March 6 Worship
Updated: Mar 8
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, March 6 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
March 6, 2022 10:30 am
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
USHERS today are John Safran and Paul Hill. If you would like to usher, contact Dan Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today is the Outreach Committee. Volunteers needed for March and April. Signup chart is in the Fellowship Hall.
Cornerstone Theatre Arts in Goshen: “Sports Stories on Stage,” an afternoon of monologues about our fascination with sports, featuring Pastor John as Ernest Hemingway talking about hunting, fishing, and bullfighting. Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6 at 2 pm. Admission is free but reservations are required. (Note: Theatre is a second-floor walkup with no elevator.) Reservation line will be open soon!
MID-WEEK MEDITATIONS begin Wednesday, Mar 2 at the start of Lent. Pastor John will upload the meditations to YouTube to view at home.
SAVE THE DATE: EASTER SUNDAY, April 17 at 6:30 am Sunrise Service on the Riverfront.
BOOK STUDY continues each Tuesday at 7pm on Zoom. See Pastor John if you'd like to join the discussion or need a copy of the book.
OUTREACH is starting a project to go along with the Union Church photo directory with the hopes to introduce older members to newer ones and vice versa and to serve as a starting point for conversations which go beyond “committee talk”. Richard Smith will be collecting volunteer information from those who wish to participate in sharing a little of who they are. One member or household will be published in the newsletter every other week. Richard has created a short set of standard questions and a unique plan for the order in which members would be chosen! There will be more information to follow, and we look forward to your participation!
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Mar 14 and Wednesday, Mar 16 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
We’re happy to announce that our Union Food Pantry is part of Stop & Shop’s Bloomin' 4 Good program for April. For every $10.99 Bloomin' 4 Good Bouquet sold, $1 is donated to a local hunger organization. The Bloomin' 4 Good Bouquet have a red circle sticker and are sold at Stop & Shop on Route 300, Newburgh. Should you need flowers in April, you can help to support our program!
ORDER OF WORSHIP
**Kindly stand if you are able
When you enter, converse with your neighbors; when the Prelude begins, converse with your God.
PRELUDE “O God, Be Merciful to Me” Johann Sebastian Bach
WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
CALL TO WORSHIP (adapted from Psalm 91) Leader: You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, PEOPLE: will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Leader: Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, PEOPLE: no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. Leader: For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. PEOPLE: On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. Leader: When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. PEOPLE: With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.
Gracious God, we enter this season of Lent in repentance for our lives that are sometimes at odds with your wishes, knowing that our faith in you and your forgiveness and love will sustain us as we look to the sunrise of Easter. In Jesus name, Amen.
**OPENING HYMN “God is Our Refuge and Our Strength” Blue #191
CALL TO CONFESSION
From those days in Eden, to our own days here, we are laden with faults and failings. Let us join together to confess our sins.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O God, in Jesus Christ you proclaimed your love for all creation. Have mercy on us and our sins. We have overpopulated the earth and violated its goodness. We have depleted nature of it vital resources. We care not for ourselves as temples, nor for communities as buildings not built with hands. We plead for forgiveness and ask for your guidance. Help us to be disciplined in caring for your gifts, lest in neglecting them we lose them forever. Amen. (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.
**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.
**HYMN OF PRAISE “O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High” Blue #83
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. Make us hungry for this heavenly food, that it may nourish us today in the ways of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Libby Szymanowicz
NEW TESTAMENT Romans 10:8b-13
GOSPEL Luke 4:1-13
SERMON Forty Days John Redman, CRE
PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE
Gracious God, keep in our hearts all those whose names you already know and who ask for healing in their own quiet ways, and as we join in the blessed sacrament of communion.
COMMUNION HYMN “Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread” Blue #505
Invitation to the Table
Communion Liturgy (see Insert)
Words of Institution
Prayer of Thanks
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS
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.
OFFERTORY “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” Red #642
African American Spiritual
**PRAYER OF THANKS
Gracious God, accept our gifts that they may be used wisely in your service for those who hunger, who shiver with cold or merely seek a greater understanding of your love. This we gratefully pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
HYMN OF PARTING “God Be with You” Blue #540
May the Lord of Creation bless you and keep you in the silence of the moment, and may the grace of our Savior shine down upon you as the Holy Spirit moves around and within you in the days to come. Amen.
POSTLUDE “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” setting by Healey Willan
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT Forty Days
Forty is a significant number throughout scripture.
