August 15 Worship
Updated: Aug 16
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, August 15 will be in-person and feature live music! Worship will also be streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections. In-person Fellowship after worship.
HOW TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.
For ALL devices: https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
August 15, 2021 10:30 am
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
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.
MASKS REQUIRED: In deference to those who are immunocompromised and considering the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, we are asking everyone to wear a mask in worship, regardless of vaccination status. The ushers will ask everyone to mask up as they enter. Thank you for your cooperation.
FELLOWSHIP TIME hosts today are Sue Young and Kitty Alber.
Thank you to all the volunteer hosts. Hosting can be simple with a beverage and a nibble. Host with a friend! Call the office to sign up (845) 562-0954.
USHERS: Thank you to all the volunteer ushers for August. Pastor John suggests signing up for two weeks at a time. If you would like to usher, please contact Dan and Karen Olson or the office (845) 562-0954.
BARN SALE Meeting TOMORROW Aug. 16 at 11:30 am. Please attend if you have signed up to volunteer. New volunteers welcome! Call Jeff Bousche for more info.
DONATIONS: There are only 2 days left to drop off items, Aug.17 and Sept. 14. Thank you for all the donations.
OUTREACH Meeting Sunday, September 12 after Fellowship Time. Meeting will be in the Parlor. Contact Karen Olson for more info.
CHRISTIAN ED Meeting Sunday, Sept 26 at 9:30 am in Fellowship Hall. We will discuss changes to the CE program and parent input. Contact Yvette Pickard for more info.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY WALK Sunday, Sept. 12 at 1 pm. The Annual Walk for Housing is back and in person to raise critical funds for the program and raise awareness of local families’ struggles. The walk begins at Washington’s Headquarters at 84 Liberty St, Newburgh. Registration begins at 12 pm. For more information, please visit https://bit.ly/walk4Habitat.
FOOD PANTRY: OPEN Mon. Aug. 16 and Wed. Aug 18 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Prelude Op. 23 No. 10 in Gb Major by Rachmaninoff
played by Anna Boese
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 111
Leader: Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. PEOPLE: Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Leader: He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful. PEOPLE: He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. Leader: The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. PEOPLE: He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
God of all, we come before you today to worship your message of love and grace to all creation. We ask you to open our hearts and minds to your word, and to be mindful of those who are not here today but are with us in spirit as we pray in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Throughout each one of our lives, we do good works, but we still fail in our faith, and we sin. Let us come together as we confess our sins before God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we confess that we often partake of the wrong kind of spiritual food. Forgive us, we pray. Lead to the feast that you have set before us, coax us to feed on the living bread that you have provided through your love and grace and fill us until we want no more. Then dismiss us so that we may invite others to your banquet.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
The mercy and forgiveness of our Lord is as infinite as the skies and more plentiful than the stars. In the name of our savior, we are forgiven. Amen.
GLORIA PATRI Traditional, Second Century
PASSING OF THE PEACE
APOSTLES CREED Adapted by John Redman
I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was born of a young peasant woman, trained as a carpenter and baptized by His cousin John. He taught many, He healed many, and He angered many. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He defeated death and He offers us grace and love in the name of God the Father Almighty; from that time through all time to come. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit; the universal Church of Christ; the Communion of sharing our gifts with others; the forgiveness of our sins; the Grace of God’s love, and that each soul may have life everlasting. Amen.
HYMN OF PRAISE Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing, and in our living. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Proverbs 9:1-6 Theresa Cotanche EPISTLE Ephesians 5:15-20
GOSPEL John 10: 1-10
SERMON “Wisdom’s House” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
God of tender mercy, we pray for those who grieve the loss of a loved one, surround them with your embracing compassion. We pray for those who lament their condition; hear them as they plead silently for relief. We pray for the victims of wildfires, here in our country and abroad. Shelter them as they look to rebuild their homes and lives. Give all your people the hope, confidence and dignity that come from being the children of God. And dearest Lord, lay your hands on those we name here:
Gracious God, keep in our hearts all those whose names you already know and who ask for healing in their own quiet ways, and let us join to pray as Jesus taught us 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 Variation on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
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
Leader: You are a blessed people. People: We will go to be a blessing in the world. Leader: You are the face of Jesus. People: We will go to be love and compassion to all. Leader: You are the family of God. People: We will go to serve our sisters and brothers wherever we may find them. Amen.
