February 14 Worship
Updated: Feb 15
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, February 14 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.
HOW TO JOIN:
(Or use zoom.us )
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 932 4312 5529 Passcode: 622587
For telephones: Dial 1 (929) 205-6099
The Zoom meeting will open at 10:15 am to allow folks to connect and greet each other. If you have a camera, you will have the option to share your face and smile. You can also have a cup of your favorite morning beverage at hand.
The worship will include familiar elements, although recorded rather than live, as well as live leadership of prayers, scripture reading, and the sermon.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
February 14, 2021 10:30 am
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.
Ash Wednesday: Brief meditative service on Ash Wednesday will be posted on the church website by 2pm that day so you can view it at any time.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. Feb 15 and Wed. Feb 17 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
Pledge Update: As of January 17, we have received 36 pledges (4 new) for 2021 in the amount of $91,120. This time last year, we received 43 pledges in the amount of $90,429.
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time: Begins immediately after worship. If you have joined worship on Zoom you don’t need to do anything more. Questions? Call James at (301) 335-8677.
Save the Date: Roast Beef Dinner Fundraiser Fri, Feb 26 from 4-7pm
Delicious roast beef dinner, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and dinner roll.
Pick-up ONLY, $14 per plate, $2 for dessert. RSVP: by Wednesday, February 24.
CONTACT: Church office 562-0954 or Jeff Bousche 562-6242 for more information.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE How Lovely Shines the Morning Star
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 50 Mary Whidden The mighty one, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Lord Be Praised!
O God, the angels of heaven proclaim your glory without ceasing. Help us as we serve you in your house, that in psalms and hymns and anthems we may sing to you with our whole heart through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
We are all sinners in your world, Dear God. We try but still we often fail. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (muted please)
Gracious God, we admit it: We tend towards addressing easy decisions and focus on petty issues in most of what we do, and sometimes even in the church. We cling to our “I wants” without graciousness or care for others. We do this despite knowing that we have our priorities misplaced. Lord, help us to focus on your vision of what is most significant, for us, and for our world…
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Sisters and Brothers, believe the Good News of the Gospels. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
GLORIA PATRI Westminster Virtual Choir
INSTALLATION OF DEACON
Today we install Jane Miller as a Deacon
HYMN OF PRAISE 212 What Wondrous Love is This? Jeffrilynn Carrington
(used by permission) Recorded in a 7th century stone chapel in Switzerland
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
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.
OLD TESTAMENT READING 2 Kings 2: 1-12 Mary Whidden
NEW TESTAMENT READING Mark 9: 2-9 John Redman
SERMON “Listen to Him” John Redman
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Lord of All, we come before you here today to ask for your all-knowing and all-seeing help in our struggles with weather, with financial issues, with our very health under the heavy hand of this pandemic of disease. Help our leaders to find a better way to distribute vaccines and better health care for those who need it the most. Look over those who are victimized by abuse from partners and strangers, over those first responders who selflessly answer fire and ambulance calls in the worst of weather and the darkest of hours and look with care upon those who defend our freedoms both here and abroad. And Lord give us special concern for those we name here before you:
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
You can support the work of Union Church by mailing donations to 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh, NY 12550 or visit newburghpresby.org/donate to donate online.
MINUTE FOR MISSION Mary Whidden
PRAYER OF THANKS
DOXOLOGY Union Chancel Choir
POSTLUDE For All the Saints (Instrumental)
INVITATION TO COFFEE HOUR
SERMON TEXT “LISTEN TO HIM”
Among the amazing images of the Transfiguration, the bright glow of Jesus in his impossibly bleached white robe stands like a burning beacon, a fire that draws us toward him like a moth to a flame, and we try to figure out what it all might signify for us.
I mean, because the Transfiguration is so bizarre and unusual, it can be easy to assume that we’re supposed to approach it with some sober reverence and awe. And we do. But that isn’t necessarily how God views it.
For God, the Transfiguration presents an opportunity to declare His love for the one called ‘Son.’
As the novelist and professor Mary Gordon says in her essay “Finding Jesus,”: “If God is capable of smiling, this would be the occasion in which that happens. I don’t see how anyone can talk of one’s ‘beloved’ without breaking into a pleased grin. That’s how lovers talk to and about each other.”
And on this Valentine’s Day, that seems most appropriate, doesn’t it? Because Valentine’s day is more than Hallmark cards and roses and chocolates, and who doesn’t love all that, especially the chocolate, but love is so much more than romantic love, it’s what showers us today and every day when we think of God’s love, a love so immense and enveloping that we just can’t conceive of its totality.
