22Apr

Cove’s Easter Worship Service - April 16, 2017

Below is the podcast of the service I lead on Sunday, April 16, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. It focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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22Apr

Memorial Service for Harry Hutch, Jr.

Below is the podcast for our memoral service for our brother Harry Hutch, Jr. on Saturday, April 22, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginiaand a copy of the sermon I preached . 

 

You know, I don’t think it’s ever easy saying goodbye, especially to someone whom you love. And even when you know you’ll see the person again, it’s still hard to let them go.  Now I’ve told this story many, many times, but I think it’s appropriate this morning. 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 sad thing to do. 

 

And of course, that’s especially true today, as we say goodbye to Harry. And even though I hope y’all believe that what we’e facing right now is just a time of separation; in other words, that the day is coming when God’s going to recreate his universe and when that day comes, we’ll be able to join those who have died in a brand new world, one where there is no pain or death, and even though I hope you know that we’re going to not only see Harry again but to spend eternity with him, right now we still feel sad, don’t we; sad to let go. 

 

But I’ll tell you, God didn’t leave us to deal with this by ourselves, because believe me, there’s something we can do right this minute that will sort of help us through the sadness we’re feeling. 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 us pointed forward until we see Harry again. 

 

You see, first, we can simply believe; we 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 as simple as one, two, three. You see, one, we can simply trust that Harry was and is and that we are and will always be in the hands of God, in his loving and gracious and merciful hands. Now this we can believe but you know, even if we have questions and doubt, that doesn’t change the fact that Christ was born and he died and he was raised, something we’re remembering this time of year, and that doesn’t change the fact that we are still in those same loving hands. I’m telling you, that’s one thing we can believe. 

 

And two, we can also trust that just like God led Harry through death toward new life just like one day, he’s going to lead us. Remember the Psalm we read a little while ago. Well, that God who like a shepherd takes such good care of his sheep, has already lead Harry through the valley of the shadow of death. God has lead Harry home; 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 three, we can trust that we’re going to see Harry again. Now I want you to imagine that, we’re going to see him again in a new heaven and new earth. And he’s going to be there, probably putting together a model of maybe a tank or personnel carrier. And of course he won’t be alone. His mom and dad are going to be there, and of course, so will Betty, and they’ll be having a great time together. And I’ll tell you something else; Harry will be able to drink as much pop as he can hold, because all those former issues will be gone.

 

I’m telling y’all, we’re going to see him again, and that’s something we can also believe. You see, I told you it was as easy as one, two, three. I’m telling we, as we move through the sadness, we can believe, we can trust. That’s first thing we can do until we see Harry again. 

 

But you know, that’s not all. You see, second, starting this afternoon, we can remember Harry. Now, I’ve got to admit that I didn’t know him as well as y’all, But you know, y’all knew him, and so starting today, y’all can remember.You can remember all the things he accomplished in the past. I know for me, I’ll remember the kindness and the gentleness I saw in him every Sunday morning when he and Betty left church. Y’all can remember. But even more than that, y’all can keep her memory alive by telling the stories about Harry 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 these stories, in a very real way, you’ll be keeping alive all those experiences and qualities that made Harry so special to those who loved him. You see, you can simply remember; that’s the second thing we can do and continue to do until we see Harry again.

 

Like I said, saying goodbye isn’t easy. And I don’t believe that God expects us to do this without feeling sadness, even though we know that the separation is temporary. No, saying goodbye is still sad. 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 morning, I want you to make the decision the you’re going to trust God and to remember Harry, until you see him again.

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20Apr

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Not for Wimps

Below is the podcast of a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). You can also find other devotions, sermons, essays, articles, and announcements on The Cove Community blog. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information. If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

 

John 15:18-25

 

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

 

Not for Wimps

 

If you listen to what they say, a lot of Christians seem to think it’s pretty easy to follow Jesus. I mean, it really doesn’t involve much more than saying some spiritual-sounding words and making a few promises that, even it you understand what they mean, won’t involve actually giving anything. For them, the faith is almost entirely internal and emotional and of course, personal. It’s about what an individual thinks and feels. And once they’ve said, promised and felt enough, then the blessings are suppose to start pouring it. As a matter of fact, once a guy has his nose above the minimum standard, there’s really nothing else to do, at least not from his side. Commitment to one another is strictly optional, and a Christian’s word is valid only if it doesn’t interfere with the comfort God is suppose to be giving. 

