April 25 Worship
Updated: Apr 30
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, April 25 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.
HOW TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.
For ALL devices: https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
NO Virtual Fellowship TODAY due to Session meeting. Fellowship will resume next Sunday on ZOOM at 11:30 am
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
April 25, 2021 10:30 am
Fourth 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: Jeff Bousche (845) 913-8434 or the 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.
NO Virtual Fellowship TODAY due to Session meeting. Fellowship will resume next Sunday on ZOOM at 11:30 am
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE The Lord is My Shepherd Acapeldridge
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from 1 John 3 Cathy McCarty Leader: We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
People: And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him Leader: And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
People: All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them.
ALL: And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
Living God, long ago, faithful women proclaimed the good news of Jesus' resurrection, and the world was changed forever. Teach us to keep faith with them, that our witness may be as bold, our love as deep, and our faith as true. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Despite our best intentions and deepest resolutions, dear Lord, we still fail to live up to your wishes and commandments. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves, and apart from you. We have turned from our neighbors and refused to bear the burdens of others. We have ignored the pain of the world, and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In your great mercy forgive our sins and free us from selfishness, that we may choose your will and obey your commandments, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Brothers and sisters, know that in the Love of God and the Good News of the Gospels we are forgiven. Amen.
GLORIA PATRI Traditional, Second Century
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN OF PRAISE Christ is Made the Sure Foundation
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Calm us now, O Lord, into a quietness that heals and listens. Open wounded hearts to the balm of your Word. Speak to us in clear tones so that we might feel our spirits leap for joy and skip with hope as your resurrection witnesses. We pray this in your name, Amen.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 4: 5-12 Cathy McCarty
GOSPEL READING John 10: 11-18 Cathy McCarty
SERMON “The Really Good Shepherd” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Gracious God, you invite us to bring our doubts and fears, our joys and concerns, our petitions and praise, and offer them for the earth and all its creatures. Receive our prayers, O God, and transform us through them, that we may have eyes to see and hearts to understand not only what you do on our behalf, but what you call us to do so that your realm will come to fruition in glory. We ask for your continuing watch over all those who are recovering from illness or in treatment and for all those who continue to keep us as safe as possible in these difficult days of pandemic, which are still with us. And we especially pray on behalf of those we name here.
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 Your Love is Everlasting Union Chancel Choir
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 Promenade Philip Lehenbaur
SERMON TEXT The Really Good Shepherd
Being a shepherd is not an easy job. It never has been, especially 2000 years ago, with wolves and lions and all sorts of predators, especially human ones who came to steal their sheep. In the passages before the one we read today, there is mention of thieves and robbers sneaking into the sheepfold at night and some even during the day. And this idea of the sheepfold is an interesting one, since Jesus talks about his sheep knowing him even as he knows them. You see, several shepherds would have a common fold, a pen where the sheep were brought in for the night. In the morning, shepherds would gather their own sheep from the combined flock in the fold, whistle or sing to them to separate them and drive them out to graze. So the shepherd knew his sheep and the sheep knew him.
This has always been an important point in our Christian tradition of having a personal relationship with Jesus, that he knows us just as we know him, so it’s no wonder that he is not just the Good Shepherd, but a Really Good Shepherd. And the analogy of the hired shepherd running away from the wolf, leaving the sheep to be scattered and attacked has long been a metaphor for the church itself, meaning that a church succeeds in its mission when its leaders, not just its pastors, mind you, but all of its people are vested in ownership.
Oftentimes, this image of the flock and the shepherd becomes one of the pastor as the shepherd and the people as the sheep, or Jesus as the ultimately good shepherd and all the people as the sheep. Let’s not carry these parallels too far because for one, sheep are not known for their great intelligence. My brother-in-law tried raising sheep on his family’s ranch in Colorado, and he maintained that sheep were born looking for a problem to get into or a way to die, and that they would trample their own young if panicked enough to run. But the sheep do learn to hear the voice of their master. When the group of shepherds comes to the fold in the morning, they each call out to their sheep and each group gathers to be led to the pasture. This whole passage is not just about the good shepherd, but also about the bad shepherd, the one who runs away at first sign of danger or is content to let the wolf or the lion have a sheep or two in exchange for the rest of the flock and more importantly, for his own safety.
