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  • John T. Redman, CRE

January 24 Worship

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Hello Union Church Presbyterians,

Worship this Sunday, January 24 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.


For computers:

(Or use )

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

If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:

Meeting ID: 995 7985 7810 Passcode: 425557

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

January 24, 2021 10:30 am

Third Sunday after Epiphany


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.


In memory: Robert Speirs

Robert Speirs was a dedicated, faithful member of Union Church for many, many years. He participated in the Men’s Club and his granddaughter attended Sunday School. He was proud of the fellowship and companionship he received through Union Church. To sign the funeral home guest book or leave a memory, follow link below:

Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. Feb 1 and Wed. Feb 3 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.

ANNUAL MEETING: NEXT Sunday, Jan 31 following worship. Zoom information will be available at a later date.

Pledge Update: As of Jan 10, we have received 35 pledges (4 new) for 2021 in the amount of $90,340. Last year at this time, 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. If you are joining us for fellowship time only use mobile phone or computer video. Check email for access instructions. Questions? Call James at (301) 335-8677

Save the Date: Roast Beef Dinner Fundraiser Fri, Feb 26 from 4-7pm

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

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

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


PRELUDE Be Thou My Vision Celtic Version

CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 62 Debby and Paul Hill For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; together they are lighter than a breath. Put no confidence in wealth; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them. God has spoken and twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.


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 petitions on behalf of the needs of the church and the world.

This we pray in Jesus name, Amen.


We are imperfect creatures who cannot help but fail despite our best intentions.

Let us confess our sins together.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION (muted, please)

Heavenly Father,

Although we say we surrender our lives to you individually, we are called to live and serve in community as one body. However, we do not see each other equally. We tend to think that some are more gifted, even more godly than others. Rather than claim Christ’s grace for all who believe, we judge one another, even ourselves on worldly merit. Forgive us, Lord and redeem us from our wrong thinking. Open our eyes to the truth of your perfect plan for your church body to work graciously as one. We pray this humbly in Christ’s name.

(A moment for silent personal confession)


Brothers and Sisters believe in the Good News of the Gospel; in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. AMEN.


GLORIA PATRI Westminster Virtual Choir

HYMN 397 (RED) Forth in Thy Name, O Lord I Go


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.





SERMON “Big Fish, and Other Fish” John Redman, CRE


Mysterious Creator, we’re standing at the beginning of a year that is already emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually demanding. Every day the news, the notifications, the tweets- moments of anxiety around politics and pandemic become so thick, so intense, it’s hard to breathe.

Patient God, in this troubling time of political division, uncertainty, amid the shouts, the name-calling, the retorts, the blaming, we ask that you would teach us to listen. Teach us to listen to those far from us– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished. Teach us to listen, O God, to ourselves. Help us to be less afraid to trust the voice inside.

And Dear Lord, hear our prayers for those who seek healing, who are in mourning, and all those in need, especially for those we name here:

Teach us to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach us, oh Lord, to listen, to hear, to live the words that Christ himself taught us when he prayed…

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 God Bless America 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.

MINUTE FOR MISSION Debby and Paul Hill


DOXOLOGY Union Chancel Choir


POSTLUDE Amazing Grace From 50 Nations affected by COVID-19



Throughout the Bible there are inseparable pairs—you can’t think of one without the other— Adam and Eve, of course, Cain and Abel, Samson and Delilah, Solomon and Sheba, even in the New Testament, James and John. You can’t mention David without immediately thinking of Goliath, right?

So, when we think of Jonah, what’s next? Prophecy? Nineveh No, it’s Jonah and the Whale. Except every Bible translation actually uses big fish, large fish or even great fish. It’s unlikely that the writer of Jonah’s book even knew of the existence of whales, so let’s go with big fish.

But that fish doesn’t appear in our reading for today, since that is in the preceding two chapters of Jonah, where instead of delivering the prophecy to Nineveh, he takes off in the opposite direction. That’s what most of us might have done under those circumstances. This would be like God telling us to go to the rural mountains of say, Pakistan, and tell them if they don’t change their ways that God will come down on them and come down hard.

But after three days and nights in the belly of the beast, or the big fish, he gets spit up on dry land and he is then so anxious to get to Nineveh that nothing will stop him now. If sufficient motivation to fulfill God’s call, is ever there, you might find it in that stress level of being in the belly of a big fish for three days and nights, no matter how improbable. But in the Jewish tradition let’s look at this not as history, but as a midrash, a story lesson, much like Aesop’s fables, or even some of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales that were outlandish stories meant to teach a moral or a lesson. Then let us go to the lesson for today, where Jonah, now suitably chagrined, can’t wait to get to Nineveh to deliver the really bad news that they have all of forty days to repent their sinful ways, or else. And guess what? In the intervening verses we don’t read today, the people agree to humble themselves and even all of their animals in sackcloth and ashes!

