Zion United Church of Christ

139 N 5th Street Steubenville, OH 43952

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THE STRENGTH OF LOVE

Posted on February 22, 2021 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (2)
THE STRENGTH OF LOVE
Love is so strong, that it can redeem you from the darkest of circumstance. D. L. Moody tells this story of redeeming love: In Brooklyn I saw a young man go by without any arms. My friend pointed him out and told me his story. When the war broke out, he felt it to be his duty to go to the front. He was engaged to be married and while in the army letters passed frequently between him and his intended wife. After the Battle of the Wilderness, the young lady looked anxiously for the accustomed letter. At last one came in a strange hand. She opened it with trembling fingers and read these words: “We have fought a terrible battle. I have been wounded so awfully that I shall never be able to support you. A friend writes this for me. I love you more tenderly than ever, but I release you from your promise. I will not ask you to join your life with the maimed life of mine." That letter was never answered; the next train that left, the young lady was in it. She went to the hospital. She found out the number of his cot and she went down the aisle, between the long rows of wounded men. At last she saw the number; she threw her arms around his neck and said: “I’ll not desert you, I'll take care of you.” He did not resist her love. They were married and there is no happier couple than this one. You're dependent on another. Christ says: "I'll take care of you."
This could be anyone's story. Whether we are maimed on the outside or maimed on the inside we are loved. No matter what war we are fighting, one on foreign soil or an emotional one inside our hearts; if we believe and give our lives to Jesus we will be saved.
The young soldier had the faithful, undying love of his fiancé. We have a Savior who is waiting for each of us. Waiting to wrap his arms around each of us, to protect us, to love us, and to journey with us through eternity.

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Coy

New Year in Faith

Posted on January 18, 2021 at 12:23 PM Comments comments (0)
New Year in Faith
          By now all the presents have been put away. The worries about what we are buying for whom and where we have to be are behind us. Hearing all the same stories about the baby being born in Bethlehem have been told. To most of us it still is a fantastic miracle. We try to pass it on to a new generation; but some sadly don’t seem to care. We keep trying because it is an important message for their future.  It is a new year, a new beginning for you, for me and for the church.  If you think our church here in Steubenville is the only church going through changes think again. Many churches are making big decisions about the pandemic and low attendance, even when the virus is not around.  Many churches are wondering where they are going and what they can do to put church back in people’s lives. Just like our own personal lives the church must make decisions about life and we worry are we doing the right thing, moving in the right direction. As long as your decisions begin and end with Jesus Christ you won’t go wrong.  Jesus knows what is best. Even if we stray from his direction He waits for us to move back towards Him.  Luckily we don’t have to go through life or decisions alone.  We have our family, our friends and our church family that we have grown to share and form a bond with. Jesus is never far from our side.
          Remember for the New Year to choose happiness. Count your blessings and thank God for them. Constantly strive for goodness and goodness will come back to you. Be kind, show love and it will shine from your face. People may be grumpy back to you but do these things anyway. Life is a journey so make it a worthwhile ride.
          This year we will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is News Years Day.  -Edith Pierce
          All your opportunities are possible with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
                                      Have a wonderful New Year,