There are the forty days and nights of rain in the Great Flood, the forty days that Moses spends on Mount Sinai as he gathers the commandments. And forty years wandering in the wilderness until the promised land. Elijah journeys for forty days to Mount Horeb, site of the burning bush of Moses as he is given new vision from the Lord. And Jesus spends forty days in the wilderness, fasting and praying, perhaps attempting to focus on how best to deliver his message to the people, and of course during this time he is visited by Satan three times, at least in Luke’s version of the story. In Mark, Jesus is waited upon by angels, while Satan seems to come and go. Matthew has Jesus spend the whole forty days before the devil shows up to tempt him, then the temptations race by. In Luke, Satan seems to appear here and there, throughout the forty days. And just where is this wilderness? The Judean plateau where Jerusalem and Bethlehem are located is divided from the Dead Sea by a wilderness called Jeshimmon, which means the devastation, an area of about 500 square miles, where jagged precipices of barren limestone loom 1200 feet above the Dead Sea and instead of sand, the ground is littered with lumps of limestone that resemble loaves of bread, some broken and jagged. This is the barren landscape where Jesus eats and drinks little to nothing, even though he has angels to serve him, according to Mark. And in those temptations, Matthew and Luke have them in different order. Do you suppose that makes any difference? The first one, turning stones into bread, is the same in both accounts. But Matthew puts Jesus up on the pinnacle of the Temple next and then on a mountaintop to be tempted by handing over all the kingdoms of the world. In the context of scriptures that Jesus uses to reply to Satan, it makes more sense to use Luke’s sequence of events with the whole world being offered, as though Jesus would fall for that one, and then Satan says, come on if you are the Son of God toss yourself off the top of the Temple and let the angels catch you, sort of a last ditch attempt to pull Jesus into his scheme.
But we know that no matter what temptation the devil comes up with that Jesus will be able to resist it, don’t we?
Are these temptations of Satan or mere doubts that Jesus may have had? Does he need to go on this forty-day retreat to center himself, to realize what he really needs to do? He has told his disciples that he will be killed and rise again on the third day; does he still have to convince himself of this? No, he is most assured of his destiny and what he needs to do but one still needs to confront and contemplate it don’t we?
I was asked recently about these 40 days of Lent, and I replied that they are symbolic of Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness. Then why are there 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday I was asked. That’s because the six Sundays of Lent don’t count as Lenten days. Say what? When the Catholic church instituted the idea of sacrifice in the season of Lent, they gave you Sunday off. So, if you’ve given up say, chocolate for Lent, and I shudder at the thought, you can still have some chocolate on Sunday. Sundays are always a day of celebration, no matter what the season and during Lent, you get a free pass.
Of course, the giving up of something for the season of Lent has never been prevalent in our Protestant tradition, and even among modern Roman Catholics it seems to have taken on some attributes of New Year’s resolutions, where seldom are such vows upheld all the way through to Easter.
What significance do we take from this scripture of temptation? Which of us could withstand these forty days of starvation and thirst, much less turn stones into bread? And when offered the chance to rule the world, would we take it?
And that pinnacle of the temple, exactly where is that? There is not a big bell tower or spire on the Temple, so where is it? The topmost point is where the roofline of Solomon’s porch, which follows around three sides of the Temple, meets the Fortress of Antonia, a literal fortress structure at the rear of the Temple built on the edge of a cliff perched 450 feet above the Kidron Valley below. The Temple was not just a place of worship, it really was a fortress with defenses designed into it. So when Jesus is perched up there with Satan, he looks out over the valley, up the Jordan towards Galilee, and straight down a 400 foot rock face.
What must have been racing through his mind just then? What would be in ours? Is he weak and hallucinating from hunger and thirst, delirious from everything he’s put himself through? Or is he drawing strength from these trials, ready to take on the ultimate challenge of faith? Are we ready?
Do we think through those words from Romans with professions of faith upon our lips and true confession of faith within our hearts? That’s the better definition of confession, not related to confessing our sins, which the early church would have called admitting our sins, but in confessing, or professing, we bring our most fundamentally rooted beliefs up from our core, bringing them out into the bright light of redemption as we profess or confess our true faith.
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this sort of confession is not an admission of sin so much as it is a way to forge a closer relationship with God, not bringing God closer to us, but drawing us closer to the bosom of God, cradled in that enveloping touch.
And that’s where we find ourselves today, not hovering on the edge of a cliff at the top of the Temple, but held deep within the comforting arms of God, so large and looming around us that we can’t even figure out what’s where, but we sense it anywhere and everywhere. Temptation has been taken from us, because acceptance has been granted to us, and like those servant angels from Mark’s gospel, we accept their love and their service.
And before we close, let’s take a closer look at our first reading for today, from the usually stern book of Deuteronomy about worshiping in the joyful bounty of the promised land, the land of milk and honey, after a summary reading of the history of the Hebrews in Egypt. Such a joyful celebration from such a usually dour book is an ironic beginning to what we’ve come to think of as a serious and solemn season of Lent. Throughout these weeks of Lent, I hope we will continue finding bits of joy within it even as we march inexorably to Golgotha and the cross.
Just as with Advent, the anticipation will build and almost break, as the tension of belief journeys intersect with the beauty of faith journeys throughout our complicated lives.
And know that I have shared 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