About Pastor Steven Wright

New Song Concert

Covenant Presbyterian Church will host a concert by New Song on Sunday, July 10th, at 11 AM. New Song is a musical ministry of Geneva College (the denominational college of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America). Current student members carry on the 45 year New Song tradition featuring the a cappella singing of psalms and other church music.

You are invited to join us for worship at 9:30 AM followed by the concert at 11. Our address is 3720 N. Highland Avenue, Jackson, TN 38305.

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

(Psalm 96:1)

 

 

Falling Angels: Painting and Poem

Falling Angels

            After a painting by Bruce Herman

Lightning-fast,

the flailing figures

plummet through the heavens,

victims of a self-willed force –

the gravity of hubris.

 

Forsaking and forsaken,

their only choice is to embrace

with outstretched arms

the consequence of choices past.

 

But,

as if some law of conservation

maintained a cosmic metaphysics,

their hope lost

may be gained

by him who would strain his eyes to trace

their vapor trails of glory

upward.

 

Poem: © 2022, Steven C. Wright

Painting: Falling Angels, by Bruce Herman, 1993. Mixed Media. 44 x 30 inches. Used by permission of the artist. (www.bruceherman.com)

 

Easter Services

Psalm Sunday worship: Sunday, April 10th, 9:30 AM

Good Friday service: Friday, April 15th, 6:00 PM

Easter Sunday worship: Sunday, April 17th, 9:30 AM

Please plan to join us for these services celebrating Christ’s victory for our salvation accomplished through His death and resurrection.

Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols

Our tradition at Covenant PCA is to have a Service of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. We will do so again on Friday, December 24th, at 6 PM, and all are invited to join us. In this post, I will share some of the historical background for this special service.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a tradition begun by Anglican Bishop E. W. Benson, who first employed it as a Christmas Eve service at Truro Cathedral in England in 1880. His son later wrote about it:

My father arranged from ancient sources a little service for Christmas Eve — nine carols and nine tiny lessons, which were read by various officers of the church beginning with a chorister, and ending, through different grades with a bishop.

This service was adapted in 1918 by Dean Eric Milner-White for use in King’s College, Cambridge, where it has become an annual Christmas Eve tradition. The performance there has been broadcast on the radio almost every year since 1928. Milner-White explained the purpose of the service in these words:

Its liturgical order and pattern is the strength of the service; the main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God, from the Creation to the Incarnation, through the windows and words of the Bible: the scriptures, not the carols, are the backbone.

Our service at Covenant is an adaptation of this traditional service, and our goal is the same — to walk through the Scriptures to see how the redemptive history they record led to the birth of our Savior. We employ congregational reading and congregational singing throughout the service with a brief pastoral meditation. Please join us to take part in our Service of Lessons and Carols on Friday, December 24th, at 6 PM.

 

True Pilgrims, True Thanksgiving

 

Once again, the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and our minds are filled with images of pilgrims and pumpkin pie. All across our nation it is a time of family gatherings, feasting, and football. Such celebration can be good and godly, but it can best be these things if we remember the holiday’s origins and truly enter into the spirit of giving thanks. The pilgrims have much to teach us about thanksgiving.

Who were these people we know as the pilgrims? They were Puritans who felt conscience-bound to separate from the Church of England when that church in 1604 demanded strict conformity to the Book of Common Prayer in worship. These Puritans longed for a more thoroughgoing Reformation in order to worship only in ways clearly mandated in Scripture. At first, they worshiped secretly in homes in England, but persecution was on the rise. One such group in the town of Scrooby soon realized that they would have to leave the country in order to worship freely. They went first to Holland, but troubles there signaled time for another move. When the Mayflower set sail for America in 1620, 37 of its 102 passengers were Puritan Separatists from Scrooby that had settled in Holland. Many in the community stayed behind in Holland with their pastor, John Robinson, intending to join their friends and loved ones in America later on.

