- Rev. Sandra Larson
May 10 At-Home Worship & Activities
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
AT-HOME WORSHIP & ACTIVITIES
Union Church, Newburgh NY
May 10, 2020
THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION
Happy Mothers’ Day. Mothers’ Day is an opportunity to intentionally celebrate women who were positive influences in our lives in a variety of ways—guiding/mentoring, faithfully standing with us, encouraging us. A camp leader who stayed close-by when we were scared or teacher who paid special attention to us, a coach or music teacher who pushed us to live up to our potential or a neighbor who befriended us…
Mothers’ Day is an invitation to give thanks for those women.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
— Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
We are glad that you are joining with us today and hope you feel God’s blessings.
If you do not have a church home, we sincerely invite you to be a part of the Union Church fellowship.
For more information visit our website https://www.newburghpresby.org/
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time — You are invited Sunday, May 17 from 11:30-Noon
using mobile phone or Zoom. Connect with video if possible, since seeing each other after weeks apart will be beneficial to us all. Or, phone audio only is EASY so, please attend. We can encourage each other through this stressful time. See email for meeting ID and password.
MANY OFFERINGS/PLEDGES to the church are come in during sheltering in place. Thank you! to all who are continuing their commitment to the church.
Pastor Search: The search committee is exploring possibilities with a promising local candidate. They will keep us posted!
Confidential Financial Help is available through the Samaritan Fund. Contact Deb H., Pam D., or Pastor Sandy for inquiries. The Fund is here to HELP!
Please pass this email on to those you think might appreciate it.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. May 11 and Wed. May 13 from 9:30-11:30 am.
Daily Devotional: A tried-and-true source is Our Daily Bread. CLICK HERE and find Today’s Devotional then click READ NOW. For a brief scripture, quotation, and prayer: Google Search: Sojourners Verse & Voice. Today’s Devotional will appear then sign up to subscribe for free devotionals
ORDER OF WORSHIP
CALL TO WORSHIP (solo or two voices)
“Come,” says the Lord, “come be my people, and I will be your God. I am the compassion you seek.”
We are God’s people. Let us worship God!
PRAYER and LORD’S PRAYER
Faithful God, as we try to remain strong, help us make room for tenderness and compassion toward ourselves and others. Encourage us to press into your presence
as we look for hope in everyday moments…in our broken world…and beyond life itself (silent prayer).
We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray (use your traditional version or Good News Matt. 6.9-13 version: Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. Do not bring us to hard testing but keep us safe from Evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES Think about poetry and memories
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun
Of happy memories that I leave when this life is done.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Reflect on what you believe or recite the Apostle’s creed or Psalm 23
HYMN GLORIA PATRI
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) We pray for all who are affected by the pandemic—whether due to bereavement, health, economic adversity, mental health, relationship tensions or loneliness....
We pray for vulnerable people throughout the world….
We pray for researchers and caregivers and leaders who have to make tough decisions….
We pray for people throughout the world to make choices that will help curb the spread of virus…. Fill us with reasons to hope and inspiration to serve. Amen.
ANTHEM You Are the Hands Union Chancel Choir and Children
GOSPEL LESSON John 14:1-14
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
SERMON Legacy — What We Leave Behind Rev. Sandy Larson CLICK HERE for video NOTE: Virtual Fellowship Time is NEXT Sunday, NOT May 10. We are tentatively planning an every other week format.
Offering Reminder Please CLICK HERE or send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
HYMN Faith of Our Mothers
TUNE: Faith of Our Fathers
CLICK HERE for piano accompaniment
1. Faith of our Mothers, living still In cradle song and bedtime prayer; In nursery lore and fireside love, Thy presence still pervades the air: Faith of Our Mothers, living faith! We will be true to thee till death.
2.Faith of our Mothers, loving faith, Fount of our childhood's trust and grace, Oh, may thy consecration prove Source of a finer, nobler race: Faith of our Mothers, living faith, We will be true to thee till death.
3.Faith of our mothers, guiding faith, For youthful longing, youthful doubt, How blurred our vision, blind our way, Thy providential care without: Faith of our Mothers, guiding faith, We will be true to thee till death.
4. Faith of our Mothers, Christian faith, In truth beyond our stumbling creeds, Still serve the home and save the Church, And breathe Thy Spirit thro' our deeds: Faith of our Mothers, Christian faith! We will be true to thee till death.
BENEDICTION Until we meet again...
May the loving kindness of God bless you.
May the wisdom of God guide you.
May you feel peace in your soul! AND:
May you joyfully serve God and people who need you.
ACTIVITIES – Pick those that interest you!
FOR CHILDREN Make hand print hearts: Trace your hands, while holding thumbs against your first finger and cut out hands. Then inter-weave the fingers to make a heart shape. See email.
FOR REFLECTION This poem from an ancient Christian sermon speaks in using God’s voice:
[Rise up] O sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, for you were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you.
Together . . . we cannot be separated!
Adapted from an ancient Christian homily, Days of the Lord: Easter Triduum, (Liturgical Press: 1993), p. 36
HUMOR or NOT so humorous… Dear Wormwood
This letter was discovered tucked in a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
Dear Wormwood, my devoted devilish disciple,
My fiendishly firey pupil, we have a fantastic opening since people are inclined to throw in the towel and give up in fear of epic epidemic and economic collapse. Social distancing encourages them to hide in their homes and abdicate doing anything productive. In the midst of general pessimism and worry, even many Christians are stymied. Widespread discouragement and disillusionment undermine their already limp faith.
The time to strike is NOW~! Reinforce their disenchantment before they better understand our Adversary as more than a benevolent despot offering pie in the sky. Discredit the “loving power” of our Adversary by just citing current news about the epidemic. Use “loving” and “power” in a condescending, sarcastic tone—they’ll get your meaning.