Imagine Jonah’s reaction to that – what he least expected, they actually did what he said they needed to do, and Jonah goes on to become one of the premiere prophets of the Jewish tradition, despite the fact that his book of prophecy is but four short chapters.

And how about our Gospel lesson for today, where Mark comes roaring out in a dozen short verses, as Jesus comes into the world. He gives us a cinematic close up of John the Baptist and sends Jesus into the wilderness for forty days. Then Mark has John the Baptist make an exit stage left, by saying he was arrested, but the original Greek verb is more literally translated as “handed over to.” I mention this because this sort of foreshadowing is uncharacteristic in Mark with his short scenes and swift moving action. But it also alludes to how Jesus will be handed over to the authorities when he is betrayed. Then Jesus appears right before us, establishing his ministry and proclaiming, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” and “repent and believe in the Gospel.”

And what’s next, you ask? He sets right out gathering disciples to assist in His ministry. When Jesus approaches Simon and Andrew they are casting a net, most likely from shore or from shallow water near the shore, in a manner that’s as old as fishing itself, where you lay out the net and as it sinks, fish will swim over it and you draw it back with a rope that also secures the fish in it, or at least you hope it does. Contrast this with James and John who are in a boat with their father and hired servants who are mending a larger net that they will more likely drag behind their boat. Andrew and Simon were perhaps fishing on a smaller scale, maybe on subsistence level, whereas James and John and their father Zebedee have a larger scale commercial operation.

Regardless, all four of them don’t hesitate for a minute to answer the call of Jesus to follow him.

Do you suppose they may have known Jesus before this, or is this their first encounter with him? And do you think that if they knew what was in store for Jesus and for them, that they would have been so eager to follow? Aside from these four fishermen, and Matthew the tax collector, what about the vocations of the other seven disciples? We don’t know, but we assume that they too, were ordinary guys, certainly not from the ranks of rabbis or scribes of the Temple or other high-ranking people in the society of their time.

So, they were ordinary, commonfolk people, kind of like us. But as they follow Jesus and experience what they will as time goes on, they will be changed. This change I must admit, is gradual, because throughout the entire middle section of Mark’s gospel these sometimes-dense disciples need to have Jesus explain it all to them over and over again, but they are still changed because of their call.

Last week, we talked about how the idea of a call is often a gradual, evolving thing, and how that extends to how many of us come to our own vocations in life, following whatever has called us to become police officers, firefighters, teachers, businesspeople, military personnel, public servants, or even God forbid—politicians!—but what’s important is the answer of that call.

Jonah’s call was clear – tell Nineveh that their days are numbered unless they repent. Oh boy, wouldn’t it be great if we were to receive such a specific message today?

No, our own futures are much murkier when it comes to prophecies and calls. But one thing is clear: that the message of Jesus will stand high and proud as we each follow our own vocations in both our subsistence lives and our spiritual lives. Those fishermen dropped their nets and went to follow Jesus without a moment’s hesitation.

We don’t necessarily do that literally, but in our own ways we do follow the call that came to those Galilean fishermen on that day and to the others who came along later to follow Jesus. We sometimes picture him with the twelve disciples following along, but scholars now imagine him with dozens more following him, men, and women, or some walking ahead and gathering food and securing shelter for this large and growing group of followers. And they were all volunteering for this work, which makes me stop right here for a moment.

When we speak of work and vocation and calls, we also speak of the greater work that is called and what is done, and I have to say that the work of this, your Food Pantry organization is nothing short of amazing, in the unbridled energy and organizational skills, in the incredible machine that makes it all work, from literally tons of food that comes in, to the sorting and the bagging and the distribution, it is at once both beautiful and humbling in its witness, and I can’t begin, nor should I even attempt, to tell you of the difference, the real difference that this makes in peoples’ lives, because you all know it and feel it yourselves as well, and may the Lord be praised for your efforts.

God’s call is always into an uncertain future. Those four fishermen had not the slightest idea of what they were in for in their lives. When we enter into our careers, we have no idea how it will all end up. We choose our careers and jobs, our vocations, hoping that we can use the gifts and talents God has given us, but there are no guarantees. And that word vocation, comes from the Latin word ‘vocatio,’ which means ‘calling.’ So, as we struggle out from under a pandemic, as we look to a brighter future, let’s answer that call, and not just continue in it, but try to expand upon our work on behalf of our community, our congregation and indeed our country.

And to you my sisters and brothers in faith, I ask you to know that I share these thoughts and words with you today by the love of the Father, the grade 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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