12Jul

Cove’s Celebration Service - Sunday, July 7, 2019

The members and friends of Cove gathered to worship on Sunday, July 7. Our worship is intended to be a free expression of our love for God and the joy we feel when we accept that love. Of course, there are many ways for us to express that love and joy. During this particular service, we discussed the future of the Cove congregation.

 

Our worship service began with an opening video. 

 

Instrumental and vocal music are important to our worship. Songs give us the chance to praise God and to help focus our attention on the theme of the service. During the service, we’ll have the opportunity to sing songs that reflect different musical styles. Since God has called into his church as individuals with a variety of tastes, this offers us the chance to display our sensitivity for our fellow worshipers and to grow in our knowledge of how we might praise God. Our first song was “He Leadeth Me."

 

Our prayers represent our communication with God. Of course, as Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit “...intercedes for us with groans too deep for words”; therefore, God already knows our needs. Still it’s important that we put them into words, as well as the regret we feel for our sins and our thanks for all God has done for us. 

During this service, there were two times when we prayed together.  During the Our Congregational Prayer, we confessed our sins and hear the assurance that we're forgiven.  We also have the opportunity to lift our concerns and needs to God.  We closed this prayer with The Lord’s Prayer. After we collected the offering, we praised and thanked God for his presence in our church and within our lives. When we collected the offering, we watched a video of a performance of In Control.

 

After our prayer of thanks, Pastor Rudiger presented a message that helped the congregation discuss it's immediate future.

 

Before our discussion, we sang our second song, We Will Not Be Shaken

 

As a congregation, we discussed the future of our congregation.

 

A podcast of the entire service is below. Next week, we'll focus on how taking a break can help us manager our anger.

12Jul

Two Ridges Presbyterian Church Worship Service - Sunday, July 7, 2019

Below is a copy of the bulletin and the podcast of the worship service I led in Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio on Sunday, July 7, 2019.

 

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12Jul

Sunday’s Message - Where We Need to Be

Here's a copy of the message I offered on Sunday, July 7, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. This was offered before we had a congregational discussion dealing with our future. You can hear a podcast of the sermon at the bottom of this page or on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page.

If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

 

Now I don’t know about y’all, but I really like the quote on the cover of the bulletin, and I’ll tell you why. I think it’s something we probably should always have floating around somewhere in the back of our heads as we face the future and make some of those unavoidable decisions we all have to make from time to time. And even though we’re constantly doing this kind thing, I hope most of y’all realize that right now we’re at that place as a congregation. I mean, soon we’re going to have to make some decisions that’ll determine who we are and how we function as the body of Christ in Weirton, West Virginia.And that discussion is going to start this morning. And to help us with that, I emailed out some material last week and included that same stuff in the bulletin. And I did it to focus our discussion.

 

And of course, there’s a reason we’re doing it this week, instead of last week or next week. Let me give you a little bit of background. As most of y’all know, back in the spring, Bob and Chris Rosnick told the Session that after being here for about fifteen years, The Children’s Academy was going to relocate. Now, they’re doing it for business reasons; it doesn’t have anything to do with the congregation. Now since their lease covers a lot of our expenses, this change is really a big deal for us financially. And for that reason, the Session listed the church building for both sale and lease, with a selling price that the real estate agent believed was realistic given the downtown Weirton market. Now to this point we know about two groups that might be interested in leasing the education building maybe, but they haven’t offered any specifics. We’ve also had three groups, two congregations and the city look at the building to buy. One of the churches didn’t think it would meet their needs. And even though the city has come over a couple of times, they haven’t made an offer. But the other church, which is actually two congregations that are looking to merge, they made a concrete offer. And after some back and forth, they came very close to matching our asking price. Now that’s where we were a couple of weeks ago when I called a congregational meeting. But you know, after some discussion, it just didn’t seem like a good idea to even talk about selling the building when the Session can’t recommend a place to relocate. Well, late last week, we found out that Brooke County may be looking to sell the old Milsop Elementary School up on Marland Heights, and three people from the church went through the building. Now this is the only property we’ve looked at, because it’s the only property that seems to come close to something that could be used as a church and is for sale. Now, as they used to say in Dragnet, those are the facts.

