- John T. Redman, CRE
May 16 Worship
Updated: May 19, 2021
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, May 16 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
VIRTUAL FELLOWSHIP on ZOOM at 11:45 am
For computers: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2536635871
For smartphones and tablets, download and install the Zoom app.
If prompted: Click “JOIN Meeting” and enter:
Meeting ID: 253 663 5871 Passcode: NO Passcode required
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
May 16, 2021 10:30 am
Seventh Sunday of Easter
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.
GARAGE SALE THIS Sat. May 22, 8-4 pm in our parking lot.
Spaces available for $25 per space. Tables available for rent $5 each. Refreshments will be available. Call the church office (845) 562-0954 to reserve your spot.
BARN SALE: Sat. Oct 2. Accepting items June through August, 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.
Food Pantry: Next open Mon. May 24 and Wed. May 26 from 9:30-11:30 am.
The Union Food Pantry is happy to announce that we have received a substantial grant from the Anahata Foundation. We plan to use some of this money to start the “Union Clothes Closet” upstairs in Fellowship Hall. This area will house our clothing donations and provide space for sorting and displaying clothing items and other donations. Union will now have a food pantry and a clothes closet!
We have other plans to further help the folks we serve. We’ll keep you posted. For now, you can help by donating summer clothing, as well as gently used bedding and towels. They are needed! Do you have some that you no longer need or want?
Thanks for helping our church in its misson! Debby and Kathy
Session meeting today is CANCELLED. Next meeting is June 13 after worship.
Deacons meeting: NEXT Sunday, May 23 at 11:30 in Fellowship Hall.
Habitat Newburgh: Wed. May 19 is Hudson Valley Gives Day, and all donations made to Habitat for Humanity will be matched, effectively doubling your donation. You can donate electronically to habitatnewburgh.org/donate. We will also be sending out an email blast tomorrow as a reminder to those who aren’t here today or joining us online.
VIRTUAL Fellowship Time: Begins after worship on Zoom. Questions? Call Pastor John at (914) 474-0722.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Be Thou but Near J. S. Bach, played by Dr. Margaret Small
CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 1 Leader: Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or sit in the seat of scoffers; PEOPLE: but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. Leader: They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. PEOPLE: The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Leader: Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; ALL: for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
O Christ, you are the bright morning star. You herald the dawn before we wake. We fall asleep awaiting your ascent over the eastern horizon. Yet all the night long, your light is rising in our hearts. Rouse us from our slumber, open the eyes of our souls, to see you as never before in our rejoicing of your life and love. Amen
CALL TO CONFESSION
In our own stumbling fashion, we fail to live up to God’s call and commandments. Let us come before God as we confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of Love, we confess how casually we tend to take the fact of eternal life, and how easily we ignore what this enormous gift truly means. Forgive us, we pray. Waken us to a new reality of what we have received through Christ and deepen our appreciation and responsiveness to His message in ministry to the world.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Beloved sisters and brothers, by the love of God and the grace of our savior 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.
PASSING OF THE PEACE
HYMN OF PRAISE Take O Take Me as I Am
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Calm us now, O Lord, into a quietness that heals and listens. Open wounded hearts to the balm of your Word. Speak to us in clear tones so that we might feel our spirits leap for joy and dance with hope as your resurrection witnesses. Amen.
NEW TESTAMENT READING Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 John Safran
GOSPEL READING John 17: 6-19
SERMON Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Gracious God, we come to you in our own feeble shells, asking once again for your tender mercies to fall upon us like the warm and gentle rains of spring. We bring our own joys and concerns to you in the hope of better and brighter days. We ask that your healing touch is felt by those who have suffered even as they recover. We seek this, dear Lord, for those we hold up to you 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 Lord Jesus, Think on Me
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 Lloyd T. Hayes
POSTLUDE Organ Postlude The Second Presbyterian Church
So here we are in the beginning passages of the Book of Acts. Great things are about to happen, and they will unfold all through this book, not just from the experience of Pentecost, which we will look at next week, but to the martyrdom of Stephen, the conversion of the Gentiles, which we heard about last week, and on to the conversion of Saul the persecutor to becoming Paul the great apostle.
The book will then follow both Peter and Paul, first Peter as he defends his actions in accepting and baptizing Gentiles and later Paul as he begins his missionary journeys across the Mediterranean with shipwrecks, snake bites and even a sea monster interrupting various of his voyages until he ends up in Rome, waiting for up to two years for an audience with the Emperor himself, and all the while preaching and teaching to the people of Rome as well as to pilgrims from all over the Empire who come to see him and seek his wisdom and blessing. The book of Acts ends with Peter in Rome, waiting for his audience, so we don’t’ really know what happened after that, but other accounts have Paul being beheaded by Nero in about the year 62 of our current era.
One fanciful account of Paul’s execution is that his severed head bounced down a hillside three times, and from those points three pure free-flowing springs brought forth water to feed into the Roman aqueducts that to this very day still bring fresh water to Rome. So, after a whirlwind tour of the Book of Acts, which we will leave after next Sunday, let’s go back to the beginning of the book in Chapter One of today’s reading.