In the previous chapter of John, Jesus confronts the Pharisees about his curing a man of blindness. The Pharisees don’t believe that Jesus has actually done this, and the man himself tells them that it is indeed true. But the Pharisees are now the ones who are blind – blind to the truth of Jesus when they don’t believe anyone. And in the next chapter of John, what happens? Lazarus is raised from the dead. So, we go from new visions, to being a united audience, a flock, to new life, but not before Jesus is confronted yet again by Pharisees and even the people in the temple when they are ready to stone him for saying that he and God the Father are one.
But Jesus is resolute in his statements, just as he is resolute at the end of today’s reading where he says he is laying down his own life by his own control, his own choice, just as he will raise it up again because of his deep belief in God’s word and that he has known this message from the heavenly Father.
Jesus knows he has been sent for a purpose, to be not just a really good shepherd but also to be a sacrificial lamb, to willingly die on that cross. And he knows that the message he has been sent to deliver both will be delivered and remembered. Later in John’s Gospel when Jesus on the cross says, “It is finished,” he doesn’t mean his work is finished or his life is finished, he means that only the beginning of his work and message is finished.
And from our reading today from the Book of Acts, Peter and John have been arrested and held overnight to face the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, the one that convicted Jesus. This court is made up of the richest and most politically influential, the Sadducees, who don’t believe in any life beyond our own here on earth, and the Pharisees, who believe in some sort of afterlife but not necessarily one with an identifiable body. Both classes are in conflict over power in the Temple, though the Pharisees have the advantage while the Sadducees are more interested in the material wealth, both of themselves and their families, but also the vast treasures of the Temple. The Romans have been cooperative to the Jews so long as they don’t rebel or revolt and that’s when the hammer of Rome comes down hard. So, Caiaphas the High Priest had said of Jesus and the threat of revolt: “it’s better to give one man to the Romans that to give all of us.”
So this is where Peter and John find themselves in their argument for resurrection and forgiveness. Just as the Pharisees were blind to Jesus healing a blind man, the Sanhedrin is very upset at Peter healing a lame beggar who has been begging outside the Temple gates for years. Everyone recognizes him as the one who has been at the gate, and then they see him leap and dance and the authorities are really upset. And when Peter starts telling the Jews how the spirit of the crucified and resurrected Jesus is what gives him the power to heal this man, that is just too much, and the Captain of the Temple Guard is ordered to seize Peter and John and hold them overnight. Overnight? Yes, because it’s late in the day and the Sanhedrin has to meet in broad daylight. Although, remember that a small group of these high priests convicted and sentenced Jesus in the dead of night and promptly packed him off to Pontius Pilate.
Just imagine that scene before the Sanhedrin, with the most influential and highly trained Jewish leaders surrounding these two uneducated peasant fishermen. And what courage and faith it must have taken for the two of them as they stood their ground and accused these men of killing Jesus, though God would make sure that he would not be forgotten in death. And then, that recurring prophetic statement, from Isaiah, from Psalm 118, and from Jesus’s own words about the stone rejected by the builders becoming the cornerstone of faith and salvation.
Although here Peter says it even more emphatically: “the stone that you the builders despised turned out to be the most important of all.” Well, take that, Peter says. And to top it off, standing there beside them is the proof of their actions – the crippled man, now healed. What do these two different encounters with Jewish authorities say to us? It’s the idea that the possibilities of faith are right in front of us, right here before our eyes, and all we have to do is to see it.
In the passage before our Gospel lesson, the Pharisees refuse to believe even the evidence in front of them, and then Jesus is emphatic about his own free will, his choice as not just a really good shepherd, but as God’s own true son. In Acts, the whole court is whispering and buzzing about what they can do with these guys. And in the following verses, they warn Peter and John not to speak of any of this again. And how do the two of them reply? Peter and John reply: “Do we obey you or obey God? We cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard.” And since the whole city knows about this situation, the council members know they really can’t do anything, and they let the men go.
We don’t have to risk persecution or face down a hostile council to proclaim our faith,. All we have to do is simply, believe that Good News. Last week, I spoke about the mysteries of faith, but there is no mystery to the message that Jesus lives right here with us and within us.
Friends in faith, I share these thoughts and words with you today by the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son, and the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
John Redman, CRE
Mobile: (914) 474-0722
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955