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  • Rev. George Furniss

August 2 At-Home Worship

Updated: Aug 10, 2020


Union Church, Newburgh NY

August 2, 2020


Anne Lamott offers this summary of prayer: Wow! Thanks. Help!


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.


NEXT Sunday, August 9 will be the last time Sandy and George will be worshipping with us. They are moving back to the Seattle area. Worship will be held in the sanctuary at 10 am and live-streamed and recorded (access instructions will be emailed next week).

Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. and Wed. August 3 and August 5 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.

TODAY: For the Lord’s Supper Please find bread and beverage suitable for Holy communion. Use your own Bible or use if you want alternate scripture translations.

VIRTUAL Fellowship Time TODAY from 11:30-Noon. Use mobile phone or computer video. Check email for access instructions.


Practicing the PEACE OF CHRIST (easy) American Sign Language

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HYMN Prayer Bell Choir

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Historically, worship has usually emerged in societies when people are awed by the tremendous mystery, they observe surrounding them and/or they desire to address wants or needs beyond people’s own self-perceived capacities. They turn to a deity to meet that need. Christians have a different twist: We love God because God first loved us! Let us give thanks and worship God.


Lord, guide us so that we might pray in ways that listen to the leading of your Spirit. Help us to pray for ourselves, the needs of those around us and the needs of the whole world, as Jesus taught his followers. Inspire us, that we might truly worship even in this time and in this place. Amen.


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HYMN Gloria Patri (Glory to the Father)

Sing or recite your favorite version

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…


Lord—We trust your care. So, we focus in prayer on the concerns that weigh upon our hearts. Help us to find release and hope as we bring our burdens and joys in prayer….

ANTHEM How Beautiful Union Chancel Choir

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SCRIPTURE LESSONS Matthew 16.21-23 J.B. Phillips

From that time onwards Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem, and endure much suffering from the elders, chief priests and scribes, and finally be killed; and be raised to life again on the third day.

Then Peter took him on one side and started to remonstrate with him over this. “God bless you, Master! Nothing like this must happen to you!” Then Jesus turned round and said to Peter, “Out of my way, Satan!... you stand right in my path, Peter, when you look at things from man’s point of view and not from God’s”

Romans 12.1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

SERMON Soaking Prayer Rev. Dr. George Furniss Text also below. Click here for video:


OFFERING Reminder: Please click here or send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550 Attn: Jolee

HYMN In Remembrance of Me Maize

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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.


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

HYMN Be Thou My Vision

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BENEDICTION Now to God, who by the power at work in us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think—to God be the glory from all generations. Amen.

Touch-less Passing the PEACE OF CHRIST American Sign Language

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CHORAL RESPONSE The Lord Bless You and Keep You Union Chancel Choir

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REFLECTION: Prayer is the BEST wireless connection Name as many types of prayer as you can name. What physical positions can be used? When? Where? Which do you tend to use? Is there another kind of prayer you would like to try for a week?

ACTIVITY: Practice for face-to-face worship next Sunday and other times, too! Practice “Peace be with you” in American Sign language.

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Directions for the sign language start at minute 1:00.

Practice virtual hugs: Stand socially distanced and reach out your arms to encompass the person across from you. Imagine cupping your hands around that person with invisible bonds of love. HUMOR

Lord, I’ve worried and worried about my problem and haven’t gotten anywhere. So, I’m turning it over to you. I have complete faith that you’ll handle it for my good, so I’m going to sleep. Waking after a minute: Excuse me Lord, but how are you doing with my request?


Sandy, Interim Pastor

SERMON Soaking Prayer Rev. George Furniss, PhD

I’m grateful to Sandy for inviting me to preach this last time before we move back to Seattle. As you know from previous sermons, I have a special interest in prayer and devotional life. I want to review some things I’ve said before about healing prayer and focus on one method called “soaking prayer.”

First, let me read today’s scripture, Matthew 16:21-23, using J.B. Phillips’ translation.

From that time onwards Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he would have to go to Jerusalem, and endure much suffering from the elders, chief priests and scribes, and finally be killed; and be raised to life again on the third day.

Then Peter took him on one side and started to remonstrate with him over this. “God bless you, Master! Nothing like this must happen to you!” Then Jesus turned round and said to Peter, “Out of my way, Satan!... you stand right in my path, Peter, when you look at things from man’s point of view and not from God’s”

For many years I was a hospital chaplain. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be the volunteer chaplain here at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital. I often offered patients or their families to pray with them. “Oh, yes, chaplain, please do, you’re closer to God than us.” That’s of course untrue, God is as close to them as to me, but unfortunately many don’t experience that. God’s power surrounds each of us, but many do not realize this or open themselves as channels for that power to move in and through them as agents of healing and peacemaking. Agnes Sanford, who pioneered ministries of healing prayer in mainline churches, made the profound statement: “Only the amount of God that you get in you, works for you.” If you get only a little God in you, your prayers will not be very effective. If you get a lot of God, filling both your conscious mind and subconscious mind, you will wield significant prayer power.