The two-month trans-Atlantic voyage was often rough and miserable, and things only got worse when they reached the New World in November. They began building their settlement in the midst of a deadly winter, through which only 55 of the 102 passengers survived. Eight children who had come with at least one parent now had none. Of 18 adult women, only four survived. Many reunions planned with those left behind in Holland would now take place only in heaven. It was a bitter beginning.

Spring and summer brought a peace treaty with the Indians, who helped teach the settlers how to farm in the New World. Crops were limited but sufficient for survival when combined with the fruits of foraging and hunting. When the harvest came in, there was a three-day celebration by about 50 settlers and 90 native Americans. It was a time of feasting, recreation, and giving thanks to God for the blessings of the harvest. This celebration is commemorated by our Thanksgiving holiday.

How was it that these settlers could be so thankful after all the tragic losses of the previous year? I suggest it was because they were true pilgrims. They didn’t generally refer to themselves in this way. The closest they came to doing so is a statement by William Bradford in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city [Leyden in Holland] which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to heaven, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.

This language echoes that of Hebrews 11.13-14, which speaks of believers as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” who “seek a [heavenly] homeland.” The Separatists from Scrooby were pilgrims in the same way Bunyan’s character, Christian, was a pilgrim. They were pilgrims on earth making their way to the Celestial City. That eternal perspective made it possible for them to experience such great sorrow through the winter and yet emerge thankful for the good things God gave to them.

If we would celebrate Thanksgiving in the spirit of these early settlers, we also should cultivate an identity as pilgrims on earth making our way to the heavenly city. When sorrows come to us, we can know that God is with us in them and that they will not last forever. We can give Him thanks for every good gift He sends our way.

When you gather with your family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, remember these pilgrims and their harvest feast of celebration before God. Review the past year with its blessings and hardships, and reflect on God’s faithfulness to you in it. Offer sincere and specific prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord who is leading you on your pilgrimage. And then, like those pilgrims of old, enjoy the feasting and fun that should characterize your Christian faith.

Reformation Day Conference 2021

Join us for our 2021 Reformation Day Conference on Sunday, October 31st. Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. will be speaking on the topic, “The Reformation’s Recovery of Biblical Worship.”

Sunday Morning:

9:30 AM: Worship Service (“The Purpose of Worship”)

11:15 AM: Sunday School (“Calvin on Worship”)

12 Noon: Potluck Fellowship Meal (Fellowship Hall)

Sunday Evening:

5 PM: Evening Worship (“Biblical Preaching”)

 

Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. is President Emeritus and Professor of Systematic

& Applied Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He

has served as pastor of PCA churches in Mississippi, Texas, and

California. Dr. Pipa earned his Ph.D. with a thesis on “William Perkins and

the Development of Puritan Preaching” at Westminster Theological

Seminary. He is an author of or contributor to many books, including The

Root and Branch, The Lord’s Day, Galatians: God’s Proclamation of

Liberty, and The Worship of God: Reformed Concepts of Biblical Worship.

Dr. Pipa is a frequent guest preacher and speaker at Reformed churches

and conferences.

 

Water Delivery to Hermanville, MS

Each summer, Covenant sends a team to conduct a Vacation Bible School program in Hermanville, MS. That community was struck hard by the recent bad weather, losing power and drinking water. We were pleased to be able to to send a few of our folks with a shipment of water to help out. Please continue to pray for our friends in Hermanville, as they have continuing mercy needs.

“The Foundations” Sunday School Series

Beginning Sunday, February 7th, our youth and adults will be viewing and discussing the 12-episode Ken Ham video series, The Foundations. In Psalm 11:3, David asks, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” In his convicting yet often-humorous style, Australian-born Ken Ham addresses urgent concerns in society and reveals what must be done to reach today’s culture for Christ.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • The Relevance of Genesis
  • Always Ready (Evangelism)
  • Revealing the Unknown God
  • In Six Days
  • One Blood, One Race (Racism)
  • Death the Enemy

Join us for The Foundations series on Sunday mornings at 11 AM.

A Prayer for President Biden

Prayer for Joseph R. Biden: A Petition for the
46th President of the United States
Editor’s note: The following prayer was composed by Chuck Garriott, executive director of the PCA’s Ministry to State.

