January 2 Worship
Updated: Jan 5
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, January 2 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections. We will be celebrating Communion this Sunday.
HOW TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.
For ALL devices: https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
January 2, 2022 10:30 am
SECOND SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS
FLOWERS today are given by Libby Syzmanowicz to the glory of God and in honor of Tom Cahill and Nancy Cahill.
USHERS today are Richard Smith and Mary Whidden. If you would like to usher, contact Dan Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS needed. Hosting can be simple or host with a friend! Signup chart in the Fellowship Hall.
2022 ENVELOPE BOXES: For those who are assigned envelope boxes, they are available in the church vestibule for you to pick up. If you would like to be assigned an envelope box, please contact Jolee DuBois at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B&G meeting Saturday, Jan 8 in the office.
SUNDAY SCHOOL resumes next Sunday, Jan 9.
DEACONS meeting next Sunday, Jan 9 at 9:30 am in the parlor and taking down the greens after Fellowship.
OUTREACH meeting next Sunday, Jan 9 at 12:00 pm in the parlor.
Ordination of new officers Sun, Jan 16. Annual Congregational Meeting Sun, Jan 23.
A huge gratitude to Debby Hill for serving as Clerk of Session for twenty years! Thank you for all your dedication and attention to detail in this never-ending and sometimes thankless job. Libby will continue as a co-clerk with Mary Whidden.
And thanks to Paul Hill for serving as President of the Corporation for the past six years, and for some time periods before that as well. James Phillips will become President after our Annual Meeting in January.
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Jan 3 and Wednesday, Jan 5 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
CLOTHES CLOSET needs winter clothes for adults and children.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
**Kindly stand if you are able
PRELUDE Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Improvisation by Mr. Vise
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from Psalm 147)
Leader: Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! People: For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. Leader: He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat. People: He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. Leader: He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. People: He makes his wind blow, and the waters flow. Leader: He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. People: Praise the LORD!
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 readings we may sing to you with our whole heart through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
**OPENING HYMN Good Christian Friends, Rejoice RED #157
CALL TO CONFESSION
As imperfect creatures, our failings are oftentimes too many to count. But our God knows them all and forgives. Let us confess our sins together:
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
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 spoken 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, 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)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Sisters and Brothers, we have been blessed with the birth of our Savior and by the Good News of the Gospels. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Amen.
**APOSTLES CREED (Traditional)
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.
HYMN OF PRAISE In Christ There is No East or West RED #697
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. Make us hungry for this heavenly food, that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Jeremiah 31:7-14 Cathy McCarty
NEW TESTAMENT Luke 2: 22-37
GOSPEL John 1: 10-18
SERMON Presentation 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, as we join together in our most sacred of sacraments, your Holy Communion.
COMMUNION HYMN Bread of the World in Mercy Broken RED #774
Invitation to the Table
Responsive Communion Prayer
Leader: May the composer of heaven's music be with you! PEOPLE: And also with you! Beloved, God has created you for faithful living. PEOPLE: We lift our hearts to the One who calls us to be Christ's Body. People of God, sing to the One who cleanses us of our fears. PEOPLE: We will dance with joy to the Table of peace and hope. Chaos trembled as you spoke, not wanting to hear your goodness breaking it apart. Creation sang oratorios for you, while earth drummed out the rhythm. Each day testified 'God is good,’ each night whispered 'Glory!' Using words and wonder, silence and speech, prophets came to call us back into your covenantal love, but we continued to year for what we could not have. Finally, you sent your Son, in love, in hope, in peace, that we would accept him and the gift of new life. So, with those who trembled at the foot of your holy mountain, and with those who press on to follow you, we join our voices in praise to you: ALL: Your Word opens our eyes to all creation; your Word endures
through every trial and triumph.
Blessed is your Word who comes in your name! Hosanna in the highest! Holy are you, God of all creation, and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Yearning for us to know you, he came to be your face of love and compassion for all. Hungering for reconciliation between you and your children, he became the broken Bread of Life. Aching for our release from the agony of sin and death, he suffered on the cross, so we might be made well. As we remember his goodness and gentleness, as we celebrate his life in us, we would speak of that mystery we call faith: ALL: Setting aside all he valued, Christ became our treasure; setting aside his own life, Christ rescued us from sin; setting aside our doubts and fears we yearn for Christ's return in glory. And when we stand around your Table, all hurtful words silenced, all pain left behind, with hope and grace our closest friends, we will join our hearts and voices with our sisters and brothers who forever sing of your glory, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
Words of Institution
Prayer after Communion
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
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 In Quiet Joy Marcel Dupre
PRAYER OF THANKS
Gracious God, accept our gifts in tribute, they be put to good and purposeful use in assisting those in greater need even as we seek to serve you and our community and the greater world. This we gratefully pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
HYMN OF PARTING It Came Upon Midnight Clear RED #170
May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine bright upon your faced and the rain fall gently on your fields
And until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
POSTLUDE Go Tell It on the Mountain African American Spiritual
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT: Presentation
This week and next Sunday are unique in our church calendar, especially this year when the day of Epiphany falls exactly between two Sundays, and this day is the eighth day since Jesus’s birth, the day he is to be circumcised. And so it is. And in this Gospel, Luke has taken us from the birth in the stable to the shepherds and angels to the eighth day of Jesus and his circumcision and then to this arrival at the Jerusalem Temple, where presumably Mary is purified in a mikvah, a ritual bath in the Court of the Women, and then they make the ritual sacrifice of two young doves. In that time, Herod’s Temple was still under construction with its various Courtyards, for women, for devout men, for Gentiles. In fact, it’s in the courtyard of the Gentiles where Jesus will later clear the temple of the animal sellers and the moneychangers.