                                            Rev. Coy

The Promise of Advent

Posted on January 18, 2021 at 12:22 PM Comments comments (0)
The Promise of Advent
          In Advent we are called to take the risk of birth. We can avoid such a practice by over scheduling ourselves, an easy feat this time of year. We can avoid such a practice by making our way through the season singing the familiar carols. But we are called to take the risk of birth. This might lead us to make room in our own lives for the stranger who comes in the form of the Christ Child.
          The fulfillment of the promise of Advent is the celebration of Christmas.  This grounds our belief in the Incarnation, the word made flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1) We are more familiar with the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke, which focus on Joseph and Mary, respectfully; from these accounts we recall the dreams and visions, the birth of Jesus and the manger, the gifts of wise men and the praise offered by shepherds.
          The story of Christ’s birth is told in somewhat different fashion, however, in the Gospel of John. The central message of early Christianity, the Incarnation , was scandalous, especially to the Gnostics, who would not believe that God would take human form. This core Christian belief, that God enters into the material world of human flesh, takes on an ironic meaning at Christmas. We are often urged to avoid, protest, and rebel against the creeping materialism of the season; we are encouraged, instead, toward more “spiritual” pursuits. Such advice is ironic in light of the essential meaning of Christmas: that Jesus is the incarnation of God, the word   become flesh.
          What might it mean for us, during the season of Christmas, to fully embrace the Incarnation? We might begin to see our material acts of gift-giving as occasions to express human love, or gifts of charity as demonstrations of our faith ad representative ministries.  We can envision our participation in the material world as a response to a God who comes to live among us,   and calls us to follow Jesus.
           I read a story by Jeannie C. Williams.  The gist of the story is we come into this world like newly created snowflakes falling freely and effortlessly from the sky. As you know each snowflake is different, each snowflake has its own unique structure, just as we are all unique in our differences and, just like each snowflake we are all subject to extreme changed in temperature, humidity, wind and relationships with other snowflakes as we continue our journey, spiraling slowly but sometimes swiftly to our destination. Our journey through infancy, childhood and adolescence develops our individuality even more and it is hoped that a true sense of identity is established before our snowflake hits the ground, because and it is unfortunate, that in many instances an individual snowflake becomes just one of many others that merge together to form a seemingly endless and barren field of snow or in the worst case is swallowed by the ground and never seen again. Unfortunately this analogy is true of our society, many of us lose our individuality when we fall to the ground, merge and become part of the snow field, rather than a complex community of individuals which God intended us to be.  Life can take away the snowflake in all of us if we allow it to happen.  We follow the crowd instead of the light of God with the blessings and gifts He has given us. One of our many gifts is individuality.  That spirit and energy of singular essence that determines who we are among all the other snowflakes that have come and gone before and after us.  On this whole planet there is NO ONE quite like you.
           The moral of this story is to tread softly as you make your way through the snow fields of your life … and remember to step gently so as to not damage other snowflakes who may, for a time be beneath your feet.   Because the time may come when someone may have to walk on YOU!
          May the peace of Christ, God with us, Emmanuel, be with you in these days.
                                                                   Rev. Walter Coy
         

 

November 2020 Pastor's Pen

Posted on November 11, 2020 at 9:18 AM Comments comments (0)
One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going, the deacon continued, “Lord I hate lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, “Lord I ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix’em all together in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.”
“Lord help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up at us we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what you are doing, that we need to wait and see what you are making. After you get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits. Amen.” Romans 8:28 (And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His PURPOSE.)
That is one of the hardest things that we, as Christians. Have to do in our work as sheep is to follow. To work together for good with God who are called for His purpose. When decisions get hard and they always do, God is with us. When life is rocky, God is with us. That is when we lean on Him the most. That is when we ask for things in prayer. If the answers are yes; we are thrilled and we move on. But if the answer is no; that is where a problem can begin. We find out how strong our faith is. Not all our prayers are going to be answered the way we want. Some of our prayers will not be answered at all. It doesn’t mean God did not hear our words. Things do not happen in our time, They happen in God’s time and in God’s way. That is where most of us have the problem with HIS PURPOSE. God knows what we need. We know what we want.
So our job is to work according to God’s purpose. Pray especially when times are tough. Be thankful always. Know that we are to be faithful in waiting for an answer, even though it may not be what we hoped for. But know that our God loves us, protects us and through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ gives us forgiveness. God our everlasting Lord will give us what we need. It will be wonderful beyond words. I bet it will even involve a few biscuits.
                                Yours in Christ,

                                        Rev. Walter Coy

October 2020 Pastor's Pen

Posted on October 7, 2020 at 1:47 PM Comments comments (0)
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water everyone expected they would be asked the “half empty or half full question" Instead with a smile on her face she inquired" How heavy is this glass of water"? Answers were called out 8oz-20oz. She replied," the absolute weight doesn't matter". It depends on how long I hold it. If l hold it a minute no problem, if l hold it an hour I’ll have an ache in my arm. If l hold it for a day my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer l hold it the heavier it becomes.
 
 
She continued" the stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing much happens. Think about them for a bit longer and they begin to hurt. If you think about them all day long you become paralyzed, incapable of doing anything.
 
 
REMEMBER TO PUT YOUR WORRIES AND THE GLASS DOWN!
 
