- Rev. Sandra Larson
June 7 At-Home Worship & Activities
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Pick what works for you!
AT-HOME WORSHIP & ACTIVITIES
Union Church, Newburgh NY
Trinity Sunday June 7, 2020
“Trinity” is never found in the Bible, thought the three parts are mentioned together
in the New Testament. To discern what Creator-Son-Holy Spirit are all about
is part of believers’ journey. May your discovery journey be rewarding!
Before beginning—please find
Bible or use biblegateway.com/ and also
Bread/crackers, glasses, and beverage in a pouring container—enough for all participants for communion.
Light candles (optional)
We are glad that you are joining 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.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. and Wed. June 8 and 10 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, or contribute toys for small children, please contact Kathy B.
Thanks to Chuck Thomas and library volunteers, Census forms will be handed out at the Pantry, followed the next time with a qualified Census worker on site to help fill out information. This reaches people who may not get mail or otherwise will not be reached.
Opportunity for Elders: PCUSA authorizes Elders who have been trained to serve communion. Consider being equipped to serve the Lord’s Supper to homebound folks and other times. Pastor Sandy will offer at-home training about theology and liturgy of Communion. Participants will have an opportunity for group discussion. Sandy has already trained one elder. With a part-time pastor coming, and in the meantime, elders will need to step in. Training is a fairly small time commitment. When Sandy led training sessions for New Brunswick Presbytery, participants said they enjoyed the process and learned interesting new things. Contact Pastor Sandy
Next Sunday = Humor Sunday. Despite and because of these difficult times, we will laugh with Abraham’s wife, Sarah: God promised WHAT???
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time via Zoom or phone: Sun. June 14 from 11:30 – Noon. Look for email instructions next week.
THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION
The success of God’s plan for creation depends on [our] conscious and creative activity to keep the divine plan evolving and developing in the direction God wants for creation. — Louis Savary
ORDER OF WORSHIP
CALL TO WORSHIP
Someone is kind when others are unkind: Someone shares with another in need, someone refuses to hate, someone is patient—and waits in love, someone returns good for evil, someone serves another with love and without seeking any tangible reward, someone is calm in a storm, someone loves everyone…
In God’s love, can that someone be you and me?
PRAYER Kaitlin Curtice
O God, Mystery, Creator, Source of all Breath— We are trying not to give up on each other. We need to learn to broaden the circle of “Us.” Help us hold one another in Real Love. Help us name and honor those who are killed in our streets while sincerely striving for justice. Help each of us acknowledge our personal white elitism. Help us debunk classism and cronyism in all forms. Help us defuse hate and challenge instruments of mass hatred. Help us identify wounds that we can help to heal. Replenish us with your Spirit. Help us. Help. In the spirit of Jesus, amen.
HYMN Our God, Our Help in Ages Past Isaac Watts
CLICK HERE for lyrics and music
MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES
Think of 3 tangible ways you can be a partner with God to help bring about a New Creation. Write these ideas on a note NOW. Later: Tape your list to your bathroom mirror.
APOSTLES’ CREED about the Trinity. Recite/read reflectively in silence “Holy Ghost” derives from the Old English “gast” (German “geist” = spirit). The Holy Ghost is not like Casper the friendly ghost or Hogwarts ghosts. 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 (Glory to the Father)
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 and LORD’S PRAYER
O Lord our God, in your grace and multitude of mercy—help us to know that you accept the sincere prayers of your people. Help us to know that you look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help. We pray for Len M who fell and was hospitalized this week and for others we know who are suffering… We pray for this nation as racial profiling and social inequities come into the national spotlight... We pray for leaders in this country and throughout the world, that they might act on principles of social and earth justice… We thank you for the emergency workers and pray for their safety. We pray for this congregation as we cope with social distancing and search for a new pastor and we thank you for the dedication of members helping to bridge the gap and maintain the church. (…silent prayer)
ANTHEM Look at the World Union Chancel Choir
See your Bible or click here
Genesis 1.1-2.4a and Matthew 4:17 Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”
SERMON A New Creation Rev. Sandy Larson
CLICK HERE for video
HYMN A Hymn of Glory
Offering Reminder: Please CLICK HERE for online donation or send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
HYMN or ANTHEM In Remembrance of Me Taize CLICK HERE for audio
SACRAMENT of HOLY COMMUNION
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)
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.
