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  • John T. Redman, CRE

February 28 Worship

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Hello Union Church Presbyterians,

Worship this Sunday, February 28 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: 871 009 8175 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 28, 2021 10:30 am

Second 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 meditation service available on the church website. Brief midweek mediations will be posted each week of Lent.

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 Lift High the Cross

CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 22 Cathy McCarty You who fear the LORD, praise him! Glorify him and stand in awe of him,

For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me but heard when I cried to him. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.


God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people. In this time of repentance, draw all people to yourself, that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.


In this Season of Lent, we are reminded of our shortcomings as we reflect on the gifts of our God and our sometimes poor attempts at reconciliation. Let us confess our sins:


O God, in gracious love you care for the creatures of the earth; in steadfast love you keep your promise. But we, who so quickly embrace your covenant, just as quickly betray it; and we, from whom you desire worship, too often offer only scorn. For keeping your promise in the greatness of your mercy, we sing your praise, Lord; and for accepting and then spurning your covenant in the depths of our sins, we ask your forgiveness.

(A moment for silent personal confession)


Friends believe the Good News of the Gospels. In the unending love of God and the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


GLORIA PATRI Westminster Virtual Choir

HYMN OF PRAISE The God of Abraham


Living God, help us so to hear your holy Word that we may truly understand; that, understanding, we may believe, and, believing, we may follow in all faithfulness and obedience, seeking your honor and glory in all that we do; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 17: 1-7 Cathy McCarty

NEW TESTAMENT READING Mark 8: 31-38 John Redman

SERMON “Follow Me” John Redman


Dear Lord, we come to you this Lenten Sunday with our cares and concerns, our joys and our sorrows, in humble requests for your blessing and assurance. We ask that you continue to watch over all those around us who keep our society working even in these dark days of pandemic. We know that a new day is coming as we turn the calendar page to a new month. And we ask you to help and healing and comfort to those we name here in our prayer:

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 You Raise Me Up 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



Provided by Dr. Jonathan B. Hall, Minister of Music, First Presbyterian Church in Goshen



Jesus has a message for the disciples who now number twelve, after summoning the first four in our message of four weeks ago, but who’s counting?

Well, I am. This is nine weeks into my tenure here in your pulpit and my, where have they gone? We have seen the Wise Men, the Magi, visit and seen out Lord rise up out of the Jordan baptized and ready for his ministry. We have seen him transfigured and gleaming on a mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. He has exorcised demons in the synagogue, healed people by the dozens and today we find him in the company of his twelve disciples and possibly a bigger bunch of people who are already following him.

Today, Jesus will be telling the first of three explanations in the book of Mark of what is to come of Him, and also what his disciples can expect.

Now, typical of Mark’s style, we get a generally unvarnished accounting of Jesus and how he forthrightly tells the disciples of the suffering and rejection that will befall him. And Peter, being the impetuous one that he is, just can’t abide this and begins to rebuke Jesus. We don’t know exactly what Peter says, but it’s probably something to the effect of “You can’t let this happen to you, you are the Messiah, the great deliverer, we just can’t have this.”

So, though we don’t know exactly what Peter says, we do know exactly what Jesus says, in just about the most famous line in Scripture – “Get thee behind me, Satan!” As he then rebukes Peter, telling him that he needs to concentrate on divine issues, not human ones. As I said this is the first of three of these messages to the disciples, who just don’t seem to get it, do they? They think of the Messiah as a great leader in the mold of David, or Moses, who will deliver them from the crushing weight of the Romans and bring on a New Jerusalem. But Jesus has other ideas, first calling not just the disciples gathered around him, but this gathering crowd to take up the cross and follow. That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it? And then he goes on to say whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever gives their life for Jesus or his message will save it.

This sort of circular argument is just too much for the disciples to handle, since they still can’t grasp the idea of Jesus’s true message of forgiveness and eternal life. They are still hung up on this idea of a powerful, royal, king-like Messiah even though Peter has already named Jesus as the Messiah, the one true son of God the Father.