The key is the extent of our God-consciousness. My spiritual mentor, Dr. Glenn Clark, who was an athletic coach, said that training the mind in God-consciousness was like doing physical calisthenics, daily strengthening one’s spiritual muscles, being what he called “athletes of the Spirit.” Daily meditation on God’s love, power, light, and peace gradually transforms our mind to see situations from God’s point of view, not from man’s, as Jesus’ rebuke of Peter. Some of you have picked up copies of Marian Bushnell’s “Seed Thoughts for Daily Meditation,” a week’s worth of texts focused on God’s love, light, power, peace and joy. Becoming a good pray-er requires significant discipline. Gradually our viewpoint, to quote Jesus, changes from man’s to God’s.

Along with Bebe Anderson, my scoutmaster’s wife, Agnes Sanford was my spiritual mother. This little powerhouse woman barely five feet tall, daughter of Presbyterian missionaries in China and wife of a busy Episcopal priest in New Jersey, started praying with injured soldiers in a military hospital in New Jersey during World War II. Working as a Gray Lady volunteer., she met Sammy, whose leg was heavily damaged from shrapnel and wouldn’t heal. He wasn’t religious, at least then. “Sammy,” she said, “you have to give the healing forces some help.” How can I do that, he said. Well, tell Nature, the healing force in your body, to get to work. Then thank Nature over and over for working hard to restore your leg. She got Sammy, who was willing to try anything, to agree to do this. The next day she stopped by his bed and asked if he was thanking Nature for its hard work. Yes, yes, Mrs. Sanford, he said, I’m doing just as you said. Shortly, Sammy’s leg showed major signs of improvement. Agnes prayed with others, so word spread among the wards, “Please send the little Gray Lady to visit me.” Eventually, the Red Cross asked her to stop coming, because they said it was against the rules for the volunteers to be promoting religion.

Visualize God’s best for the subject of your prayers. See in your mind’s eye, the patient whole, well, healed, “walking and leaping and praising God” as Luke in Acts described the healed man. Use a picture of the person when he or she was in full health in view to help you do this. If the person is a cancer patient, visualize the chemotherapy destroying the bad cells. Every time you think of John or Mary, visualize God’s perfect health growing in this individual. St. Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.” Form this kind of healing prayer, you are steadily visualizing the person’s wholeness. You are doing what Jesus told Peter, to look at others from God’s point of view. God is channeling God’s healing power through your consciousness to the recipient.

“Soaking prayer” involves the imagery of the person prayed for resting in a bathtub or jacuzzi filled with delightful warm water. If people have major aches and pains, they don’t just climb in for three minutes and hop out. They totally relax and let the soothing effect of the water have its slow effect on their bodies. They might stay in the bathtub or pool for an hour. Soaking prayer accomplishes its healing power slowly. This is why those praying must keep the patient steadily in mind, repeatedly visualizing God’s power working in him or her. You will not be expecting instantaneous results but will be encouraged by slight improvements and will keep praying, watching expectantly for further progress.

I know this works. I told you in a previous sermon about visualizing Henry, the schizophrenic member of my congregation, many times a day for three days. When I visited him a few days after my prayer campaign, Henry was mentally healthy. He was totally rational. I heard none of the schizophrenic ideation that I was used to finding. Unfortunately, he lapsed back into mental illness four months later, clearly demonstrating that we shouldn’t have stopped praying for him.

A prayer group of people who learn to pray this way, daily growing in God-consciousness through meditation, has tremendous power. Because this kind of prayer takes full attention for each recipient, the group must select its objects carefully. Linda Miller’s prayer group’s prayer for Nathan, the severely injured high school student in the disastrous auto accident, focused prayer 24 hours a day for a week to put him on the road to recovery. The prayer group leader needs to focus the group’s prayers on one or two people at a time. Don’t start with the most difficult situations. Let members become familiar with success, seeing their prayers working. With experience, the group can move to more challenging situations.

I urge this congregation to resurrect adult study groups. Reading Agnes Sanford’s The Healing Light, would be a wonderful start. Members of spiritually-successful churches are constantly growing, developing their God-consciousness. Spiritual transformation is an ongoing process of learning to listen to God and responding with faith-filled activities. Blessings to you members and friends of Union Church as you find a new pastor and continue to grow in Christ. Amen.

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