Imagine yourself along with Peter and James and John on that mountaintop as Jesus is transformed right before their eyes, as his clothing shimmers, glowing brighter than any white imaginable, and then Moses and Elijah appear alongside Jesus, deep in conversation according to Matthew’s version of this story. Luke’s version has the three of them talking about Jesus’s own exodus from this life, the one he will complete in Jerusalem. But also, in Luke’s version, the three disciples have been asleep, finally coming to, rubbing their eyes, and the sight of these three stuns them.
That’s when all three of the synoptic Gospel writers join again in the same accounting of our story, with Peter rushing up to Jesus to babble about building some sort of memorials to each of them up on that mountain. Had you been there, how would you have reacted to the sight before you? Would you babble along like Peter about trying to capture this moment and build memorials or tents or cabins, or would you, like I most likely would have been, just stood there, staring at this sight, utterly speechless?
And then this fog envelopes the mountain and a voice is heard: “This is my son, the beloved; listen to him!” And what do these disciples do? Again, in Matthew they fall down, terrified, -- and who wouldn’t be? In Luke, when they come back to their senses, they don’t’ say anything and Jesus doesn’t have to caution them not to speak about this until after his resurrection because they are still dumbfounded about what has happened.
But in Mark, true to his brief and straightforward style, Jesus has to swear them to secrecy, and they still don’t seem to get it. But that’s a pattern in Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus has to remind the disciples repeatedly about his mission, about his suffering to come and about their own persecutions, too. And even God’s command from that mountaintop: “Listen to Him!” goes unheeded by this trio, until they finally get it into their somewhat thick heads, but not really until, as Jesus tells them, after his suffering, his death and his resurrection.
These don’t seem to be the same guys we will read about in the Book of Acts who by then have been transformed themselves, into powerful leaders of a new Church, a new message that can’t be silenced by a death on a cross. But until then, they still don’t really pay much attention.
And for those who have a hard time listening, which is really all of us, what about our Old Testament story for today, where Elijah tells Elisha not once but three times that he should stay where he is, but no, he just has to tag along right up until that moment when Elijah’s cinematic ascension to the heavens with horses of fire and a chariot of fire carries him away on a whirlwind.
On a Sunday where we have transformations and visions of astounding scope, what about the Jordan River parting for Elijah and Elisha, just as it did when Joshua brought the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan after the passing of Moses, which in turn echoes Moses and the Red Sea parting to spare the Exodus of the Israelites. And these two major prophets, Elijah and Moses, are the ones who appear with Jesus at the Transfiguration, yet another astounding image among all these images for today.
But this is about more than just these images, it’s about transitions, the passing of leadership from one person to another. That’s something that you here at Union Church know quite a bit about in your three plus years of transitional leadership. It’s been difficult, as it always is, especially compounded by our isolation and quarantining, but even in more “normal” times – remember what we called normal times? – it was difficult enough to make adjustments.
However, maybe these adjustments we have all had to make this past year just might have made the transition a bit easier. I certainly think it’s made it easier for me, since all of you have been so accommodating and welcoming to me but I still look forward to meeting more and more of you in person, so don’t be strangers, and as soon as you feel comfortable in coming by, or if you would like me to visit you and you are comfortable in doing so, then just give me a call and we will set something up.
Elisha seems to step right up in his transition. As soon as Elijah has disappeared in that fiery whirlwind, Elisha takes up the mantle – that‘s where that phrase comes from, you know – so he takes up the mantle of Elijah, rolls it up and strikes the water of the Jordan, the waters part, and he strolls back across on dry land to meet up with those fifty young prophets in training who have been watching all this from a distance and then Elisha discovers his first difficulty in leading and commanding others, but that’s all another story, which we needn’t go into today, but you can read it for yourselves if you like.
This week a fellow pastor said that he feels like this entire past year has been a continual Lenten season, with not a real Hallelujah in sight. But the blinding bright light of the Transfiguration affirms us, it’s a light that shines on, into the season of Lent to keep that season in perspective, and never without hope. This light brings us the promise that God is here, right here, among us today. And that our God, through his son Jesus, is knowable even if it is sometimes difficult to “Listen to Him.”
And on this Valentine’s day of hearts and flowers remember that Love and Listening are both intimate acts that God offers to us as He seeks our relationship. The disciples see Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus and then they are gone after they hear but can’t see God. And even though they hear, do they really listen?
Seeing God is such a huge, massive concept that even the enveloping fog on a mountaintop cannot even begin to describe God’s promise to us, even though sometimes He is just asking us to “Listen to Him.”
And even though this coming season of Lent is often perceived as one of more solitary introspection and reflection, without a single Hallelujah, and even in a time that demands more isolated experience, let us look to that bright light beacon of the Transfiguration, leading us through this season and into God’s promise of love and life.
That’s God’s Hallmark card for us today, the unending promise of love and life through the undying message of Jesus.
And on this day of love, my sisters and brothers in faith may we all join virtual hands in knowing that these thoughts and words come from that Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son and the amazing 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