February 20 Worship
Updated: Feb 21
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, February 20 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.
YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am, https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
ORDER OF WORSHIP
February 20, 2022 10:30 am
SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
USHERS today are Donna Trafagander and Alana Gervais. If you would like to usher, contact Dan Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today are Cathy McCarty and Ruth Smith. Volunteers needed for March and April. Signup chart is in the Fellowship Hall.
OFFICE CLOSED Friday, Feb 25.
2022 ENVELOPE BOXES are available in the church vestibule. If you would like to be assigned an envelope box, please contact Jolee DuBois.
MID-WEEK MEDITATIONS begin Wednesday, Mar 2 at the start of Lent. Pastor John will upload the meditations to YouTube to view at home.
SAVE THE DATE: EASTER SUNDAY, April 17 at 6:30 am Sunrise Service on the Riverfront.
BOOK STUDY begins Tuesday, Mar 8. See Pastor John if you'd like to join the discussion which will take place on Zoom.
OUTREACH is starting a project to go along with the Union Church photo directory with the hopes to introduce older members to newer ones and vice versa and to serve as a starting point for conversations which go beyond “committee talk”. Richard Smith will be collecting volunteer information from those who wish to participate in sharing a little of who they are. One member or household will be published in the newsletter every other week. Richard has created a short set of standard questions and a unique plan for the order in which members would be chosen! There will be more information to follow, and we look forward to your participation!
TOWN OF NEWBURGH FRIENDS OF SENIORS PROGRAM: GIVE THE GIFT OF A LIFT!
For 2 hours a week our volunteers make a difference providing transportation to local appointments, help with grocery shopping, and home visits. Our volunteers are trained, go through a background check at no charge to them, and insured while they volunteer. Attend Zoom Training and complete an application! It is that easy! 90-minute Training session: Thursday, Feb 24 at 10:00 am
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Feb 28 and Wednesday, Mar 2 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
**Kindly stand if you are able
When you enter, converse with your neighbors; when the Prelude begins, converse with your God.
PRELUDE Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise arr. by Michael Burkhardt
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from Psalm 37)
Leader: Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, PEOPLE: for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Leader: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. PEOPLE: Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Leader: Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. PEOPLE: Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil. Leader: But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. PEOPLE: The LORD helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
God of promise, your glory blinds us in its brilliant light. The grace of your son Jesus among us as living flesh inspires us even as he redeems us. And your Holy Spirit guides us with counsel and might. Hear our resounding ‘Amen’ to your infinite glory.
**OPENING HYMN Love Divine, All Loves Excelling Red #558
CALL TO CONFESSION
As we are each flawed creatures, our failings are sometimes too numerous to count. But our God knows them all and in his endless love still forgives. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Eternal God, have mercy upon us, for we burden you with our sins. We seldom make sacrifices or glorify you as we should, even as we pursue our own glory and resources.
Forgive our reluctance to accept our faith, forgive our quest for security over belief, and help direct us onto the pathway of commitment to you. Amen.
(a moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Our Lord is merciful. Our Lord is generous. Our Lord is eternally forgiving us. In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.
**AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (FROM THE CONFESSION OF 1967)
In Jesus Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself. He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation. He is present by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission. This work of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world. Therefore, the church calls all to be reconciled to God and to one another.
**HYMN OF PRAISE Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise Red #62
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Draw us close, Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures are read, and the Word is proclaimed. Let the word of faith be on our lips and in our hearts, and let all other words slip away. May there be one voice we hear today — the voice of truth and grace. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 45: 3-5, 8-11. Mary Whidden
NEW TESTAMENT 1 Corinthians 15:42-50
GOSPEL Luke 6:27-38
SERMON “Measured back to you” John Redman, CRE
PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE
Gracious God, keep in our hearts all those whose names you already know and who ask for healing in their own quiet ways, and as we join in prayer as Jesus taught us:
OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS
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.
OFFERTORY I Will Arise and Go to Jesus (Appalachian hymn) arr. Herbert Colvin
**PRAYER OF THANKS
Gracious God, accept our gifts that they may be used wisely in your service for those who hunger, who shiver with cold or merely seek a greater understanding of your love. This we gratefully pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
HYMN OF PARTING Sweet, Sweet Spirit Red#291
May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of his hand. Amen.
POSTLUDE O Praise the Gracious Power! Carol Doran, 1984
(Feel free to join in singing St. 1 and 7, Blue #471)
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT MEASURED BACK TO YOU
This passage from Luke is quite possibly the most familiar and the most misunderstood or shall we say the least understood of any of the exchanges between Jesus and his disciples. What does it all really mean to love our enemies? And what about that verb to love? In this season of Valentines and candy hearts, the Greek word eran, is romantic love, the root of our concept eros. Another word for love is philein, meaning affection for friends and family, those nearest and dearest. But there is a third word for love, the one used here is agapan, which is an aura of benevolence toward other people, a fellowship with them, if you will. We will go out of our way to be kind to this other person, or we certainly won’t do anything to harm him or her. So even if we are insulted or injured by another, agapan sees that we will only wish them well.
Does that make sense in the context of what Jesus says about turning the other cheek or offering your shirt after you’ve given up your cloak? It’s a concept of will that we need to wrap our arms around here.