                                                       Yours in Christ,
 

                                                       Rev. Walter Coy

Pastor's Pen

Posted on September 23, 2020 at 11:42 AM Comments comments (0)
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.    (Proverbs 3:6)
           
 
T.S. Eliot wrote, "We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
To transfigure vision, it requires faith. Things are constantly changing in our world and things should be constantly changing in our church. As uncertain as change is it has to happen.
I recently read a book that talks about things that are taking place and how you sometimes have to wait or step out of your comfort zone to a world of change. In the story you may recognize, The Wizard of Oz, it refers to Dorothy and how she is picked up, house and all, spinning, whirling as the house and her are taken to another place. You know the story, at first Dorothy is very worried, but as the hours pass she decides to wait calmly and see what the future holds.
Same with us, our hope lies in standing firm in the chaos and waiting calmly with trust in the God who loves us. Change can be scary, but if we step out of our comfort zone and have faith, God will deliver us somewhere amazing. In the midst of everything there is a great God that will heal and guide us. God is providing us with a sacred opportunity, that if we have faith and truly let him lead us, we will end up where we are supposed to be as a person and as a church. God does not want not to do this alone. He wants us to do our part as the disciples He has entrusted us to be.
Like Dorothy, she stepped out on the yellow brick road and so must we. We must tell people about our church. We must make attending church a priority in our lives. We must make working for the church a loving duty in our lives. Why would others want to attend, work and love our church if we aren't doing the same? God doesn't say tell me about it, He says show me. Walk the Walk of Jesus!
   
I have been privileged to have been on a wonderful journey over the last thirty some years as a minister, and more than that as a human being. I have never known what the future had in store but every time I put my trust in God. I feel I have always ended up where I was supposed to be. Every time I have waited in faithfulness, God has never let me down. It is never easy to move out of ones comfort zone to go in another direction, but God will never let  you journey alone.
 Whether it is a private journey of faith, or a new path that the church is taking. Have faith in our Lord and Savior. Rely on our God that He will plant us exactly where He wants us to be. Wait in faith and grow in the light of His love. 
 

Yours in Christ, Rev. Walter Coy 

Me-Centric or Light Reflectors

Posted on September 23, 2020 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (1)
Me-Centric or Light Reflectors
 
It is a me-centric world today. Marriages are ruined because one or both partners are focused on their own happiness. Successful men and women are ruined by their own success believing they don't need anyone else's input. Churches lose sight of God's way and follow the outward and inward opinion. And for some, life's troubles are magnified because they believe life is all about them. The Bible is full of me-centric thinkers; so our generation is not alone. If only we could learn to live a God-centric lifestyle, it would free us to live life to the fullest. 
 
When you think of it God raised his Son (Christ) from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe. Everything from the galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. Forever! He is in charge of it all, has the final word. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. Ephesians 1:20-22 
 
When God looks at the center of the universe, he doesn't look at you or I. Our comfort is not God's priority. If it were, how do we explain death, disease, slumping economies etc.? God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of him. It is not about us, it is about HIM. 
 
Just like the moon generates no light, apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch black rock. But properly positioned the moons beams, the moon reflects the greater light. You never hear the moon complain. The moon is at peace in her place. So can we be at peace with our place. 
 
Jesus is the light of the world. We are his light reflectors, if we do our job right. Spreading kindness, love, respect, support and happiness to everyone we meet. The world sure needs some light reflectors from Jesus. Our government sure needs some reflecting. The reflecting that should be the easiest can end up being the hardest right here in our own church, and even in our own families. 
 
So I have a question for you. Are you a me-centric or are you at peace in your place reflecting Gods light to the world? 
 