Gracious God, remind us of your never-failing grace given to us through 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 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 receive new life, be his loving people and draw together in closer fellowship. It is right to give our thanks and praise. Amen.
SHARING OF THE ELEMENTS
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.
BENEDICTION Matthew 28.20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
CHORAL RESPONSE The Lord Bless You and Keep You Union Chancel Choir
For reflection: Reflect and consider each line of the Apostles’ Creed (above). What are your questions? End reflection with prayer.
Fun Activity (with a serious side): See attached cartoon “God and Controversy”
Humor from a Book of Wit Germany, 1910
A priest did his best to explain the Trinity to a man and at last said:
“My good friend, to make it plainer, imagine yourself God the Father, respect your son as if he were the Son of God, and take your wife to be the Holy Ghost. Now remember ...You three are one. Later the man returned and told the priest, “I believe in the Father and the Son.
But I don’t believe in the Holy Ghost—The holy ghost just squanders and spends everything the Father and Son earn.”
In God's grace,
Sandy, Interim Pastor
SERMON A New Creation Genesis 1.1-2.4a and Matthew 4:1
Let’s pause to pray: Holy God, Three in One, between the words spoken and the words read and heard today, may we come closer to understanding your power and mystery. Amen.
This is probably the toughest to hear and the most hopeful sermon I have ever preached in my decades of pastoral ministry. So please, listen carefully to the messages you need to hear.
The earth was a chaotic swirl when it was first formed. Please pause and read the lectionary scripture. Note that ‘Genesis’ means where it all came from. Genesis opens with two accounts of the unimaginable beginning of the world. The masterfully poetic opening of Genesis describes creation unfolding. Each new addition was “very good.” With a little creative imagination, each of us can envision our version of this creation epic. After this first passage, the second poem-story of creation in Genesis describes the idyllic Garden of Eden. We can envision beauty and wonderful harmony of that natural haven. The human species likely began in Mesopotamia or North Africa. Most likely, the first humans were dark skinned. No such thing as a viral pandemic, racial disparities, or power abuse disturbed the initial harmony of the garden. Today, however, harmony has been skewed. After two recent murders of young African American men, my African American friends bitterly lament for the zillionth time that Africans are still considered to be animals without human rights by some people throughout America. Adolf Hitler at least considered them inferior humans rather than animals. Dehumanization of other people makes violence easier to rationalize. People with dark skin are still considered by some to be no more than animals and therefore have few rights and little benefit of the doubt, as proven by incarceration data. In contrast, white people accused of crimes are treated more humanely, based on assumptions about psychological factors causing their misconduct.
I ardently pray for God’s New Creation when people will no longer use color of skin or what language someone speaks as excuses for pre-judgment or barriers to friendship and mutual betterment. I hold on to the biblical hope that everyone can live in harmony. Paul told the Corinthians: “in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” I pray that we will live out that promise and others throughout the world will, too. [II Cor 5.17]
I hold on to the biblical promise of a New Creation. Everyone will live in harmony and everyone will actively care for the earth’s whole biosphere with deep gratitude and respect. Once again the whole earth will be “very good” if we work with united effort to care for the world. Each of us has our own theory about why the world has devolved to such low physical and moral standards. The productive question is: How can we attain harmony and abundance for all? The pandemic is teaching us that wealth or selfish acts like hoarding will not necessarily save anyone from the ravages of the pandemic’s path. Yet privilege gives people a positive health outcome advantage. People who are poor or dark skinned are more likely to die from the Covid virus. The inequities are measurable and heart wrenching.
America can no longer pretend that the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s mostly eliminated race discrimination. In the 60’s, people risked their lives to protest racial inequalities. Once again, people are risking their own lives and the spread of pandemic to countless others. When Mahatma Gandhi staged a fasting protest on behalf of his people’s freedom, he risked no life but his own. Protesters today in American cities, in Hong Kong, and in solidarity protest across Europe are saying we are willing to risk our lives and the lives of countless others for the sake of equality for all. If you live in a country where white supremacy festers, you are either fighting the system or you are complicit. There is no neutrality towards patterns of injustice, it is not something you can just opt out of. Like a pandemic you either diagnose and name the injustice or let the preferential bias grow. You either go along with the unfairness or you voice your concern about the wrong.
