Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, February 27 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 27, 2022 10:30 am
TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD SUNDAY
USHERS today are Dan and Karen Olson. If you would like to usher, contact Dan Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today is the Outreach Committee.
Volunteers needed for March and April. Signup chart is in the Fellowship Hall.
Brittany Brooks and Ryan Hannon welcomed Erin Lyn Hannon on Valentine's Day!
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday and Sunday February 26 & 27 and March 5 & 6 at 2 pm.
Cornerstone Theatre Arts in Goshen: “Sports Stories on Stage,” an afternoon of monologues about our fascination with sports, featuring Pastor John as Ernest Hemingway talking about hunting, fishing, and bullfighting. Admission is free but reservations are required. (Note: Theatre is a second-floor walkup with no elevator.) Reservation line will be open soon!
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 continues each Tuesday at 7pm on Zoom. 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!
FUNDRAISING served 41 dinners for a total of $615! Thank you, Jeff and crew!
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.
ORGAN PRELUDE “In Thee Is Gladness!” setting by Dale Wood
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from Psalm 99) Leader: The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! PEOPLE: Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! Leader: Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. PEOPLE: Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Leader: Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. PEOPLE: He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. Leader: O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. PEOPLE: Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.
Creator God, you call us to love and serve you with body, mind, and spirit through loving your creation and our sisters and brothers. Open our hearts in compassion and receive these requests on behalf of the needs of the church and the world. This we pray in Jesus name, Amen.
**OPENING HYMN “Christ Upon the Mountain Peak” Red #180
CALL TO CONFESSION
In the long nights of winter, darkness can harden our hearts. In the chill of morning frost, the sun warms us little. But we turn to the eternal warmth of our God that cloaks us in love and understanding. Please join me in our confession prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Almighty God, you love us, but we do not love you fully. You call, but we do not always listen. We often walk away from neighbors in need, wrapped in our own concerns. God of grace, help us to realize our imperfection so that as you move toward us in mercy, we may turn to you, and receive understanding and forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen. (a moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Our Lord is merciful. Our Lord is generous. Our Lord is eternally forgiving us. As we seek a greater understanding, we are both blessed and forgiven. Amen
**AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (from the Heidelberg Catechism, 1562)
I believe that the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything within, who still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ his Son. I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world. He is able to do this because he is almighty God; He desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.
**HYMN OF PRAISE “To God Be the Glory” Red #72
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
O Lord, on this Sunday of Transfiguration, we pray that your light would pour over these pages and illumine these old, old words — that they would dance with newness in our hearts and minds, that we would be radiant in reflecting your Word in our living and serving one another. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Exodus 34: 29-35 John Safran
NEW TESTAMENT 2 Corinthians 3: 12-4:2
GOSPEL Luke 9:28-43
SERMON Radiance All Around 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 “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” Sigfrid Karg-Elert
**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 “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies” Red #562
Now may God our Father, who loves us and gives us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, and may our Lord Jesus Christ comfort our hearts in every good work and word, from this day onward. Amen.
POSTLUDE “O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair” England c. 1415 Blue #75
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT RADIANCE ALL AROUND
Transfiguration Sunday has always been sort of a head-scratcher for me. Why or how is transfiguration different from transformation? Well, the dictionary has transformation as literally changing from one form to another while transfiguration is changing one’s appearance, such as how Jesus’ face shows a glowing radiance and his robes have become a sparkling glowing impossible white. Those robes could actually fall under the definition of transformation though, couldn’t they? Language is wonderfully imprecise, especially when we try to describe or explain Biblical events.
So here Jesus’ face is transfigured, but where do we get these guys Moses and Elijah from? And are they real or does Peter just imagine them to be there? And were the disciples asleep or not? The text talks about them being weighed down with sleep, but being awake, so which is it? And is this in the daytime or at night? Most often when Jesus goes up a mountain or into a garden to pray, it’s at night, but this appears to be daytime.
In Luke’s version, we hear Moses and Elijah discussing Jesus’ upcoming exodus, his departure in Jerusalem. In Matthew and Mark, we aren’t sure what is being discussed with Moses and Elijah, just that they are there and of course Peter thinks he can keep them all there and prolong this incredible moment by building tents for them to camp out.
