April 18 Worship
Updated: Apr 22
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, April 18 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.
Full video: https://youtu.be/9UcWUwruFG4
HOW TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.
For ALL devices: https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
VIRTUAL FELLOWSHIP on ZOOM at 11:30 am
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 991 9295 0272 Passcode: 122627
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
April 18, 2021 10:30 am
Third Sunday of Easter
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.
Fundraising: Outdoor GARAGE SALE Sat. May 22, 8-4 pm in our parking lot.
25 spaces available at $25.00 per space. Tables available for rent $5 each. Refreshments will be available. CONTACT: church office (845) 562-0954.
BARN SALE: Accepting items every Monday and Wednesday from 9-11 am and Sundays from 11:30-12:30 pm. No clothing or furniture that needs to be carried by more than one person.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. April 26 and Wed. April 28 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time: Begins immediately after worship. If you have joined worship on Zoom you don’t need to do anything more. Questions? Call Pastor John at (914) 474-0722.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE The Great Redeemer (Acapeldridge)
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 4 Rob Ferguson Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!” You have put gladness in my heart more than when grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.
We are in awe of your magnificent power displayed through the entire universe, for through you all things were made, and all things have their being. Lord, may we know the presence of the Holy Spirit here with us today. May we be open to your leading, sensitive to your speaking and alert to your calling. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
We are imperfect creatures who cannot help but fail despite our best intentions. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming flame of guilt. Set us free from a past we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us the grace to grow more and more in your image; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Friends, even as he defeated death Jesus brings us a new hope for our lives. By the grace of God and the Love of Jesus, we are forgiven.
GLORIA PATRI Traditional, Second Century
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN OF PRAISE Thine Be the Glory St. Andrews Virtual Choir, 2020
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
O Lord, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Give us grace to receive your truth in faith and love, and strength to follow on the path you set before us; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 3: 12-19 Rob Ferguson
GOSPEL READING Luke 24: 36b-48 Rob Ferguson
SERMON “Mysteries We Call Faith” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, we come to you on this Eastertide Sunday with our cares and concerns, our joys and our sorrows, in humble requests for your blessing and assurance. We ask that you continue to watch over all those around us who keep our society working even in these dark days of pandemic, and even as we look to the brighter days of spring and summer. We know that a new day is coming even as we celebrate our resurrected Lord in these days of Easter celebration. And we ask you to help and healing and comfort to those we name here in our prayer:
And Lord we pray for those in our own hearts whose names you already know, for their own healing and comfort, in your name and that of our redeemer Jesus Christ, who taught to pray, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
OFFERTORY ANTHEM How Beautiful Are the Feet of Them
Soprano Solo by the late Claudia Cummings
OFFERING OF TITHES and GIFTS
Let us all consider what we have been blessed with and how we can best share it with those in greater need, even as we gift our church for its greater work to the Glory of God and the undying love of Jesus.
PRAYER OF THANKS
DOXOLOGY Lloyd T. Hayes
POSTLUDE Toccata in D minor (abridged)
J.S. Bach played by Dr. Margaret Small
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP
SERMON TEXT “Mysteries We Call Faith”
The story of one Captain Robert Clark after the battle of Shiloh in the Civil War is told that the Captain was separated from the rest of his men when he was wounded, and he crawled into a stand of trees where he hid for two days. His men reported him killed and gave that information to headquarters. Clark’s family was notified by telegraph that he was dead, and the family wired back for his body to be sent home to them. When Clark limped into the headquarters with two Confederate soldiers he had captured, he was told this news, and wired his family: “Body will be returned, but for the time being I will be using it.”
As we celebrate Resurrection all through this season of Eastertide, the mystery continues about what Resurrection really means, especially to congregations today. We say, “look at those eyewitnesses on that first Easter Sunday. They all saw a resurrected Jesus.” But why didn’t those eyewitnesses, especially Peter, say anything to Paul about this when they met in Jerusalem? In all of Paul’s writing, twenty years after the Resurrection, he never mentions the specifics of it, just that Jesus was “raised up.” Last week’s lectionary lesson was John’s version of what we heard this morning where Jesus appears to the disciples who are in a room with all the doors locked.
In Luke’s version from today, the disciples are in this upper room, and Jesus simply appears out of nowhere. And in the passage directly before this, we have that amazing account of the two believers on the road to Emmaus, who encounter Jesus but do not recognize him until he breaks bread with them, then he suddenly vanishes.
And then after he has materialized among the disciples, as if to prove he’s not a ghost, Jesus asks for something to eat and he is given some broiled fish. This might lead one to believe that this is a physically resuscitated Jesus, as the most literal translators and interpreters would have us believe.
