6/28 At-Home Worship
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AT-HOME WORSHIP & ACTIVITIES
Union Church, Newburgh NY
June 28, 2020
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.
Before beginning—please find Bible or use biblegateway.com/
Anthems are in Loving Memory of our Lenny McDonald, who is now beyond pain, in the Loving Hands of God. For many years, Lenny was a loyal member of our Choir. God Bless his soul and spirit. God Bless Gerri and family. Love in Christ, Margaret Small and Nancy Stelling
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. and Wed. July 6 and 8 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time TODAY from 11:30-Noon. Use mobile phone or computer video. Check email for access instructions.
THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord…they shall be like a tree planted by water…in the year of drought it shows no distress.” — Jeremiah 17.7-8
ORDER OF WORSHIP
CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 16
We know that God is always with us, so we remind ourselves that we are with God. May our hearts be glad; may our souls rejoice; may our bodies rest secure. God shows us the path of life and in God’s presence there is fullness of joy.
ANTHEM Softly and Tenderly Union Chancel Choir
Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_lZNBuDys8
PRAYER Faithful God, strengthen my reliance and faith in you. Help me to rest in You and renew me in your Spirit each day…(silent prayer)
HYMN Great is Thy Faithfulness
Click here: https://youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o
MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES A man was driving through a horrible storm. His 5-year old son noticed his nervousness and commented, “Don’t worry. Jesus is with us.” He thought a bit more and added, “Dad, maybe you should move over and let Him drive.”
APOSTLES’ CREED 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)
Click here for traditional music: https://youtu.be/QUBxpypSblw or Avery and Marsh
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. 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, we desire to trust that you care for the world in ways that we cannot even ask or imagine. Help us to know that you look with compassion upon us and all who turn to you for help. We give thanks for Connor, son of Brittany and Ryan and little brother of Brooks. Inspire us so that we might show them your love. We pray for Gerri and Len M.’s family in their grief and for Judith and Alan and Ruth as Judith’s cancer spreads, and for others we know who are suffering…
We pray for this nation as the pandemic re-flares and social inequities come into the 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 for the vibrancy of churches everywhere. We thank you for the dedication of members helping to maintain the work of the church... (silent prayer)
ANTHEM I’ve Got Peace Like a River Union Chancel Choir
Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCK5OWFtItc
SCRIPTURE LESSON Genesis 22:1-14
See your Bible or click here: biblegateway.com/
SERMON Testing of Abraham…and Us Rev. Sandy Larson
Click here for video: https://youtu.be/sTHyWWMUODw
Offering Please visit newburghpresby.org/donate for online donations OR send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
HYMN Trust and Obey Click here: https://youtu.be/KB4KcleYiWM
BENEDICTION Isaiah 41.10 and Proverbs 28.25 Do not fear, for I am with you… Whoever trusts in the Lord will prosper.
CHORAL RESPONSE The Lord Bless You and Keep You Union Chancel Choir
Click here: https://youtu.be/IvRlcCiLTn4
Trust in God. Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you; All things pass. God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. He/she who has God Finds he/she lacks nothing. God alone suffices. —Teresa of Avila
Stand Up! Is this a test of how we will respond to social inequality?
Click here: https://www.facebook.com/thedglsfamily/videos/264551277950380/?t=0
Fun Activity: Walk around with a blindfold. Trust your instincts, touch and feet sensitivity or take turns guiding one another. Note how it feels to be dependent, to trust yourself, or the other. If you are the guide—how does that feel? Extra challenge: Carry a cup FULL of water.
Trust in God, but tie your camel.
(Trust God, but lock your car)
In God we trust – all others require a polygraph.
Sandy, Interim Pastor
SERMON Testing of Abraham…and Us Genesis 22:1-14 Sandy Larson
Trust is difficult to earn. We must trust doctors, contractors, and drivers on streets where we drive but it’s a conditional trust. We sometimes question their judgment even though they are “experts.” A parent, sales rep, politician, or boss may say “trust me, I know what I’m doing.” Yet sometimes we have reason to NOT trust their suggestion to put trust in them. We trust restaurants to follow health regulations. Yet if we see filth and disorder in the kitchen, we may choose not to trust their food. Trust is necessary for everyday life. Yet it’s complicated. What if someone asks you to do something that you do not want to do?
