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  • John T. Redman, CRE

February 21 Worship

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Hello Union Church Presbyterians,

Worship this Sunday, February 21 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.


For computers:

For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.

If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:

Meeting ID: 818 5425 9399 Passcode: NO PASSCODE REQUIRED

For telephones: Dial 1 (646) 558-8656

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.


Union Church, Newburgh NY

February 21, 2021 10:30 am

First Sunday in Lent


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 & Lent: Brief Ash Wednesday meditation service available on the church website. We will have a midweek meditation posted every Wednesday in Lent.

FUNDRAISER: Roast Beef Dinner Fri, Feb 26 from 4-7pm

Delicious roast beef dinner, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and dinner roll.

Pick-up ONLY, $14 per plate, $2 dessert. RSVP: by Wednesday, February 24.

CONTACT: Church office 562-0954 or Jeff Bousche 562-6242 for more information.

Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. March 1 and Wed. March 3 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. Zoom Questions? Call James at (301) 335-8677.


PRELUDE In the Hour of Trial (Acapeldrige)

CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 25 Robert Ferguson To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame.

Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.

Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love.

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Praise the Lord!


God of wilderness and water, your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. Guide us through this season, that we may not avoid struggle, but open ourselves to blessing, through the cleansing depths of repentance and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.


As imperfect creatures, our failings are sometimes too many to count. But our God knows them all and forgives. Let us confess our sins:


Oh Lord, you have appeared among us but we have not seen you. You have walked among us, but we have not followed you. You have spoked to us, but we have not listened to you. You have rejoiced with us, but we have not embraced you. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within us. Lord, give us the courage to turn about and return to you, and we will return to our neighbor. Then shall your light break forth like the dawn and your grace ascend as the rising sun.

(A moment for silent personal confession)


Sisters and Brothers, believe the Good News of the Gospels. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


GLORIA PATRI Westminster Virtual Choir


Today we will install Sheila O'Donnell as and Elder

HYMN OF PRAISE O, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus Hereford Cathedral Choir


God of our salvation, your bow in the clouds proclaims your covenant with every living creature. Teach us your paths and lead us in your truth, that by your Holy Spirit, we may remember our baptismal vows and be keepers of your trust with earth and its inhabitants. Amen.


OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 9:8-17 Robert Ferguson

NEW TESTAMENT READING Mark 1:9-15 John Redman

SERMON “Forty Days plus One” John Redman


Beloved friends, in this season of repentance and healing, we accept God's invitation to be ever mindful of the needs of others, offering our prayers on behalf of God's community in the church and the world. Fill us with your strength to resist the seductions of our foolish desires and the tempter's vain delights, that we may walk in obedience and righteousness, rejoicing in you with an upright heart. We ask for prayers and considerations Lord,

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 Love Unmeasured, Love of God Union Chancel Choir


You can support the work of Union Church by mailing donations to 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh, NY 12550 or visit to donate online.



DOXOLOGY Union Chancel Choir


POSTLUDE O Lord Heaven and Earth and Sea



Forty is a significant number in our Judeo-Christian tradition. Forty days and nights of rain in Noah’s Flood, forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert by the children of the Exodus. Forty days is how long Moses was on Mount Horeb when he received the Ten Commandments. And Elijah journeys for forty days and forty nights to also go to Mount Horeb, supposedly the first man since Moses to go there, some five centuries later. So, forty days in the wilderness for the Temptation of Jesus is quite significant and that’s where we get the idea of the forty plus days of Lent.

Our Gospel lesson for this morning may sound familiar, since we just heard part of it some five weeks ago, for the Baptism of our Lord. But today we get the next three verses from Mark about Jesus in the wilderness. Why do we repeat this reading so close to the last one, you might ask? Well, it’s a conceit of the Lectionary calendar, where the first Sunday in Lent always features one of the three Gospel accounts of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and this year’s Lectionary cycle names Mark.

Both Matthew and Luke devote almost entire chapters to the temptation of Jesus, something Mark, in his usual brief and straightforward style does in four short verses. That’s not the only difference between Mark and the other two, who pretty obviously drew their inspiration from Mark and then elaborated on it.

