January 3 Worship
Updated: Jan 6
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, January 3 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections. We will be celebrating Communion this Sunday. Please have a cracker/bread of your choice and juice/beverage on hand to join in this sacrament.
Full video: https://youtu.be/6v9mxEg6Xf4
HOW TO JOIN:
(Or use zoom.us )
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 958 0731 1866 Passcode: 267721
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—be prepared. 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.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
January 3, 2021 10:30 am
Second Sunday after Christmas
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.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. Jan 4 and Wed. Jan 6 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
Pledge Update: As of Dec. 27, we have received 33 pledges (4 new) for 2021 in the amount of $89,430. Last year at this time, we received 40 pledges in the amount of $87,859.
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
Choral Music will precede the worship service beginning at 9:45 as people ‘tune in’ to the zoom service.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE O Master Let Me Walk with Thee Riverside Church Choir
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 147 Libby Szymanowicz
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!
Through the waters of oppression and death, Lord God, you led a people into the burning presence of your love. As you fed them in the desert, now feed us with the finest bread, your spirit of grace and forgiveness, fill us with the liberating power of Jesus’s undying message, and let us feel the warm breath of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION Libby Szymanowicz
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (in unison)
Father of us all, you give us life and love and all of creation, yet we waste ourselves
and our resources through selfishness and greed. You bring us light, yet we hide in the shadows of our own sins. Forgive us Father, as you shine the light of your grace on our pathways through the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Brothers and Sisters believe in the Good News of the Gospel; in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. AMEN.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN 327 O Word of God Incarnate
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
God of heaven, you send the gospel to the ends of the earth and your messengers to every nation: send your Holy Spirit to transform us by the good news of everlasting life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
OLD TESTAMENT Jeremiah 31: 7-14 Libby Szymanowicz
NEW TESTAMENT John 1:1-18 John Redman, CRE
SERMON “It’s Worth Repeating” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Lord as we come before you in this new year, we look to a happier and far better 2021, even as we continue to reel under the crush of isolation and social distancing, both so critical to our confining this heinous plague. And even though you already know the names and hearts of each of us, we come to you asking, for your everlasting watch and care for all of us, healing those in pain and comforting those in mourning.
And we ask for special and speedy recovery, for those we have noted here
And to each one of your children named, we ask in unison LORD HEAR OUR PRAYER.
And to each may your grace and your love wash over them, bathing them in your
goodness and light. In Jesus name,
And may the people say. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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,
COMMUNION HYMN Break Thou the Bread of Life Acapeldridge
INVITATION TO THE TABLE
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
May the composer of heaven's music be with you! And also with you! Beloved, God has created you for faithful living. 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. We will dance with joy to the Table of peace and hope. Chaos trembled as you spoke, not wanting to hear … … we join our voices in praise to you:
Your Word opens our eyes to all creation; your Word is the sweet taste of joy for hungry hearts; 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 … As we celebrate his life in us, …. we would speak of that mystery we call faith:
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.
Here at your Table, Redeemer of all creation … … so we may be peacemakers for our communities.
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
You can support the work of Union Church by mailing donations to 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh, NY 12550 or visit newburghpresby.org/donate to donate online.
MOMENT FOR MISSION Libby Szymanowicz
PRAYER OF THANKS
POSTLUDE O, Gladsome Light Byzantine
INVITATION TO COFFEE HOUR
SERMON TEXT It’s Worth Repeating
Just three weeks ago our lectionary reading featured a few verses from John chapter 1. And the reading for today is actually John 1: 10-18, but we really need to look back to the beginning. In the beginning.
That’s how it begins, as we all know, bringing us back to Genesis 1. And why does that mean something to us? That’s a fairly simple answer, isn’t it? Or is it?
You see, Jesus has been with God from the very beginning, since the Creation began, since Genesis 1, and even before.
There has been a lot of discussion about the birth narratives in the Gospels, or the lack of them, with Luke and his shepherds and angels, and Matthew’s wise men from the East. Mark has no mention of Jesus’s birth, but Mark is a short, matter of fact kind of book that launches right into the baptism of Jesus and the start of his ministry. More on that later.
So the Christmas stories of Luke and Matthew, different as they are, have managed to meld into one story as every creche and Sunday school pageant have ever displayed, with shepherds, angels, mangers and wise men and even camels all together.
And then we say, John’s Gospel, like Mark’s, doesn’t have a birth story, but that would be wrong – “In the beginning was the Word” is its own birth story where the physical manifestations of Luke’s account of a birth in a stable, and Matthew’s concerns about Herod and worshipping wise men are more literal versions of John’s more poetic “and the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
How’s that for a birth narrative? So, in this Gospel, we don’t have a mysterious conception, an arduous journey from Galilee to Bethlehem, or overcrowded inns, but we do have what’s most important, that the Word that’s been there since the beginning, since before time began has come among us.