 

But of course, that’s not how Jesus described the faith to his disciples. In fact, he prepared them to be hated on account of him. You see, for Christ, following isn’t about what a person promises to God; it’s about the life he or she chooses to live. And this life isn’t going to be easy nor is it the way to win friends and influence people. Rather, it results in others feeling resentment and frustration and hatred toward the Christian life-style, because it runs against the crowd-pleasing values of culture. And it’s interesting; if one’s Christian walk doesn’t lead to the same rejection and animosity that our Lord faced, maybe it’s not the Lord who’s being followed. In other words, living according to the world is the path to comfort and ease, because being a Christian just isn’t for wimps.

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18Apr

Sunday’s Sermon - Following the Spectacular

Below is a podcast of the sermon I preached on Easter Sunday, April 16, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can find a podcast of this sermon on the Cove Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information. 

 

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 think it’s pretty obvious that today is Easter. I mean, the kids have gotten their spring break: Hancock two school days, Brooke six (something that makes Maggie really irritated.) And the weather is starting to get nice and warm, but remember we live in the Northern Panhandle which means it could snow on Friday. And I’m breaking out my seersucker suit and blue suede shoes, thank you very much. And of course, we’re surrounded by all those cultural reminders of the day, you know what I mean, things like bunnies and chicks and colored eggs. And even though I hope everyone here recognizes that Easter is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the single most important event in human history, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t eaten my share of jelly beans and marshmallow peeps, the yellow chicks, never the pick bunnies. Those pink bunnies just don’t taste the same.

 

Well, this morning I’m going to give you a brand new cultural image that from this service on, we can associate with this special day. And so, in the future, when you think about Easter, your mind won’t go to days off school or changing weather or seersucker suits. Man, you won’t even think about bunnies and chicks and eggs. After this message, whenever this spectacular day comes to mind, you will think about King Kong. That’s right, the big gorilla himself. Now, I’m sure there are some folks who are right now thinking, “I can’t believe he mentioned King Kong on Easter?” But before calling your thirty or so closest friends to share this little bit of heresy, please give me a chance to explain.

 

About three weeks ago, I did what I love to do on Mondays, my day off; I went to the movies. I saw Kong: Skull Island. And I’ll tell you, although I wouldn’t put it up there with Gone with the Wind or Citizen Kane, it was pretty good. And you know, why shouldn’t it be? I mean, without giving anything away to those who haven’t seen it, the movie runs almost two hours and for about ninety minutes of that time, Kong is either knocking down helicopters and fighting monsters and stomping on people or people are running from Kong so they won’t be knocked down, fought and stomped. Who could want more from a movie? To call it spectacular would be an understatement. Well, when I saw it, after it ended with Kong marrying Godzilla (I’m kidding, that didn’t happen.) most of my fellow Monday, early afternoon movie-goers, well, most of them got up and left, except these four people sitting in front of me. They stayed. In fact, they didn’t move through the entire credits as though they knew something might be coming. And so I stayed too, because I had this gut feeling that they just might be right, and if they were, I’d miss out. And so I decided to do something, to something dramatic, to do something important. Man, I stayed in my seat so that I could see what might happen, you know, following the spectacular.

 

And I’ll tell you, I think something very similar happened in the resurrection story we’re looking at from Matthew. In other words, something really important followed this spectacular event, and it was all based on a decision. I mean, just think about what occurred. According to Matthew, “After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” Now that’s all Matthew said, just a pair of Marys going to look at the place Jesus was buried. But then, in an instant, everything changed, and they entered into something that was every bit as spectacular as a George Lucas movie. Matthew wrote, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.” Now, this is pretty awesome, am I right? But Matthew didn’t stop here; he continued: “But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’” Now that’s what happened.

 

And even though it would have been even more dramatic if Matthew had described the kind of thing we see in most of those passion plays, you know, with Jesus stepping out of the tomb with lights flashing and lasers shooting; let’s get real, even without all that, this is pretty good. One might even say spectacular. But you know, it was right at this point in the little story, that the women had an important decision to make. I mean, the angel had told them to do basically two things: one, “do not be afraid;” and two, “go quickly and tell his disciples.” Now that’s what the angel told them to do, right?

 

And it was right here that the women had to decide whether or not they were going to do it. I mean, following this spectacular event, you know, after the earth quaked and the angel came and the stone rolled and after that dazzling guy from heaven told them that Jesus had been raised and showed them where they’d laid him and after he gave the Marys two very clear and direct commandments, those women had a decision to make. I mean, they certainly could have left that empty tomb and not done what the angel said. Good night nurse, they could have high-tailed it out of there and told no one, you know, sort of like Mark described when he wrote, “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” [Mark 16:8]  For those two women, doing something like that was certainly an option.