That’s when God intervenes and brings fog and clouds all over the mountain and he speaks and next thing you know, Moses and Elijah are gone. But that’s when the disciples hear the voice of God and the command to ‘Listen to him.’ So, the disciples are understandably terrified at this, as any one of us likely would have been. And much of this parallels our reading from Exodus this morning where Moses’s face is glowing so brilliantly after being in God’s presence that he has to cover the blinding glare with a veil.
We tend to see this transfiguration metaphorically, where the experience only lasts for a while, and then after the cloud and the voice of God, it all returns to normal. Otherwise, Jesus’s bright glowing face and his radiant robes would have been a dead giveaway to the crowds waiting below that something really significant has taken place, and Jesus goes out of his way to tell his three disciples not to breathe a bit of it to anybody.
If this whole thing is so transitory in nature, and no one else is supposed to know, what’s the point of it? Some commentators have said it’s Luke’s way of reinforcing the leadership of these three disciples, since they will be so pivotal in the formation of the early church as readers move into the Book of Acts. Others have said that it’s to instill the real authority of Jesus, to remove any doubts there may be. And yet another scholar has used this whole scenario of disciples not being asleep and not being fully awake either, as though this up-close experience with God is so powerful that these mere mortals cannot judge what is real or what may be illusion.
But whatever the effect of this vision of Jesus with Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the premiere prophet, the surrounding clouds and the voice of God are what truly convince these guys of the real significance of episode. And then they go back down the mountain and are immediately assailed by crowds, and especially this father begging for healing for his son who is possessed by a demon.
The contrast between this spiritual experience on the mountaintop and the crowd at the base is staggering. The disciples who were left behind couldn’t do anything to help the boy who is possessed, and the crowd stands out as reality pushing and pulling at Jesus from all sides. Even Jesus’s first response to the crowd is disturbing: “you faithless and perverse generation, how long must I be among you?” And this in turn echoes the Song of Moses from Deuteronomy as lays down the laws of Israel, but first rebuking the people for having so little faith.
But then Jesus does just as we expect him to do, and he heals the boy. But there is a parallel in the father’s plea, too. He calls out to Jesus that this is his only son, and to listen to him. Where have we just heard that? Why yes, up on that mountain, where God himself has talked about a son and to Listen.
Even Paul evokes the image of Moses with his veiled face, shielded from God’s countenance, but then he turns it on its head by saying that when we turn to God that the veil falls away and we have no need of it and we can see ourselves reflected in God’s glory as in a mirror, our faces shining with the radiance of truth. Finally, Paul makes some sense for a change.
So what does all of this, or even any of this have to do with us? What do we take away from these various moments on the mountain and at its base? Or how does Moses and his veiled face affect how we approach our faith, our own interactions with God? We don’t feel we need to hide our faces from God as we seek him out, do we? Is that a cultural conceit or just a different way of thinking about speaking with God?
I’m sure the terror of Moses in the company of God, combined with the terror of the disciples listening to God’s voice on the mountain, was palpable and real to them but how does it speak to us? There is the symbolic nature of scripture, where we tend not to accept much of it as literal versus spiritual truth, but then we all have those moments when the immediacy of the experience grabs us by the collar and we pay closer attention, and we actually feel the presence of God all around us. And in those moments we are like Peter on that mountain, wanting to hold onto it, run around and build tents to house the three of them and keep the moment forever.
Of course, that’s why they are called moments because they are here and then gone. But in the experience of them we hear the voice of God, the touch of Christ’s hand on our shoulder, the Spirit swirling all around us. And more often than not, it’s not a big booming voice that we hear, sweeping dramatic music or blaring of trumpets but just silence.
As we begin our journey into this season of Lent, remember the value and purity of silence, surrounded by and bathed in silence. Take some time for it, a few minutes, or thirty seconds or thirty minutes if we can find such in our lives. And use that time of silence to enjoy the radiance of Transfiguration, the giving of the Law, or the revealing of God’s truth to our newly opened eyes.
My fellow travelers in faith, I have shared these thoughts and words with you this morning 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
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