March 7 Worship
Updated: Mar 8
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, March 7 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers, songs, and reflections. We will be celebrating Communion this Sunday. Please have a cracker/bread of your choice and juice/beverage on hand to join in this sacrament.
HOW TO JOIN:
(Or use zoom.us )
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 963 4221 1910 Passcode: 070621
For telephones: Dial 1 (929) 205-6099
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
March 7, 2021 10:30 am
Third Sunday in Lent
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.
Ash Wednesday & Lent: Brief meditation service available on the church website. Brief midweek mediations will be posted each week of Lent.
Church Internet: Union has upgraded to FiOS Gigabit Internet.
To connect to WiFi: use the network named Union Guest, password unionchurch1.
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. March 15 and Wed. March 17 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. Zoom Questions? Call James at (301) 335-8677.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Lenten Prelude Jennifer Pearce-Chambers
CALL TO WORSHIP Adapted from Psalm 19 Dan Olson The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Dear God our Creator, you call us to love and serve you and our sisters and brothers with hearts, minds and spirits. Open our hearts in compassion and our minds to focus on your message of love and hopefulness and help us we look to the needs of the church and the world. This we pray in Jesus name, Amen.
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)
Father of us all, you give us life and love and all of creation, yet we waste ourselves and our resources through selfishness and greed.
You bring us light, yet we hide in the shadows of our own sins. Forgive us Dear Lord, as you shine the light of your grace on our pathways through the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
(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 60 (Red Hymnal) Great is They Faithfulness
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
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 READING Exodus 10: 1-17 Dan Olson
NEW TESTAMENT READING John 2: 13-22 Dan Olson
SERMON “Clearing or Cleansing?” 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. We know that you watch over us, healing those in pain and comforting those in mourning, and looking after one another as we navigate the troubled waters of a health crisis and helping those in greater need than we may be. We thank you for the messages of healing that new vaccines are bringing and ask for the speedy distribution of them along with a greater acceptance of their effectiveness among your children. And we ask you dearest Lord, to especially stretch out your healing hands for 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.
COMMUNION HYMN It is Well With My Soul Acapeldridge
Invitation to the Table
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Words of Institution
Prayer after Communion
OFFERTORY ANTHEM Abide with Me Union Chancel Choir
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 Praludium in G Minor Brian Turnbull
INVITATION TO COFFEE HOUR
SERMON TEXT Clearing or Cleansing?
Such a familiar passage as Jesus Cleansing the Temple has often been a sermon subject, and quite often the focus is on anger, specifically righteous Christian anger in the light of injustice. That only helps to show the amazing breadth and depth of Scripture, and how there is a wealth of interpretations and understandings available. My theme today has to do with how Jesus goes beyond just cleansing and clearing the Temple; He destroys and then rebuilds it. John places this episode at the very beginning of Jesus’s three-year ministry, as opposed to the Synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, who place it in the final week of His ministry, just after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Why do we suppose that John does this, how does this whole episode seem to be so much more important to him than to the previous three Gospel writers?
And why at the beginning of His ministry? Is this impetuous anger, entirely misplaced by a neophyte preacher and teacher? Or does this help point the way for Jesus, as not just the Messiah, but also a revolutionary Messiah. For a moment, let’s take the context of this whole episode in the Temple with the previous episode in the second chapter of John, the Miracle at Cana, the water into wine. We know that this is the first Miracle and that at this point Jesus and his five disciples are attending an elaborate wedding feast. In that time, it wasn’t unusual for a wedding feast to go on for several days. Sometime during these festivities, Jesus’s mother comes to him and says: “they are running out of wine.” Now Jesus, who is probably relaxing and enjoying himself, basically says, “What do you want me to do about it? My time has not yet come.” But Mary doesn’t even react to this; she just goes to the servants of the feast and tells them to do whatever Jesus asks.
Then Jesus tells the servants to fill 6 stone jars with water. Now these aren’t some jars that have held wine before, so that putting water in them would possibly taste like wine. No, these stone jars are for holding water used in the Jewish ritual of purification. The servants fill the jars, then Jesus tells them to draw some out and take it to the Steward of the feast. Can you imagine this servant, shaking in his sandals, taking ritual water to the Head Waiter? But the Steward is amazed when he finds that this is excellent wine, better than what they had to begin with. In this passage, as well as Jesus in the Temple, basic pillars of Jewish ritual life, the ritual of purification, the sacrifice of animals, and the Temple itself, are being torn apart and remade by Jesus for His own, new message.