POSTLUDE Waldesrauschen by Franz Liszt
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SPECIAL THANKS to Anna Boese for providing music today. Anna has been studying and performing classical piano for fourteen years. Since beginning her studies, she has participated in National Piano Playing Auditions for the National Guild of Piano Teachers, and in June of this year she received a score of Superior at the Collegiate Class level. Additionally, Anna has auditioned annually for the New York State School Music Association in both classical and jazz piano and in 2018 she received a perfect score at the highest level for her performance of Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14. In 2016 she performed with the All-County Orchestra at their yearly festival. In 2019, she performed two solo recitals, one in Monroe, NY and one in Macon, NC. She continues to study and perform classical pieces at Cornell University where she is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.
SERMON TEXT WISDOM’S HOUSE
Wisdom seems to be some sort of queen or high priestess in this excerpt from Proverbs. The Greek word for wisdom is Sophia. The root of our word philosophy comes from philo, or love of and sophia, or wisdom, thus philosophy is the love of wisdom. And this is a woman of importance, with her stately house with its seven pillars and the elaborate banquet she has her servants preparing. The Book of Proverbs is attributed to King Solomon, just as many of the Psalms are attributed to his father, David. And though it’s unlikely that Solomon wrote all of Proverbs, scholars generally consider this passage to be genuinely his. And these Proverbs are not so much wise sayings as they are allegories in our approach to seeking a relationship with God.
All through Proverbs, Wisdom is seen as a female, an obviously wise choice, right guys? And this Wisdom figure is allegorically interpreted as God’s wisdom and His care for all of creation.
Now this passage is rich in imagery from the large house, with the Hebrew significance of the number seven, to the banquet of meat and wine mixed with spices. The usual meal for the normal Israelite was bread and rarely included meat, especially not from some sacrificial animals.
Matthew Henry, the seventeenth century commentator who we still study today, draws many comparisons to Jesus’s messages from Proverbs and of this passage he says: “The gracious invitation she has given, not to some particular friends, but to all in general, to come and take part of these provisions calls to all of us, just as the invitation to our Lord’s table and its rich banquet.”
And this regal woman of wisdom is portrayed as one of strength and grace, God’s grace, and wisdom. And its prophetic connotations are often used as a precursor to Jesus and his existence with God the Father long before he came to dwell among us.
At the conclusion of this passage, we are asked to walk in the ways of insight. But in what has been often cited as the most important verse in Proverbs, Chapter 3 verse 5 says, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding, but on the Lord in all things.”
It’s our native insight that leans on and trusts in God that forms our own wisdom in faith.
And later in Proverbs chapter six, folly is also presented as a woman, who sits in her doorway calling out to those who pass by, in the manner of a prostitute, with the image of those who follow her falling into the ways of sin and death. So even with Wisdom, or Sophia characterized as a regal presence, Solomon can’t resist also depicting folly as a female. I imagine many women could question Solomon’s wisdom on that one.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians also asks us to be wise, or at least not unwise. He also warns about becoming drunk with wine, not abstaining from it, but not unwisely falling into debauchery, either, but being eternally grateful for God’s care through the life of Jesus. This not falling into debauchery with drunkenness is a typical Pauline idea, because he then couples it with being filled with the spirit, rather than with wine. A rather nifty way to bring the reader back to the real message, to have faith and gratitude in all that God gives us.
