June 27 Worship
Updated: Jun 30
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, June 20 will be in-person and streamed on YouTube to view at home. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections.
HOW TO VIEW ON YOUTUBE: YouTube broadcast will begin at 10:25 am.
For ALL devices: https://www.youtube.com/user/NewburghPresby
NO VIRTUAL FELLOWSHIP TODAY due to a Session meeting after worship.
We are phasing out virtual fellowship and will begin in-person Fellowship Time next Sunday, July 4.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
June 27, 2021 10:30 am
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
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.
July 4th Garden Worship Service followed by an in-person lemonade and iced tea Fellowship Time. Honoring Sophia Hyun and Jacob Johnston, Valedictorian and Salutatorian of NFA's class of 2021!
Ushers Needed – As we transition back to Church for worship services, we need Ushers.
At this point, the same volunteers have been Ushering since April! Pastor John suggests signing up for two weeks at a time. Please call the church office (845) 562-0954 for more info.
REMINDER: Services will continue at 10:30 am through summer.
SAVE THE DATE: Spaghetti Dinner Friday evening, August 6. Stay tuned for details.
BARN SALE: Sat. Oct 2. Accepting items now through September, first and third Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 am. NO CLOTHING. NO large furniture. Volunteers needed.
Contact Jeff Bousche (845) 913-8434 for more information.
OFFICE CLOSED NEXT Monday, July 5 for Independence Day observed.
FOOD PANTRY: OPEN Mon. July 5 and Wed. July 7 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE When the Church of Jesus
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 breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. PEOPLE: The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. Leader: The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!" PEOPLE: The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. ALL: May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
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 yet with us in spirit as we pray in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
We try, but we always seem to fall short of your expectations, Dear Lord. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Dearest Lord, even in the bright sunshine of summer we often stumble in the darkness of our sins yet seeking the light of your comfort. But your light is always there before us, even as we look up to its inspiring flame, as we look each day to a new sun. 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, even as we know you will deliver us brighter days to come, just as the summer sun lights our joy in your love and grace.
(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.
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.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN OF PRAISE God Whose Giving Knows No Ending Grosse Pointe, Michigan Choir
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 listening, in our speaking, in our believing, and in our living. Amen.
MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 1: 1-5 Cathy McCarty, Lay Reader
NEW TESTAMENT Acts 19: 1-12
GOSPEL Mark 1: 4-11
SERMON “Let’s Try this Again, Shall We?” John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Lord we come to you asking, even though you already know the names and hearts of each of us, healing those in pain and comforting those in mourning, and looking after one another as we navigate the recovery from this dreadful pandemic and as we encounter warmer days and brighter futures with vaccines and therapies to help us all to improve and readjust to a more normal pattern to our lives. And we ask you dearest Lord to especially stretch out your healing touch for those we name here.
And Gracious God, keep in our hearts those whose names you already know and who ask for healing in their own quiet ways and methods, and let us come together to pray as our Savior Jesus taught us 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 When I Go Home (Acapeldrige) Original hymn by GM Eldridge
OFFERING OF TITHES AND GIFTS
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.
PRAYER OF THANKS
DOXOLOGY Played by Dr. Kris Rizzotto
POSTLUDE Pentecost 5 Postlude
SERMON TEXT Let’s Try this Again, Shall We?
Our Lectionary readings for today seem sort of strange don’t they? First we start with the beginning of Genesis and our Gospel follows up with the beginning passages of Mark. That makes a certain amount of sense, since Mark as the oldest Gospel and also the simplest, portrays the story of Jesus’s birth from his baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John.
And in Genesis, we are reminded that Jesus the Son has been with God the Father from the very beginning, so it’s not just coincidence that pairs these two readings. The very simplicity of baptism settles on us like night and day, since the time before time began.
Now that elegant simplicity is not so evident in today’s reading from the Book of Acts. When Paul comes to Ephesus, the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire, where he encounters these twelve disciples who have been baptized into the Way of God, as they say, but they have not received the Holy Spirit through their baptism. Say What?
How does this work? You get baptized, but you know nothing of any Holy Spirit? After some careful conversation Paul seems to discern that these people have meant well, but somehow the concept of the Holy Spirit entering into them as part of the transformative effect of baptism has not been part of the process.
This bothers Paul a lot, and I can tell you it bothered me too, when I read it. But he finally explains it this way: “If you have received John’s baptism, you are now ready for the real experience of Jesus.”
And Paul proceeds to lay hands on them and the Holy Spirit enters into them in that true transformative spirit of baptism, just as the sign of the dove descends upon Jesus as he emerges from the water.
But why this disconnect, this total lack of understanding of the Holy Spirit in all this? Why wasn’t the Holy Spirit front and center of the entire experience, not some parenthetical addition later?
And if God was so well-pleased with Jesus’s baptism, as Mark says, why wasn’t that known to these disciples in Ephesus?