So here we have the telling of the presentation in the Temple where, according to Jewish law and custom, a firstborn male is to be presented. And there is another aspect to this, happening about 40 days after the birth of Jesus. That’s because by tradition a woman is unclean for forty days and cannot enter the temple until then. Actually, unclean for forty days applied only to baby boys. If a woman gave birth to a girl, she was considered unclean for eighty days.
No comment from here.
Let’s also remember that Luke is describing events that happened decades earlier. The joy of Simeon and Anna in the Temple greeting this new Messiah has to be seen through the lens of Luke writing this some years after the total destruction of that same Temple. And what does that say for all this waiting and watching?
As the Holy Family enters the Temple with their sacrificial offering, they meet Simeon, a very devout old man who has been waiting and anticipating meeting this Messiah before he dies.
He is overcome by the message of the Holy Spirit letting him know that the one he has waited for is finally here, and now that he has seen the face of salvation, he can die in peace.
But this is not before Simeon both amazes and troubles Mary with his pronouncements that Jesus is destined for great things, but even Mary will have great sadness come upon her as a sword piercing her soul. Is this a precursor to Luke’s account of the crucifixion, where the disciples have all run away into hiding, but the women stay and watch from a distance, as Mary witnesses Jesus’s side being pierced by the spear?
And then we have this prophetess, Anna who also comes to the Temple all the time, praying and fasting and she sings an anthem about the child who will redeem Jerusalem. And then the family departs and returns to Nazareth as the child grows strong with God’s favor upon him.
Notice the contrast with Matthew’s account, where an angel warns Joseph to flee into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod, and when they return after Herod’s death, they are once again warned in a dream to move along to Galilee, to the village of Nazareth.
And except for Luke’s later story of Jesus in the Temple at the age of 12, all the Gospels then jump to John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus and the journey of his teaching begins. We will take that up next week.
With that as the Biblical context of today’s message, what’s in it for us, you might ask. Take Simeon, who’s been waiting all these years for this moment.
Imagine his joy in not just seeing but holding this Messiah in his arms. As a new grandfather myself, I can’t begin to describe the overwhelming joy of holding a new baby, so imagine Simeon’s joy at holding THIS one.
Now, all his waiting is over, and he can die in peace.
But what if we turn all this on its head – What if it’s not Simeon waiting for Jesus, but Jesus waiting for Simeon, that is the point? Jesus has been with God since the beginning of creation, since Genesis 1, and even before. It’s only in the birth narratives of the Gospels that we have a physical manifestation of this blessed son, but he’s been there all the while, and waiting for the chance. So, it’s Jesus who waits.
All through Advent we waited, or so we have said, but it’s Jesus who waits for us to come to him, that is the real wait. We shouldn’t have said so much about preparing the way, as preparing our own way to Jesus and his unending undying message of grace and love is the way we should prepare.
And we talk of waiting for Jesus to return to us. Wait a minute, He really never left us! Just as he has been with the Father since before the very beginning, he is still with us, among and between and within us. Do we need a physical arrival on clouds of glory for Jesus to be with us?
Even as Luke was contemplating writing this joyful message of a Messiah, and a glorious annunciation of heavenly angels to simple shepherds, the Roman army was razing and burning the beams of the Temple as they attacked those who had turned the Temple into a fortress. They set fire to the Temple roof and the heat was so intense that the gold cladding of the Temple columns melted and ran into the streets. So how could this have been a joyful or happy time for the readers of Luke’s Gospel a full fifty years after the crucifixion?
Even amidst the oppression of the Romans, the utter destruction of not just the Temple but all of Jerusalem, the hope of redemption lives and thrives through Luke’s message to a growing Gentile population as it spreads across the Empire. Why?
Was it the idea that Jesus would return at the head of a celestial army that would wipe out the Roman oppressors and restore Jerusalem and its Temple?
Was it the idea that the Second Coming would take all true believers up into heaven just as Jesus had ascended?
Or perhaps the real message of Luke’s Gospel, and indeed all four Gospels, is that Jesus doesn’t need to come again, since he has never left us in the first place.
And in the passage from the first chapter of John’s Gospel, this birth of Jesus narrative brings home the argument that Jesus has been a part of God since before the beginning and continues to this day.
And this word ‘grace,’ is mentioned four times in these few verses and never mentioned again in the Gospel. Why do you suppose that might be? Because once Jesus dwells as flesh among us, ‘grace’ is what and who he is, what he looks like, what he smells like, what he sounds like, and he takes that same grace from God all the way through his teaching and preaching, all the way to the cross, and to the tomb and beyond.
These two Gospels are so different, yet so much the same. The mere physical presence of Jesus among us illuminates both of them, and the overwhelming Grace of God the Father looms above them. In verse 16, John says, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.” Grace, indeed, and in truth.
The physical manifestation of Jesus as flesh among us captures our minds and our imagery, but it goes way beyond that. John’s Gospel carries Jesus as the one who has been with us along with his Father since before time began and will be with us for all time to come. From birth in a stable to adoring shepherds to stunned teachers in a temple, to parables and miracles along the Jordan Valley, Jesus will sweep us up along with him, in a journey that will still be with us and among us from that time to this time today.
What are you waiting for? For Jesus to come back here and stand before you, showing his wounds as if we are all a doubting Thomas? Or are we waiting for that eternal chance to join with Jesus as he stands with us and among us, as he has done since before time began?
And as we each attempt to follow the path of Jesus may we all know 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
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955