- Rev. Sandra Larson
July 19 At-Home Worship
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
AT-HOME WORSHIP & ACTIVITIES
Union Church, Newburgh NY
July 19, 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.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. and Wed. July 20 and 22 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. Questions? Call James.
THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION — Frederich Beuchner in Wishful Thinking
In the Gospel of John, Jesus sums up pretty much everything by saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). He said it at the supper that he knew was the last one at which he'd have a mouth to eat with.
Happiness turns up more or less where you'd expect it to—a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is as notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Shine, Jesus, Shine Bell Choir
Click here: https://youtu.be/36c05yP2-AM
CALL TO WORSHIP based on Psalm 27
The Lord is our light and our salvation—why should we be afraid?
The Lord protects us from danger—why should we worry? Even in the midst of overwhelming difficult, the Lord provides for our needs…if we are receptive. Let us worship and LISTEN for God’s assurances and inspiration.
PRAYER Lord, part of me wants to do everything MY WAY. I know better than to entrust choices to my own wants and prejudices and yet…. Bless me with an openness to your leading so I might have true peace of mind. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
HYMN Jesus, Jesu, fill Us with Your Love
Click here for music: https://youtu.be/sM0ApThiuMI
MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES Jesus Loves Me with actions
Click here for music: https://youtu.be/xV7XH2OgOTk
AFFIRMATION of FAITH 9.08 PCUSA Confession of 1967 Jesus expressed the love of God in word and deed and became a brother to all kinds of sinful people. But his complete obedience [to God] led him into conflict with his people. His life and teaching judged their goodness, righteous aspirations, and national hopes. Many rejected him and demanded his death. In giving himself freely for them, he took upon himself the judgment under which all people stand convicted.
HYMN Gloria Patri (Latin for Glory to the Father)
Click here for traditional music: https://youtu.be/QUBxpypSblw
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.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE and LORD’S PRAYER transl. J.B. Phillips
People are weary, worried, and worked up, Lord. That includes me. Guide and inspire decision makers and each of us to find ways to alleviate suffering caused by worldwide pandemic and its threat to livelihoods—especially among the poor. Give us fortitude to make hard choices if need be; and inspire us to help others. We pray especially for those who are facing health, mental health, or economic challenges. We pray specifically for… and for all people around the world. Help us to embrace your vision for the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen (PLEASE let it be).
And as Jesus taught his followers to pray [use traditional words or this translation]:
Our Heavenly Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day the bread we need, forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us. Keep us clear of temptation, and save us from evil.…Silent prayer…
ANTHEM You Are My All In All Union Chancel Choir
Click here for music: https://youtu.be/CVHxj5ZiPSQ
SCRIPTURE LESSON Matthew 13.24-33 and 44-50 NRSV
Click here: biblegateway.com for another translation
The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat
Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
The Parable of the Yeast
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
Matthew 13:44-50 - Three More Parables
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.
Treasures New and Old
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
SERMON What Jesus Teaches Us Rev. Sandy Larson
Click here for video: https://youtu.be/UOBjcKzvHxg
OFFERING Please visit newburghpresby.org/donate for online donation OR send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
HYMN I Love to Tell the Story
Click here for music: https://youtu.be/un9GC-LCS-c
CHORAL RESPONSE The Lord Bless You and Keep You Union Chancel Choir
Click here: https://youtu.be/IvRlcCiLTn4
For reflection: If Jesus as Lord is the center of our lives, the circumference will take care of itself.
Fun Activity: Pretend that YOU are Jesus. Think of several challenging social situations, “What if______ came up to you and ….” How would you respond?
Humor: Jesus had lots of followers before Twitter.
Jesus laments, “If one more person asks me to “guilt” someone into pressing “‘like’…”
I love Jesus but I cuss a little.