I mean, falling in love, romantic love, is something we can’t help, that’s why we fall in love. The writer O. Henry once quipped: “A woman would be much more charming if a man could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.”
And we are born with an affection for those closest to us; these are things of the heart but loving our enemies through agapan is something of the will, something that the grace of Christ knows something about.
And what sets this apart is its positive nature. Jesus asks us to do unto others as we would have them do to us. But others have said in their philosophies:
“What is hateful to you, do not do to another,” or even Socrates says “What things make you angry when you suffer them at the hands of others, do not do to any other.” And when asked if there was one word to serve for one’s entire life, Confucius said, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” See, all of these are negative in nature and it’s not so difficult to avoid negative behavior, but it’s something else entirely to go out of your way to do to others what you would like them to do to you. And this is what sets our word of Christ apart – its positive nature. And it goes beyond that; Jesus asks what special grace is there in that? He’s asking how much better are you than your fellow human? It’s not a quiz or a standard of measurement. If we compare ourselves to our neighbors, sure we stack up pretty well, but Jesus wants us to stretch even further, attempting to have us compare our true behavior and belief to be more than worldly – indeed to be Godly.
And of course, on that count, we all fail miserably, not matter how we may try. But God knows this just as he knows each of our hearts and minds. But to Jesus this is the essence of his message of love and grace. God’s love and forgiveness embrace the sinner along with the saint. So that’s what Jesus is pointing to us here, isn’t it?
And speaking of forgiveness, our Genesis reading for today just about caps it all, doesn’t it? Here we have Joseph confronting his brothers who sold him into slavery all those years ago, telling them they are forgiven and being more concerned with how his father is doing. In the Old Testament scheme of things, the irony is pretty good from here, since Jacob their father was one of the first biblical con men in cheating his brother Esau out of his rightful inheritance.
And then Joseph is very forgiving to his brothers for having dealt him such a terrible fate, saying it wasn’t necessarily his bothers’ evil and jealousy that prompted them to do this, but it was part of God’s larger plan for Joseph and his family. The famine that’s been going on for two years has five more to go and neither God nor Joseph wants the family to suffer or perish. And Joseph is so magnanimous in his forgiveness and how it was ordained and endorsed by God. Since by now Joseph is the second most powerful man in Egypt, after only the Pharaoh, he feels he can speak this way. It’s all part of God’s plan? That’s got to be a heavy lift for any of Joseph’s brothers after the way they have treated him, don’t you think?
But the pathway to forgiveness seems to be at the heart of all our scripture for today from the adaptation of Psalm 37 as our Call to Worship to the larger readings for today. And just how is Paul trying to convince us or any Corinthian about resurrection? He’s really better at it when he talks about forgiveness, not rationalizing how risen bodies will be formed.
So, let’s go back to scripture about Joseph and Jesus for a bit, and talk about forgiveness and about our confession as we ask for forgiveness. Is our prayer of Confession a prayer of transgressions in the manner of our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters? Does it list and itemize, checking off the boxes and set us up for a corresponding list of penances? No, it’s much more general than that, but I’m sure that some of us feel that there are specific sins within our own personal confessions that merit singling out. I think that’s why someone asked me to take bit more time in the silence allotted for personal confession to make room for that confession, and that’s a pretty good thing, but what if our Prayer of confession is less a request for forgiveness from our individual sins, and a larger request for a deeper, closer relationship with God?
What do I mean by that? And how does that square with a prayer of confession? Well, it brings us closer to God, peeling away those outer layers of the psyche and the soul, bringing our innermost feelings to the surface, even those we may have been shoving aside for whatever reason or not even having been aware of on a more conscious level. We let the words of the prayer flow over us like water riffling down a streambed, not just reciting them in unison but savoring the deeper meaning of how we can reach deeper into ourselves and reach out further to God’s power, even as God wraps each of us in unending love and we can almost feel the vibrations of the Holy Spirit swirling around and within each and every one of us.
How often do we encounter a colleague or acquaintance who will say, “Oh yes, I believe, but I am spiritual, not necessarily religious?” And how do we respond to that? Well, generally with a pleasant smile or a nod of the head and I for one try not to engage much further into that conversation. However, since I’ve gotten that ‘Pastor’ title stuck to me more people expect me to engage with some level of discussion in their statement but usually putting it on me to explain myself, not their own statement. And if I should ask them to tell about their spiritualism, it will most often be to the effect that it’s way too personal to really get into, and then we can drop the subject. That’s perfectly fine, because our spiritual relationship with faith is so intensely personal that we can’t even put it into words for ourselves, much less someone else, so that works for any one of us, even me.
In conclusion, what about that final verse from Luke, about this measure will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
Some of us wonder about that put into your lap thing, and other translations say put into your bosom or into your pocket. It comes from the custom of Jesus’ time when the basic garment was a robe with a rope or other type of belt. By pulling up on the robe over the belt, a sort of pocket could be created, to perhaps carry the remnant of that bread, or the grapes that might have been picked along the way. So what is put into that pocket, into that lap is in full measure of what you have given. It’s like the end of the Beatles’ song, remember? “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Friends, 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. Amen
John Redman, CRE
Mobile: (914) 474-0722
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955