Zion United Church of Christ

139 N 5th Street Steubenville, OH 43952

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The Awesomeness of Easter!

Posted on April 6, 2022 at 1:50 PM

The Paschal candle is one of the most sacred and enduring elements in Christianity. Made of beeswax to represent the purity of Christ, the candle’s wick signifies Christ’s humanity, and the flame His Divine Nature. It is adorned with one or more Christian symbols, often the cross to represent His redemptive sacrifice; the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet - Alpha and Omega – to signify that He is the beginning and the end; symbols of wheat and grapes, or a chalice and host, for the Eucharist - the true presence of Christ and our spiritual strength; the 12 Apostles – witnesses and scribes to the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ; and other symbols such as the Good Shepherd, the Lamb, the Sacred Heart, and the Risen Christ. The Paschal candle remains in the Sanctuary on its special candle stand during the full 50 days of the Easter season, and is lit for liturgical services during that time. After Pentecost the candle will be placed next to the baptismal font. The candle is lit during all baptisms throughout the year, passing the light of Christ to each person baptized, and each catechism class. The candle may also be used at funeral services, and placed next to the casket during a funeral Mass. At funeral services it is a reminder that the sacrament of Baptism is itself a death and resurrection in Christ, and testifies to Christian certainty in the resurrection of the dead and life with Christ in the world to come. With Christianity the word “paschal” took on a new meaning, referring to Our Lord’s passion, death, resurrection, and glorification. These events stand at the center of our faith. God's saving plan for us was accomplished by the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus. His resurrection and glorification are our assurances of eternal life - if we follow His words and His way.

When you next see the Paschal candle in your church, may you too think of its long and sacred past, the death and resurrection of Our Lord which it represents, and the faith, hope and eternal life it means for all of us

We have so much to be thankful for. We have so many wonderful traditions. In this troubled world we live in how can we live without the loving grace of God and His Son Jesus? Even though the journey to the cross was very emotional, is very emotional, it always hits home, to me, all Jesus went through for us! For the forgiveness of our sins and for our salvation. We are sinful by nature and God knew this. Because He knew this He knows we all need grace and a loving Father who will forgive us as long as we are sincere in our hearts as we repent. None of us are worthy but with the Grace of God we are loved and forgiven. With this great gift what does God want from us? Well there are 10 Commandments that would make Him very happy. Following these commandments will also make us live a happier life. God knew it would not be easy but what in life that is worthwhile is easy? So where are you on this Easter journey with the journey to the cross and wonderfully the empty tomb? God has kept his promises to us. Our hope is in Jesus our Savior! Look to the empty cross and tomb. Take into your heart all that Jesus is offering. Come to church on Easter and every Sunday this year; look at the wonderment of our risen Savior. He is Risen Alleluia!

Glory to God in the Highest,

Rev. Walter Coy

 

March 2022 Pastor's Pen

Posted on March 10, 2022 at 1:15 PM

Love is a choice, not a matter of destiny. It is a choice renewed each day!

-Dean Francis Alfar

We are starting into our journey of Lent. Lent is definitely a journey but as humans I sometime get the feeling that we work towards the completion of Lent rather than working on the journey through Lent to change our lives. Jesus’ life was predetermined. He knew what his purpose was and what his end would be. Unfortunately we as humans did not surprise Him. Yet it was the fulfillment of His life that made the difference. It was not only what we were to be given in the end that mattered, as miraculous as that is, it was the journey of lessons He was giving us that mattered so much but sometimes goes right by us. It was the change in our lives He was trying to achieve! As He walked among us we had a chance to see and believe. Now it can be a bit harder because we need to believe to see. We have a forty day journey to remind us to work on us. Even though the journey is about what God has done for us, it can be a preparation for what we can do to honor what has been given to us through grace alone .