 

Our Father in Heaven,

We humbly come before your sovereign throne. You alone are King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). You have made from nothing the world in which we live, and every nation upon its surface is as dust to you (Is. 40:15). You are the ruler over all and you deserve our honor, praise, and glory. You have demonstrated your great love and mercy to us through your only Son, Jesus Christ.

Today we pray for Joseph R. Biden, the president of the United States of America, as your Word instructs (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  Our lives are in your hands, as is his election and installation on this day, Jan. 20, 2021, as he takes his oath of office.

We ask, O Lord, that his heart, mind, and will would be directed towards you alone. You remind us that the “king’s heart is in the hand of Lord” (Prov. 21:1). In the months and years ahead, he will have enormous responsibility as he directs the affairs of our nation. Provide him wise (Prov. 3,13,14,17) and prudent counsel from Vice President Kamala Harris, his cabinet, advisors, and friends as he discerns the proper course and path in which to lead this nation.

Please give President Biden a great hunger for truth and justice (Prov. 31:8-9) in every sphere of life and work. May those who serve him be people of moral integrity who seek the good and welfare of our land. Instill in him a deep desire for an open and transparent administration that is averse to division.

You are the God of reconciliation. We ask that President Biden, his cabinet, and administration be agents of peace in a nation of great diversity. Our differences and divisions should be appreciated and used as a means of establishing a strong and healthy country. Please give to this president the leadership skills to promote harmony and peace in every sphere.

O, Lord, we pray for the president’s family. Thank you for his marriage to Dr. Jill Biden, his children, and grandchildren. Protect and enhance their love for each other. May this marriage represent in every way your relationship with your Bride, the church.

May this administration, which belongs to you, bring you praise, honor, and glory.

In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray,

Amen.

Christmas Gifts: Redeeming the Routine

“What did you get for Christmas?” That was a question I heard many times as a child each year in the days following December 25th. It invited a rehearsal of all the gifts I had received in my Christmas stocking and around the Christmas tree, and I was more than happy to respond with a litany of my Christmas loot. After all, I had been anticipating the annual rite of ripping into the wrapping paper for many months. Finally, items from my wish list were really mine to own, enjoy, and talk about. It sure is fun to receive gifts!

My good friend, Tom, used to tweak the typical post-Christmas interrogation by asking a slightly different question: “What did you give for Christmas?” He would not place any emphasis on the word “give,” and quite often people would misunderstand and respond with a list of things they had received. Tom would smile, interrupt the excited recital, and say, “I didn’t ask what you got for Christmas. I asked what you gave for Christmas.” He didn’t do this to play the part of Scrooge but to challenge folks to find joy in the other side of the gift exchange equation.

I, for one, appreciated Tom’s gentle challenge. To be sure, I like to receive gifts and am still known to compile a wish list as Christmas approaches. But I’ve found increasing joy in giving gifts at Christmas and on other occasions. Gift giving is quite an art. To be done well, it requires really knowing the recipient and reflecting on what would be meaningful to him or her. Such gift giving is not perfunctory; it is an expression of love and friendship. “Success” is found in the expression of joy on the recipient’s face that says the gift was well chosen (or at least that the attempt was appreciated!).

The world tries to commercialize Christmas, making the exchange of gifts a veritable sacrament of capitalism. We’re told that we need to spend a lot, since the price of a gift is supposed to be a measure of its worth. To that I say, “Bah, humbug!” We can give without breaking the bank, when giving is an expression of love based in knowledge of the beloved.

As Christians, we know that God gave the greatest gift ever when He sent His Son into the world to be born in Bethlehem. At Christmas, we commemorate the birth of our Savior – surely a cause for festivity and the festive exchange of gifts. As that day approaches, let us look forward to it with joyful anticipation. But let us be careful that ours not be a materialistic joy rooted only in what we expect others to give to us.  Let our gift exchange be a true celebration of the gift of our Savior and not an expression of the worst aspects of capitalism.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20.35). With that in mind and in homage to my late friend, Tom, I ask: “So what are you going to give this Christmas?”