What about trusting God? Of course, we say: We trust God. Yet we want to control our lives. So we often do not seek divine guidance. Or we ignore what we perceive as God’s will because we want to do it “our way.’ People who are comfortably well-off and do not face any major challenges can generally slide by with self-generated decisions. Note that Jesus warned, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” [Mt 19.24] The term "eye of a needle" occurs several times in the Talmud as a metaphor for a very narrow opening between obstacles. Usually, the eye of a needle is too tight for a camel to pass through. The comparison Jesus used thus means that it is extremely difficult if not impossible for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Rich people tend to think they can succeed by relying on their own resources. Nearly everyone in the US today would be considered “rich,” according to economic and health standards of Jesus’ time. You and I would have been considered rich! To what extent do we rely on God’s vision rather than our own judgment when we make decisions? In other words, are we participants in the kingdom of God or are we autocratic dictators in our own Kingdom of ME?
Catherine Marshall, a popular Christian writer of the 1950’s and 60’s, wrote A Man Called Peter about her famous pastor husband and the later televised story of the pioneer schoolteacher, Christy.
In 1940, Catherine contracted tuberculosis, for which at that time there was no antibiotic treatment. She was mostly bedridden for nearly three years. Catherine believed she was strong enough to beat the illness. She railed at God for the disease keeping her from important work she had to do. The tuberculosis continued to defeat Catherine until she finally accepted that she needed to rely on God.
Catherine’s prayers changed from petitions and complaints to prayers of relinquishment: She prayed, THY will be done. Once she relinquished the outcomes of her illness and no longer fought to be in control, Catherine soon recuperated. Like AA warns alcoholics, she had to reach the bottom before she would trust God fully. Abraham had an even tougher challenge than Catherine Marshall’s T.B.
Genesis tells the saga of Abraham and Sarah. They had not had a child until they were octogenarians. Isaac was the fulfillment of their lives and God’s promise of abundant progeny. One of the most difficult passages in the Bible is our lectionary scripture lesson today. Please stop to read it now if you have not already done so. This story is often misleadingly titled “Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.” A much more accurate title for this famous story would be: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Like with the OT story of Job, this story’s purpose is to show the extent to which Abraham is willing to trust God. Job was tested by an overwhelming series of adversity, yet Job remained loyal to trusting God. Abraham’s test was even worse. Abraham’s trial tested his willingness to act against all that he believed and to kill his own son. I cannot imagine a more horrific challenge than having to kill one’s own child. And for Abraham, his son was the fulfillment of God’s promise that Abraham would be the father of a great nation. It’s hard to father a great nation if your son is killed as a child. All of Abraham’s hopes seemed to rest in his son.
The test of Abraham is more than I can even bare thinking about. Abraham rising to the test earned him the honor of being the foremost model of faith for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are called the Abrahamic faiths—based on Abraham’s unrelenting trust in God. At the beginning of his story, Abraham obeyed God’s command to leave the territory he knew and go “to a land which I will show you.” With a significant lapse or two, Abraham also trusted God’s promise that he would have a child who would give him the legacy of being the patriarch of a great nation.
This story is introduced by explaining, “God tested Abraham.” This was an extraordinarily difficult faith test, similar to those that Job had to endure. This amazing and daunting faith story tells that Abraham obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son. Human sacrifice was known, but rare in the Middle East at that time. Human sacrifice was considered an abomination by most tribes. Certainly, human sacrifice was not practiced by Abraham’s clan.
The test of Abraham was not some pagan-like ritual. This was a serious test of Abraham’s faithfulness even to the extent of doing something totally against all that he valued and contrary to all he believed—except his trust in God. Abraham’s willingness to perform this sacrilege would unequivocally affirm Abraham’s trust in God.
This was a penultimate test of trust in God. No wonder millions of people over centuries know Abraham as the father of faith. He trusted God, telling his porters as they approached their destination, that they both would return after they made their sacrifice. After the arduous 3-day trek to the sacrificial altar, Isaac asked what was happening. Abraham affirmed his trust in God: God will provide, Isaac’s father reassured him. Isaac’s trust in his father amplified the stakes for Abraham in trusting God. His son’s life depended on Abraham’s trust in God. Apparently satisfied with his father’s response, they continued to the place of animal sacrifices. There, seemingly as by a miracle, Abraham found a ram caught in a thicket. Abraham made the substitution of the ram for his son. Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Ever since I first heard this story, I have been daunted by its power to inspire faith.
Most of us have trusted God during difficulties. Circumstances today press us to trust God even more completely. The death of Len in the Union congregation and Judith’s worsening cancer challenge all of us to renew our trust in God. The pandemic and economic fall-out press us hard to find faith and hope. We cannot overcome the widespread ravages of Covid-19 or worldwide economic adversity by our own skill and resources alone. These challenges press us to trust God more fully than ever before.