. And then, the next day is what we call Good Friday, the time we gather around the cross and hear the story. And when we leave that service, which begins at 7:00, I hope we’ll have experienced the same sort of thing felt by “...the centurion, who stood facing [Jesus] [and] saw that in this way he breathed his last [and] said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’”

You see, even though the next two Sundays are important, so are those two services in between. And so, as we move from the entry to the resurrection, let’s remember the meaning of the bread and cup and of the cross, in other words, those two days between the palms and the lilies.

The View from Cove

Below is a copy of the Cove Presbyterian Church newsletter for April and May, 2015.













The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 27, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for March 27, 2015: Today our passages are Deuteronomy 7:1–8:20; Luke 7:36–8:3; Psalm 69:1-18; and Proverbs 12:1 . The readings are the Contemporary E...

Myrtle McHendry News

Our Myrtle McHendry Class was supposed to meet March 3 for a planning meeting and we were all looking forward to getting together again. However, the weather didn’t cooperate and we had to cancel. But - that didn’t stop our president, Bonnie Nichols, vice-president, Betty Virtue and hospitality chairman, Eloise Evans from getting on the phone and making great plans for this year! As always, we do encourage and invite everyone to come to Sunday School - we meet every Sunday morning ~ 9:45 a.m. in our special room in the corner of our C.E. building. Eleanor Cline is more than our teacher - she really brings the lessons to life - everyone contributes to the class - sharing thoughts, personal insights about how scripture touches each one of us. I’ve said this so many times - we laugh, learn, cry and pray together. I remember one time years ago when we were doing a bereavement dinner and those of us working in the kitchen got in a circle, holding hands and prayed- I don’t remember why bufl do remember the love in that circle.

Our committee chairmen for this year are pretty much the same as last year - why mess with a good thing! Now surely we will be meeting April 7 at 12:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. We just can't have snow then! Bonnie is planning a fun program with hats - those things we used to put on our heads!

Bonnie will be working on our new yearbook and Marcia Shane will be putting it all together - as she always does. Not enough room to tell you how much Marcia does for our class - nor room enough to say how much we appreciate her - we really couldn’t get along without her- thank you dear Marcia!

I use “Our Daily Bread” as I know many of you do in the morning and I write little things that really speak to me in my Bible - the following were a few from 1998 -

“When you can’t put your prayers into words, God hears your heart.”

“The way back to God begins with a broken heart.”

“Tears unavailing, no merit had I
Mercy had saved me or else I must die,
Sin had alarmed me, fearing God’s face,
But now I’m a sinner, saved by grace!”

Blessings!
Esten Jezerski