Message for Children and Youth

Pastor Karen Crawford

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio

July 19, 2020

Genesis 28:12

VIEW FULL CHAPTER

12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Angels on a Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder Craft:

https://sermons4kids.com/instructions-ladder-chain.htm

Make Jacob’s Ladder

Song of Praise: Peace in Christ with Claire Ryann Crosby and her father, Dave Crosby

Peace in Christ, Claire Ryann Crosby and Dave Crosby

Surely the Lord Is in This Place!

Meditation on Genesis 28:10-19a

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio

Pastor Karen Crawford

July 19, 2020

Jacob’s Ladder; Detail from early 20th century stained glass from St Elvan’s parish church, Aberdare, United Kingdom. This shows the Old Testament story of Jacob’s Ladder – popularly known as the “Stairway to Heaven”. It was dedicated in 1911 to Thomas and Anne Wayne.
Audio for Surely the Lord Is in This Place!

      The weather was hot and humid on Saturday when I presided over two funerals. I had a graveside at 11 and a service in our main sanctuary at 2, followed by a graveside at 3:30.

     Yesterday morning, it got to me—all the changes and obstacles to ministry in the time of COVID-19. I had seen the Layton girls at the 11 a.m. service—the first time since March—and I couldn’t even give them a hug. And here their aunt had passed.  If there is any time in ministry when hugs are necessary, it’s at the death of a loved one. They looked at my shyly, wearing my mask, as if they didn’t recognize me. Sometimes, I’m sure it gets to you—all the changes we have to make, everything we have to think about now. How complicated everything is. And for how long?

     Jim was filling the hummingbird feeder when I came home in between the services. I decided to join him and fill the other bird feeders with seed. Just when I had removed the top of the tube feeder and had started to pour the seed, I felt God speak to me. “I am with you, you know, wherever you go,” he said. Other scripture flooded my mind, then, bringing me comfort and peace. “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-10) “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) “And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) And today’s passage in Genesis 28, Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”

     For the rest of the day, I was determined to look for the Lord with me, claiming the promise of Jeremiah 29– that He would be found, if I searched with all my heart.

     The afternoon service was almost unbearably hot in our main sanctuary. How on earth did Presbyterians suffer through summer services years ago without air conditioning? I guess the answer is, they just suffered.

     But God was still with me. I mopped the sweat from my face and laughed to myself as I thought of the TV preachers, who are always sweaty when they preach fire and brimstone.

   When I had first arrived at church, the funeral director told me the piper had come. I laughed out loud. “I didn’t know we had a piper,” I answered. I was still smiling behind my mask when he showed up in full costume—big, furry hat, tartan and thick Scottish accent. Because of the heat, he wanted to play in the church, rather than at the grave. And it was fine.

    I felt God’s presence in the widow’s whisper of, “Thank you! The service was perfect!” She hadn’t minded that the piper had played “Amazing Grace,” the one song the family had asked us not to play because it was too sad.

    I felt the joy of the Lord when I looked out and saw so many small children in worship and heard babies making sounds. When one mother tried to take her baby out, I said, “Oh, don’t leave. Please stay.”

    I felt the grace of God in those moments of relief from the stifling heat–in my air-conditioned office and the air-conditioned hearse on the ride to and from the cemetery.

    And when our custodian surprised me, holding the church door open when I returned from the second graveside service, offering me a cold, Diet Coke.

    “Yes, please!” I said.

***

   Sometimes it takes something bad to happen to look for God with our whole heart and be reassured that the Lord has been there all along.

    This is what happens to Jacob in Genesis 28. He has left home and family, fleeing his brother’s anger. Esau, his elder twin, has made threats on his life because Jacob, with the help of his mother, Rebekah, has tricked their father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing of Abraham. It will be Jacob’s descendants who will be like the dust of the earth and will be “spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south.” It will be Jacob’s offspring who will be a blessing to the world.

    Jacob has fled for his own safety but also to find his future wife from his mother’s family in Haran. Esau has already married outside their faith, family, and culture to two women who have made life bitter for Rebekah and Isaac. This won’t do for Jacob. He promises his mother he will not marry a Canaanite.

   His journey will connect him to his ancestors. Abraham and Sarah have taken this same route from Beersheba to Haran. This journey is unusual because Jacob is alone. He hasn’t brought any of the family’s servants or any comforts from home, from his parents’ considerable wealth. Jacob is a man of tents, who likes to cook, not a hunter who enjoys the great outdoors, like his brother, Esau. The cold, hard ground in the wilderness makes for Jacob an uncomfortable bed. He sleeps with a rock as a pillow for his head.

   This isn’t a random location. Notice the repeated use of the word place, underscoring its importance, though Jacob doesn’t understand why, at first. “He came to a certain place… Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place….” Then, after his dream of the ladder or staircase leading from earth to heaven and the angels going up and down, he hears God’s voice repeating the promise made to his ancestors of land, offspring, and blessing—for his descendants and all the families of the earth. What he hears in verse 15 calms his fears and gives him hope. God has a plan! “Know that I am with you,” says the Lord, “and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’”

   When Jacob wakes up, he is afraid. This is the first time he has heard God’s voice! It won’t be the last. He realizes that the place he has chosen to rest is a place that God has chosen for him, just as the path of his life has already been made; he just needs courage to walk it. Where he has slept “is none other than the house of God… the gate of heaven.” This is where Abraham “pitched his tent,” built an altar, and called upon God in Genesis 12:8 and 13:3-4.  ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” Jacob says. “How awesome is this place.”

   When he rises to continue his journey, he takes the stone that was his pillow and sets it upright as a pillar or monument to God. He pours oil on it, a sign of divine anointing. He calls the place Bethel, which in Hebrew, means “House of God.”

   Friends, wherever you are right now is a holy place. You are in the presence of God! And you might not realize it, but YOU are a House for God because the Holy Spirit lives in you. In this life of worship that we lead, we are continually on a journey of faith. We each have a path that has been made for us. We just need the courage to walk it.

      We all have stuff behind us in our past. A friend of mine calls it “baggage.” The older we get, the more baggage we have. Jacob had lots of baggage—a brother that he fought with and deceived, tricked him when he was tired and hungry into giving away his birthright for bread and lentil stew. He has lied to his father and deceived him, as well, stealing the blessing that belonged to Esau. He has guilt, fear, remorse, perhaps, and definitely sadness at all he has lost because of his actions. As a mother, I keep thinking about poor Rebekah, who loves him so much, and now her favorite son must leave and never return. How her heart must be aching—and Jacob has caused this grief.

