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  • Rev. Sandra Larson

May 3 At-Home Worship & Activities

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

PRE-PLAN for communion: Set your table with bread/crackers and glasses, and beverage in pouring container—enough for all participants. Optional: Light candles


Psalm 23 — “I shall not want” does not mean “I will have everything I desire.” It means that I shall not lack what I need. The Shepherd knows better than I, what I require for long-term well being.


Welcome to Union Church’s virtual worship. We look forward to the time when we can be together face-to-face. Newcomers are welcome!

Virtual Fellowship Time: May 3 at 11:30 am via Zoom on computer, phone, or iPad.

See your email for details.

Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. May 11 and Wed. May 13 from 9:30-11:30. Thanks to faithful volunteers! Items needed can be dropped off during Pantry hours: Toilet paper, cereal, juice, soup, canned tomato sauce, healthy snacks, cereal, nutrition bars, oatmeal, pancake mix. Thanks to all who contribute money and food. The Food Pantry even inspired a 4-year old member to collect and drop off food.

For a daily devotional: A tried-and-true source is Our Daily Bread. CLICK HERE and to find Today’s Devotional click on READ NOW. — Recommended by Nancy Thomas

Another daily devotional source offers a brief scripture, quotation, and prayer: Google Search for Sojourners Verse &Voice. Today’s Devotional will appear and/or sign up to subscribe for daily devotional (free). — Recommended by George Furniss

Listen to Hallelujah Chorus like you never heard it before-less than 4 minutes.

CLICK HERE — Recommended by Karen Olson

HYMN SUGGESTIONS (Optional: Search YouTube for title)

615 Red hymnal The Lord My Shepherd Guards Me Well

330 Red hymnal The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want

632 Red hymnal The Lord’s Prayer

519 Red hymnal It is Well with My Soul

622 Red hymnal What A Friend We Have in Jesus, (Blue hymnal 403) 297 Red hymnal Spirit of the Living God, (Blue hymnal 322)

295 Red hymnal Breathe on Me, Breath of God, (Blue hymnal 316)

CALL TO WORSHIP (silently or aloud)

Book of Common Worship

God is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change;

Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

Though the waters roar and foam;

Though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

God’s love endures forever


Lord, we appreciate birds and flowers in yards, especially in the midst of challenging times. May we reside in gratitude and peace of mind—not gratitude as a denial of problems, or a refusal to admit that tomorrow will bring troubles of its own, but in deep trust, a choice to embrace grace. Holy God, ease us away from fear and worry and point us on a path toward hope and your vision for the world. (…silent prayer) We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray: “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed…”

ASSURANCE based on Psalm 130 Hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with God is great power to redeem. It is God who will redeem us, who will show us the way of justice and peace.

APOSTLES’ CREED (recite or read reflectively in silence) I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven

and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence he will come to judge the quick [=alive] and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [=universal] church,

the communion [=unity] of saints, the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

HYMN GLORIA PATRI inside back cover of Red hymnal Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen, amen…

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (silent or aloud) Gracious God, like a shepherd, hear our bleating prayers for your whole creation. Even in this time of uncertainty and grief, you call us to be filled with awe and wonder that inspires us to praise you with glad and generous hearts. Inspire us through song, breaking of bread and prayer. Guide us along right pathways so others might discover grace in your Name.

May your guidance lead leaders and all who hold authority in the world, that they will protect people from any who steal, kill or destroy, and so that all your sheep may come in and go out securely and find pasture for freedom and sustenance.

Inspire us to discern how your goodness and mercy surround all who are suffering, at risk or afflicted in any way. We pray especially for Richard, Judith, Gloria, those who are lonely or fearful and…

May we better discern your guidance and guide us to help others like a shepherd with a life-saving rod and staff. May all your beloved worldwide flock dwell in comfort and assurance of your household forever. In the name of our Shepherd we pray. Amen

ANTHEM Come Down, Lord Union Chancel Choir

Refrain: Come down, Lord; dwell among us today. Come down, Lord. Send your Spirit, O Lord, we pray. We are gathered in your name, Lord, we are here to life you up; We are praising who you are, Lord, you’re the Life that fills our cup. We’re believing all you’ve taught us; as we live from day to day; we are asking for your blessing, and as one we come to say: Won’t you Come down, Lord; Dwell among us today. Come down, Lord; Send your Spirit, O Lord, today. We are in your loving family, we are one in heart and soul; We rejoice in your salvation, for your Word has made us while. Bless the infants, bless the children, bless the young and bless the old; Be our Master be our Shepherd; as we gather in your fold. Repeat Refrain.

SCRIPTURE LESSON Psalm 23 Good News Translation

The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised.

[Prayer:] Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.

You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.