Our tradition is usually to give up something for lent. In the end we just replace whatever we gave up with something else. Giving up is teaching us self-control. Maybe it would be better to try to take on something to honor God. Usually if you are taking on something else in your life daily you end up giving up something to fit it in so same end result. But in the long run it changes your life? Have you ever thought about adding something into your life for positive changes? Reading the bible daily, going for a walk or an exercise program, or start back to church. Buy someone a cup of coffee when they need it. Joyce and I love the pay it forward where you pay for the person behind you in line at Duncan Donut or in any fast food drive thru. You are gone before they can thank you. We have had this done to us, the feeling it gives you is wonderful. Remember lent is about God and a chance to get your heart in shape before Easter. The part we all play is to get us in practice for God honoring habits along the way.

If you feel the need to give up something go ahead. I always laugh when I think of my wife Joyce. She does not eat sweets, they don’t agree with her and she has been a vegetarian since 1995. For her to give up any more food would mean she would have only water left! She has always lived by doing things to make herself better tomorrow than she was today. Whatever you end up doing I hope it helps you to find your way closer to God and the Gospel this Lenten season as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is waiting for us if we make the journey day by day to prepare our hearts for Him.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Walter Coy

 

No Need to Fear

Posted on August 4, 2021 at 11:55 AM

No Need to Fear

God, abounding in steadfast love, wants to welcome us home, not punish us. Lent is the season in the church year when we look into our hearts to see how we have wandered away from God’s path. Lent is a good time to pay special attention to the words and actions of Jesus who has revealed to us the human face of God. So we pray together as a family this Lent. Not out of the fear of God’s punishment, but because we have faith that we will grow closer to God and to one another as a result.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent which is made up of the forty days (excluding Sundays) leading us to Easter. It is a season of repentance, self examination and preparation during which we try to make ourselves ready for the journey to the cross.

Easter is also a time to reflect with increased understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. It is a time to renew the bows of baptism and recommit to the Christian life. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, our lives can be renewed. We can also renounce sin and begin to live for God. As we grow in even deeper trust in the saving love of Jesus, fear loses its hold on our hearts, and we become more confident, more forgiving, and more compassionate people.

The Journey Begins!

Rev. Coy

 

March Painting Pictures

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 2:37 PM
The Easter season has begun, or as the season is more technically known, Lent is here. So many thoughts come to mind for me as this special time of the year begins. First off, spring is near and for most of us that will be a positive and refreshing change of pace. Before you know it flowers will be bursting forth, the grass will turn green, and the birds will be chirping their joy. Secondly, Daylight savings time has arrived and that can be a psychological boost as we get more sunshine and less darkness.
     Every special celebration during the year is also a time of memories. I have vivid memories of dyeing eggs with my mother and sister as Easter approached. Remember the old methods? My mom boiled eggs on the stove top and put vinegar and dye tablets in cups. Then I would put a hard-boiled egg on one of those metal egg holders and dip the egg into my favorite color. I always tried to be creative and dip the egg into several colors, which, of course, resulted in a dark brown egg. I did the same thing year after year hoping the results would be different, but they never were. I also have fond memories of an Easter basket filled with candy.  What are your Easter memories?
     Ultimately, however, Easter is all about Jesus. With the Lord as our focus, Easter becomes a Holy day. When our focus is on candy, and bunnies, and all of the secular activities, Easter becomes just another holiday. For the next several weeks we need to turn our attention more closely to the teachings of Jesus. This is a good time to ask ourselves questions about our level of faith. Am I closer to the Lord now then I was last Easter? Are my problems weighing me down and am I willing to let Jesus take greater control in my life? When I feel a moment of joy as a result of a faith experience, do I have the courage to share my feelings with someone else?
     This is the season of Good News. God sent a son named Jesus into the world to give us a light in the darkness. Although Jesus was crucified by people who didn’t understand him, death and sin were vanquished and the love of God triumphed. Jesus was resurrected and as a result we can be forgiven and our lives can be renewed and we have received the promise of eternal life.
     Jesus is alive, yesterday, today and tomorrow! Rejoice and be glad! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Jim