 

But you know, as we sort of take all this in and start to look into what we’re going to do, well, it’s not just about the facts, although don’t get me wrong, they’re important. It’s also about feelings, you know, emotions. For example, I recognize that for a lot of y’all, this isn’t just a building. It’s where you were married or had your kids baptized or said a final good-bye to a parent or spouse. For y’all, this isn’t just a pile of 60-year-old steel and cinderblock between the city building and the Milsop Center. It’s something personal; you’re connection emotionally. But there are also some other folks who’s connection with this or any church is, well, it’s spiritual. It’s kind of like our headquarters, the place to which we bring folks so they can learn about God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice and the Spirit’s presence. In that way, it’s sort of a cross between a school and a hospital. But it’s not just a building where people can come, it’s also a place from where people go. They go out into their community and neighborhoods and families. I’m telling you, for them, we’re talking about something spiritual with this building.

 

And you know, it’s right here that we face a problem, don’t we. We’ve got at least three different perspectives on the exact same building. And although that’s just the way it is and I’m sure not going to say one viewpoint is right and the others wrong, it’s really hard to bring those perspectives together. I mean, think about it. The factors that are most important to those practical folks, and I’m talking about the dollars and cents and all the stuff that’s happened in Weirton over the last twenty years and the huge changes within our society that are going to continue whether we like it or not, man, those things may seem cold and heartless to those who feel warm when they walk into this sanctuary, and not just when the air conditioning’s out and irrelevant for everybody who thinks this should be mission control, because God will provide. Now that’s the way it is, just like the practical people think those who are emotional about brick and mortar, man, they’re just too sentimental and this sentimentality is going lead to this place closing down, and they think that all this the spiritual stuff can wait until we get a deal done, and who’s to say that God is providing a motivated buyer, right? And those who see their viewpoint as more spiritual than the others, my gosh, you tell me how that’s not going to result in some really hard feelings. And so there we have it, looking at the exact same thing from different angles. And I’ll tell you, if we’re not careful, we could find ourselves in the same situation we can see in the movie, Cool Hand Luke. [video]

 

And so to avoid this kind of thing as we go into a discussion we’ve got to have, I want to challenge us all to do three things. First, let’s decide that we’re going to be honest, and I mean honest with ourselves and with one another. And even though honesty would seem to be one of those dah assumptions, I think it’s trickier than it might appear. Let me give you an example. As y’all can see in your bulletin, the first incomplete sentence on the little table reads: Cove Presbyterian Church is... In other words, what is this church? Of course, I think most of us know some of the “right” answers. It’s the people. It’s the ministry. It’s the outreach. It’s the Body of Christ. Now those are suppose to be the “right” answers, but I’ll tell you, if that’s not what you feel, they’re wrong. I’m telling you, for whatever reason, if you believe that this congregation would no longer exist if it weren’t on the corner of Main and Cove and if you’ve already decided that you’re not going worship with the people who are sitting around you right now if we move from this building, then don’t say this church is the people. Do you see what I’m saying? And the same thing goes if you, in your heart of hearts, see this as a business. I promise that I’m going to be as honest as I can about my thoughts and feelings, my assumptions and prejudices. And I’d encourage you to do the same. And maybe, if we’re honest with ourselves, we might see these words of Christ happen right here in our discussion: “Jesus told the people who had faith in him, ‘If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” [John 8:31-32, CEV] Let’s decide to be honest; that’s one.

 

And second, let’s also decide to be open, and I’m talking about open to opinions different from our own. I’m going to tell y’all something, if this is going to be a debate that gets personal, let’s just go home right now, because if everyone is dug into a position, then discussing what we’re going to do is a waste of time. We’ve already set it up to have winners and losers. And I’ll tell you, that’s why I think we need to discuss openly the practical and the emotional and the spiritual reasons for staying in this building or moving to some place else. You know, I think there’s a good reason for God giving me two ears and two eyes but just one mouth. Maybe I need to be twice as willing to listen to different opinions and to see the different possibilities, than to say what I already believe, and I’m not changing. We need to be open, because when we are, I think it’s a whole lot easier to discuss in a loving way. And if you want to know what a loving discussion is all about, just listen to how Paul defined love. “Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.” [1 Corinthians 13:4-7, CEV] Just imagine if all discussions and debates were guided by love... Let’s decide to be open; that’s two.