SERMON MEDITATION Thin Places Rev. Sandy Larson CLICK HERE for video For Text (see below)


OFFERING Reminder: To use new pay platform please CLICK HERE:

OR please send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550

ANTHEM Together at the Table of the Lord Union Chancel Choir

Together at the table we join our hearts as one, to share a holy moment just as others long have done. Remembering our Savior, reflecting on God’s love, with grateful hearts we gather ‘round the bread and cup. The saints who’ve gone before us once did the very same. They broke the bread together as they prayed in Jesus’ name. Together at your table, Lord, we come to honor you. And just as you commanded, in remembrance, this we do.


For all who embrace the significance of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and

all who seek to understand are invited to receive this sacrament

PRAYER of PRAISE (silent or aloud)

Gracious God, remind us of your never-failing grace given to us by Jesus. We thank you for so graciously pouring out your love for us. Lord, strengthen us by the power of Jesus Christ so that we may share that joy and hope with everyone we meet.

We give you thanks and praise, eternal God, our creator. You have given us life and second birth in your Spirit. You call each of us your "beloved," claiming us for all eternity. Even when we go astray, you welcome us home. Always, your love is steadfast—embracing us in our brokenness, and even with our feeble faith. We give you thanks for Christ—for his teachings, for his death and for his resurrection promise.

May we re-discover your Holy Spirit in the breaking of bread so that we may be joined anew to Christ the Lord, receive new life, be his loving people and draw closer together in closer fellowship. It is right to give our thanks and praise.


On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread and gave thanks. He broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Then, after supper, Jesus took the cup, and gave it to his disciples saying. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remembering all God’s mighty and merciful acts, we take this bread and this wine from the gifts that God gives to us every day; and we celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ.

Distribute bread and cup saying:

The body of Christ, given for you. The cup of the new covenant.

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING (silent or aloud)

Lord, we thank you for this meal shared in the Holy Spirit with Jesus Christ who makes us strong and brings abundant life anew. Illumine our hearts with the radiance of Christ’s continuing presence, so that our lives may show his love in all we do.

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.


The Lord is my shepherd. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, for the Lord is with me.

The peace of Christ be with you!


ACTIVITIES – Pick what interests you!

FOR CHILDREN Play charades. Take turns picking a verse from Psalm 23 and silently act it out:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. 2 He [the Lord] lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. 3 He [the Lord] gives me new strength.

3b He [the Lord] guides me in the right paths, as he has promised.

[Prayer:] 4 Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me.

4b Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.

5 You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. 6 I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; 6b and your house will be my home as long as I live.

What other kind of worker would make a good comparison to Jesus? Why?

FOR REFLECTION Poem on Wilderness

Write your own version of Psalm 23 (see #4)

And / or THEN compare to different published translations at and type: Psalm 23. Scroll down at right to select various translations. Pick parts of each.

HUMOR High Tech Psalm 23

The Lord is my programmer. I shall not crash.

The Lord installed software on the hardware of my heart;

All the Lord’s commands are user friendly;

The Lord’s search engines guide me to the right choices, for his name’s sake.

Even though I scroll through the problems of life,

I will fear no viruses, for the Lord is my security program; The Lord’s password protects me;

The Lord prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies and hackers; His help is only a click ENTER away.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

And my files will be merged with his and saved forever.

5. Fill in the blanks

  1. A shepherd ________ his sheep John 10.14

  2. A shepherd ________ his sheep Jeremiah 31.10

  3. A shepherd ________ his sheep Psalm 23.2

  4. A shepherd ________ his sheep Ezekiel 34.11

  5. A shepherd ________ his sheep Ezekiel 34.14,15

  6. A shepherd ________ his sheep John 10.11

Sermon Meditation (text) Thin Places Psalm 23

May 3, 2020 Sandy Larson

The joy I had when I bottle-fed orphaned lambs on my grandparents’ ranch comes close to the bliss of nursing my own babies. In some incomprehensible God way, God has such maternal love. The Bible uses several analogies to describe God’s love for people. Jesus compares God’s love to how “a mother hen protects her chicks” —even to the point of sacrificing her own life. How would you describe God’s relationship to people? Your relationship with God?

Shepherd is a helpful, even if not urban metaphor for God and Jesus. Sheep truly need a shepherd, and not a dumb one. Sheep have a tendency to get into trouble. Sheep may make bad choices and find themselves stranded. Often, if a sheep falls onto its side and then onto its back, it usually cannot get up again on its own. Gas accumulates in the stomach, cutting off the air passage, so the sheep may eventually suffocate. Not so different from us really. The Lord is my shepherd. What is your sense of the meaning of the shepherd analogy in Psalm 23?