This almost cinematic imagery of Jesus seizing some cords or ropes and driving the sheep and oxen from the Temple Courtyard is pretty dramatic isn’t it? Biblical Commentator Matthew Henry has suggested that the cords Jesus uses to make a whip have actually been the lead ropes that were tossed aside by the handlers who led the animals in. Thus, the sinners have cast off the very cords that Jesus uses to drive them out. By the way, this all takes place outside the Temple itself, in the Courtyard of the Gentiles. That’s also where the moneychangers are set up to exchange the Roman coins with images of Caesar or Tiberius; those coins have graven images on them; and so they can’t be used for the “entrance fee” to the Temple itself. So, Jesus takes off on these moneychangers, spilling out their boxes and overturning the tables and generally making one righteous ruckus. He probably had very good reason to be upset at these moneychangers, since they likely didn't give a very good exchange rate. Have you ever gone to one of those currency exchanges desks at the airport and looked at what they take as their fee? Yeah, they’ll change your money all right, but at what rate of exchange? But Jesus isn’t done yet – He tells the ones selling doves for sacrifices to get them out of His Father’s House and stop making it a marketplace! Jesus is sincerely worked up here, with anger not seen anywhere else in the Scriptures.
Wow, a marketplace in the Temple? This part of the text has also been used in various interpretations and arguments ever since the Gospel was written, to talk about commerce and the Church. In my home congregation in Goshen, it was a divisive issue several years back when the question of placing a cell phone antenna system in the steeple was brought up. Some people were dead set against it and used this very passage as their reasoning. A couple of members even left the church over it. So, what did they do? Well, they did as all good Presbyterians do when they have a thorny or weighty issue; they formed a committee to study it. I know, because I chaired that committee; we visited other churches that had already installed these devices and weighed what some considered the obvious advantages of this “commerce” that we could use to further our Mission not to mention help our teetering budgetary issues.
And the upshot of all this study was that having these systems indeed could help us in our Mission journey. Since then, two more wireless carrier antennae systems were added to the steeple with the resulting revenue being a vital addition to mission work. And overall support.
But let’s get back to the rest of the Scripture for today, because that’s where it gets really exciting on two fronts. One, when Jesus is asked, “What sign can you show for doing this?” He tells them, “Tear this Temple down and I will raise it up again in three days!” And two, the peoples’ response is predictably literal, but it gives us some vital insight into this whole situation and the very beginning of Jesus’s work. You see, they say “we’ve been constructing this Temple for 46 years, and you’ll build it back in three days?”
There is very little biographical information in John’s Gospel, but this pinpoints an actual time in the life of Jesus. We know from records that Herod began building the Second Temple in 21 or 22 BCE, and they say it’s been being built for 46 years, placing this date at about 25 CE, the current era, which we used to call AD. Now since most scholars will agree that Jesus was born somewhere between 6 and 4 BCE, that would add about 5 years to the 25, making Jesus about 30 years old, a specific timeline reference to His ministry’s beginnings.
Churches and Temples seem to take incredibly long times to build. This Second Temple of Jerusalem has been in construction for 46 years and it seems as though it’s still not complete when this episode occurs. The great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris took over 200 years, even though it tragically burned in a few hours a couple of years ago. The largest house of worship in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, was begun in 1888, and won’t be completed for at least another century at its current rate. Over a hundred years ago, our beautiful mansion here was built in less than two years, but the building and grounds committee will tell you that it’s still a work in progress, with a bunch of recent work on electrical, and plumbing, and we hope soon, a new coat of paint. But it’s not the building time that is the big issue here, it is the RE-BUILDING TIME – a mere three days! Of course, the obtuse literalists who hear this from Jesus don’t believe it, and even His disciples aren’t sure what to make of it until after the Resurrection. The message of those three days keeps coming back, again and again. Back to the disciples in those days long ago, and even and especially to us today.
We know that it’s not a literal temple that Jesus talks about. It’s His very own body, sent here for a specific mission and message. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Jerusalem two more times for Passover. At those times, he refers to Himself as the Bread of Life in the second year and as the Sacrificial Lamb in the third. All these are signs of Jesus’s dedication to His mission – to show God’s infinite love for us by the sacrifice of His body and its message of rebirth through Him. He is not just cleansing the Temple of sin and corruption, but destroying it, then rebuilding it through our belief in Him, fresh ideas for a new beginning.
Jesus not only clears the Temple, but He re-makes it into a sacred place as he shows Himself, to be the true Temple of Faith. In the days following that first Easter the disciples and followers know and understand the true sign of the re-building in three days. It is the Temple for those who believe in Him, the Temple He and His Father have created for us through their unbounded Grace and Love. In the early light of that first Easter morning, the Temple’s great curtain hung in shreds and the tomb was empty. The seal had been broken, the stone rolled away, and the yawning maw of that empty tomb was transformed into a majestic Temple doorway standing wide open for any and all to enter. And so has it been, for those disciples and believers on that very First Easter to that same day we look forward to again this year.
Friends, I have shared 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