 

And third, let’s also decide to be faithful, and isn’t that what being Christian is all about, trusting in God? As we talked about at the Bible Study this last Tuesday evening, we were created in God’s image, which means we sort of represent him. We are stewards of his creation; therefore, God has given us this property for a reason. Of course, right now, we may not know what it is, but that doesn’t mean a reason doesn’t exist. It may mean we should stay here regardless of what it costs and we should try to figure out what we’re called to do on the corner of Cove and Main, right in the center of Weirton. Or it may mean we should pass this building on to another group while we look to serve God somewhere else, maybe in a place that we can be more effective than we are here. But regardless of what we decide to do, God is still in control. And his will is going to be done. It’s like I told somebody this last week. I think God’s will is like this river. Now we can choose to resist it or we can choose to go with the flow. What we can’t choose is to stop the river. It’s sort of like it says in Peter’s second letter: “We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.” [2 Peter 1:3-4, CEV] Let’s decide to be faithful; that’s three. 

 

And now, let’s begin to talk about the future, knowing that there’s not one vision that’s right and the others are wrong. Instead, let’s intentionally be honest with ourselves and others. And let’s be as open and as loving as we can be. And let’s be faithful, confident that regardless of what we think, God is in control. And with all that in mind, maybe within the discussion, we just might actually figure out where God needs us to be. 

11Jul

Sunday’s Sermon - A Nation Under God

Here's a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, July 7, in Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio. You can hear a podcast of the sermon at the bottom of this page or on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page.

If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

 

Luke 10:1-11, 17-20

 

After these things, the Lord appointed others, seventy-two, and sent them two by two before him into every city and place into which he was about to come. And he said to them, “On one hand, the harvest is great; on the other hand, the workers are few. Now ask the Lord of the harvest so that workers might be sent out into his harvest. Go on your way. Behold, I’m sending you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Don’t carry a purse nor a bag nor sandals, and no one upon the road greet. Whatever house you might enter, first say, “Peace to this house.” And if there might be any person of peace, then your peace will rest upon it; if not, then it will return to you. But in this house remain and eat and drink what they provide. For worthy is a worker of his wages. Don’t move about from house to house. And whenever a city you might enter and they welcome you, then eat whatever is set before you. And cure whoever is sick in there. And say to them, “Near to you is the Kingdom of God.” But whenever a city you might enter and they don’t welcome you, then after you go out into their square, say, ‘Even the dust from your town which clings to our feet we wipe off ourselves against you. Nevertheless know this, near is the Kingdom of God.’

 

And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even demons submit to us in your name.” But he said to them, “I watched Satan, as a flash of lightning, from heaven fall. Behold, I’ve given to you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, and over all the ability of the enemy, and nothing will ever hurt you. Nevertheless in this don’t rejoice, that the spirits to you submit, but rejoice that your names have been written in heaven.

 

A Nation Under God

 

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Now, with just a few changes, this was pledge written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and a Christian socialist, back in 1892. And that’s the way it remained through two world wars and a Great Depression until 1954, when Congress, after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, ‘under God.’ And it’s this change that’s put the pledge in the news in recent years. Back about a decade ago, a court in California ruled that because of those two words, the pledge is unconstitutional, violating the establishment clause of the first amendment, the separation between church and state. And so, since then, we’ve been engaged in a national debate over this issue, with most American Christians and I assume probably most of y’all, supporting the pledge as it is. Good night, it’s what most of us grew up saying, and “under God,” well, that sure sounds as though we’re affirming something special, something spiritual about our country. That’s what we are, or at least how we see ourselves, a nation under God.

 

But you know, before we either get swept up in this debate or just dismiss everybody who disagrees as a bunch of Godless and liberal atheists, maybe we should pause for just a minute and think about what we’re actually saying. I mean, unless we’re just repeating a lot of pretty sounding stuff that really doesn’t mean much, what are we saying about ourselves and our country when we use those two words. Good night, how should it shape who we are and what we stand for and how we function as a society, when we stand up, face the flag, and claim that not only are we one nation, indivisible, that stands for liberty and justice for all, but we are also a nation under God. And so, as we look back on the fourth of July, let’s spend a little time thinking about this, and in particular, using this passage from Luke, in which Christ was spending out and welcoming back 72 disciples, to better understand what it means to be under God. 