But in both Luke and John’s accounts, the grave clothes in the tomb are virtually untouched, as though the body merely faded out and ascended out of the grave. Mysteries, indeed. Mark’s original account has nothing beyond the sight of an empty tomb. And Matthew gives us the first view of a risen Jesus when the women encounter him on the way to tell the disciples. But this is nearly fifty years after the Resurrection and it’s the first account of encountering a risen Christ, even though Paul had spread the word a full twenty years earlier that the Resurrection was real, indeed. Rather than physical revival, Paul had followed the Hebrew prophets’ idea, and even as Jesus had said, “The Son of Man will suffer and die and be raised up again after three days.”
Let’s go back to some basic Jewish thoughts and theologies here. The Pharisees, the more religious leaders, believed in an afterlife with a soul, not necessarily a body. The Sadducees, more political and wealth-oriented leaders, didn’t believe in any afterlife but believed it was all in our lives here on earth. And the Temple Priests tried to balance the two viewpoints as a part of their mission. This was a problem for decades in the Temple with little resolution in sight. And just at that time, these new believers, these ‘People of the Way,’ as they called themselves, brought a new idea into the synagogues – this idea of a resurrected Jesus. For nearly twenty years after this miracle of Resurrection, people followed the stories of Jesus and his disciples without any written text, then Paul began his missionary journeys and his numerous letters, although today only about 9 of the 16 epistles are thought to have been written by Paul himself with the others written by followers of Paul. Or perhaps the epistle writer put Paul’s name on it, thinking it would be more likely to be read. Sort of like our idea of brand recognition today.
Paul’s transformation is a case in point. In his letter to the Romans, he says of himself, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” And then in the very next chapter he says, “Nothing in all creation can separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, my lord.” That’s the essence of the resurrection experience.
And Paul’s own words about how Jesus appeared to him use the Greek word “ophthos” meaning to appear. It’s the root of our word for ophthalmology, that branch of medicine that deals with eye disease. It’s also the word from Exodus, where Moses sees the burning bush, meaning it “appeared” to be burning. And guess what else – that’s the same word from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus appears to the women as they run from the tomb to tell the disciples. So, these appearances of Jesus, these ‘sightings’ of him are at the heart of the resurrection story.
The Reverend Elizabeth Lovell Milford says of the debate about physical resurrection: “It’s a spectrum of belief, really, and know that wherever you are on this spectrum, you are in good Reformed theological company. And, if you’ve never really thought much about it one way or the other or are content for it to simply be one of those things left to the great mystery of faith, you’re in good company as well. And while we don’t have to land on a definitive answer, in fact I’d argue that’s impossible, it can be helpful for us to identify where we are and how that may impact the framework of our experience of Easter.”
So, Luke builds on Matthew’s appearance of Jesus, that ‘ophthos,’ that sighting, to show that a risen Jesus is not a ghost, but real flesh and bone. But is it a real physical body or what Luke calls a “glorified body,” not exactly a hologram or a vision, but not exactly a body like yours or mine?
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says:
“Some will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”
Paul goes on to say “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.” He admits that it’s a mystery indeed, but that the dead are raised from a perishable nature to an imperishable one, just as mortal nature puts on immortality in our idea of eternal life.
Perishable? Hmm, sort of like an expiration date, or best if sold by a certain date? Yes, these bodies aren’t built to last forever, they are temporary shells, and it’s not that body that will be resurrected, but Luke’s ‘glorified body,’ by which we will come to eternal life.
In an obituary, what picture usually accompanies it? There is a bit of a disconnect between the age at time of death and the age when the picture was taken, is there not? And why not? Do you want to be remembered as old and wrinkled and feeble, or as healthy, good looking, and well, youthful? And this glorified body is something akin to that idea of photos not quite matching up to the age, what’s wrong with that?
The resurrection experience is more than a body, it’s the idea of Jesus as a part of God, just as we are a part of Jesus and therefore a part of God. As John says, in the beginning was the word, and then that word became flesh and lived among us, Jesus has been among us ever since. Jesus is in this place at this moment, just as assuredly as he walked and prayed in Gethsemane. That’s the resurrection experience, amidst the mysteries and the debates, that the message Jesus was sent to deliver breathes and lives around and within each of us, this day and onward. Paul says in Romans, Chapter five: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
And a clerical colleague of mine said yesterday, “Doubt is not the absence of faith. But certainty is.” Think about that for a moment my sisters and brothers in that mystery we call faith and know that I have shared these thoughts and words with you this morning by the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son, and the healing power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
John Redman, CRE
Mobile: (914) 474-0722
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955