- John T. Redman, CRE
January 8 Worship Service
Updated: Jan 10
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, January 8 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.
YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 AM, https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
ORDER OF WORSHIP
January 8, 2023 10:30 AM
SECOND SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS
BAPTISM OF THE LORD
CHANCEL FLOWERS today are given by Libby Szymanowicz to the Glory of God and in loving memory of Liz and Larry Cahill.
LECTERN FLOWERS today are given by Ruth Thomsen to the Glory of God and in loving memory of my daughter, Judith Hart.
USHERS today are Alana Gervais and Karen Olson. If you would like to usher in January or February, please contact Dan Olson.
FELLOWSHIP HOUR HOSTS needed for January and February. Sign-up chart available in the Fellowship Hall.
BAPTISMS for today have been rescheduled for NEXT SUN, JAN 15.
BENJAMIN VISE, our music director for the past year and a half, has accepted a new position as organist for the Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church and will be leaving us after January 15. We wish him well with the congregation at Pleasant Valley.
PHOTO DIRECTORY: Outreach will begin taking pictures of individuals and families during Fellowship Hour after services for the new photo directory.
FOOD PANTRY will receive $1 from every reusable Fight Hunger Bag sold during JANUARY at Hannaford at 2636 Rt. 32 in New Windsor.
FOOD PANTRY OPEN MON, JAN 16 and WED, JAN 18 from 9:30-11:30 AM. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
OFFERING ENVELOPES are available for pick up in the Narthex.
PLEDGES: As of JAN 2, we have received pledges for the amount of $96,000. If you have not received your pledge card in the mail, contact the office.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
If you have individual prayer requests, please write them on prayer cards in the pews and bring them up or give them to an usher during the prelude.
**Kindly stand if you are able
PRELUDE “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning” Tune: Morning Star
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from Psalm 29)
Leader: Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. PEOPLE: Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor. Leader: The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. PEOPLE: The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. Leader: The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!" PEOPLE: May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
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 “Baptized in Water” Red #758
CALL TO CONFESSION
As our Lord was baptized on this day, let us all revisit our own baptisms and our own release from sin as we pray together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of Heaven, on this holy day of baptisms let us use the occasion to grow closer to you and to the mission you have set out for us. May we resolve to follow you in our journeys of faith and belief and to reach out to those where help and relief is needed, both within our walls and without. This we ask in the name of Jesus, Amen. (a moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Friends in faith hold fast to that spirit of generosity and sharing that filled us through the holiday season, and know that in and through Jesus, we are forgiven. Amen.
**HYMN OF PRAISE “Come Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove” Red #298
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.
OLD TESTAMENT Isaiah 42:1-9 John Safran
GOSPEL Matthew 3:13-17
SERMON All that God Requires? John Redman, CRE
(Sermon text at the end of the bulletin)
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
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.
COMMUNION HYMN “We Come as Guests Invited” Red #784
Invitation to the Table
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Words of Institution
Prayer after Communion
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
**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.
OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS
We can hoard the gifts with which you bless us, God of generosity, or we can share them with others. May what we offer in these moments be the very blessing, the very hope, the very peace others need. This we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
OFFERTORY “Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized” Scottish Psalter
PRAYER OF THANKS
Lord God, we thank you for these gifts. As we enter a new year may we find ways to honor you by giving of our treasure, our time and our talents to glorify you and your son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
**HYMN OF PARTING “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” Red #291
POSTLUDE "What Star is This?" Tune: Puer Nobis
SERMON TEXT: All that God Requires
The title of today’s message All that God Requires comes from a more modern translation than even the Revised Standard Version where the same verse follows back to the King James Version: “thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” before Jesus consents to begin baptized by John. The literalists often wonder why Jesus would even need to be baptized, since he is without sin. The concept of John the Baptist doing this act in almost a wholesale manner was truly new at the time. Up until this time, Jewish tradition used baptism to cleanse those who had accepted Judaism without having been born into it, and also as ritual cleansing and bathing. The large jars that Jesus uses to turn water into wine at the wedding in Cana are used for this purpose. But John brings a whole new idea of baptism cleansing us and bringing us closer to God.
