November 21 Worship
Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, November 21 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
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
November 21, 2021 10:30 am
TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
BRIEF CONGREGATIONAL MEETING TODAY right after service to amend by-laws and elect Deacons and Elders for the class of 2024. Text of by-laws amendment at the back of sanctuary.
POINSETTIA envelopes are available in the pews. Orders and dedications due TODAY. Floral prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, including Christmas poinsettias. After years of holding the price at $15, we are forced to raise the price to $18 each.
OFFICE CLOSED THIS week: Thursday, Nov 25 and Friday, Nov 26.
USHERS today are Jim Alber and Dave Young
Thank you to all the volunteer ushers who signed up for November and December. Ushers still needed for Christmas service. If you would like to usher, contact Dan and Karen Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today are Theresa Cotanche and Gerri McDonald
Hosting can be simple. Host with a friend! Signup chart in the Fellowship Hall.
REMINDER: PER CAPITA is $38.83 for each member. Union Church greatly appreciates the support of each member paying their per capita. Thank you!
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD is right around the corner and needs children gift items. Boxes due TODAY. Please drop off completed boxes in Fellowship Hall.
HANGING OF THE GREENS TODAY after Fellowship. JOSHUA TREE this year will once again provide Food Pantry recipients with personal items that will free up cash for them to buy gifts for their families. There will be 88 ornaments! Ornaments gifts will include, dish soap, liquid hand soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, bags of candy and boxes of cookies. Please return the ornament with the donation so the Deacons can keep track of ornaments left to be returned.
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Nov 22 and Wednesday, Nov 24 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
**Kindly stand if you are able
ORGAN PRELUDE All Glory Be to God on High Johann Gottfried Walther
CALL TO WORSHIP (Adapted from Psalm 93)
Leader: The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved; PEOPLE: your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. Leader: The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. PEOPLE: More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD! ALL: Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
O God of enduring compassion and mercy, your dominion is unending and your judgment forthright. We live by your grace, assured by your love and we are in awe of your spirit who guides and sustains us. We gather with your presence to worship you, as we abide in your realm of creation.
MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES
**OPENING HYMN All Glory Be to God on High Blue #133
CALL TO CONFESSION
As we approach the Day of Thanksgiving this week, along with our thanks let us remember that although we sin, we are always forgiven. Let us confess our sins together.
Creator 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 dearest 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. Amen.
(a moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Jesus came, not to be a king of the earth, or a king of humans, but he shares his throne with Almighty God as the king of all creation. And by his grace, we are forgiven. Amen.
**PASSING OF THE PEACE
**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 Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor Blue #154
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Almighty God, in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Open our eyes that we may see the wonders of your Word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of your wisdom; through Christ our Lord, Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 Paul and Debby Hill
NEW TESTAMENT Revelation 1:4b-8
GOSPEL John 18:33-38
SERMON Washed in the Blood? John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Heavenly Creator we come before you with thanks and adoration for the many treasures you have blessed upon us, with the most excellent treasure being the gift of your son Jesus Christ to show us the simplicity of love and grace amidst the turmoil of his time, even as we struggle with our own turmoil in our time. We know that you continue to watch over us as we navigate the strange and new ways that this pandemic has taught us. And we ask for your special healing touch for those we name here:
Gracious God, keep in our hearts all those whose names you already know and who ask for healing in their own quiet ways, and let us join to pray as 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.
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.
OFFERTORY “Meditation on DIADEMATA” Charles Callahan
PRAYER OF THANKS
Gracious God, accept our gifts in tribute, they be put to good and purposeful use in assisting those in greater need even as we seek to serve you and our community and the greater world. This we gratefully pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
**HYMN OF PARTING Crown Him with Many Crowns Blue 151
May the road rise up to meet you and the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields; and until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
CLOSING VOLUNTARY Fugue on “Crown Him with Many Crowns” Charles Callahan
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT Washed in the Blood
All our readings for today have to do with Kings, and on the Christ the King Sunday, why not? This stunning vision from Daniel rivals any of the supernatural visions in John’s Revelation. And again, we see these impossibly white robes and maybe that’s where the image came from for the Gospel writers. How can this be? Whiter than the whitest bleached white, washed in the blood of the lamb? Just how can this be?
Perhaps it’s because two Greek words are very similar: louein means ‘to wash,’ luein means ‘to set free,’ and what’s more they are both pronounced the same way. So, what so many have read as washed in the blood of the lamb, really means, set free by the blood of the lamb. General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, used Are you Washed in the Blood of the Lamb? as the marching song of the Salvation Army, and it’s been a favorite “Olde Time hymn” for generations.
But that’s how those angels’ robes become so pure and white – they weren’t washed in the blood of the lamb; they were set free by the blood of the lamb of God. So now you know. And verse 5 of Revelation today says it too: “He loves us, and by his sacrificial death he has freed us from our sins. As I said last week, there are plenty of puzzle pieces in Scripture but are there ever enough to solve just one puzzle? That’s just a tiny part of the wonder and beauty of Scripture and its interpretations and today’s selections are no exception. And in Daniel’s amazing vision, it’s not just 10,000 times 10 thousand people, but ten thousand times ten thousand times others in attendance. So now if we do the math, we are looking at not one trillion, but one quadrillion of souls. Hmm, some vision indeed from a poor Hebrew priest in captivity.