 

And I’ll tell you something, in these verses, I think we can find four principles that I believe should apply to any nation that makes the kind of claim we make every time we say the pledge. You see, first, I believe a nation under God must be faithful; in other words, I think it must recognize that when all things are said and done, God is in control. I mean, just think about the passage. After Jesus had called the seventy-two and as he was preparing to send them out, “he said to them, ‘On one hand, the harvest is great; on the other hand, the workers are few. Now ask the Lord of the harvest so that workers might be sent out into his harvest.’” You see, for Jesus, there was no question who was the Lord of the harvest or to whom the harvest ultimately belonged. In fact, for him, the Lord was the one who even sent out the workers; therefore, the harvest was in his hands. And I think that’s something the people in a nation under God realize: that God is in control of the world, not armies or ideologies, but God; and that the final destiny of his world is in his loving and merciful hands, not our’s; and that God has given us the ability and the opportunity to help people glimpse a little bit of that destiny, right here in the present. But understand, if we don’t, I mean, if we choose only to look after our limited national interests with little or no concern for the rest of creation, God’s will will be done regardless of what we want, and as Paul wrote, God “will have mercy on whom [he] will have mercy and...compassion on whom [he] has compassion” regardless of what we think, man, God’s harvest is going to come in whether we like it or not. You see, it’s going to happen, close the book, Elvis has left the building. In Greek, faith simply means trust, and I think a nation under God has faith. That’s one.

 

And second, I believe a nation under God is also realistic; in other words, it has no false illusions about this world. Again, just think about what Jesus said to those people he was sending out. He said, “Go on your way. Behold, I’m sending you as sheep in the midst of wolves,” sheep in the midst of wolves. And this is something we need to realize. Although a faithful people knows that how the story ends is in God’s hands, how we get there is shaped by us. And since we also believe in sin, there’s no way that we can put on rose colored glasses and assume that all people are fundamentally good and will get along if we just show them how. No, a nation under God must recognize that evil is a reality, and that people seek their own self-interest even if that leads them to do horrible things to one another and to the natural world that God entrusted to our care, and that when you get right down to it, Paul was right when he said that, left on its own, humanity is filled with “wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanders, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.” Not a pretty picture, and yet, that’s the world in which we’re called to live, a world full of wolves. And if that’s not hard enough, remember, we’re sent out as sheep, not wolves. And I think that’s really important for a nation under God to remember, too. Frankly, I don’t think God wants us to justify wolf-like behavior by saying either, “Well, they did it to us first” or worse, “At least we’re not as bad as them. I mean, when we bite and maim and slaughter, we feel bad about it later; therefore, it’s o.k.” Now, do you honestly think Jesus would agree with that interpretation? As the kids say, let’s get real. Why, because a nation under God is realistic about it’s world and itself. That’s two.

 

And third, a nation under God is also focused, and I’m talking about being focused on where it’s going and how it’s going to get there. And that’s reflected in this passage as well. Although I’m not going to read it all again, most of what Jesus told the seventy-two involved the work they were called to do and how they were supposed to do it. I mean, their job was to spread the good news, to offer peace, to heal the sick, and to announce the coming of the kingdom of God. And to do it, they were told to be involved and patient and generous. In fact, it’s amazing, even if a city didn’t welcome them, they were still expected to do their job. Remember Jesus said, “after you go out into their square, say ‘Even the dust from your town which clings to our feet we wipe off ourselves against you. Nevertheless know this, near is the Kingdom of God.’” No, I don’t care if you’re talking about 72 people sent out by Jesus or a congregation in eastern Ohio or the most powerful nation in the world, to be truly under God, means you have to be focused, for us as Americans, to be focused on some of the principles that our founders wrote right into the constitution: to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. That’s what is says. And for us as Christians, well, I don’t think the United States of America could have a better focus than what Christ offered as the basis for our national judgment, and I’m talking about giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting the prisoner. And you know, as a nation,  we can do this with involvement and patience and generosity. You see, if we’re under God, this must be our focus. That’s three.