    Only a gracious and loving God could take this mess of Jacob’s life and use him and his offspring to be a blessing for all the families of the earth. Only a gracious and loving God could take this mess in our world right now and use us with all our baggage to bring about his glorious purposes.

    The God who can and will complete a good work in us in Jesus Christ is waiting for us right now to come to Him, right where we are, and be still and know. This is the Lord who is with us always, even to the end of the age. The God in whom we live and move and have our being. This is the God who wants us to seek Him, who promises to be found, when we search for Him with all our heart. The God who gives dreams and visions to ordinary folks like Jacob and you and me, stirring us to respond with awe and wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place and we didn’t even know it.”

    This God is speaking to us now, saying, “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”

Let us pray.

Holy One, we live in a broken world and struggle with our weaknesses, our baggage. Make your presence known to us as we seek you with all our heart. Grant us your vision for a brighter tomorrow. Help us to be bearers of hope and share the good news of your love and grace, revealed in Jesus Christ. Speak to us so that we can hear you, know your will and obey. Give us strength to walk by faith on your righteous path, though the journey may be uncomfortable, at times, and we may feel lost and alone. Remind us that our every breath comes from you. Every hair on our head is counted by you. Only you know the number of our days and every word we are going to say. Thank you for your love and promise to keep us wherever we go. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Waiting with Eager Longing

Meditation on Romans 8:18-32, 35, 37-39

In Memory of Bill Timmons

Aug. 14, 1927-May 14, 2020

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio

Pastor Karen Crawford

July 18, 2020

Celebration of Life for Bill Timmons and Witness to the Resurrection on July 18, 2020
Art by Carrie Wild

     It didn’t matter that the chameleons were going to die within months of Bill setting them loose to feast on bugs in his backyard. The point was that in those three or four months of freedom—so much better than their life crowded into a dirty tank in a pet store—the tropical creatures would have abundant life, like they never had before.

     Bill Timmons was a man who truly LIVED. He was a hard worker, a doer, an outside the box thinker, someone who liked to take things apart just to see how things fit together and worked, a risk taker, someone who wasn’t afraid to express his opinion, even if no one else in the room shared his beliefs.

     He had his first paying job at the age of 5, growing up on a farm near Canal Lewisville. He earned a nickel every evening when he climbed Hay’s Hill and brought home the neighbor’s cow. Later, his entrepreneurial spirit would lead him to build a chicken coop in their backyard and keep several hens for fresh eggs. His parents must have recognized the importance of giving responsibility to children at a young age, having high expectations so that they are challenged to live up to them and quite possibly exceed them. This made an impression on Bill because that is how he treated his own four daughters—encouraging them to learn everything they could learn, be everything they could be, do everything they dreamed of doing. Everyone was expected to go to college and work hard. His high expectations and encouragement continued with his grandchildren, whether it was learning to tie shoes or going to dental school. He was proud of them all.

    Bill also worked as a paper boy, and, in high school, for the Farmer’s Exchange on Hickory Street, feeding livestock; mowing, raking and loading hay; and working on various farms while the men were away fighting in WWII.

Bill Timmons delivering newspapers

    Bill wasn’t all work and no play. He was a drummer and formed a band. The Bill Timmons orchestra played gigs at Lake Park and other local dances. He was small in stature but still enjoyed sports. He played junior varsity football and took a beating from kids much bigger than he. A friend of his younger brother, Bob, admired Bill for having the guts to play against guys who were 75 pounds heavier or more. He was a fighter.

    He never took the easy way out. His father was a colonel in the Army in WWII, and he could have arranged for Bill to go to Officers Candidates School. I can just imagine the conversation Bill had with his dad. I wonder if his father was as stubborn as Bill? Bill, instead, enlisted in the regular army when he graduated from high school in 1945. After boot camp, he was stationed in the Philippines and in Occupied Japan. The Army, recognizing his keen intelligence, placed him with the Cryptology Section of The Army Security Agency Pacific. His military experiences would lead him to work for veterans. Bill initiated the idea of the Killed in Action bridge-naming project in Coshocton County. Since 2003, about 100 bridges have been named to honor local soldiers who lost their lives serving their country in WWII.

    After the War, Bill went to college. He transferred to Ohio State from Denison to earn a business degree. He worked his way through college by driving a cab and selling Cut-Co Knives door-to- door. He met Mary on a blind, double date. He chose the tall blonde who was a student at Ohio Wesleyan. She wouldn’t have gone if it weren’t for her sorority sister who persuaded her. Bill pursued Mary, calling her at 3 a.m. in the dorm just to talk. They had other dates, fell in love, and got engaged.

    They were married in her parents’ backyard in Washington, PA, on June 23, 1950. When they returned to Coshocton, Bill worked for his father and then started Yankee Wire Cloth in 1963, with Mary and a partner in an old skating rink in West Lafayette. One couldn’t start a small business without hope and caring for one’s neighbor, the beloved community, regardless of its size. He and Mary had opportunities to sell the business over the years, but what would happen to the employees and their families and the town? Some things are more important than money.

    He and Mary have given generously of their time and resources to make a difference in the lives of many people. They have supported the Presbyterian Church, the animal shelter, Coshocton Hospital, Coshocton Foundation, The Women’s Shelter, The Salvation Army, Pomerene Center for the Arts,  Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, Central Ohio Technical College, Coshocton Community Choir, Kno-Ho-Co Head Start, The Footlight Players, Roscoe Village Foundation, as well as the Girl Scouts, Coshocton Redskins, and Little League, among other groups. They opened their home to an exchange student from South Africa. Bill and Mary were honored in 2012 with The Coshoctonian Award.

     Bill loved his family, most of all. He and Mary raised four girls together, providing a loving home that regularly welcomed neighborhood children. Bill dug a pond in their backyard so the kids would have a place to ice skate in winter and fish in summer. Bill and Mary have shared a love for critters and compassion for those in need, housing many rescue animals in their homes and well as feeding many others from their back porch. He and Mary allowed one neighbor to board her horses in their backyard. They had a pony named Perk, along with dogs, cats, ducks, geese, fish, rabbits, mice, and, of course, chameleons, one that was named Wilbur. Bill fed him mealworms on a toothpick.

     Janie remembers when her father scooped up a little black dog that had been hit by a car and “left for dead.” He took the animal to a vet and received a call several days later, saying, “Your dog is ready to come home.” They already had a dog, Mopsy, so they had planned on finding him a home. They did. They named him Mike, and he stayed with them.