But in the midst of our reading, we skip from verse 17 to verse 21. Did you ever wonder what verses 18 through 20 are about? Well, it’s fate of Judas the betrayer. In Matthew, we have the familiar story of the 30 pieces of silver and Judas hanging himself. In the Book of Acts, Judas uses the silver coins to buy a piece of land and as soon as he enters this property, he falls down in some sort of attack and his bowels spill out and he dies. And the farmland he bought became known as Murder Meadow. Then we come to verses 21 through 26 as the disciples select one to replace Judas to maintain their group of twelve. This is not just an account of how they selected a successor to Judas, but about the work of a disciple, and to carry it on in the name of Jesus.
We often think of these Biblical accounts as something that happened long, long ago, covered in the dust of history. But the concept of a disciple being a witness to the resurrection is not a dusty story, it’s knowing that Jesus lives here, right now, as you’ve heard me say before, in this room, in our surroundings, in ourselves. There is a story of John, the Vicar of Haddington, a legendary preacher whose sermons were full of imagery and inspiration, and it is said that often when he preached, he would pause as if listening for the voice of Jesus. When I pause, it’s often because I’ve lost my place, but Jesus still speaks in those momentary silences even as his messages can still come to us through the solitude of prayer, or even through the noise of cars, or computers, or traffic, or all the other elements of our complicated lives. It doesn’t really matter what or where, Jesus is still there, waiting patiently for us to get it together for him.
In our passage from the seventeenth chapter of John, which by the way is a prayer throughout the entire chapter, reflecting prayer of Jesus in the Garden just before his betrayal. Of course, we don’t know if these are the actual words of Jesus, since this text wasn’t written until nearly sixty years after his death. And Jesus was alone with this prayer. The Jesus Seminar, that group of scholars who studied the possible words of Jesus for more than fifteen years estimates that about one eighth to one quarter of what is attributed to Jesus in chapter seventeen is actually the words of Jesus, but what’s important is the circular context of how he says what is here.
Just look at how Jesus prays here, hands clasped and looking up to heaven, saying, “I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.” Is Jesus asking for protection of his disciples, or merely asking that they understand what they are here to do? And in another verse: “I gave them my truth that it all comes from you; protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” First off, to give the Hebrew God a name, any name, just wasn’t done. Only the High Priest on the Day of Atonement in the Holy of Holies, that very center of the Temple, could utter the name of God and to do otherwise was the worst sin. In fact, ancient Jews were taught that their God had no name, for fear that they would invoke it and thus use it as an idol, a graven image.
But here Jesus has said, “I gave them your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.”
All through John’s Gospel Jesus is tearing down the old ways of Judaism, from using ritual washing jars to turn water into wine to saying he will destroy the Temple and build it back in three days, to here where he has given the name of the Father to his followers, and they understand that “they have received them, and know that everything I have is from you and they believe that you sent me.”
But in a following verse, the real message becomes clear: “protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Once again, we have Jesus naming the Father and asking his protection for the disciples as they set about their mission to bring the Good News to the world. Of course, as we know, these words were written some two generations after the Crucifixion, so we have no idea as to what words Jesus actually prayed, but the concept is there – that Jesus the Son has been with God the Father since the beginning, since they are inseparable in creation.
And that is perhaps the greatest message for today’s scripture – that no matter what, Jesus has been given this truth to his disciples that they will continue in the life that he brings from the Father and intertwined with the Holy Spirit. They are not three separate entities, but intertwined phenomena that combine to exceed our most profound understanding.
When I was being examined by the Presbytery’s Committee, I was asked about a mention in my statement of personal faith, that I said perhaps we are created in God’s image. That question of “perhaps we are created in God’s image” struck a certain person, in a certain way, and I was asked to explain. My reply was that our notion of God the creator of the universe is so infinitesimally inadequate that how could we possibly know with any confidence that we are created in his image beyond the tiniest fraction of what that might mean or that we might understand.
God and his Son Jesus are not some three elements sitting in heaven, this Trinity is an unexplainable force that surrounds us right here on earth. As a contemporary theologian says, the Trinity is not three, it is one. And this Trinity is not a noun, it is a verb.
That’s what Jesus brings us in this prayer passage in a message that rings true, through words he may never have actually uttered, but that he has been given the true message and conveyed it to his disciples to carry to the world and they have believed in him.
And that’s all we are really expected to do at the basest level – to believe in him and in the undying, unending grasp of God’s love. And then we can really see the Father Son and Holy Spirit as aspects of the one true faith where the verb of God wraps us in His arms and sweeps us away from the old idea of the noun of God.
Another significant day in our church calendar is that this past Wednesday was Ascension of the Lord, forty days past Easter. And did this occur as Luke says, that Jesus was raised up and disappeared in a cloud? Or did he just disappear in an instant as when he broke the bread in Emmaus? Luke probably had to explain this experience in terms they understood at the time, that heaven was a big bowl above us, inverted over a flat earth. So, it would make sense to them for Jesus to ascend, rather just to leave them.
The real importance or the Ascension is that Jesus, the word made flesh to swell among us, has departed this group, so that they can begin their own missions in spreading his message. He told them he had to leave them, but he also said he would always be with them, and so it is, with those disciples back then and with us today.
So my sisters and brothers on this journey, 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