 

But is that what they did? No, according to Matthew, “so they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and [they] ran to tell his disciples.” You see, the angel told them not to be afraid, and “so they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy...” And he told them to “go quickly and tell his disciples, and according to Matthew, “...[they didn’t walk, but they] ran to tell his disciples.” In other words, those two women not only listened to what the angel said, they did what they were told to do. And as a result, as a result of their ability to listen and their willingness to obey, “Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

 

Now that’s what happened, and just consider what this meant. As they were doing what they’d been told to do, they encountered the risen Christ. And they discovered that they were not only obeying an angel, but also doing what their Lord wanted them to do, because he told them to do the same thing. And as a result, I think those two Marys recognized exactly why the name Emmanuel was important, you know, that Jesus would be with them as they did what they were commanded to do. And that’s the same lesson the disciples would understand when they’d gathered on that mountain in Galilee and were told by Jesus, “When you go, make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and by teaching them everything that I commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’.” [Matthew 28:19-20] You see, following something that was truly spectacular, those women listened and obeyed, and as a result, they encountered Jesus.

 

And I’ll tell you something right here and now, I think the same can be true for us. You see, this morning, we heard the story of the resurrection, one that included an earthquake and an angel and a bunch of frozen soldiers. And I’ve got to tell you, when taken together, I think this is all pretty spectacular. And that’s just the stuff on the surface. Good night, just think about what it meant then and now. I mean, when Jesus was hung on that cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” at that point, heaven and earth touched and that curtain that had always separated the sacred from the profane, man, it was ripped apart and that when he was raised from death, a new age, the age of resurrection actually started, a process that began with Jesus but will include all of us, man, when we consider all this, I’m telling you, that’s pretty exciting, too. You see, whether you like it or not, because you came here this Easter morning and heard the story, just like those women, you’ve been exposed to the awesome, the bomb, the spectacular.

 

But that also means that, just like those women, we have a decision to make. You see, we can hear it all, and then we can make the decision not to be changed, in other words, not to do anything at all. I’ll tell you, right here and now, following everything we’ve discussed, we can decide not to believe that the crucifixion and the resurrection applies to us. In other words, we can make the conscious decision not to believe that God loved us before he created the heavens and the earth and that he won’t love us when he recreates the universe and that right now he doesn’t love us so much that nothing in all creation can separate us from that love. You see, following the spectacle of Easter we can decide not to be changed. We can decide to do nothing. And even though it won’t be easy, I think if we work really hard and deny that presence which surrounds us all the time, we just may be able to pull it off and avoid any change at all. But of course, since the love of God also doesn’t change and the death and resurrection happened two thousand years before we were born and stopping the movement of the Holy Spirit is pretty much not going to happened, we’re going to have to make that decision not to believe, not to trust, we’re going to have to make it tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and the day after that. Do you see where I’m going? But still it’s a decision we can make.

 

Or we can follow in the footsteps of the women. And we can decide to listen and when we do, we’ll hear Jesus give us two very clear commands. You see, when asked for the greatest commandment, “[Jesus] said to him, ‘“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.’” [Matthew 22:37-40] Now, that’s really what we’re told to do. And it’s something we’re going to hear when we decide to listen. And then, we can decide to act, you know, to do something that demonstrates love, love to a God who couldn’t love us more than he does right this minute and love to people we meet on the street or the guy who lives in the home down the block or the girl who sits two rows over in homeroom. You see, we can decide to something even though that may require making a few changes. And I’ll tell you, when this is our decision, you know, when we stop resisting and start responding, I don’t think we’ll be doing it alone, because just like it was for the women, I believe the risen Christ will meet us on the way. You see, this is what we can decide to do as we move from the Easter story out into the world.

 

Now remember how I was telling y’all about Kong: Skull Island a little while ago and how following this awesome movie, a few of us stayed through all the credits. Well, as it turned out, that was a good decision. You see, after reading all that stuff, including about how “the story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious” (I mean, give me a break; did they really need to say it? It’s about King Kong; I assumed it was fictitious. I mean, da), but still, after all that, there we’re a couple of minutes of actual story, explaining the future of the Kong franchise. Something important followed the specular, and it was grounded in a decision I made. And with the women, following their encounter with an earthquake and an angel, they did what they were commanded to do and as a result encountered the risen Christ. And for us, well, we can also respond by showing love to God and neighbor, something that’s more than possible following the spectacular story we heard this morning.