    Their family grew over the years to include 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Bill remained strongly involved in their lives. He and Mary made time to vacation with their daughters and their families on Fripp Island for 17 years. They traveled to be present at grandchildren’s births, baptisms, soccer games, tennis matches, Eagle Scout ceremonies, and Grandparent’s Day in elementary school. Bill once served as a stand-in for Clay for a Scout tent- camping trip with Tyler.

    The daughters never questioned Bill’s love and support. They shared stories with me of how they got into trouble when they were young, some of which Mary didn’t know about. Each time, Bill showed grace and mercy. He made sure they learned their lesson and made amends, apologizing when apologies were needed. Always, there was forgiveness and restoration.

    Our Romans reading speaks of the restoration and forgiveness we have with our Heavenly Father.  He did not withhold His only Son but gave him up for us because of our sin and His love and desire to be reconciled with us. But our rebirth and the transformation of all creation is a process. It has begun, and it’s painful sometimes. Paul compares it to birth pangs. And yet, we are in a state of eager longing, waiting and hoping for what is to come–our transformation into the Son’s likeness and our new, abundant lives with Him. This kind of reminds me of the tankful of chameleons that Bill bought for a price to set them free so they would live abundantly.

      And similar to the lost and stray creatures that Bill and Mary adopted over the years and gave tender, loving care, the Lord has adopted us, forever. We have become the children of God. The Spirit is continually praying for us throughout our trials and suffering, even now, as we grieve. God will do a healing work in us, when the world doesn’t seem to care or understand our grief or expects us to just get over it and get on with things.

     Remember that you are never alone in your pain and sorrow. When Bill and Mary were separated because of the virus, their love didn’t end. It is this way with our Lord for all eternity.

    “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Amen.

Link to Bill Timmons’ Obituary:

https://legcy.co/396cuPM

July 12, 2020 Virtual Worship

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. 4th Street, Coshocton, Ohio

Pastor Karen Crawford

Musicians: Alice Hoover and Caroline Heading

Liturgist: Debbie Clark

Psalm 119 v. 105

Prelude: Lord, Keep Me Steadfast in Thy Word (Dieterich Buxtehude), Alice Hoover, Organ

Lord, Keep Me Steadfast in Thy Word (Dieterich Buxtehude)

Greeting/Announcements: Pastor Karen

Greeting with Pastor Karen

Opening Sentences with Debbie Clark

Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

Your word is our heritage forever, the joy of our hearts.

Opening Sentences and Gathering Prayer with Debbie Clark

Hymn: Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart (George Croly) Alice Hoover, Organ

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart

Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, 
wean it from sin, through all its pulses move. 
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are, 
and make me love you as I ought to love. 

Did you not bid us love you, God and King, 
love you with all our heart and strength and mind? 
I see the cross there teach my heart to cling. 
O let me seek you and O let me find! 

Teach me to feel that you are always nigh; 
teach me the struggles of the soul to bear, 
to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh; 
teach me the patience of unceasing prayer. 

Teach me to love you as your angels love, 
one holy passion filling all my frame: 
the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove; 
my heart an altar, and your love the flame. 

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

Call to Confession/Prayer/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

God the Sower, we confess that we do not always live as people who obey your law. Sometimes, we are like rocky ground. We welcome your word when life is simple. But as soon as we face challenge, we forget your teachings and our faith withers. Sometimes, we are a thicket full of thorns. We clamor for more and step over the needy. Your word is choked out of our hearts. Forgive us, Lord. Let your Spirit work within and among us; make us good soil. Weed out our resistance and water us with your grace, that your word might grow within us and we might bear fruit for the sake of your kingdom. Amen.

Anthem: Glorious (David Archuleta) One Voice Children’s Choir

Glorious by David Archuleta, Sung by One Voice Children’s Choir

Time with Children

Children’s Message Part 1
Children’s Message Part 2

Prayer, Isaiah 55:10-13 and Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 with Debbie Clark

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

July 12, 2020 Isaiah and Matthew Scripture with Debbie Clark

Scripture: Genesis 25:19-34 with Pastor Karen

Genesis Reading with Pastor Karen

Message The Challenge of Raising Twin Boys Pastor Karen

The Challenge of Raising Twin Boys

Song of Praise: Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet (Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith) Alice Hoover, Organ

Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet (Grant and Smith)

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path

When I feel afraid
Think I’ve lost my way
Still you’re there right beside me.
And nothing will I fear
As long as you are near
Please be near me to the end.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus be my guide
And hold me to your side.
I will love you to the end.

Nothing will I fear as long as you are near.
Please be near me to the end.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
And a light unto my path
You’re the light unto my path.

Affirmation of Faith: Apostles’ Creed, Debbie Clark

Apostles’ Creed with Debbie Clark

Let us say what we believe.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Invitation to the Offering/Prayer of Dedication/Lord’s Prayer with Pastor

Prayer of Dedication and Lord’s Prayer with Pastor Karen

Holy One, you call us to sow your word in all times and places, even when the ground is hard and shallow. For faith is a gift that comes from you, and fruitful discipleship is the work of your Spirit in us. May the gifts we offer this day spread the good news of life abundant in Christ. 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.

Hymn: Order My Steps (Glenn Edward Burleigh)

Order My Steps (Glenn Edward Burleigh)

Order my steps in Your word dear Lord.
Lead me, guide me everyday.
Send Your anointing, Father I pray;
Order my steps in Your word.
Please, order my steps in Your word.

Order my steps in Your word dear Lord.
Lead me, guide me everyday.
Send Your anointing, Father I pray;
Order my steps in Your word.
Please, order my steps in Your word.

Humbly, I ask Thee teach me Your will.
While You are working, help me be still.
‘Cos Satan is busy, God is real;
Order my steps in Your word.
Please, order my steps in Your word.

Bridle my tongue let my words edify.
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in Thy sight.
Take charge of my thoughts both day and night;
Order my steps in Your word.
Please order my steps in Your word.

[Chorus]
I want to walk worthy
According to Thy will
Please order my steps Lord
And I’ll do Your blessed will
The world is ever changing
But You are still the same;
Please order my steps, Lord, I’ll praise Your name.

Charge/Benediction with Pastor Karen

Charge/Benediction with Pastor Karen

Benediction Response: We Will Go Out with Joy (Andrew Donaldson and Hilary Seraph Donaldson)

We Will Go Out With Joy

We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. Alleluia. We will go out with joy. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Now anyone who’s born of the Spirit, sing a new song of joy. Now anyone who’s born of the Spirit, sing a new song of joy. Alleluia. We will go out with joy. Alleluia. Alleluia.