Is it this idea of coming closer to God that makes Jesus insist on John’s act of baptism? At first, it’s John who says you should be baptizing me. Sounds like John knows exactly who Jesus is, yet a few chapters later when he is in prison, John sends word to Jesus asking if he is the chosen one or if they should wait for another. Why this inconsistency, or is this just the same healthy doubt that we all have at one time or another? Not just doubts about who Jesus really is but sometimes some serious questions about our own journeys in faith. And if you unfortunate enough to never have had any doubt about any of this, then I for one wonder why?
Are we of a dogmatic opinion that to question God is the same as turning from God? Do we follow a hard-line literalist thinking that blind acceptance is the only true path? There are faith traditions that preach that although the gates of heaven are majestic indeed, that the entrance way into them is quite narrow and reserved only for those who believe a certain way.
And it’s that sort of dogma that set Christianity up to become such a violent and confrontational entity for so many centuries, from chasing down and exterminating the Gnostics in the third and fourth centuries to the Crusades for several hundred years to the Inquisition and the European religious wars of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.
And through all this turmoil a single and simple factor seems to have been lost, or at least set aside:
Jesus and his message of love and grace. How did that manage to happen? How did we stray so far?
It has more to do with power and politics than it does faith and that’s probably the biggest reason that has driven so many people away from church and faith communities through the decades and most importantly, so recently.
So when you take the long view of Christianity through the ages of history, you don’t get a very nice picture. And when you look at some of the proclamations attached to the church, it gets downright scary. For instance, the Doctrine of Discovery, from the sixteenth century, where the church of Rome declared that the newly discovered lands in the Americas were obligated to be converted to Christianity. Other churches signed on, too. As a matter of fact, our own denomination didn’t repudiate and remove this doctrine until 2016. Six years after Presbyterians accepted gay ordination, and a full year after same sex marriage became settled federal law our church finally declared that this doctrine was both false and harmful to the native peoples it had exploited, oppressed and destroyed for nearly four hundred years.
And do we wonder why some people question the whole idea of baptism, whether by John in the Jordan, or anywhere for that matter?
I was reminded this week of Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord, that much of the Christian world celebrates this occasion as Three Kings Day. My own biblical skepticism prevents me from thinking of these wise persons as kings as much as their arriving on this day in the first place, but my friend reminded me that this doesn’t have to be a factual story, since it’s about the future and looking ahead to what’s in store, and therefore it is a true story. Does it need to be factually and actually correct to be true? The Gospels now tend to say, no maybe not.
Matthew believes in the words he has borrowed from Mark, and in his own versions of how the Messiah has formed and been brought to his time with John the Baptizer. But are these the accounts to be believed as the basis for Jesus and his mission and message, any more than Luke’s accounts that will vary widely from Matthew, and even though on this day of the Baptism or Our Lord, all accounts of the baptism and that heavenly reaction of “I am well pleased” are fairly similar across all four Gospels?
The point here is that none of these versions can be taken as literal history or true accounts. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Even John Shelby Spong, a staunch Bible scholar and even tougher critic has famously said that there are only three biographical facts in the Gospel of John – Jesus was born, baptized and crucified. But then he goes on to say: “that doesn’t mean that there isn’t truth in John’s Gospel.” The overwhelming evidence of Jesus having been a part of God since before time began, as shown in John chapter one, and then coming to live with us in the flesh and still with us throughout these centuries as a spirit, as a presence and an embodiment of the love of God for his children in creation is truth enough for many, and indeed holds itself as the reality of Jesus’ life in us.
Look to the imagery of Isaiah from today’s Old Testament reading about how our eyes will need to adjust to the bright light after having been kept in the dark of a dungeon, it doesn’t get much more vibrant than that, does it? And even through the tired prophecies of Isaiah, the new things he now declares, these new things springing forth. Good news? That is Good News for sure, and it’s no wonder that Isaiah holds a special place for us as we try to sort out what all this good news really means.
And if you are having a hard time trying to process this, just put yourself into a Galilean synagogue two thousand years ago when a young rabbi, whom you had thought was some laboring carpenter or stone mason, will read from the Torah scroll about those things that will be springing forth and how they will come to pass. He reads from the scroll! He speaks with authority! What do you suppose he will do next, ask for baptism? What then, would we ask ourselves or amongst us, about him?
Those along the way who think that he will lead us to a new conquest of the Romans, or to a new prosperity beside them, will be surprised when the pathway he walks leads right up to the cross on that desolate hill, where he will soon reside by the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son, and the ever-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