Bedouin and other shepherds care for their sheep, leading them to safe drinking water where the not very intelligent creatures have little risk falling in and drowning. When water is scarce, shepherds do not rest until finding life-saving water to replenish their flock. When sheep are wounded, Bedouin shepherds bring a wounded one into their tent and anoint its head with medicinal oil. So it is with us. The shepherd’s care is a metaphor for divine care that surrounds us always.

Children’s Sunday School teachers show pictures of Jesus as the sweet shepherd with lambs romping among flowers. Church School tends not to focus on harrowing, life-threatening circumstances that shepherds face when they faithfully protect their flock. Yet shepherds guard their sheep with their own lives when predators lurk or when traversing dangerous terrain. The Lord is my Shepherd.

No matter our age or status, adversity can be a strong incentive to connect more fully with our Shepherd. Otherwise, church talk is little more than a momentary good feeling. Or worse, religious affirmations remind us that we are not well connected with divine power and grace. Verses like, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” from Philippians 4 [v13] may make us feel guilty or disheartened.

How do you access divine guidance and power? Thisn places (the interface between our consciousness and the sacred) are often porous and more accessible than during everyday, preoccupied life.

To explore how to build a stronger connection with divine power and grace,

let’s explore Richard Rohr’s longtime mission to help people find a bridge to divine guidance and strength. Here’s some of what Richard Rohr says about making that connection with God. Father Rohr labels this connection and ‘thin places’ as ‘liminal” awareness.

Liminal space is an inner state between our conscious and subconscious, like having left one room but not yet entered the other. We usually enter liminal space when our usual way of being is challenged or changed—perhaps when we lose a job or a loved one, during illness, at the birth of a child, or during any major relocation. Such transition is graced time, but often does not feel “graced.” Transitions make us open to liminal space, because we are not in control and we feel uncertain and unsettled. The global pandemic is an example of immense, collective liminal space.

The vulnerability and openness of liminal space provides room for something genuinely new to happen. In such opennes, we are receptive—like an erased page waiting for new words. We are often most teachable in liminal space, because we are humbled. This in-between place is free of illusions and reliance on false payoffs. Liminality keeps us questioning instead of being stuck in ego-confirmation. Rather than self-defeating denial, liminality calls so-called normalcy into creative question.

It’s no surprise that we generally avoid liminal space. Authentic spiritual mentoring focusses on encouraging people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough that they can learn something essential and new. Many spiritual giants like St. Francis, Julian of Norwich, Dorothy Day, and Mahatma Gandhi tried to teach and live their lives in ongoing liminality. That focus admittedly put them on the periphery of culture.

Accessing liminal space most often requires not doing and not performing. Our usual successful patterns of accomplishment do not work well in spiritual endeavors. We need to be silent instead of speaking, experience emptiness instead of fullness or focus on self. Such receptivitive openness ordinarily requires abandonment of personal security as a high priority. In liminal space, we let go of control and reside in a non-ego state. Ttaking time to develop such spiritual discipline is worth the journey. Liminal experience can help us reenter the world with freedom and new, creative approaches to life.

Even if you never heard the word liminal before, you likely have an intuitive sense of this in-between state. It would be difficult to be in the midst of global crisis and not feel caught between what we knew and whatever may come. Global pandemic changes our consciousness and that of future generations. Spiritual openness to divine grace helps us to live with peace of mind and a desire to do our part to help others. Richard Rohr summarizes: Through liminal spaces, we may encounter—however briefly —experiences of divine union. If we are receptive, we can experience a radical oneness between ourselves, God, each other and all creation.

How might we access this liminal space?

1.Find a comfortable, quiet place and a comfortable posture.

2.Quiet and calm your mind and relax your whole body. Especially relax those places you usually hold tension.

3.Patiently, calmly and openly visualize the goodness you want to experience in your own life and see happen throughout the world. Patiently visualize such things as:

·peace of mind, light, joy or hope

·dear ones as whole and knowing that they are beloved and blessed

·conflicts or problems melting away into a far better state

4. Rest in a state of spiritual connection. Remain in an open and attentive listening mode.

Optional: Pray whatever is in your stream of consciousness. This is most fruitful as unstructured prayer. ou can use a finger labyrinth (sample attached Google search for Finger Labyrinths). Or take a quiet walk through your living space, neighborhood or park. Open yourself to quietude and listening.

As George Furniss highlighted in a recent sermon, Agnes Sanford wisely said: “Only the amount of God that you get inside you works for you.” I describe her message this way: our access to divine comfort or guidance is limited by our accessability.

A child struggled to memorize Psalm 23 until he figured out what the Psalm means, “The Lord is my Shepherd...and that’s all I need to know!”

May God deeply enrich you. Amen.

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