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17Apr

The Memorial Service for Genevieve Meyer

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Saturday, April 15, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia and a podcast of the entire service. 


You know, I think it's really interesting how God works. Let me tell you what I mean. Every morning, as I'm getting ready for work, I listen to the ESPN radio station out of Indianapolis on my phone. Now, usually it's just sort of background noise as I eat breakfast and scramble Maggie an egg and take care of the dog before I drive my daughter to school. And even though she was off on Friday, I still turned on the radio; I guess it's just a habit. 


But I'll tell you, I'm really glad I did. You see, as I assume most people around here know, Dan Rooney, the owner of the Steelers, passed away this past Thursday. And so, on a show called Mike and Mike, they were talking about Mr. Rooney. And they had some people who knew him, including Tony Dungy, a guy who not only played for Pittsburgh, but who got his first coaching job with the Steelers. And when they asked him for one word that could sort of sum up who Dan Rooney was, Coach Dungy said, "Devoted." You see, for him, that's the one word that best described this man, because he was devoted to the Steelers and to the NFL and to the City of Pittsburgh. 


And you know, it's really interesting; when he said that, the very first thing I thought about was how well that word describes our sister Genevieve. I mean, she was truly devoted, but I think y'all know that. And I think you can see that devotion kind of going out in at least three very definite directions. 


For example, she was devoted to her communities, and there's a reason I said communities rather than community. Now, after talking with Paula yesterday, I know that Gen wasn't what you'd call a club-joiner, but that didn't mean that she wasn't involved in the world around her.  My goodness, I don't think it would be possible to find many people more devoted to WVU football and to the band; now tell me that's not a community. And even though I believe happy is another good word to describe her, I think some of y'all saw another side if her view of either that team or band was blocked. And if you're talking about the Weirton, Cove Presbyterian Church was Gen's organization of choice. And whether it involved working in the clothes closet here at the church or sitting in her pew with Marie and Virginia and Betty and Susie, Genevieve was always here, even though it was usually Joe who brought her. And you know, it didn't matter that she couldn't always hear what was going on, this was her home. This was her place. I'm telling you, Gen was devoted to her communities. 


Just like she was devoted to her God and her savior, Jesus Christ. And you know, you really can't separate that from her dedication to her church. But what she believed was more than just being a part of a group, a congregation. I mean, her faith wasn't shown just by how she helped folks who were down on their luck or how she was in her pew every Sunday morning; although that was certainly part of it. You see, Gen showed exactly what she believed by who she was and she lived. I mean, it was shown by her generous personality, by the gentle encouragement she offered, and of course, by the compassion and grace she showed to those around her. As y'all know, Gen wasn't the kind of person who needed to talk on and on about what she believed; man, you could see it, you could feel it simply by the life she lived and the love she showed. Genevieve was devoted to her God.


And you know, since we're talking about love, I think everybody here this morning knows that Gen Meyer was totally devoted to her family. Paula, yesterday when we were talking, I was just amazed by how your mom almost dedicated herself to care for her mother and then for her sisters 

and how for years how calling them and being with them was a huge part of her life, something that created a void when they passed. And Susie, what was it that you said about Gen? She was like a second mother to you. And that makes sense, because as Paula said, her nieces and nephews really were her second children. But that didn't take away from love she had for you, Paula, and you know that. And I'll tell you, based on what you shared with me, I think she showed the best kind of love a parent can show their children, because it was the kind of love that encouraged you to make the most of the gifts God had given to you. But of course, the love of her life was Joe, her husband her life partner. The love y'all shared, well, it's the kind they write about it books and that other couples envy, one that stayed young and alive for 57 years. In fact, it like what you said yesterday, Paula, it reminds me of what is says in Genesis. You see, after describing the creation of Eve, the writer talked about the kind of relationship God wanted for men and the women. He wrote, "That's why a man will leave his own father and mother. He marries a woman, and the two of them become like one person." I don't think there's anything else I can say; that was Gen and Joe, one person. Just like with her communities and her God, Genevieve was absolutely devoted to her family. That's who she was.


