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  • John T. Redman, CRE

June 13 Worship

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Hello Union Church Presbyterians,

Worship this Sunday, June 13 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.

VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.

NO VIRTUAL FELLOWSHIP TODAY due to a Session meeting.


Union Church, Newburgh NY

June 13, 2021 10:30 am



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.

Chancel Flowers today are given by Jeffrey & Estelle Bousché to the Glory of God and in celebration of their 43rd Anniversary.

Rose on the pulpit today is in honor of the baptism of Emily Grace Geigel.

Next week Gaye Hartwig, CRE will supply the pulpit.

USHERS Needed: As we transition back to Church for worship services, we need Ushers.

The same volunteers have been Ushering since April! Call the church office 562-0954 for more info.

REMINDER: Services will continue at 10:30 am through summer.

Barn Sale: Sat. Oct 2. Accepting items on the first and third Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 am. NO CLOTHING. NO large furniture. Contact Jeff Bousche 913-8434 for more info.

Food Pantry: OPEN Mon. June 21 and Wed. June 23 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.

Clothes Closet: The tables and clothing racks, clothes, bedding, and other goods have been moved upstairs in Fellowship Hall. We expect to open for business next distribution.

Big thanks to all the volunteers.

SESSION meeting today at 11:30 am in Fellowship Hall


PRELUDE You Are the Seed Samm Hills Lutheran Church

Used with permission, recorded April 2020

CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 92 Leader: It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, People: For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Leader: The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. PEOPLE: They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. Leader: In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, PEOPLE: showing that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.


Gracious God, we rejoice in our company here today, to offer our worship and devotion to you and to the teachings of Scripture. Guide us in our pathways of faith, step by step in your name and that of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


In our busy complicated lives, we often discount or overlook our devotion to God and to our faith. Let us come together as we confess our sins.


Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried to hide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves, and apart from you. We have ignored the pain of the world, and passed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed. In your great mercy forgive our sins and free us from selfishness, that we may choose your will and obey your commandments, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

(A moment for silent personal confession)


Friends in Christ, we know that our Lord is most merciful, forgiving us always. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven Amen.

GLORIA PATRI Traditional, Second Century


I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.

He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy catholic Church, the communion of the saints,

the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


HYMN OF PRAISE Give to the Winds Thy Fears


Today we celebrate the Baptism of Emily Grace Geigel, born February 13, 2021.

Parents are Joey V. Geigel and Kristen Watt-Geigel.

Godparents are Joey Bernard and Heather Watt-Ferrari.


Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.


OLD TESTAMENT Ezekiel 17:22-24 John Safran

EPISTLE 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17

GOSPEL Mark 4:26-34

SERMON “Sorting Out the Tangles” John Redman, CRE


Generous God who overwhelms us with goodness and mercy, we thank you for this day, giving us the gift of this life, calling us to be your people. When we are tempted to judge others harshly, remind us to forgive as we have been forgiven. When we feel paralyzed with doubt or awash in anxiety, grant us the peace that passes understanding. When we do not know what to do or where to turn, make your word a light unto our path so that we can take one step closer to Christ as he leads us in the way everlasting. And we ask for your special touch on those we name here

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.

OFFERTORY ANTHEM I’ve Got Peace Like a River Union Chancel Choir, 2013


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.


DOXOLOGY Played by Dr. Kris Rizzotto


POSTLUDE The Rejoicing by George Fredrich Handel


We are grateful to the Samm Hills Lutheran Church for the Prelude today:

Voices: Anna Morris, Shinwoo Oh

Piano: Carol Churchill

Coordinating, Film Editing, Audio Mixing and Mastering: Sung Lee

Produced by Samm Hills Worship

SERMON TEXT Sorting out the Tangles

Oh, the parables of Jesus, and whatever can they mean? So many things, actually, and on two levels at the same time, or on many other levels, depending on whomever is interpreting them. And this image of the seed that opens our Gospel passage today, according to Mark, we don’t know how the seed sprouts and grows, and the earth does it all without the farmer’s help. Now we know that’s not exactly the truth. We know about fertilization and germination and water and various ways to increase the yield of the seedlings as they grow and mature. But a bumper crop of grain isn’t really what Jesus is talking about here. He’s talking about the potential for growth, the growth of faith and belief as it germinates and sprouts and grows, not just on its own, but in the Kingdom of God.

That’s the inherent danger of literal belief when it comes to parables, since they by definition defy literal belief. And then Jesus uses this mustard seed parable. Some commentators say this is a sneaky play on words on Jesus’ part, because everybody knows the mustard shrub, even when full grown, isn’t much. So what if it can shelter some birds?

