January 31 Worship
Updated: Feb 9
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, January 31 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections. The Annual Meeting will be immediately after worship, stay connected to Zoom. See email for Annual Report Booklet.
FULL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/GYOIZFELX1Q
HOW TO JOIN (Worship & Annual Meeting):
(Or use zoom.us )
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 964 7629 0332 Passcode: 515999
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.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
January 31, 2021 10:30 am
Fourth 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.
ANNUAL MEETING: TODAY immediately following worship, stay connected to Zoom.
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.
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. 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.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE HYMN 274 O God of Earth and Space
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 111 Dan Olson Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. He sent redemption to his people and commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
God of all, we come before you today to worship your message of love and grace to all creation. We ask you to open our hearts and minds to your word, and to be mindful of those who are not here today but are with us in spirit as we pray in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
CALL TO CONFESSION
We try, but we always seem to come short of your expectations, Dear Lord. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (muted please)
Dearest Lord, in these dark times we often stumble in the darkness, seeking the light of your comfort. But the light is always there before us, even as we look up to its inspiring flame. Grant us the peace to know our shortcomings even as you forgive them. And may we continue to look to the light of your perfect love, Dear God, in these dark days even as we know you will deliver us brighter days to come.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Sisters and Brothers, the Lord of Heaven knows all our actions and all our prayers. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
GLORIA PATRI Westminster Virtual Choir
HYMN OF PRAISE 454 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing, and in our living. Amen.
MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES
OLD TESTAMENT READING Deuteronomy 18:15-20 Dan Olson
NEW TESTAMENT READING Mark 1: 21-28 John Redman, CRE
SERMON “Who’s the Crazy One?” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Heavenly Father, we come to you today in prayer, as we do in every day, to ask your answer to our poor requests, in light of the vast miseries the world over. But we once again ask that you watch over us, your children as we know you will, dearest Lord. And we also seek your guidance in our efforts toward a greater unity in our country and in the world as well. May we seek to come together, not to eliminate our differences, but to celebrate a greater tolerance for all of those differences, be they race, economics or politics.
And especially watch over those who serve our country at home and abroad, those who respond first to sickness and peril, those who minister to and heal the sick and those who suffer from this terrible pandemic, and we ask for special prayers for those we name here;
Asking that you LORD, HEAR OUR PRAYER, watching over our own hearts and 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, Amen.
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 323 Spirit of the Living God
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.
MINUTE FOR MISSION Dan Olson
PRAYER OF THANKS
DOXOLOGY Union Chancel Choir
POSTLUDE From All that Dwell Below the Skies
INVITATION TO COFFEE HOUR
SERMON TEXT Who’s the Crazy One?
Jesus is a Jew. That doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, you know. “Jesus wasn’t a Jew; he is a Christian!” roars the radical.
Sorry, Jesus is a devout Jew, and going into the synagogue to read the Torah to others is something that he seems to enjoy doing. In Israel at that time there was only one Temple, the great Temple of Jerusalem, but every city of any consequence had a synagogue. And Jesus takes his first few disciples to the synagogue of Capernaum where he proceeds to read the Torah, and then to teach.
In those days, you might attend service in the synagogue and the presider of the worship would ask someone who could actually read the Torah scroll to do so, and this apparently is what Jesus did.
Imagine this young fellow with his group of friends as a fresh voice in the synagogue, being asked to read. After all, there weren’t that many who could read. He not only read from the Torah, but then he commented on it, not something that was normally done.
But then, Jesus wasn’t there to repeat what scribes and rabbis had said for generations, he was there to announce a new message, the message of hope for a new kind of belief system.
Imagine the hush as the crowd struggles to grasp Jesus was saying —and the hubbub as they begin to talk among themselves about what they have heard. We don’t what Jesus actually said, but we know it made a huge difference in the lives of those people in the synagogue on that day. Was it just the fact that Jesus departed from just reading and droning on in the manner they were used to hearing from a scribe or a rabbi, or was it the real content of his message? We don’t know, we only know that it sets the stage for what comes next.
Because, then in walks this crazy person, this one supposedly possessed by a demon, or as Mark says “an unclean spirit.” Wait a minute, how did an ‘unclean spirit’ make it in past the door of the synagogue? So, what does this possessed individual say?
He says, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” Wow, that doesn’t sound so crazy to us, does it? But how is it that this crazy guy, or as our Scripture calls him a person with “an unclean spirit,” sees Jesus as this Holy messenger of God when nobody else does?
I imagine him staggering in on wobbly legs, his eyes bright and looking all around as he storms down the center aisle of the synagogue with his proclamation, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!”