And I'll tell you, I think there's a good reason for remembering that this morning. You see, tomorrow, we're celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the single most important event in human history and something that's crucially important for us today. Do you remember what I read from 1 Corinthians? Well, just like Paul wrote about in that passage, the resurrection offers us a glimpse into our future. He called Jesus "the first fruits of the harvest of the dead," and I'll tell you why that's important. You see, he was the first to be raised, but others will follow. And right there's the basis of our hope. Believe me, the day's going to come when, just like Jesus, we're going to be raised, raised into a new heaven and a new earth. In other words, because his tomb was empty, we can believe that so will ours. 


And when that comes, when we enter this new life, Gen's going to be there, maybe blowing a trumpet and leading children banging pots and pans, and she'll greet us with what I always saw as a kind of impish smile. And she'll be there with her mom and with Marie and Vivian and Virginia and Betty and Bud and Floyd. And in this recreated universe, there'll be no more suffering and pain, no more strokes and death, because the former things have passed away. Now that's what's waiting in the future, our future. And in the meantime, and I'm talking about during this period of separation, we can simply trust that, through Jesus Christ, man, this is a done deal, and we can simply remember Genevieve until we see her again. 

 

Now, I really don't know much about Dan Rooney, that is beyond what I've heard and read. But what I do know is this, that Genevieve Meyer was devoted. She was devoted to the communities in which she had a part. She was devoted to her God and to his people. And she was absolutely devoted to the family that God had given her. Now that's something I do know. But I know something else, because I believe that the tomb was empty and Christ was raised to new life, I know that I'll see her again.

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17Apr

Cove’s Good Friday Service - April 14, 2017

Below is the podcast of the service I led on Good Friday, April 14, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. It included the cantata, "The Stations of the Cross."

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17Apr

Cove’s Maundy Thursday Service - April 13, 2017

Below is the podcast of our Maundy Thursday service, April 13, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. It focused on the Last Supper.

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13Apr

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - One Bread, One Body

Below is the podcast of a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). You can other devotions, sermons, essays, articles, and announcements on The Cove Community blog. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information. 

 

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

 

1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32

 

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

 

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

 

One Bread, One Body

 

There are many issues that separate people. I mean, individuals certainly divide over politics, something that seems far more common and dramatic today than it was in the past. But, when you think about it, this seems more the rule than the exception. In fact, there appears to be a lot more stuff that divides than unites, and I’m talking about everything from musical styles to sports teams. As a matter of fact, sometimes it seems as though folks are just looking for an excuse to isolate themselves into their own little group. And I’ll tell you, those who call Jesus “Lord” aren’t immune to this reality. And if you have any doubt about this, just think of the enormous trauma that may occur within a congregation when you change something as insignificant as the font used in the bulletin or the color of the carpet in the narthex. Maybe this is just part of being human, that we’re willing to break off fellowship with someone with whom we share the big stuff, because songs must be sung in a book rather than from a screen.

 

But for those who claim to be Christians, one thing should never be a reason to divide, and that’s the sacrament of communion. As Paul clearly states, “...there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” In other words, this rite that was instituted by Christ himself can provide unity for the people of God if we let it. You see, once we look past some of the details that often get in the way, we can unite as the Body of Christ whenever we break the bread and drink from the cup. This can be a reminder of who we truly are, something that becomes clear when we see the one bread and remember it was offered to the one body.

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11Apr

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - The Hour Has Come

Below is the podcast of a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information. 

 

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

 

John 12:20-26

 

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”

 

The Hour Has Come

 

I think it’s interesting. When a group of Greeks came to see Jesus, it was at that time when Jesus said the hour had come for him to be glorified through the crucifixion and resurrection. It was as though this event wasn’t going to happen until the good news had reached beyond the narrow ethnic boundaries of Judaism. The new age would dawn when the glory of God would be visible to those who were regarded as outsiders. And as we know from the rest of the story, and I’m talking about the scripture after John 12, that’s exactly what happened.

 

And that seems to be an important message for us to hear now-a-days. I mean, humanity seems to be dividing into smaller and smaller groups. And each individual segment not only views the others with a mixture of skepticism and indifference, but they assert that their little collection should be the first and the only. In other words, it appears as though people, even Christians are focusing within and reaching in rather than out. And even though that may be the cultural tide, before we allow ourselves to be drawn in, maybe we need to remember that, as Jesus considered his glorious death and resurrection, it was only after ethnically outsiders came that he announced that his hour had come.

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10Apr

Cove’s Worship Service - April 9, 2017

Below is the podcast of the service I lead on Sunday, April 9, in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. It focused on both Palm Sunday and the passion of Jesus Christ.

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