But both Matthew and Luke have Jesus come up out of the water of the Jordan and God’s message is heard, landing like the wings of a dove. However, in Mark the heavens are torn apart so the Spirit of God can descend, prefiguring the moment of Christ’s death on the cross when the great curtain in the Temple is torn in two. This wasn’t just any curtain, but the one that divided the Inner Sanctum, the Holy of Holies from the rest of the center of the Temple. The symbolism of the ripping of that curtain that kept the rest of us from the very nature of God’s holiness should not be lost on us especially when it comes at the moment of Jesus’s death on the cross.

The Greek word for temptation in the New Testament is ‘peirazo,’ meaning to tempt or tease or in some interpretations, to test. Now the difference between tempting and testing is an interesting one, since tempting seems to dangle the choice in front of us to perhaps do something wrong even though we might know deep down that it’s not right.

But to be tested successfully is to be marked by the decision to do what is right, so the same word carries two very different meanings.

Then we have a different conundrum of meanings, that of our word for time. In ancient Greek there are two words for time, chronos and kairos. Chronos is what you might think it is, chronological time. So it’s about 10:55 by chronos time. But kairos time is what Jesus speaks of when he says the time is at hand for the kingdom of God. Not the hour and minute for God’s kingdom, but the arrival of it in front of us and all around us. That’s a new time, where Jesus calls us to a new Life.

And what about those wild beasts in Mark that don’t appear in the others? Also, the angels are waiting upon Jesus, that word we heard a couple of weeks ago, diakonos -- those who serve, the origin of our word for deacons. So, in Mark’s reference, Jesus is being well taken care of, with angels waiting on him and those wild beasts not bothering him for his forty days, while Matthew and Luke both subject Jesus to the strongest temptations, such as turning stones to bread while he doesn’t eat anything for forty days or diving off the pinnacle of the Temple to see if the angels will catch him or surveying all the lands of the earth where he can rule over all if he will just worship Satan. These scenes are juxtaposed in Matthew and Luke, while Mark steadfastly adheres to the care of the angels, who by the way will conveniently show up to help Jesus and wait on him at the ends of both Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts.

So, is it the trials, temptations and tests or the forty days that captivate us in our world today? Certainly our very brief attention spans wouldn’t carry any of us for forty days and forty nights; I mean, we have to binge watch a whole season on Netflix in a day or two, don’t we?

And what about those revelations to Noah and his sons in our reading from Genesis? Boy, that sort of seems like God is making a deal with us, doesn’t it? Doesn’t seem exactly God-like does it? He’s making an agreement with us, that if we agree to worship him the way He wants, he won’t send another crushing, drowning flood down on all of creation if only people will worship accordingly. He says he will make a covenant, a contract, if you will just agree so that this will not happen again.

What? Is God bargaining with us here? Making deals with us? Where is the God who is omnipotent, omniscient and all powerful, who just flooded out the entire world and wiped the slate clean?

Perhaps it’s not a negotiation, but a simple offer –follow me and all is forgiven. Even as early as Genesis, that offer is there. We know that Adam and Eve failed in the Garden, we know that Jacob cheated his brother, but we know that Jacob’s son Joseph forgave his own brothers for their betrayal.

In that amazingly complete book of both power and emotion, Genesis shows us the power of God as He not only brings on the flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the establishment of the nation by Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his twelve sons and the last chapters of Genesis are preoccupied with dealings of livestock and crops, with trying to survive through years of famine, for both the Egyptians and the Israelites who have come to settle in the land of Goshen.

Does anything sound familiar here? But does anything disturb you here? Genesis starts out with God creating the entire Universe but ends with Him overseeing negotiations for livestock in Egypt?

In this season of Lent, just as we see that scope and yet the limits of Genesis, we need to examine all those elements that are brought before us, the ones that may point us to the ideals of resurrection at Eastertide, and those that may still linger in our own shadows of exclusion and prejudice. Lead us beyond the limits of Lot and his wife turned to salt, beyond Jacob wrestling all night long with the angel of the Lord, even as his twelve sons are welcomed in Egypt and will then become the twelve tribes of Israel. The story of Abraham and Sarah, and the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael, the impending sacrifice of Isaac are all stories that we come back to during this season of Lent, this season of reflection and repentance.

And those forty days plus one, you ask? Well, not counting today we will have exactly forty-one days as we stand on the doorstep of Easter and all of its promise.

But for now, as Eugene Peterson says in his translation “The Message,” Jesus hears of the arrest of John the Baptist and returns to Galilee, saying, “Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

And so, my friends, believe me when I say that 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

Union Church

44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550

Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955

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