We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. Alleluia. We will go out with joy. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Now anyone who’s born of the Spirit, sing a new song of joy. Now anyone who’s born of the Spirit, sing a new song of joy. Alleluia. We will go out with joy. Alleluia. Alleluia.

We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God. We will go out with joy in the Spirit. We will go out with God.

Postlude: Just a Closer Walk with Thee (Patsy Cline, arr. by Mark Anderson), Caroline Heading, Piano

Just a Closer Walk with Thee (Patsy Cline, arr. by Mark Anderson)

The Challenge of Raising Twin Boys

Meditation on Genesis 25:19-34

Pastor Karen Crawford

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. Fourth St., Coshocton, OH 43812

July 12, 2020

Audio of Pastor Karen’s Message:

Audio of Karen’s Message on July 12, 2020

  

The Challenge of Raising Twin Boys

The Crawford household grew by two fur babies this summer. Ah, the pitter patter of little orange fur feet, racing up and down the stairs and along smooth wood floors, stepping on carpet and flying into walls as if they are on a slip and slide. The 2 ½-year old ginger cats showed up in a traveling cage one Sunday afternoon about a month ago, a gift from a church member.

     Within days of their adoption, Leo and Loomis became Seamus and Liam, much like the Lord gave Abram and Sarai new names after they began to listen for God’s voice and obey. The difference is that cats don’t listen to human voices, unless we are saying something they want to hear. And they don’t obey, but they might agree with you.

     We had trouble telling them apart, at first. They are brothers and look so much alike. It’s part of the challenge of raising twin boys. Looking more closely, you see that one is a darker orange, with a rounder face and the other has a long, aristocratic nose, high cheekbones and slanted eyes. But it’s their personalities that really define them.

Liam and Seamus

     Seamus, on the first night, hid in between the walls in the furnace room. No amount of coaxing or bribery would persuade him to come out. He hissed and bared his claws. Liam, on the other hand, was shy, but an explorer, going upstairs and sliding under Jacob’s bed when he realized there was a DOG in our bedroom. They hadn’t lived with a DOG before. Seamus is the most active and destructive, leaping on tall furniture, knocking over lamps and chairs, ripping curtains and chewing houseplants. He is the most curious and impulsive, wandering into the pantry and climbing into the washing machine as I am filling it with clothes. I often think of the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat,” when I am watching Seamus’ escapades. He is also the most playful and energetic, dragging his toys around the house for hours, carrying them in his mouth and batting them with his paws. He has the largest appetite and eats faster than Liam. He would eat Liam’s food, too, if I didn’t stand between them. Seamus is the one who teases the dog and tries to drink out of her water bowl. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Mabel, our Pomeranian, doesn’t share. He demands attention; if Liam is taking a nap, Seamus often jumps on him and wakes him up. Seamus tends to follow Jim around, meowing, and will climb into his lap and allow him to scratch his head while Jim reads or watches the news.

Seamus and Liam

     Liam and I have a special connection. When he climbed into my lap that first morning, I told him the story of Melvyn, my last kitty—how I loved him and how he died and that I was still sad about losing him. Liam looked up at me with such compassion in his eyes. He is the gentle, quiet one. He watches me through a window if I am out working in the yard and sometimes waits at the back door. He stays close when I am home. As I work on my messages, Liam is usually in my lap or sleeping nearby.

Liam again

     While we love both of our ginger boys, Jim adores Seamus. And I adore Liam.  

Liam helping with my sermon

     Isaac and Rebekah wait and hope for a child for 20 years. Like Sarah, Rebekah is considered barren. Isaac prays to the Lord and, miraculously, she conceives. She gives birth to twin boys when Isaac is 60! Raising twin boys is a challenge, from the very beginning. The pregnancy is hard on her. “The children struggled together within her,” says Genesis 25:22, and she says, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?”

     Rebekah is a woman of faith. She “inquires” of the Lord. God speaks to her directly, assuring her that she isn’t going crazy; there are two nations in conflict within her. One is stronger than the other, and the elder will serve the younger! This isn’t how it is in her society. The eldest inherits everything so that the property would not be divided.

     As the children grow, Esau becomes the strong hunter whom Isaac loves because he fills his belly with wild game. He is the impulsive twin and is tricked by Jacob, whom Rebekah loves. He is the smart, quiet man, who prefers to stay at home and help with the cooking. This favoritism leads to conflict, just as it will when Jacob favors his younger son, Joseph, and gives him a special coat.

     It’s hard not to play favorites, isn’t it?

     Esau returns from a hunting trip, hungry and arrogant. He’s talking trash with his brother—and you get the feeling that this is how the two are used to communicating. “Let me eat some of that red stuff!” he demands, only “stuff” is probably not the word he uses. Jacob has waited for this moment for a long time, perhaps already knows what the Lord told Rebekah when she was pregnant—that the elder would serve the younger. “First, sell me your birthright,” Jacob says, meaning, the inheritance of the first-born son. And Esau falls right into his trap, selling his birthright for some bread and lentil stew. Why does he do this? I wonder. Does he really care so little about his family and future? He seems to live only for the moment, for today’s pleasures, without considering the consequences. “He ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus, he despised his birthright.”

    I find myself cheering for Jacob throughout this story. I want the clever, quiet man, living in tents, making bread and lentil stew, to receive God’s blessing. I want the nice guy, the faithful one, and not the bully to win. Esau treats his family terribly. Against his parents’ wishes, he marries two Hittite women when he is 40 years old, “and they make life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.”

     Jacob does eventually receive God’s blessing, along with the birthright, the inheritance of the first-born son. He does this by deceiving his father, Isaac, when he is old and blind and pretends to be his older brother. This happens not because of the craftiness of Jacob, but because God has planned this since before their birth. The Lord’s blessing to Abraham’s descendants will continue through the line of Jacob. Jacob is chosen by God to be used by God.

      God’s choices are almost always surprising and the opposite of what the world would choose. Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:27, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” “The message of the cross,” Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:18, “is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The Cross of Christ is the Power of God

    Now I don’t want to give you the wrong impression about Jacob and Esau—as if one is good and the other bad. The truth is, they are both human and flawed. Esau does end up having a good life. He isn’t cursed. He doesn’t lose his home, family or wealth as Jacob is forced into exile, fearing his brother’s wrath. Both Jacob and Esau will mature. Time heals and life humbles. They grow in grace and gratitude. One day, Esau and Jacob will reconcile after Jacob wrestles with an angel of the Lord and receives his new name–Israel.