And when Jesus commands this unclean spirit to leave the man, there’s all this noise, and it’s gone! Then comes the real amazement about the authority of Jesus – not only does he read and comment on Scripture with authority he even drives out evil spirits!
Then the whole congregation is talking to each other about what is this. New teaching? New authority? New message? Can you imagine being there among those people when this happened? And then seeing them burst out of the synagogue and rush around everywhere with this amazing news as it says throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
But let’s go back for a minute to that unclean spirit speaking through this crazy man. He asks, “have you come to destroy us?” He doesn’t say “me,” he says “us.” Who is the us, in this case? Perhaps it is the unclean spirit itself who asks about being destroyed but why the plural? Four hundred years ago the biblical commentator Matthew Henry said that this demon, this unclean spirit, was speaking for all the unclean spirits that Jesus came to destroy, just as he cleanses all of us from the burden of sin.
A more contemporary commentator, David McLemore, puts it this way: “We see in the gospels that when Jesus came to earth, all hell broke loose. The demons and devils went on attack. And so, this unclean spirit says not, “What do you have to do with me?” but “What do you have to do with us—all us demons?” Jesus is a major threat to all demonic power. This unclean spirit recognizes the authority of Jesus. He knows who Jesus is and what Jesus is doing. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
In the Jewish tradition, revealing your name to an opponent was an act of submission to their authority. Remember in the Genesis story of Jacob wrestling all night with the angel of God? In the morning the angel asks Jacob his name, and when he gives it, Jacob comes under the authority of that angel. So, by this tradition, when you call out someone by name you are attempting to gain advantage or instill fear in that person.
It would be like someone saying, “I know who you are, John Redman, and I know what you did!” That might be a bit scary or put me off my guard, what’s that about? So that’s what the demon, or this unclean spirit is doing, but Jesus knows better, and he calls this demon out for what it is – evil – and now it’s gone. Maybe this particular unclean spirit seemed to know that the kingdom of God was at hand? The demon’s tactics are of no use. He may be powerful, but he’s not authoritative, and he certainly can’t standup to the authority of Jesus. And we will hear more about that authority in the coming weeks.
But what about this prophecy stuff from the book of Deuteronomy today? This is from the last words of Moses, as the Israelites finally look to cross into the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The Scripture says that a new prophet will come from the people, from among them. But what about these prophets? Why are they so important?
In the ancient days of the near east, prophets were in a class by themselves. They weren’t preachers, they weren’t teachers. But they were there to interpret the word of God. We think of prophets as solitary creatures, gathering God’s proclamations and then delivering them. Actually, prophets were fairly commonplace; in the book of 1 Kings, the King of Israel has 400 prophets in his court, but they can’t hold back another that comes from the people to warn King Ahab that defeat is at hand.
There’s actually a pretty funny passage where the prophets argue in front of the king, and one of them punches another in the nose, over who has the better prophecy!
But in this passage, the prophet is there to be listened to and his word heeded. The Hebrew word sama means ‘hear,’ but it also carries the connotation of ‘be obedient to.’ And then we are supposed to figure out who is a genuine prophet speaking for God, and who is a false prophet, who is not. The reason for this reading today is about the idea of real and false prophets. There’s no shortage of prophets today, just turn on any one of several cable channels and you’ll see one or another televangelist exhorting you to repent, or to read your Bible more often, but mostly to send money in their direction. But charlatan prophets are nothing new, they are as time itself. So that’s why this passage is both relevant and important to us today – it sorts out the true authority from what isn’t true. Jesus has the authority of truth on his side. His truths were not easy to hear, and eventually it was his truth-telling that would result in death on a cross. Some would not believe him because he didn’t seem to have the right pedigree, or he didn’t hang out with the right people. Others did not believe him because they had already had their own idea of what the Messiah was to be, and Jesus’ message of grace and forgiveness was nothing like they envisioned. Still others were sure that this was Joseph the carpenter’s son who could not possibly be privy to God’s will. And this Deuteronomy text ties right in with what will be shown in Jesus’ life, preaching, and death.
Now, how does this apply to us today? It’s something you will hear me say often, because it’s such a foundational truth. It speaks to all of us with demons, and who doesn’t have at least one or maybe even more? But the kingdom of God is here with us, right now, so even we demon-possessed have a chance! It also means that Jesus has the authority to change you or even me. The fact that we are all here today means that Jesus has already made a difference in our lives, that he has already changed us by the authority granted him by the Heavenly Father.
Martin Luther said, “The life of Christianity consists in possessive pronouns.” It’s one thing to say, “Jesus is Lord.” It’s quite another to say, “Jesus is my Lord.” Any run of the mill ordinary demon can say the first. Only a real Christian can say the second. What do you say? We know the answer.
And 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