Jesus taught us a model prayer: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done—on earth as it is in heaven.” I do not know what heaven is like, but I have faith that it is surely “very good.” Yet in the midst of global pandemic, we are immersed in racial and socio-economic discrimination, rampant world leader power abuse, abuse of natural resources, and strong biases of “what’s in it for ME?” The Bible promises a new way of being, seeing, and behaving. The Bible promises hope even when all the evidence doesn't seem to add up to such a large sum.
This week resounds with dissonant cries of pain from racial and socio-economic discrimination and stultifying political posturing. We hear leaders uttering popular platitudes without a call to action. We complain and lament, without taking much action. Business and government leaders seem to serve their own selfish ends—or at least it is often hard to guess their motives. We do not hear many stories of hope from service organizations or individuals who are working to make a difference.
We applaud medical workers and medical researchers and emergency workers but do little to help ease their burden of commitment. Union’s Food Pantry volunteers offer bags full of hope for another few days; but the pain of the recipients is out of earshot for those us who confine our listening to social media at home and singing sad songs in the shower. I talked with one visitor to the Food Pantry who did not want food or money, though she needed both. She desperately needed someone to listen and value her as a fellow human being. She yearned to feel that someone cared about her well-being. Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done—on earth as it is in heaven.” What kind of new creation does God envision?
Today, troublemakers of every sort express outrage and act out. Their motives are assumed to be mal-intended. However, their real motivation seems to be desperate pleas to be valued, respected, and loved. People who lash out, lash out because of bitterness and frustration. Troublemakers gravitate to others full of resentment and hate. In contrast, many who are downtrodden and broken-hearted are mostly alone and silent, and sometimes openly tearful. Both troublemakers and those who are silent fear that they will continue to miss out on the rewards of life. Their broken hearts cannot generate hope or trustworthy solidarity with others in order to build up their spirits. Who will show compassion for troublemakers or silent pain bearers? Who will help them find a path to wholeness? Who will encourage them to hear the loving goodness of the divine nature? Thousands of mostly young people of all socio-economic labels actively join in solidarity with protests of injustice. Are there even better ways to help those who are suffering from pandemic, injustice, or long-term social isolation?
If you live in this society which is still interlaced with privilege and white supremacy, you are either fighting the system or you are complicit. There is no neutrality towards injustice, it is not something you can just opt out of.
Will those who seek good for all speak out in public places with messages of equity as the path for true harmony? Will those who espouse goodness put those values into action? Christians hold firm to God’s promise of a New Creation (as Jesus described it—on earth as it is in heaven).
I pray for and work towards worldwide peace. God promises a New Creation that is far better than what anyone has ever seen before. Adversaries and allies will share the same space and develop mutual goals for the good of everyone. And it will be GLORIOUS.
What is now shall not always be.
What seems barren can be full and meaningful life.
Places that seem hostile can become hospitable.
What seems hate-filled can be full of love.
What seems unfair can become just.
What seems divided can be made whole.
The Bible assures us that seems far off is drawing near.
“You have a purpose. Your life is important. You are dearly beloved.”
What seems like loss can be the start of otherwise hidden gain.
What seems like depression can become vitality.
What seems like death can become new life.
I believe it was St. Augustine of Hippo—and Desmond Tutu likely repeated it—that with respect to God's work: By himself, God won't. By ourselves, we can't. But together with God, we can.
An example from this congregation: His parents and the spirit of the congregation inspired one of the newest members of Union Church, 4-year old Blake. For weeks, in the midst of the pandemic, he insisted on collecting food for the Union Food Pantry. With his mom’s help, Blake then took the food to the Pantry. He beamed with joy as he delivered his contribution. Blake's inspiration and follow-through is a sample of the New Creation growing in our midst.
Let's resolve to count the costs of our conveniences and our lethargic passivity, to join God in building a “good” world in which abundant life always prevails. And let's resolve to do so not because we are so great, but because God who stitched the world together is a mighty God. Not because we are so smart, but because God who breathed life into the world and us is a loving God. Not because we are so good but because God is VERY GOOD. Amen.