 

And finally, I believe a nation under God must be humble: humble as it looks at itself, humble as it looks at others, and humble as it looks toward God. Again think about the passage. Not only did Jesus force the seventy-two to be modest by commanding that they carry no purse or sack or spare pair of sandals and that they rely totally on the kindness of strangers, do you remember what he said to those folks after they got back? “And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even demons submit to us in your name.’ But he said to them, ‘I watched Satan, as a flash of lightning, from heaven fall. Behold, I’ve given to you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, and over all the ability of the enemy, and nothing will ever hurt you. Nevertheless in this don’t rejoice, that the spirits to you submit, but rejoice that your names have been written in heaven.’” He didn’t say it’s o.k. to brag or to claim credit or to cast blame. He simply told them to remember who they were in relation to God. A nation under God has to be humble. But I’ll tell you, I think that should probably be the easiest of the four to attain, but for some reason, it isn’t anymore. My gosh, now-a-days we reward arrogance with power, but that’s just crazy. I mean, give me a break, if we’re faithful to God, and if we’re realistic in how we see our world and ourselves, and if we’re focused on the needs of others, not ourselves but the least, the weakest, the most vulnerable, man, how can we not be humble? It’s like the story I’ve heard about the great evangelist Dwight Moody. He was attending a conference when a young missionary from Africa came up to him and said, “You know, during my time in Africa I bet I’ve saved ten thousand souls, but I know that fades when compared to you.” And Dr. Moody looked at him and said, “Son, I haven’t saved a single one.” Now that’s humility, and you know, I think a nation under God must be humble. That’s number four.

 

 And you see, I believe all of these principles should be in the back of our minds as we think about our Pledge of Allegiance, and in particular about whether the two words “under God” should be there or not. And that’s not as easy as it might appear. I’ll tell you, I had a good friend in Indianapolis, a Baptist minister, who believed that they shouldn’t be. We should not be saying that we’re “under God,” because it’s nothing but hypocrisy to claim that we are and then live like we aren’t. It shows a disrespect to God and undermines the gospel of Jesus Christ and mocks all those people around the world who have sacrificed everything to put that claim into practice. According to my friend, until we, as nation, are willing to walk the walk, we have no business talking the talk. Now that’s what my colleague use to say; but I’ll tell you, I’m not sure I agree; for me, it more complicated than that. I mean, if when we say those two words in the pledge, we’re describing what we think we already are; in other words, that we’re already living like we believe God is in control and that we’re already doing what God has called and equipped us to do; therefore, if you don’t agree with us, you’re actually disagreeing with God; if that’s what we’re saying, then I’ll tell you, we should take those words out immediately, because I think my friend may be right on the mark. But when we say the pledge if we’re thinking about what we have the potential to become, if we’re making a collective promise to be faithful and realistic, focused and humble, if this is our goal and as a nation, as a people, we’re going to do whatever is necessary to move in that direction, then let’s say the pledge with dedication as we become a nation under God.

11Jul

The Wedding Service for Jarrett Matthew Moore and Alexandra Beth Neidhardt, Saturday, July 6, 2019

On Saturday, July 6, I officiated the wedding of Jarrett Matthew Moore and Alexandra Beth Neidhardt in the Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. Below is a couple of pictures and a podcast of the service. If you're planning your wedding and need an officiant, please give me a call at 304-479-3402.

 

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9Jul

The Memorial Service for Betty Ann Burrough - Saturday, July 6, 2019

On Saturday, July 6, I led the memorial service for Betty Ann Burrough. Below you'll find the following:

  • The sermon preached at the service
  • A podcast of the service

You know, I don't think it's ever easy saying goodbye, and it's especially hard when you're saying it to someone whom you know and love. And even when you believe that you'll see the person again, it's still hard to let them go.  I remember, back when I was a little boy, we lived in Norfolk, Virginia and my dad worked for the Newport News Ship Building and Drydock. And every now and then, he'd have to make a business trip up here to Pittsburgh.  And even though I knew he was only going to be gone for a couple of days and I knew that he was coming back and I knew that when he came back, there'd be something special for my sister and me in his suit case, I still remember how sad I was as I stood at the airport fence and watched my dad get on that airplane.  You see, saying goodbye is always a difficult thing to do.