Yours in Christ,

Rev. Coy

September Pastor's Pen

Posted on September 16, 2020 at 12:52 PM Comments comments (0)
Today - adv. 1. On or during the present day. 2. In the present time or age; nowadays. - n 1. The present day. 2. The present time or period.
YESTERDAY IS A CASHED CHECK; tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash in hand so use it- invest it. (John Haggai ; How to Win over Worry.)
TIME IS SIGNIFICANT because it is so rare. It is completely irretrievable. You can never repeat it or relive it. There is no such thing as a literal instant replay. That appears only in films. It travels alongside us every day, yet it has eternity wrapped up in it. Although this is true, time often seems relative, doesn't it? For example, two weeks on a vacation is not at all like two weeks on a diet. Ben Franklin said of time," that is the stuff life is made of". Time forms life's building blocks. The philosopher William Jones once said, "The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." (Lloyd Cory, quote Unquote)
    Sometimes when we say to someone, "What time is it?" they will say "three o'clock or "quarter past two." But other times they may say “time to get going" or “time for lunch." For answers like those you don't really need a clock, do you? Or, if you come late to supper or to get into the car to come to church, somebody who has been waiting might just say, "Well, it is about time!" Usually we don't feel very good when they say it then, because they are impatient and have been waiting for us to hurry up and come.
    God is interested in time, just as we are In fact God has told us that we only have a certain amount of time.  After that it will be all gone and it will be too late to do any more of the things we want to do. We wonder how much of the time God will give us. Nobody knows except God. We need to remember that time is a special gift to us from God. When we look at a clock, we could say, "Well, the hands on the clock just keep going around and round so time never really runs out." But we need to be careful not to think like that, because time does run out.  And sometimes the clock will even stop. Then there is no more time.
    God has a lot of time, but we don't. The Bible says "for God, one day and a thousand years are the same thing." But for you and me, the clock is running down. God wants us to use our time carefully. Some day we will get surprised. The clock will stop and we will run out of time to do good things for God. In one way that will be wonderful, because then we can go to live with God. But before that happens, we have a lot of work to do, don't we? Don’t leave this earth without saying I love you, please forgive me for that mistake that was made against someone, and don't forget to say a kind word to someone every day.  Don't gossip against someone. Don't think that the good or the bad goes unnoticed by God. Remember we all have an animal of good on one shoulder and an animal of evil on the other shoulder. Which of them that survives is the animal you feed the most.                                                                                                            
                                  In Christian Faith,

                                             Rev. Walter Coy

July Pastor's Pen 2020

Posted on July 16, 2020 at 10:43 AM Comments comments (0)
THE KEEPER OF THE SPRING
The late Peter Marshall, art eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United Sates Senate, used to love to tell the story of "The Keeper of the Spring,' a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the millwheels of various farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid to the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one sees him, for all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer!" By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.
For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of the sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourist. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village. Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
Fanciful though it may be, the story is more than an idle tale. It carries with it a vivid, relevant analogy directly related to the times we live. And the value we place on jobs that may go unseen. The importance of where we place our faith. What the keeper of the spring meant to the village, Christian servants mean to our world. The preserving ray of light may seem feeble and needless but God helps any society that attempts to exist without them! You see, the village without the Keeper of the Spring is a perfect representation of the world system without salt and light.
Yours in Christ,

Rev. Coy

Pentecost

Posted on May 13, 2020 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (3)
                                            Pentecost
          The Christian holiday of Pentecost, which is celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles( Acts 2:1-31).
                                    Definition of Success
                                        John 17:1-11
          Jesus redefines success for us.  To Jesus, the measure of success has to do with doing God’s will. If we were to compare Jesus’ life with our modern definition of success, he would fall far short. He did not have many earthly possessions. He had no place to lay his head.  Many of his friends left him.  And yet, Jesus is the definition of a success. He completed the work that God gave him to do. He could say that he accomplished all of the goals set for him. How many people can say that about themselves?  Jesus finished the work that God gave him to do. He did not do what others wanted him to do. As hard as they tried, he never let others take his eyes off of the work that God gave him to complete. Jesus did not do what others wanted, but what his Father wanted.
          First, Jesus said, “I have revealed you” (V. 6). Jesus’ work included revelation. He revealed who God truly was. He took the world beyond the definition of God given to the people by the religion of his day. He presented God as one who “so loved the world” Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. He revealed God’s true character to humankind.
          Second, Jesus said, “I gave them the words you gave me” (v. 8). The Word that was made flesh brought the words of God to us. With both authority and compassion, Jesus changed the world with his words.  His words instructed, comforted, convicted, and guided.
          As he prayed, Jesus was living in the midst of his final work. Ultimately, his final work was completed on the cross when he exclaimed, “It is finished”.
          The question arises, what if Jesus had not completed the work that God gave him to do? What if any part of the work had been left unfinished? The significance of that question brings on new meaning when we ask. What are the consequences of tasks that we have left unfinished?
 
                          Hope to see you in church soon!
                                      Rev. Coy

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