    I also don’t want to give you the wrong impression about Seamus and Liam, our ginger kitties. The truth is, they are both cats, with all the feline traits that the Lord has given them. All you cat lovers know what I am talking about. They will change as they grow accustomed to us and life in our home. They have already settled down and are putting on weight. Seamus is still more skittish and easily spooked but is learning to trust and accept our love.

     Love and trust change us, amen? The love of God, even more than human love, has the power to transform.

     You and I have been chosen by God to be used by God. We have been adopted, grafted into the family tree of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have a precious inheritance of eternal life with God. We are wanted and accepted with all our flaws and weaknesses. He is working in and with us, at this very moment. Trials and suffering build our character and help us grow in grace and gratitude.

    Difficult and frightening times will draw Jacob closer to the Lord and grow his faith. The same will happen for us who are living through a pandemic.

    The gift of our two fur babies is just one way that I see the love and grace of God working in our lives. Jim, Jacob and I didn’t even know that we needed two cats to help us find healing and comfort for our hurts. God knew that we needed them—and that they needed us.

    Our worship last Sunday at Janie Kinkley’s was a wonderful blessing—another way that I see the love and grace of God working in our church family. For the more than 30 who came on a hot, holiday weekend, we were reminded how when two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, he is with us. We were reminded that the Body of Christ never needed the walls of a church to live a life of worship. We were reminded that nothing is impossible with God and that even a pandemic cannot keep us from becoming the people that God wants us to be, growing in grace and gratitude.

     The Lord doesn’t play favorites. He loves everyone, unconditionally. He doesn’t expect payment on the debt he paid for us when Christ died for the sins of the world that he loves. Only that we seek him, love him, and let His word, as the psalmist prays, be a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path.  And when we feel afraid, as we sing in our song of praise, when we think we’ve lost our way, God’s still there beside us. Nothing will we fear as long as God is near. He’ll be near us to the end.

Let us pray.

Holy one, thank you for choosing us and using us to accomplish your wonderful, surprising purposes. Thank you for your word that never fails to speak to us and encourage us as we seek to live faithfully today. May we hear your voice guiding us on your way. Keep our hearts from wandering. Give us patience and gentleness with ourselves and others. Be with families everywhere, Lord. Help those who struggle. Bless the barren woman with the longed-for child. Bring peace and reconciliation where there is brokenness, strife, fear, and hurt. Where there is hunger or other physical, emotional or spiritual needs, may your Spirit provide. Thank you that nothing will ever separate us from your love, shown in Christ Jesus, our Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.

Message for Children and Youth

Pastor Karen Crawford, The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

July 12, 2020

Sower

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew chapter 13, verses 1-9 and 18-23:

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

July 12, 2020 Children’s Message Part 1
July 12, 2020 Children’s Message Part 2

Activities for Children and Youth:

Parable of the Sower Coloring Page:

https://sermons4kids.com/parable_of_sower_colorpg.htm?fromSermonId=444

Parable of the Sower Word Search:

https://sermons4kids.com/parable_of_the_sower_wordsearch.htm?fromSermonId=444

Parable of the Sower Crossword:

https://sermons4kids.com/parable_of_the_sower_crossword.htm?fromSermonId=444

Glorious (David Archuleta) One Voice Children’s Choir

Glorious by David Archuleta, Sung by One Voice Children’s Choir

July 5, 2020 Outdoor Worship

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton

Pastor Karen Crawford 

Liturgist: Janie Kinkley

Musicians: The Tubafours:

Ron Geese, euphonium; Brian Botdorf, euphonium; Ron Barkett, tuba; Jonathon Stuck, tuba

Outdoor Worship with The Presbyterian Church July 5, 2020

Gathering Music

    Amazing Grace – Early American melody, arr. Ron Geese

    With His Stripes We Are Healed – G. F. Handel, arr. Steven Cross

     Down in the River to Pray – Traditional, arr. Art Leiby

Ron Geese and the Tubafours

Prelude

     Pilgrim’s Chorus from Tannhauser, Richard Wagner, arr. Ron Geese

Greeting/Announcements: Pastor Karen      

Opening Sentences:    Janie Kinkley

Come to me, Jesus says. All who are weary,

come to me.

And you, who carry heavy loads,

come to me.

For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Let us draw near to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

Gathering Prayer: Janie Kinkley

Hymn: His Eye Is On the Sparrow, arr. Ron Geese

Call to Confession: Pastor Karen

Prayer of Confession

Lord, we marvel at the thought of a well-fitted yoke, a burden scaled to match our frames; we do not know how to rest in the promise of such labor. Some of us are weary from unceasing responsibility; others find no welcome in the marketplace. We confound your vision for our common life. Forgive our blind striving, our stifled concern, the judgments we cast on others. Make yourself known to us in the silence. Shape your children for the commonwealth of your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon                                                                                      

Time with Children

Prayer for Illumination: Janie Kinkley

Scripture: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30                                                  Janie Kinkley

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ!

Scripture: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67                                         Pastor Karen

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Message                    Love Story                                                          Pastor Karen

Hymn: Near to the Heart of God, Cleland Boyd McAfee

Invitation to Offering/Prayer of Dedication/Lord’s Prayer

Gracious Creator, you have laced our lives with blessing. As we present our offering, we also tender our lives. Make us your bold and faithful people, willing to go forward in faith wherever you would lead us, that we might be a comfort in the world. 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.

Solo: God Bless the U.S.A., Lee Greenwood, arr. Corey Swinderman; sung by Ron Barkett

Charge and Blessing

Postlude and Patriotic Music with The Tubafours:

Ron Geese and the Tubafours

    Postlude, Ron Geese

    Salute to George M. Cohan, arr. Ron Geese

    National Emblem, E.E. Bagley, arr. Robert Wilkinson

Love Story

Meditation on Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67

Pastor Karen Crawford

Outdoor Worship with The Presbyterian Church

July 5, 2020

Love Story Audio
Rebekah Meeting Isaac

    He was movie star handsome. She was two weeks older than him and he never let her forget it.

    Paul Hunt met Wilma Spring in the 7th grade at Coshocton Junior High. Wilma saw him out on the playground. He had on a goofy hat with flaps on the sides, and he was on his bicycle. Wilma told one of her friends, “I don’t know who that boy is, but I am going to marry him someday.”  In 8th grade, when she walked into homeroom, there he sat. He saw her and liked her, too. Right off the bat.  After lunch, she was hanging out with her friends. Paul, with his very distinctive gait, wearing engineer boots, started to saunter past. And Wilma said, “Oh, Paul, there’s an empty seat right next to me.” He sat down and that was it.