Sandy, Interim Pastor
SERMON TEXT What Jesus Teaches Us Sandy Larson
Matthew 13.24-33 and 44-50 Today, the ecumenical lectionary Bible passages look at some of Jesus’ parables. When people don’t get jokes, we say they just don’t understand. In contrast, when we claim to ‘understand’ Jesus parables, we probably just don’t get the full impact of what Jesus meant to convey. His message often flips prejudices and biases upside down—to reveal a more beautiful understanding of life. Openness is a primary requirement for approaching Scripture. Rather than asking “Where in the Bible can I find what I want to say?” The fruitful question is “How can I better understand what the Bible is saying?” Jesus used parables, not to explain things to people’s satisfaction but to call attention to the unsatisfactoriness of all their previous explanations and understanding. The current uncertainties of pandemic and political contention inspire and even press us to look at life thru a more wholistic and spiritual lens. George and I have been motivated to update our wills and to connect more meaningfully with family and friends. Many people are propelled to note how faith is helping during this trying time. These considerations motivated me to look anew at the over-all message of the Bible. What spiritual insights was Jesus trying to teach people then …and now?
Step back and ask yourself—what is the over-arching message of the Bible?
OK – God is love. What does that mean in everyday life? As you look afresh at the teachings, the actions of Jesus and his interactions with a wide array of people, what new insights does his mentoring convey to you?
We might notice that a huge proportion of Jesus’ parables are analogies to interpret the mystical kingdom of Heaven. The kingdom of Heaven is not restricted to heavenly bliss after life. The kingdom of Heaven is Jesus’ term for what is already present here in the world and what our life could be like NOW if we synchronize with God’s vision of life. Sometimes, Jesus calls this Godly earth community the City of God. No words can adequately describe this joyful harmony. So Jesus turned to parables to help his followers glimpse the Kingdom of God. He describes the kingdom of God as being like yeast—growing mystically and dramatically.
Or like a tiny mustard seed which grows to be tall and mighty and affords refuge for birds and other creatures who need a shelter or resting place. What powerful analogies to describe the growth of the kingdom of God!
The other parables recorded by Matthew in this passage talk about discovering the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is like finding a treasure or a pearl of inestimable value lying in a field. Both the finding and the treasure itself are parts of the dynamic nature of God’s Kingdom. Do you recall finding something exceptional? I once found an 18K gold bracelet among the leftover boxes of a charity sale I hosted. What an unexpected boon. Obtaining the treasure of the Kingdom of God that Jesus passionately spoke about is worth setting aside all material priorities. Each of us will have a unique opportunity to pay in our own way for being part of the Kingdom of God. What is the price we have to pay? A friend of mine realized that her Kingdom had become her children. When she invited her children into God’s kingdom, she found that she could be a joyful citizen also.
As the parables of the treasure and the pearl of great price warn—we may have to give up many things that we think are valuable in order to possess that great treasure. Note that the individuals in the parables of the pearl and treasure do not cheat or steal to obtain their prize. They have integrity and they recognize that this valuable pearl or treasure will require giving up other things. In effect, Jesus is asking: What are you willing to trade for being a part of God’s Kingdom?
When immigrants migrate to another country, they may are seeking to improve their lives and the lives of their children. They may be escaping because their lives are threatened, or their prospects in their native land are dismal at best. They leave behind nearly all that they had possessed in order to obtain a better life. Jesus is saying that being part of the Kingdom of God. It is worth such a high cost because the benefits will be beyond our imagining.
Jesus often showed his love with tough love. Many of his parables focus on judgment. For example, invasive weeds will be wiped out. God expects us to fulfill our part. If we do not grow and bear good fruit, we might be cast aside or wither away.
How do Jesus’ teachings impact average churchgoers? The parable of the wheat and the weeds that are cast out lures us into identifying with the productive seeds. Matthew uses an unusual Greek word ‘sperma’ for ‘seed” here. The use of ‘spermaten’ encompasses the whole productive life potential of the seed and the progeny that come from that seed. Some of us assume we are ‘good seed,’ and that we are already participants in the Kingdom of God. If we have complete peace of mind and receive and exude God’s love, then we are likely part of the Kingdom of God. However, even as baptized Christians, if being citizens of God’s unfolding kingdom is mostly in name only, we will have a lot more studying to do to pass God’s citizenship exam.
The Rev. Chrissy Tatum Williamson from Raleigh NC says: "This parable resonates deeply with our human fascination with creating groups of 'us' and 'them.' We want to know who is 'in' and who is 'out,' and we want to secure our place in the 'in' group, because we never want to feel the isolation and the loneliness of being thrown out."
From what you have glimpsed of Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God over the years, what do you still need to jettison to become a citizen of the City of God? How can you serve in God’s Kingdom to help God’s reign have greater reach and impact? As the folks in Raleigh, NC might say, “Thank ya, Jesus!”