Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Will Miss Paul Harvey

Most of my adult life, wherever I have lived or traveled, I have searched for and found Paul Harvey on radio. Early in life I was attracted to his unique style, interesting stories, and entertaining presentation of the news. Additionally, I could not help but notice that his Christian ethics agreed with mine. He took many opportunities to share his faith. I admired that.

Today, Paul Harvey left this world. I know it is not Christmas, but on the occasion of his death, I want to document my favorite Paul Harvey story.


Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas Story of the Man and the Birds. You know, THE Christmas Story, the God born a man in a manger and all that escapes some moderns, mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions and this one is so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced I submit a modern parable.

Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm ... to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Obituary - Bishop R. O. Covey

The funeral service for Bishop Covey will be conducted tomorrow, Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM at the North Ocoee Chapel of the Jim Rush Funeral Home in Cleveland, Tennessee with Reverends Lanny Carter, Rick Brenizer, Allen Davis Sr. and Stephen Smith officiating. Entombment will follow in the Sunset Memorial Gardens with Walter Lofton, Steven Woods, Kevin Werkheiser, Cornelius Butler, Allen Davis Jr. and Perry Horner serving as pallbearers. The North Ocoee Chapel of the Jim Rush Funeral Homes has charge of the arrangements.

Bishop R. O. Covey, age 97, a resident of Cleveland, Tennessee went to be with the Lord early yesterday morning, February 27, 2009. Rev. Rudolph Orval Covey was born November 7, 1911 to the late Charles W. and Flora Lowman Covey at Snowville, Pulaski County, Virginia. Because of the his mothers health and a promise she made to God, Rudolph was given to an uncle and his wife, the late Robert L. and Janie Bishop Covey, who reared him almost from birth. In 1914, they moved west to Warren County, Iowa, where he grew up as a farm boy. In 1929, he became a public school teacher and taught twelve years in the rural schools of Iowa.

In 1930, he spent the summer in the Ozark region of Southern Missouri. There, in a revival in a country Methodist church near Mountain View, he publicly confessed faith in Christ for the new birth. He was baptized by immersion and joined the Methodist church. On May 27, 1936, he was united in marriage to Golda Evelyn Albright, who was also a rural school teacher in Iowa. They were a devoted couple to whom God gave 64 years together.

In 1937, in another country church revival in Warren County, Iowa, they were both spiritually renewed. In July 1938, they became members of the Church of God (A. J. Tomlinson).

Church workers were scarce in Iowa, so, as an unlicensed lay minister, he ministered to the congregation at Shenandoah, Winterset and Ames, along with various state assignments in the church. He was licensed and ordained a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy in March 1946 and graduated from Bible Training Camp in 1949. From July, 1946 to September, 1960, he and Golda worked in the Church’s Sunday school Orphanage (later known as the Tomlinson Home for Children) except for a year and a half (in 1950-51) of pastoral service at Altavista, Virginia.

His twenty-six years under General Appointment included: General Orphanage Superintendent, nine years; State Overseer of Colorado, two years; World Language Secretary, three years; and Assistant Editor of the White Wing Messenger, twelve years. Having reached “the golden years”, he requested his retirement, effective at the General Assembly in 1977.

He enjoyed writing Christian materials and continued this after his retirement. He published three novels, several inspirational books, and numerous Bible Study Materials. He covenanted with The Church of God in 1993.

He was preceded in death by his dear wife Golda on January 5, 2001. Survivors include: Of the family by which he was reared: his niece, Mrs. Jennye Septer of Indianaola, Iowa, of his blood family, his brother, Warren Covey of Fairbanks, Alaska and also several nieces and nephews from both families.

[My parents, Raymond and Ruby Brock, followed R.O. Covey and Warren Covey at Tomlinson Home for Children in Cleveland, Tennessee. Our prayers are with this precious family and we honor Bishop R. O. Covey for his many years of faithful leadership. Brother Tomlinson loved him, and we do too.]

Today's Prayer

Dear Lord,

I pray today for pastors. I pray that they would be supported and uplifted, like Aaron did Moses. I pray that laity and deacons would help the pastor carry out the ministry of the church, looking after the needs of the congregation, going about in an attitude of prayer, and seeking Your will in all circumstances and obstacles that arise.

I pray for their protection from harm and evil in any form. I pray that You will anoint, bless, and minister through them to reach people, to show them Your love, and to bring glory and honor to You.

Help these ministers to see their role in Your work, and give them the boldness, wisdom, and encouragement to carry on.

In Jesus' name, amen.