Another strategy to chip away their faith: Undermine confidence in the Bible. With “modern” black-and-white, rational thinking, many people already question the validity of the Bible. Literalist and modernists fail to see the big picture of the Bible and bicker about details. Fuel conflict so they forget about the main things that bind them together.
The stories in the New Testament undercut our goal to de-bunk faith in difficult circumstances. Acts and Paul’s Letters offer stories of Jesus’ followers’ commitment and self-giving activism. Condescendingly dismiss those stories as fanciful. Be sure to make fun of learning and gaining strength through adversity. Also take advantage of people’s lost understanding and appreciation of history and human values.
What Jesus did 2000 years ago doesn’t really matter. Tactfully insinuate that stories about Jesus and his followers were creations of unsophisticated and desperate people who fell for group-think. New Testament stories are obviously beefed up by zealous Jesus-followers to promote this supposedly “returned” Jesus. SO where is he now???
What really happened? Jesus died. Jesus’ followers were despondent, disillusioned and depressed. After all, their leader died! Jesus’ followers were frightened, discouraged, exhausted, and fed up. None of them could figure out what to do. So they concocted this outlandish fairy tale about Jesus being resurrected. That’s just plain irrational. It would mess up the whole biological cycle of life and death.
I heartily hope you persuade plenty of people who are wrestling with reconciling their faith and pandemic panic.
Your ever diabolical mentor, Screwtape __________________________________________________________________
SERMON Legacy—What We Leave Behind John 14.1-14 Sandy Larson
This Mother’s Day, so we take time to be grateful for mothers. Most of us have ambivalent memories of our parents—positive things we try to incorporate into our lives, and negative examples that we try to learn from in order to avoid them. If we’re a parent, we reflect about our own contributions to our children’s wellbeing. Mothers be warned: Nancy Friday in My Mother, Myself claims that daughters will likely end up mirroring their mothers. As parents and grandparents; and as the older generation of the church today, what legacy of faith and wisdom do we want to pass on to those who follow our footsteps?
This poem, The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole, may point us in a good direction:
An old man was going along a highway.
He came, at evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a rapid tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The rapid stream caused no fear in him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow traveler,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day.
You never again will pass this way; You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide.
Why do you build this bridge as night subsides?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, across the gorge I have come," he said,
"Yet follows after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This ravine, that has been naught to me,
To that untested youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.
Jesus knew what he wanted to give to those he left behind after he died. Jesus did not stress about his own welfare; and did not worry about where he would sleep. Jesus had no need to impress people with his wealth or political power. His eulogy is the New Testament. His legacy is the Christian church and his enduring influence on Christians throughout the world.
The most essential THING THAT JESUS TAUGHT IS: In life and death, and in life beyond death, God is with us, we are not alone. Thanks be to God! It is disconcerting to ask in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic —Yet it is important to ask: What will your eulogy say? What will you hand down to those who remain after you? What are you planting that will grow for generations to come?
How does your life inspire others?
Our attitude about life and death is most likely the MOST important thing we can pass on... What message about life and death are you giving to others? [pause] Let’s turn to Richard Rohr for wisdom from his article, Death Transformed [adapted]: Father Richard Rohr explains: I believe the Christian faith is saying that hope is death transformed, not death avoided. Spiritual wisdom recognizes both death and resurrection, or loss and renewal in broader terms. We tend to avoid acknowledging that balance. We want renewed life without cost or surrender. Ordinarily, we contemplate loss only when reality demands it of us, as the worldwide is doing now. Pandemic pushes the balance of life and death into our lives. We can choose denial, but it is hard to ignore loved ones’ suffering and worldwide tragedy. Everyone NEEDS to balance loss with hope. Jesus submitted to personal daily loss; and ultimately, he forfeited his life…and the result came out more than okay. As the Letter to the Hebrews teaches: esus is our guide, the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” [12:2]. Each time we face the fact of dying, we can find an opportunity to uncover a deeper trust found in faith in God’s eternal love. a. If we look at death with candor and respect, this courageous exploration removes our mind-blocks for a while. Like being connected to a generator, we experience more energy to trust the power source the next tome we must face the reality of losss or death. Acknowledging death is invariably a leap of faith. Facing death is like walking through darkness.
Accepting the inevitability of loss presses us to discover and appreciate hope more fully. We really don’t know and appreciate life until we acknowledge death, Christians can gain deeper faith in God’s eternal love. We can discover that divine Life is so big, so deep, and so indestructible, that it is even able to include death.
Franciscan sister and scientist Ilia Delio wrote this insight in an article entitled Hope in a Time of Crisis: “Christianity can help us realize that death and resurrection are part of a path toward wholeness; Christian faith can help us let go of isolated existence for the sake of deeper union. Something dies but something new is born—which is why the chaos of our times is, in a strange way, a sign of hope; something new is being born within. Out of chaos, a star is born. Breakdown can be break through if we recognize new life struggling to emerge.” 
The path to human wholeness is a lifelong challenge. Thank heavens, literally—resurrection faith assures us, no matter how we frame the exact nature of resurrection. Resurrection faith reminds us to look for signs of new life and new ways of being, today and for the future.
Unthinking apathy causes stagnation. A cup of fresh water held captive in our hands soon escapes our hands and disappears. Likewise, indifference will soon become an empty life. Denial of death and loss leads to…no where. Avoidance of facing losses and death deprives us of an opportunity to more deeply embrace the preciousness of life. Avoiding losses and death denies a fundamental trust in God.
In life and death, and in life beyond death, God is with us, we are not alone. Thanks be to God!
Footnote:  March 2020 Newsletter from The Omega Center