     Paul and Wilma’s love story had God’s hand all over it. She was “from the other side of the railroad tracks,” she says, “and Paul’s family belonged to the country club.” They dated on and off, going to dances and Saturday matinees. By the time they got to be juniors in high school, there were other girls that had their eyes on Paul. Gretchen told all the girls that if they so much as looked at Paul she would scratch their eyes out. “I didn’t pay one bit of attention to her,” Wilma says. “I always thought he was special. I found myself comparing him to other guys. Nobody else ever measured up.”

     They graduated from Coshocton High in 1957. Wilma got a job while Paul went off to the College of Wooster. She saw him on weekends and enjoyed attending dances with him at Wooster, staying up all night in the dorm with the girls. Yet, she was dating other people, too. She didn’t know that Paul knew she was seeing other guys. Until one day, when he confronted her. She was going to have to make up her mind. Was she going to be with him or not?

    “From then on,” she says. “I was.”

     The engagement ring came at Christmas. Paul graduated from college in 1961 and found out that he was going to be drafted. He enlisted in the Army so that he might choose his vocation. They were separated again, and this time, it was too far to come home on weekends. He was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana.

     The Rev. Harold Kaser married them on July 1, 1962, in our chapel. It was a hot day, and the chapel didn’t have air conditioning.  They began their marriage in a rented home off base in Lawrence, Indiana.  “I thought he was taking me off to the end of the earth,” she says. “I had never been away from home.”

     They did return to Coshocton in 1964 and their love story continued, with raising three children together and numerous stray cats. On July 1, they would have celebrated 58 years of marriage, but Paul went home to be with the Lord on June 29. He was 81.

     The love story between Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24 is different than Paul and Wilma’s, but also has God’s hand all over it. Not just anyone would do for Abraham and Sarah’s son, born 25 years after God first spoke his promise to the barren couple. Sarah, by now, had passed. And Abraham didn’t want Isaac to marry one of the local, Canaanite girls. Only kin would do for Abraham, who, when he married Sarai, was marrying his niece. Abraham may have been 120 or more when he entrusted his eldest, most loyal and faithful servant to go and find a match for his son. If the girl weren’t willing to leave her family to come to Canaan, then she wasn’t the right one for Isaac. This was the land that God had promised to his descendants, who would number the stars.

      The servant set off with a caravan of camels, servants, and gifts from his master’s wealth to offer the bride and family. He headed for Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. The servant’s meeting of the beautiful young Rebekah was at a well, where all the daughters of the town would come to draw water. Wells were often the meeting place for young men and women. Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob, will meet and fall in love with Rachel at a well. Moses, in Exodus, will meet Zipporah, his bride to be, at a well, too.

     Abraham’s servant seeks God’s help for this divinely appointed errand, praying specifically that the one who would grant him a drink and offer to water his camels would be the one God has chosen for Isaac. When Rebekah does these things, the servant gives her jewelry, which, weighing more than 4 ounces, would be worth thousands of dollars today! He asks not her name but whose daughter she is and if there is room in her father’s house for him to stay the night. Rebekah is Abraham’s great niece.

      Rebekah’s brother, Laban, and their father, Bethuel, see the jewelry, hear the story, and declare, “this thing is of the Lord.” But they don’t make the decision for Rebekah. They ask her if she will go with the man. Rebekah assents to marriage to Isaac when she says, “I will.”

      The meeting of Rebekah and Isaac takes place in the evening after a long journey on camels. It is love at first sight, like Wilma and Paul, though the courtship is much shorter. He is walking in the field, looks up and sees her and she looks up and sees him. She asks, “Who is that man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” It’s Isaac. She covers herself demurely with a veil.

     There’s no chapel wedding for Abraham’s only son. Bringing Rebekah into his late mother’s tent is akin to tying the knot. They live happily ever after, though they do have a complicated family life—and some struggles raising twin boys. You can read their story, beginning in Genesis 25.

    Isaac and Rebekah’s story stirs the question, “Is God, the Creator of all, in the business of matchmaking?” Yes, I believe so, though I wouldn’t go as far to say that every marriage is a match made in heaven. We do make choices, as Rebekah did.

     We always have a choice in our relationship with the Lord. God reaches out with love, beckons us to come to him, offers to carry our heavy burdens and give us rest in his yoke, trusting him to guide us all our days. But it’s up to us to respond to the Lord’s love for us and continue to seek him to have a relationship, as Abraham’s faithful servant does in Genesis 24.

     Our Triune God is all about relationships. Jesus prays in John 17:21 that all of his followers “may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The Lord accomplishes his transformation of all Creation and his plan for salvation through relationships.

    Our baptism, if you think about it, is a meeting at the well. He lovingly claims us as his own and pours His Spirit into us, giving us gifts to last a lifetime. Like Wilma and Rebekah, and Jim and me, we end up traveling to places we never thought we would go–for the love of God poured into us to pour out on the world.

      We, too, are matchmakers. Our job is to bring people together—make disciples and change the world through relationships we create and nurture, as we follow the Lord.

     It’s been hard for us, separated in our homes since March. But the Spirit continues to use us to bring people together and nurture relationships, a holy work. We are learning, through all that we do to try to help our community stay safe from the virus, that we live not for ourselves but for one another.

     Our love story goes on.

Let us pray. Loving God, thank you for pouring your Spirit into our hearts and sending us out into the world to create and nurture relationships. Help us, Lord, in this time of separation, to grow in love and service to you and our neighbors and be patient until it is your time for us to worship as a congregation in person again. Use us for your holy work as you transform us into your new Creation. Heal our community, Lord, and make us united and whole. We submit ourselves and our lives to you, once again. Please carry our burdens for us. Give us the peace and rest of your yoke. In Christ we pray. Amen.

The Prodigal Son Comes Home

Meditation on Luke 15:11-32

In Memory of Paul Richard Hunt

April 16, 1939-June 29, 2020

July 2, 2020

Paul Hunt

He was movie star handsome. She was 2 weeks older than him and he never let her forget it. Paul met Wilma Spring in the 7th grade at Coshocton Junior High. When Wilma saw him out on the playground, he had a goofy hat with flaps on the sides, and he was on his bicycle. Wilma told one of her friends, “I don’t know who that boy is, but I am going to marry him someday.”  In 8th grade, she was 2 weeks late starting school because of bronchitis. And when she walked into homeroom, there he sat. He saw her and liked her, too. Right off the bat.  “I snagged him,” she says. After lunch, she was hanging out with her friends. Paul, with his very distinctive gait, wearing engineer boots, started to saunter past. And Wilma said, “Oh, Paul, there’s an empty seat right next to me.” He sat down, and that was it.