In the next chapter of Mark, the ninth, Jesus will again lecture the disciples on how the first shall be last and the last shall be first. This is after Jesus has asked what the disciples were discussing amongst themselves as they traveled along the road. They sheepishly admit that they were arguing about who was the greatest disciple among them. That’s when Jesus lowers the hammer on them about how the first shall be last and last shall be first. Once again, that circular argument is lost on these poor fellows.

And then, in chapter 10, comes the most arrogant of all. James and John, those sons of thunder, actually ask Jesus if they might sit with one on his right hand and the other on his left on his royal throne of glory.

Jesus basically tells them they don’t what they are talking about and asks if they are ready to drink from the cup he drinks from and be baptized in the baptism he is about to be plunged into. And they swear they will do that. Then he says, come to think of it, you will drink of the same cup as me, and be baptized the same as me. But those seats of honor, are not mine to give you. Now at this point, the other ten disciples get into the conversation and they are genuinely annoyed with James and John. And Jesus settles them down by talking about how when petty godless rulers and other people get some power, they throw their weight around, but it won’t be that way with you.

Whoever wants to be great must become the servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave. And this is what Jesus says he will do – that he came to serve, not to be served like some king, and that he will give away his very life in exchange for many who are held hostage. Of course, this goes right over their heads as well, even though we can see now, through the perspective of time and history that Jesus talks about those held hostage by their sins that he is here to forgive by virtue of his own sacrifice. Had you been there at that moment, how would you have reacted to this pronouncement?

In all three of these incidents, Jesus is telling the disciples what they can expect, from him and from themselves, and in all three, do they actually get it?

No, it’s not until after they have encountered the resurrected Christ that they can finally comprehend the real Messiah message.

So how do we deal with this message in the perspective of the history of Jesus and his disciples? It’s kind of like an elephant in the room, huge and bulky and grey, and no matter what truth we seek to avoid, no matter how difficult it is to do this, the elephant is still there. And no matter how large and grey this elephant may be, if we do not want to see it, we will not. So it was with the disciples. They liked the crowds, they liked the healings, they liked the warm welcomes, the free meals, and the traveling. They liked the words of liberation and hope. Thus, they had no desire to hear predictions of conflict, humiliation, suffering and death.

We all have things we like to hear and things we do not. Lent is a time when we are challenged to face what it means to be a disciple, to follow Jesus in the world today. For this reason, the Lenten season encourages us to face truths that we might prefer to avoid. We are apt to shudder a bit when we hear Jesus address those harsh words to Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ Our Lord wants his followers to understand the hard truth. He wants to prepare them for the future. Peter’s bravado is clearly not helpful.

But finally, Jesus tells them that after he has suffered, died and risen, that then they will understand. We’re still not sure these somewhat befuddled, thick-headed disciples understand even then, but they eventually do get it.

And what do you think about the reading from Genesis today? Why is that paired up in our Lectionary with this story from Mark? Well, it is hopeful and is good news indeed for the people of Israel, and when the Hebrews first heard this, I’m sure they were amazed and heartened. But in this season of Lent, where denial and repentance have become such a tradition, why this hopeful covenant now? I’m not sure why, but I’m sure glad it’s here, because as a colleague said to me a few days ago, this whole last year seems like a season of Lent, with all of us deprived of a lot of things.

So, why don’t we make this Lenten season more like advent, with hope and peace as our goal, looking to the future through the next few weeks, as we prepare to throw our doors open again and welcome the cautious presence of our sisters and brothers in faith, and in knowing the promise of spring, new growth, new life, that will be surrounding us.

As we continue to reflect on our own sins and transgressions, let’s also reflect on this idea of hope through the grace of our Messiah, and the change he brings in all our lives by his continuing presence among us and within us.

My friends, I share 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

Union Church

44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550

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

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