And what about that amazing passage from Jeremiah this morning? Jeremiah is thought to be this book of violence and condemnation of conquest and weeping and it certainly is, but in the middle of this book are three chapters known as the book of comfort, of consolation, where the trials of Israel are given new promise. Of course, after these chapters, Jeremiah reverts to the patterns of anguished exile, the rejection of God and the struggle for redemption for the nation and that’s what we generally see as a summary for Jeremiah, and that’s one big reason why Bible readers try to avoid it if they can.
But here, we see the promise of return from exile, along the straight path of refreshing brooks, as opposed to the wanderings in the waterless desert of the Exodus, with exultant celebrations and singing and dancing and general joy all around. That’s the promise that God made, not just to these Israelite exiles, but to all of us.
Although Jeremiah will go onto account for God’s vengeance on a faltering nation at the end of his book, we look elsewhere. Hey, let’s go back to Mark’s Gospel where he begins with the baptism of the Lord, and that’s where we will go next week, along with the arrival of those mysterious visitors from the East. What has become known as Epiphany seems to be about the arrival of the three Kings, which of course falls on a Wednesday this year, but Epiphany originally was known and celebrated as the day of our Lord’s baptism. So next week we will pay homage to both of those occasions.
But I started out talking about Mark, didn’t I? Poor Mark, whose original gospel gets swept up by both Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience still worshipping in the synagogues, and Luke writing for a rising Gentile population stretching across the Roman empire. Mark’s version of the disciples who seem to have a hard time grasping the real message of Jesus and arguing among themselves isn’t actually the most encouraging example of how to follow Jesus, but as I said, we will take that up at another time.
But then what about this Gospel of John, the not so synoptic with the other three? There are two schools of thought about the origin of this very different Gospel. One is that it was actually written by the disciple John, son of Zebedee, in the seventh or eighth decade of the first century, who at that time would have been about seventy years old, much older than the usual life expectancy at that time, but still possible. But the more likely source is from a follower of John writing at the very end of the first century or the beginning of the second.
Contemporary scholars lean in that direction, from the heavy influence of Greek culture and philosophy, especially the Greek idea of dichotomy – light versus darkness, good against evil, the ebb and flow of the tides, the incarnation as flesh counterbalanced by the divinity of Christ.
Whoever it was that wrote this gospel had a peculiar challenge –how would he convince readers who had no previous idea of a Messiah. The three synoptic Gospels each have backgrounds in Judaism, with the prophecies of a Messiah, but not so with the Greek cultured readers of John, so that’s a primer reason why John is such a different kind of Gospel. So John presents us with this Word becoming flesh and living among us as a way to show his Greek readers, or as Eugene Peterson says inhis translation, “The Message,” ‘The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.’
And what of this “Word?” Listen to the commentary of William Barclay: “The Greek term for word is Logos but Logos does not only mean word; it also means reason. For John, and for all the great thinkers who made use of this idea, these two meanings were always closely intertwined. Whenever they used Logos the twin ideas of the Word of God and the Reason of God were in their minds.”
So how does that float your boat? The twin ideas of God’s word and His reason are delivered here by John, as a convincing argument for the arrival and life of Jesus, as the Word of God and the source of our grace from God, his Reason, or as Barclay goes on to say: “So, John went out to Jews and Greeks to tell them that in Jesus Christ this creating, illuminating, sustaining mind of God had come to earth. He came to tell them that men need no longer guess and grope; all that they had to do was to look to Jesus and see the Mind of God.”
See the Mind of God? How can we possibly see the Mind of God when we can’t even comprehend the dimensions of His being? How do we humans approach the concept of God in a universe that stretches beyond our imagining, let alone know His mind?
But then, let’s cheat a little and look toward the back of the book. I love to read murder mysteries and spy thrillers, but occasionally I find one that bogs me down so that I have to sort of cheat and read the end of the book to see if I can actually get through all of it.
So, let’s cheat for a moment and look at the end of John’s gospel, where he says there are many other things that Jesus did that are not in this book.
As Peterson says in The Message at the conclusion of John, “there are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.”
But it’s not a library of books, the work of Jesus is the work that it’s in all of us, through the centuries old promise of faith and belief that bring us to the face of God and the grace of Jesus on this day and every day.
And so, my brothers and sisters in faith, please know that I have shared these thoughts and words with you today in 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