 

And of course, that's especially true today, as we say goodbye to Betty Ann, a woman that I think y'all know cared about everybody; and based on what Greg told me last evening, would open her house to any friend, no matter how strange they might be. Man, that's hard to handle. And even though I hope y'all believe that what y'all are facing right now is just a time of separation; in other words, I hope y'all trust that  the day is coming when God's going to recreate his universe and when that day comes, you'll be able to join those who have died in a brand new world, one where there is no pain or dialysis or death, and even though I hope you know that you're going to not only see Betty Ann again but to spend eternity with her, right now it's still difficult, isn't; difficult to say goodbye. 

 

But I'll tell you, God didn't leave you to deal with this by yourselves, because believe me, there are two things you can do right this minute that will sort of help you through the sadness. Now before I say anything else, let me be clear, there's nothing I can say that will made the grief go away. Still I believe there are two things that can keep you going until y'all see Betty Ann again. 

 

You see, first, you can simply believe; you can simply trust in God. And although sometimes that's made overly complicated by minister-types like me, I'll let you in on a secret, it's really simple. Let me tell you what I mean. 

 

Y'all can simply trust that Betty Ann was and is and that you are and will always be in the hands of God, in his loving and gracious and merciful hands. Now this is something we can all believe but you know, even if you're not always sure and you have some questions, maybe even doubt, that doesn't change the fact that Christ was born and he died and he was raised, and that doesn't change the fact that we are still in God's loving hands. I'm telling you, that's one thing you can believe. 

 

And you can also trust that, just like God led Betty Ann through death toward new life, one day he's going to do the same thing for us. Now, remember the Psalm we read a little while ago. Well, that God who like a shepherd takes such good care of his sheep, man, he's already led Betty Ann through the valley of the shadow of death. You see, God has already done that for Betty Ann, and when it's our time, he's going to do the same thing for us. This is the something you can believe too. 

 

And I'll tell you, because of that, y'all can trust that you're going to see Betty Ann again.  Now I want you to imagine that, y'all are going to see her again in a new heaven and new earth.  And of course, if heaven has a mall, Betty Ann will be shopping. And it'll be really easy to find Betty, because she'll be surrounded by butterflies and angels. No, Betty Ann will be there, and I'll tell you, so will Missy and Sam won't be moping about in her empty room anymore. I'm telling you, as you move through the sadness,  you can believe, you can trust. That's first thing you can do until you see Betty Ann again.

 

But you know, that's not all. You see, second, starting this afternoon, y'all can remember Betty Ann. Now, I'm not going to blow any smoke; I really didn't know her. But you know, even though I didn't know her, y'all did, and so starting today, y'all can remember. You can remember, how much she loved her home but that love didn't cause her to like traveling any less. And I'll tell you, I think the cherry on top of the sundae was her trip to the Dominican Republic for Nina's and Ryan's wedding, laying under a palm tree. This you can remember. 

 

But I'll tell you, more important than that, y'all can remember just how important all of you were to her. You see, starting right after the service, y'all can remember. And as you remember, man, you can tell and retell the stories about Betty Ann, stories that y'all know so well. And please don't forget the funny ones. And I'll tell you why I think that's important. Every time you share one these stories, in a very real way, you'll be keeping alive all those experiences and qualities that made Betty Ann so special to those who loved her. You see, you can simply remember; you see, that's the second thing we can do and continue to do until we see Betty Ann again. 

 

Like I said, saying goodbye isn't easy. And I don't believe that God expects us to do this without feeling sadness and grief, even though we know that the separation is temporary.  No, saying goodbye hurts. But after the initial sadness eases, I want to challenge y'all to do the two things we talked about this morning. In other words, when you leave here this afternoon, I want you to make the decision the you're going to trust God and to remember Betty Ann, until you see her again. 

 

9Jul

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Let’s Continue to Remember

Here's a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion at the bottom of the page or on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). 

 

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

 

Luke 23:56b-24:11

 

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

 

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

 

Let’s Continue to Remember

 

When the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away, they went in. And there they were confronted by two men in dazzling clothes who gave them a simple and yet profound command. They said, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Now that’s what they said, and in response the women did exactly what they’d been commanded to do. “They remembered his words...”