The easy part of that answer is that Mark’s Gospel is yet to be written at this point in history. Paul’s time in Ephesus is sometime in the late fifth decade, about 58 or 59 CE and Mark’s Gospel was written some eight to ten years later. But from the very beginning of these events, we have the oral traditions and accounts of eyewitnesses, and those accounts may well have not included some of the subtleties of the Holy Spirit, although it defies understanding that this Sign of the Dove descending upon Jesus would have been somehow omitted.
But here we are in this church in Ephesus, with these dedicated individuals who call themselves ‘disciples,’ yet who have no concept of the power of the Holy Spirit. Part of the blame, if there is any blame, seems to come from one Apollos, a scholarly Jew who has settled in Ephesus from Alexandria, who seems to know a lot about Jesus, but nothing about the Holy Spirit. And while Paul is traveling about the countryside, Apollos has learned of this Holy Spirit and his teachings and arguments seem to become even more convincing than before.
And in what seems to be an episode from one of those bedroom farces, with the doors opening and closing with comings and goings, Apollos heads to Corinth with his still somewhat limited background of the Holy Spirit as Paul comes to Ephesus and encounters these twelve disciples who seem to be thirsting for it.
So now Paul blesses and baptizes each of these, and they believe and become his followers. And for the next three months, Paul goes to the synagogue every day to preach and teach, debating the Kingdom of God and showing the Way to one and all. However, there are those who do not believe, who apparently said evil things about all this before the rest. So Paul leaves the synagogue and rents a Greek lecture hall where he continues his mission work for another two years, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles from all over Asia.
This popularity isn’t lost on some others who want to get in on the action, and soon Paul has competition, among many others in the form of the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish High priest, who seem to be casting out evil spirits but are more likely just playing some kind of con game. They go around saying to the afflicted, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” But when they encounter a genuinely afflicted man who is truly possessed by evil, he attacks them, driving them from his house with wounds and their clothes torn off as he drives them away, in total fear and defeat.
Now this puts the whole city in a panic, I mean there is real evil here, and these groups of itinerant exorcists are in genuine fear for their lives. Paul’s status as the true voice of Jesus is magnified through this. And to top it off, these charlatans are bringing their books of spells and incantations and exorcisms and burning them in the public square.
And through this, the word of the Lord becomes the prevalent belief in Ephesus.
Well, don’t get too comfortable in success, Paul says when the next clash of religion and commerce come to conflict. Even though Ephesus has become a center of Christian thought and belief, there’s even more competition afoot. Ephesus is also the hometown of Artemis, the Greek Goddess of Love and a certain silversmith named Demetrius is running a very brisk business by making silver replicas of her temple. He’s got an entire production line making these things and he calls his workers together to say how Paul has discredited Artemis, not just in Ephesus, but all over Asia. Furthermore, Demetrius contends, “not only is our business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our goddess Artemis will end up in a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing, not only here in Ephesus, but the whole world worships our Artemis!”
And this turns into a full-scale riot all over the city as a mob seizes two of Paul’s assistants and Paul himself is restrained from joining in the melee. And how is this resolved? Well, after several hours of confrontation and riots, a city official quiets everyone down by telling them that if they insist on rioting, then the Romans will take care of them.
Apparently, the fear of Rome was greater than the fear of commercial ruin for the followers of Artemis. But these conflicts between commerce and religion are nothing new though, are they? We see them all the time. And what about these two very strange incidents in Acts 19? Have you ever run across them in your Bible readings, and what could they possibly have to say to us in our own age of commerce and information overload?
I have to admit that this incident of fake exorcists coming around and repenting was new to me, having been in one of those parts of Acts that we skate over in reading, though this Demetrius guy and his wide ranging business of silver temple replicas is more well-known as one of those illustrations of evil commerce versus the purity of faith.
But do they have any real significance to us today?
Yes, the evil doers repent, but only from their fear of a greater evil. Surely that’s not something that we have to worry about. And Demetrius? Well, I’m sure he had his customer base for a while, but certainly the popularity of Artemis has died down in the meantime.
But at the root of all this, what it says is that faith is still important to many of us, and Paul and his followers spread the message to people who took it to heart, and they carried it on to others. I know that kind of faith is important to you, too evidenced by your presence here or watching online. But what of those we seldom see here, who are on our membership roll and directory, but we haven’t seen or heard from in months?
Every week I take a name or two from our directory and make a phone call or send an email or both, with occasional success in reaching them, more often leaving a message, just to let people know that we are still here, every week, and hoping to see them sometime soon. I will admit that there’s not a great success rate, but you never know, do you?
So do me and all of us a favor, if you would. Sometime this week, pick a name out of your church directory, someone you haven’t seen in a while, and give them a call or send a text, just as a reminder that we would like to see them sometime soon, or remind them that next Sunday we will be out in the Garden, Lord willing, and they can join us there.
And know my sisters and brothers in faith that I share these thoughts and words with you this morning 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