    When he asked her for a date some time later, she said, “I don’t know. I have to ask my mother…” “I wasn’t allowed to go to the movies, much,” she says. “We didn’t have the money to go.” She was, as she describes it, “from the other side of the railroad tracks” and Paul’s family belonged to the country club. On their first date, they went to a Saturday matinee at the Sixth Street Theater. Paul’s dad picked her up and dropped them off. They went to Islay’s afterward to drink phosphates, a fruit flavored, carbonated drink.

     They dated on and off through high school. Dances with the YWCA or school, they went. He would invite her to his boys’ club dances. He wasn’t a good dancer, but Wilma was. “I would tell him to keep time to the music—wave your arms around and I’ll do the rest.” He had dance lessons at the country club and played the drums in the high school marching band. He still couldn’t dance.

      By the time they got to be juniors in high school, there were other girls that had their eyes on Paul. Gretchen told all the girls that if they so much as looked at Paul she would scratch their eyes out. “I didn’t pay one bit of attention to her,” Wilma says. In their senior year, they got serious, but still dated other people. “I always thought he was special,” Wilma says. “I found myself comparing him to other guys. Nobody else ever measured up.”

   He went off to Wooster College after they graduated high school in 1957. Wilma was upset. College wasn’t a path open to her. Her family couldn’t afford it and didn’t think it was necessary for a girl, though Wilma wanted to go. She stayed home and worked — at Newberry’s, then Shaw Barton in accounting and then,  First National Bank in bookkeeping.

    Paul, coming home on weekends, served as her patient and gentle teacher. He passed on his college books to her when he finished reading them and they had good conversations. Both were curious people with the hearts of explorers. They would go to the Walhonding dam and knock rocks with his geology hammer. “You never knew what you found inside,” she says. “I was always learning something from him.”

    Wilma enjoyed attending dances with Paul at Wooster, staying up all night in the dorm with the girls. Yet, she was dating other people, too. She didn’t know that Paul knew she was seeing other guys. Until one day, when Paul confronted her. She was going to have to make up her mind. Was she going to be with him or not?

    “From then on,” she says. “I was.”

     The engagement ring came at Christmas. Paul graduated from college with a degree in Economics in 1961, but they didn’t get married right after his graduation. He found out that he was going to be drafted, so he enlisted in the Army, which allowed him to choose his vocation. They were separated again, and this time, it was too far to come home on weekends. He was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana.

     Reverend Harold Kaser married them on July 1, 1962, here in this chapel, which was only a few years old. It was a hot day and the chapel didn’t have air conditioning, back then.  They began their marriage in a rented home off base in Lawrence, Indiana.  “I thought he was taking me off to the end of the earth,” she says. “I had never been away from home.”

     Paul worked in the Adjutant General’s office, and he was teaching data processing when computers took up a whole room. His commander was one of his students. They came back to their hometown in 1964, and Paul began work at Pretty Products and later Yankee Wire Cloth. They had three children: Christy, Cindy, and Philip. And Paul, who valued family more than anything, wanted Wilma to just focus on caring for the children. She could shop as much as she wanted, buy clothes or anything she wanted for herself, but he didn’t want her to work outside the home, sing in the choir or serve on a church committee when their children were young. They needed her full attention, especially Phil, who once threw a paper airplane in the sanctuary during worship, and Rev. Millspaugh, without missing a beat in his sermon, had to “give him the hairy eye.”

     Paul had a number of hobbies. He liked photography, antique tractors, and to sail and swim; he tinkered on his car and did woodworking. Wilma was his second hand out in the garage. He mended all kinds of things around the house, and he had the knack of figuring out how things could work better. But he would make things so complicated, that it was annoying. Paul built his own boat, a Chris-Craft, and Wilma and Paul went to Lake Park and Pleasant Hill Lake near Loudonville.

    When I met Paul, about a year ago, his declining health had led to him moving to a small care home, up a steep drive in Coshocton. He didn’t like it there. It wasn’t home. There wasn’t anyone with whom to have a stimulating conversation. And the very private man didn’t have any privacy. Finally, he was able to move into Windsorwood Place. He was happier when I visited him there, but his health struggles continued.

   But I want to tell you that Paul is the only person with whom I have served home communion who wanted to talk seriously about the Scripture. He brought questions to the text. I enjoyed our conversation and the time passed quickly, and before long, Glenn Kinkade and I had stayed more than an hour. He was a storyteller, too, and was eager to share about his family, the stray cats that made their home with Wilma and him, his paper route and growing up in Coshocton, and his great grandfather, Rev. William Ellis Hunt, who was pastor of our church from 1857 to 1901. His eyes sparkled when he and Wilma told me about their adventures going whitewater rafting with Wanda and Denny in West Virginia—when they were 62!

     The loss of his brother, Tim, weighed heavily on him. Tim, who hid his depression for many years, tragically committed suicide when he was 62, something he had planned since he was 20 years old. Paul never understood why Tim did this. He worried about Tim’s soul. Would he go to heaven? he asked me. Was suicide an unforgiveable sin?

     I told him about God’s grace. He nodded as I spoke. He knew all the scriptures I quoted. But he needed to hear them again and be reassured.

     Later, I would discover that he struggled with accepting God’s forgiveness for himself. He believed that he was the Prodigal Son, without saying why. Wilma prayed fervently for him—that he would accept God’s forgiveness. And one day, her prayers were answered. His countenance changed. He had experienced Christ’s peace.

      Paul isn’t the only one who struggles with accepting God’s love and forgiveness. We all do! Some people fear death because of this. That’s why I chose to share the Parable of the Prodigal Son in this service to witness to the resurrection and honor Paul’s life.

     All of us have gone astray—maybe not demanded our share of an inheritance before our father died and gone off and squandered it on selfish pleasures before ending up homeless and starving before we came to our senses. But all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s Romans 3:23. God proves his love for us, however, that while were sinners, Christ died for us. That’s Romans 5:8. And, “He who had no sin became sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21) “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

       What if the Prodigal Son were mentally ill—and that was what led him to act in such impulsive, angry, and irresponsible ways?  What if he suffered from depression, continually comparing himself to his perfect older brother and coming up short? The Prodigal Son finally made his way home when he hit bottom, and the Father was already waiting and watching for Him! Before the Son could say he was sorry, the Father greeted him with joy and prepared to celebrate his return with the entire community. There was no looking back and no shame or punishment. All that mattered was that his beloved child had returned. What was lost had been found! That’s the grace of God who forgives even the unlovable, those who have done the unthinkable, those we struggle to forgive.