 

And even though we’re not in the empty tomb, listening to two heavenly figures, I think the command applies to us as well. You see, as men and women who live on the far side of the resurrection, we also need to remember, but not just what happened to Jesus at the end. For example, we need to remember that he taught that “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God; blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled; blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” And we need to remember that he told the rich ruler, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” And maybe most important of all, we need to remember that he said that the entire law of God came down to two commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” As we live in a world where truth has become fluid and relative, let’s continue to remember.

4Jul

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - More than Serve

Here's a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion at the bottom of the page or on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). 

 

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

 

Luke 23:13-25

 

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

 

Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

 

More than Serve

 

Today is the Fourth of July, the day Americans celebrate their independence from Great Britain. But having won freedom over two hundred years ago doesn’t guarantee that we’ll continue to be free into the future. As a matter of fact, we face many things that might compromise our independence, including the will of the people themselves. Of course, that’s really not a surprise, historically, the people have condoned and instigated great injustice, usually directed toward marginal groups who are easily exploited and blamed. And that’s why it’s important to have structures and leaders who are dedicated to protect all the people, including those who are often ignored. And since the groups who’ve been marginalized tend to shift, it’s actually in the interest of all of us to look with compassion to everyone.

 

And for that reason, I believe it’s important to pray that those who lead us look past the immediate benefits that they might receive from acquiescing to the crowd so that they can stand for justice and reconciliation. In other words, they need to be willing to do more then to serve our fears and prejudices. Instead, we should be able to expect them to protect us from that part of ourselves that may be willing to stand in Pilate’s court and shout, “Crucify him!” 

3Jul

A Genesis Who’s Who - The Characters in the Book of Genesis (Session 1 – The One who Speaks and Shapes)

The purpose of this session is to discuss character of God as reflected in the Genesis creation stories. We considered the following passage:

Genesis 1:1 - 2:25

 

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

 

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

 

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

 

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

 

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

 

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

 

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

 

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

 

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

 

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the LordGod formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

 

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

 

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.

 

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

3Jul

Cove’s Celebration Service - Sunday, June 30, 2019

The members and friends of Cove gathered to worship on Sunday, June 30. Our worship is intended to be a free expression of our love for God and the joy we feel when we accept that love. Of course, there are many ways for us to express that love and joy.

 

During this service, we continued our series entitled “When You're Hot Under the Collar: Managing Your Anger.”  Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships. Are you ready to get your anger under control? Join us for these ten Bible-based messages that can offer us some peace when you're hot under the collar. 

Through most of the summer, we'll look at the following topics:

  • June 16 - Think before you speak
  • June 23- Once you're calm, express your anger
  • June 30 - Get some exercise
  • July 7 - Take a timeout
  • July 14 - Identify possible solutions
  • July 21- Stick with 'I' statements
  • July 28 - Don't hold a grudge
  • August 4 - Use humor to release tension
  • August 11 - Practice relaxation skills
  • August 18 - Know when to seek help

If you miss one of these messages, you can find a copy and podcast on The Cove Community blog.

Our worship service began with an opening video. 

 

Instrumental and vocal music are important to our worship. Songs give us the chance to praise God and to help focus our attention on the theme of the service. During the service, we’ll have the opportunity to sing songs that reflect different musical styles. Since God has called into his church as individuals with a variety of tastes, this offers us the chance to display our sensitivity for our fellow worshipers and to grow in our knowledge of how we might praise God. Our first song was “Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus."

 

Our prayers represent our communication with God. Of course, as Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit “...intercedes for us with groans too deep for words”; therefore, God already knows our needs. Still it’s important that we put them into words, as well as the regret we feel for our sins and our thanks for all God has done for us. 

 

During this service, there were two times when we pray together.  During the Our Congregational Prayer, we confessed our sins and hear the assurance that we're forgiven.  We also have the opportunity to lift our concerns and needs to God.  We closed this prayer with The Lord’s Prayer. After we collected the offering, we praised and thanked God for his presence in our church and within our lives. When we collected the offering, we watched a video of Jeremy Camp performing The Answer.

 

After our prayer of thanks, Pastor Rudiger presented a message dealing with the how exercise might help us manage our anger.

 

After the sermon, we shared communion. And finally, before leaving, we sang our second song, “Love Is Action.”

 

A podcast of the entire service is below. Next week, we'll focus on how exercise can help us manager our anger.

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