And more from the Revelation reading today, we have not so much a vision that defies explanation, but a vision that explicitly spells out that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last of the Greek alphabet, and the first and last of the reign of Christ. This is not lost on the People of the Way. As the rising Gentile population accepted the way of Christ, they understood the Greek style of dichotomy between physical and spiritual realms. And it’s no wonder that so many groups in Asia Minor, what is now Turkey, used the Greek influence and Paul’s redemption influence to accept the idea of a very young Christian church, based on sacrifice and on forgiveness. And Paul’s letters spread the word of this good News across much of the Empire long before the Gospels began to do so.
And then our Gospel for today has Jesus before Pilate – wait a minute, aren’t we supposed to wait for Easter Week for this? No, this is where Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. And of course, Jesus answers in his own way, answering a question with yet another question, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"
Pilate is understandably annoyed by this and asks what Jesus has done to incur this death sentence the Temple authorities wish on him. And after a heavy exchange about the whereabouts of his kingdom, Jesus concludes with “I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
And Pilate replies “What is truth?” But then he doesn’t wait for an answer. The three synoptic writers don’t have Jesus say anything when he is before Pontius Pilate, he pretty much refuses to speak at all. And what is this ‘truth’ that Jesus speaks about? Pilate asks a really good question.
‘Belonging to the truth?’ What are we supposed to do with that? See, I told you it’s like a puzzle with some pieces missing. This belonging to the truth, to me is accepting the love and grace of Jesus as he presents it to us, not just in John’s Gospel, but right here with us, every day and in every place. Earlier, in chapter 8 Jesus says, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” The spiritual imagery of John’s Gospel and those visionary sights and signs in Revelation take us to new levels in trying to wrestle with this ‘truth.’
John Shelby Spong the noted author and scholar has remarked on the historical or biographical aspects of the Gospel of John that there are only two historical facts about Jesus in this book – Jesus was baptized, and he was crucified. But between those events, we have miracle stories and parables, we have images and references to the bread of life, to the sacrificial lamb, the water of eternal life and the notion that Jesus has been with God since the very beginning before even time began and now, he has been made flesh to dwell among us. That’s a pretty good truth, isn’t it, Pilate? But that concept gets right past Pontius Pilate because like most people, he is taking Jesus literally as some sort of king. That’s what we’ve done for centuries with all this regal imagery and description – the King of Kings, Christ the King, Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, the ruler of heaven, but I’ve always had a hard time thinking of Jesus as anything but a humble Galilean who possesses great knowledge and truth in the tissues of his human form.
These visions of John of Patmos are like those in Daniel, are more elaborate than Jeremiah, and much broader and deeper than Isaiah. The multitudes of witnesses that gather in Revelation are right out of Daniel, and dragons and beasts abound in both books. But it doesn’t stop there. Between the times of the Old Testament’s completion, or what we think of the completion of the writings of the minor prophets, about 200 to 160 BCE, and the time of Jesus’s ministry, about 30 CE, there were literally hundreds of apocalyptic stories and so-called revelations. It was a sort of cottage industry, with visions here and there, and predictions everywhere especially as to how the Messiah would come from on high and deliver them from their oppressors, the Egyptian Alexandrians and then later the Romans.
Each of these apocalypse accounts told of the arrival of deliverance with massive destruction and general upheaval to take away the true believers, the truth seekers, the chosen. And many of them were titled ‘Secret Revelations,’ so that only the chosen few who knew of them would be able to survive those new end times. And there were revelation accounts with feminine messianic figures, some based on the ancient goddesses Isis and Hathor of Egypt.
Here’s an excerpt from her book: “I am the first and the last. I am the honored one. I am the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am the wife and the daughter… I m the barren one, and many are her children. I am she whose wedding is great, yet I have not taken a husband … I am the bride and the bridegroom, and it is my husband who begot me.”
Hmm, some of that sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? Especially the I am the first and the last? But according to the scholar Elaine Pagels, revelations like this were thought to be too ‘elitist’ by scholars who were putting together the canonical books of the New Testament in the fourth century and they felt there was only room for one revelation, and they chose the one from John of Patmos for its more universal appeal. They could have picked from dozens, but they chose this one, and I suspect that they weren’t about to choose one from a feminine perspective. And there is another theory in scholarly circles these days about why the Gospel of John is so different from the three synoptic Gospels. This theory is that John’s Gospel was written by John, son of Zebedee, long before the other synoptic Gospels, even possibly at the same time as Paul was circulating his letters. Of course, the biggest problem with this theory is how did a simple Galilean fisherman, even though he might have spoken some Greek, write such an eloquent and Greek-inspired document that was more typical of a time and style that came about fifty or sixty years later and reflects the classic dichotomy of Greek culture?
The biggest takeaway for us, is that it’s just another piece in a puzzle that’s unlikely to be solved for certain when so many other pieces are missing. But we use the information we have to discern as best we can what is meant when Jesus speaks of his truth setting us free, knowing that his sacrifice has set us free and the truth of God’s love, the Grace of Jesus’s message and the Healing Power of the Holy Spirit is with us, around us and within us, always. Amen.
John Redman, CRE
Mobile: (914) 474-0722
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955