And what about this shepherd? We’ve all heard about the good shepherd and how he will defend his flock at any cost, even sacrificing himself in the imagery of Jesus’s sacrifice. And Jesus warns about the thieves who sneak into the sheepfold, not by the gate. Since he is telling this parable in the Temple, we presume that Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who are questioning him as the thieves who would draw the sheep away from him.
I discovered an interesting tidbit last week. Do you know in the 23rd Psalm about the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want? And later thy rod and thy staff they comfort me? Rod and staff? Which is which? Well, the traditional staff with the crook is not the staff, but the rod. And the crook is so the shepherd can grab a lamb that has fallen and pull it to safety. The staff on the other hand, is actually a short club that the shepherd ties to his belt as a defensive weapon. So now you know.
Remember, this passage immediately follows the confrontation of Jesus and the Pharisees who don’t believe he’s cured a man of blindness, even though the formerly blind man himself says so. And Jesus launches into this parable about the thieves in the sheepfold right after he has accused the Temple leaders of being the ones who are truly blind, spiritually blind to the truth of Jesus. But he says that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they won’t follow any voice but his, and then of course the Gospel writer says “Jesus told them this parable but they did not understand what he meant.”
So, what does he mean? Before we can even answer that, Jesus then refers to himself as the gate, and those who came before are the thieves and robbers, and anyone who enters this gate by him will be saved, they will come and go and find pasture. The thief will come to steal, to kill to destroy, but I have come so that you may have life and have it abundantly.
Abundantly – that’s a good word, a great word. Abundance was not a common occurrence in first century Palestine. It was a subsistence culture at its best and staggering under the tax load of both Herod and the Romans was sure to be a double burden. It’s no wonder that the people were desperately looking for a Messiah to deliver them from oppression, from hunger, from constant struggle just to stay alive. So an abundant life is aspirational indeed. But here again, Jesus is not quite understood where he alludes to the life he will bring, undying life and in full abundance.
Through the lens of history, we can see those words and understand them as part of our lives with Jesus, whose love overflows with us and in us quite abundantly. Just look at what we are fortunate to have and then can share with others. As a Matthew 25 congregation we follow those conditions to feed the hungry and clothe those who are in need, and that’s something we do all the time. Just take a look at what will be happening here tomorrow and Wednesday this week with both food and clothing distribution. And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to see, when you are over in Fellowship Hall after worship, take a look at the Clothes Closet upstairs and you will see Matthew 25 in action. It looks more like a store than a closet, believe me. But the goals of Matthew 25 congregations go beyond food and clothing, to concept of building and strengthening congregational vitality, and I will submit to you that these basic functions that serve the least of us also contribute to this vitality. Look at the renewed interest in Christian Education that we will be ramping up in a few weeks as we seek the input and guidance of parents and families as we gather in what we hope will be less threatening days. Look at how not just our own flock, but community members were lined up last week to support a fundraising dinner. And take a long look at all the stuff that’s already lined up for the fall Barn sale and I am told that we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
These are all hallmarks of an active, committed and yes, vital congregation.
But it doesn’t stop there. We all need to take stock in where we are and where we would like to go from here. How do we encourage new people to join with us? How do we get members whom we rarely see to come to worship? I know, the pandemic has changed everyone’s habits, but we need to consider how to change things up as we move forward, perhaps adding some new innovations or even leaving certain other things behind? Summer into autumn has always been marked as a time of reinvigoration for congregations, with new school years beginning, and looking forward to the Holiday season. So maybe we will see that here, too?
And a question that often surfaces is “how does this church help me deal with my life?” Others may phrase it as “what can I get from going to church?”
That sounds a bit like making a deal with God, asking “what’s in it for me?” No, we don’t negotiate with God, because we can’t. Why not? Because God’s offer is always on the table. It’s simple and thoroughly direct -- love and grace through faith.
That’s what’s in it for you, and for me. And what we take from church depends a lot on what we put into it. God’s offer is there and perhaps we should just take him up on it. It’s life that’s there on God’s offering table, not just life eternal, but a life worth living here and now, a life abundantly overflowing with the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son, and the ever-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