      Paul knew that longing to be home, healed and whole when he was ill for so long and spent too much time in hospitals and nursing and rehab centers. He wanted to be home, just as Wilma wanted to be home when they got married and he took her to the end of the earth in Lawrence, Indiana.

     We all long to be home when we live in this world. Our Spirits are restless. For we are citizens of heaven, not of the earth. Our home is with our God, who waits and longs for us to be with him. He is joyful when we come back to him in prayer, broken, hurting, and weary. When we come to the end of ourselves and realize our need for him — because we can never be righteous on our own. No matter how hard we try.

    We can live resurrected lives with Christ right now, with God’s help, by faith.

    Someday, soon, we will see Him, face to face. Like Paul and all the saints, we will go home, when God calls us. The Heavenly Father and all the Kingdom will celebrate the return of The Prodigal children. Cleansed and clothed in robes of righteousness. Forgiven and freed from sin. No longer lost, but forever found in Him.

     Amen.

Virtual Worship for June 28, 2020

The Presbyterian Church, 142 N. Fourth St., Coshocton, OH 34812

Pastor Karen Crawford

Guest Preacher, Synod of the Covenant Executive Chip Hardwick

The free gift of eternal life is offered to you through Christ our Lord!

Musicians: Alice Hoover, Caroline Heading and Mark Wagner

Liturgists: Bob Bish, Jim Arganbright, Franzetta Turner, Rob Heidenreich, and Brittany Hesson

Prelude: Trust and Obey ( Daniel B. Downer, arr. Lloyd Larson) Caroline Heading, Piano

Trust and Obey ( Daniel B. Downer, arr. Lloyd Larson)

Greeting/Announcements with Pastor Karen

Greeting and Announcements

Opening Sentences with Bob Bish

Opening Sentences with Bob Bish

God calls us by name into the presence of holiness as God’s holy people.

We answer this call by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the name of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, come, let us worship God.

Gathering Prayer: Bob Bish

Gathering Prayer for June 28, 2020

Hymn: Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life (by Frank Mason North); Alice Hoover, Organ

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life
  • Where cross the crowded ways of life,
    where sound the cries of race and clan,
    above the noise of selfish strife,
    we hear your voice, O Son of Man.
  • In haunts of wretchedness and need,
    on shadowed thresholds fraught with fears,
    from paths where hide the lures of greed,
    we catch the vision of your tears.
  • The cup of water given for you
    still holds the freshness of your grace;
    yet long these multitudes to view
    the sweet compassion of your face.
  • O Master, from the mountainside,
    make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
    among these restless throngs abide;
    O tread the city’s streets again.

Call to Confession/Prayer of Confession/Assurance of Pardon with Pastor Karen

Call to Confession/Prayer and Assurance of Pardon for June 28

O God, on lonely Mount Moriah you put your servant, Abraham, to the test. We confess that we have failed much lesser tests of our faith. We have allowed sin to run our lives, to shape how we act toward others, and to kill our relationship with you. In your great mercy, forgive us. Change even our bodies from implements of destruction to instruments of your peace; for the sake of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Time With Children and Youth: Amazing Grace!

Amazing Grace!

Hymn: Amazing Grace (John Newton, sung by Rhema Marvanne)

Rhema Marvanne sings Amazing Grace (John Newton)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see
.

Was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home.

And Grace will lead us home.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
.

Was blind, but now I see.

Prayer for Illumination with Bob Bish

Prayer for Illumination

Matthew 10:40-42: Bob Bish

Keep these words in your heart. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

Thanks be to God.  

Matthew 10:40-42

Genesis 22:1-14 with Pastor Karen

Holy wisdom, holy Word. Thanks be to God!

Genesis reading with Pastor Karen

Romans 6:15-23: Franzetta Turner, Rob Heidenreich, and Brittany Hesson

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

A gift from the Synod to all the Churches: Pastor’s Sabbath

Message: Ultimate Allegiance with Chip Hardwick, Synod of the Covenant Executive

Affirmation of Faith with Jim Arganbright Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.32–33

Affirmation of Faith for June 28, 2020

The life, death, resurrection, and promised coming of Jesus Christ has set the pattern for the church’s mission. His human life involves the church in the common life of all people. His service to men and women commits the church to work for every form of human well being. His suffering makes the church sensitive to all human suffering so that it sees the face of Christ in the faces of persons in every kind of need. His crucifixion discloses to the church God’s judgment on the inhumanity that marks human relations, and the awful consequences of the church’s 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 human life in society and of God’s victory over all wrong. The church follows this pattern in the form of its life and in the method of its action. So to live and serve is to confess Christ as Lord.

Invitation to the Offering with Pastor Karen

Invitation to the Offering for June 28, 2020

Offertory: His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Arranged by Victor Labenske) Mark Wagner, Piano

His Eye Is on the Sparrow, arr. Victor Labenske

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication/Lord’s Prayer with Pastor Karen

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication/Lord’s Prayer with Pastor Karen

God of unending gifts, we praise you for your abundant goodness. As you are generous, we want to be generous too. May the gifts we bring extend your generosity into the world, so that all people may be made whole by your goodness and grace. 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.

Hymn: I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me (African-American Spiritual) Alice Hoover, Organ

I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me

I’m gonna live so (live so) God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime! (anytime!)
I’m gonna live so (live so) God can use me anywhere, 
Lord, anytime! (anytime!)

I’m gonna work so (work so) God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime! (anytime!)
I’m gonna work so (work so) God can use me anywhere, 
Lord, anytime! (anytime!)

 I’m gonna pray so (pray so) God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime! (anytime!)
God can use me anywhere, 
Lord, anytime! (anytime!)

 I’m gonna sing so (sing so) God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime! (anytime!)
I’m gonna sing so (sing so) God can use me anywhere, 
Lord, anytime! (anytime!)

Charge/Benediction with Pastor Karen

Charge/Benediction

Postlude: Be of Good Courage {Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) arr. Hal H. Hopson}, Alice Hoover, Organ

Postlude for June 28, 2020
F.O.R. Jesus

Fill up. Overflow. Run over.

The Love of God Is Here for You

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

Becoming HIS Tapestry

Christian Lifestyle Blogger

Whatever Happens,Rejoice.

The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

Stushie Art

Church bulletin covers and other art by artist Stushie. Unique crayon and digital worship art

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.