But it’s the idea that from such a tiny seed, such an impressive plant can grow that is the point that Jesus wants to make. Most of us think of mustard in a brown or yellow bottle to put on our hot dogs and we have no idea what the plant looks like. Eugene Peterson, in his translation, The Message, takes the idea of a tiny humble seed growing into an impressive plant structure and uses the tiny acorn to create a mighty oak, where eagles can nest. Now that’s impressive.

But then what about this speaking only in parables to the crowds, but then he explains it all to his disciples in private. I have to admit, this has always bothered me. Why would Jesus be so obtuse to his listeners, and yet explain it all to the disciples. Well, perhaps the disciples NEED everything to be explained to them, as we will see as we journey further into Mark’s Gospel toward the end of summer, where it seems as though these disciples are not only unruly and uneducated, but at times they are just dumb as rocks.

Back to Peterson’s translation, he says it this way: “With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.”

So that’s how Jesus explains it all. And in the words of the prophet Ezekiel, we don’t read Ezekiel often enough, do we? In his words, the nation of Israel will grow from a tiny sprout or sprig and become like a giant Cedar with birds of all kinds nesting in its branches, the small tree made great, the great tree made small, because that’s what I, God, can do. I said it. I did it.

And this passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians can really tie you in knots, and who knows how to sort out the tangles? First, this is not the second letter to the Corinthians, but the fourth. The first one was lost entirely, probably to some shipwreck or something. The second one is what we call 1 Corinthians, and the third one crosses over from late in 1 Corinthians to early in the second.

But by now, we are in the fourth letter. If you aren’t too confused by now, that’s good because Paul is just warming up his double negative style of faith. Now stick with me here. Paul says he would rather leave our body and be with the Lord, but at the same time we are away from the Lord when we are in the body. Huh? Paul is referring to faith, which is done not on sight but on itself. Elsewhere in his letters, Paul talks not only about his conversion on the road to Damascus but about other out of body experiences. Are these visions, epileptic seizures, delusions, hallucinations, or are they just Paul, trying to explain the amazing mystery of faith? Our language is so impoverished when it comes to describing the width, depth and breadth of salvation through the grace of Jesus, how can any of us approach more than the hem of his robe or the thong of his sandal?

And that seems to be Paul’s conundrum in this passage, where being in the body is somehow opposed to being with the Lord. This is a theme throughout the letters of Paul, and this is one thing that scholars have used to separate his actual letters from those merely attributed to him.

Okay, so where does that square up with us, here today? What do these arguments mean to our lives in faith today? First, I studied several tracts on what preachers call the ”exegesis” of the passage. Then I turned to my friend Peterson and “The Message”, and he said it this way: “Cramped conditions here won’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t see that keeps us going. And if that isn’t faith, then what is?

These weeks after Pentecost seem to be meant for a different reflection than Lent or Easter. They lead us into introspection on our own faith journeys, sometimes bringing us to painful, or in some cases even joyous recollections of those journeys. But each one is our own, and we reclaim it not only with Paul’s conclusions of judgement and immortality, but by our own steps and pathways along the Jesus trail of faith and truth.

But what does Paul mean by ‘Walking in faith, not sight?’ It’s Paul’s idea of the real transformation that happens in our journeys of belief that is not just a physical reaction, something we can get hold of, but the entire experience, the total glorification of God’s grace in and around us brings home that old phrase a God-fearing people. This doesn’t mean that we are afraid of or in fear of God’s judgmental power, but the true translation is that we are in awe of God’s presence and his power, we can’t even verbalize it, since there is no word or phrase or language that can begin to describe it.

It’s sort of like having to react to our own Dr. Margaret Small’s notice this week that after 28 years she is retiring as our organist and choir director. How do we react to that? Adequate words fail us, and we can’t even start to wrap our words around Margaret’s work and mission here, even as the image of her fingers flying along the keyboard in a arpeggio, will instantly jump into your brain and stay there.

Yes, we are in awe. Hey, I’m in awe of not only Margaret’s immense talent and dedication but her steadfast rock-solid faith and spirit. We know you are out there Margaret, and we mean every bit of this, despite the poverty of mere language.

And that’s the awe we feel when we try to grasp the idea of God, and as I said a few weeks ago, God is not just a noun. God is a verb, a verb of action, of vitality, of creation itself.

So, as we untangle Paul’s sometime obtuse language, know that I share these thoughts and words with you today by the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son, and 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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