November 22 Worship 10:30 am, Morning Service
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, November 22 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers and reflections.
Full video: https://youtu.be/v0iiFgmmBvQ
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.
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
November 22, 2020 10:30 am
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.
There will be a Congregational Meeting after worship on Sunday, November 29. Purpose – Election of Officers. Phone in numbers will be provided to join the Zoom meeting without a computer.
There will be a Joint Thanksgiving Service tonight Nov 22 at 7:00 pm hosted on Zoom and streamed live on the Union Church Facebook page. Watch for a separate email with Zoom information or check the Facebook page (the service will be available later on Facebook).
Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. Nov 23 and Wed. Nov 25 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
VIRTUAL Coffee Hour: Begins immediately after worship. If you have joined worship on Zoom you don’t need to do anything more. If you are joining us for fellowship time only use mobile phone or computer video. Check email or website for access instructions. Questions? Call James at (301) 335-8677
Choral Music will precede the worship service beginning at 9:45 am as people ‘tune in’ to the zoom service.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Autumn Carol Union Choir and Bells
CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 90
Leader: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Many: Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Leader: Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Many: Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. Leader: For the LORD is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness to all generations.
Lord God, it is your desire that in all circumstances we give you thanks. And so, this morning we focus on your gracious gifts. The very breath we draw, the morning light streaming in, the simple food that breaks our nightly fast, our ability to gather together, these are reasons enough. Truly we are blessed. Thank you, Lord.
CALL TO CONFESSION
When we are afraid, we hide away. God comes looking for us as any worried parent would, asking us to trust that sharing our fears and pain will lessen them. As Mr. Roger’s said, “Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” Please pray with me.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of power, how easy it is to forget your presence. When we fear the long nights, the cold, the sickness that engulfs our hospitals and closes our schools, the anger of those who feel betrayed, and our own anger at those who have betrayed us, remind us that we are not alone. Remind us that you are the Power that holds all things in your loving embrace. The love and joy we have known and will know again come from you. Strengthen us in this time of worship even as you have strengthened our ancestors. Then we may be a blessing to others and thus prove your presence in a weary world. We come and we pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
We are God’s beloved children and brothers and sisters of Jesus. Because this so, we are forgiven.
PASSING THE PEACE “May the Peace of Christ be with you.” “And also with you.”
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION
May these words of scripture reach past our fears and defenses and give us the courage to be Christs’ family.
OLD TESTAMENT Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD.
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.
NEW TESTAMENT Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
SERMON Jesus, True Monarch of the Realm Rev. Cathy Surgenor
HYMN All Good Gifts Carla Loy Song & Margaret Small
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.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND LORD’S PRAYER
We praise your abiding guidance, O God,
for you sent us Jesus, our Teacher and Messiah,
to model for us the way of love for the whole universe.
We offer these prayers of love
on behalf of ourselves and our neighbors,
on behalf of your creation and our fellow creatures.
Naming of the people:
open our ears to hear your word
and draw us closer to you,
that the whole world may be one with you
as you are one with us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Augsburg Press)
Now let us join together in the prayer which Jesus taught:
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,
CHORAL BENEDICTION Sing to the Lord of the Harvest Union Men’s Choir
SERMON TEXT Jesus, True Monarch of the Realm
This is such a busy Sunday and we have been celebrating Thanksgiving in our liturgy – our music and prayers. But it’s also the last Sunday of the Church year. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. This means that this Sunday is Christ the King Sunday or the Reign of Christ Sunday when we emphasize the Christ is the ultimate authority, the supreme judge of all. Our reading this morning helps us understand this.
We have been reading Matthews description of Jesus’ last discourse, before he is arrested. In this chapter we have looked at the parable of the 10 Bridesmaids, the servants given the silver talents to use wisely, today’s reading is even more explicit.
Jesus, sitting with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, a kind of park where Jesus often brings them while he is in Jerusalem. There he creates a vision for them. Picture this, The Son of Man will arrive in Glory with all of the angels and be seated on a royal throne. All of the nations will stream in before him. Paying homage and awaiting judgement. The nations usually refer to those who are not Jews. So, Matthew describes Jesus’ vision of all the Gentiles, those who currently hold all the power, accepting the risen Jesus as the ultimate authority. The King of Kings. What a vision for this struggling little group of disciples. What a vision for Matthew’s struggling church!
Some of you may have seen the PBS series Monarch of the Glenn about a young Scottish laird who had been living in London and returns to his ancestral home. When his father dies, he inherits the title of Laird. But he spends most of his time patching up bad plumbing and trying to keep the castle from falling apart. He also has to deal with impatient tenants. He had all the responsibilities of being in charge, but no wealth, no army, no visible glory. The Jesus the disciples have been traveling with might have better fit this description of a King. He has power, great power, but mostly he walks around as an ordinary mortal.
But in this vision that Jesus describes the peoples of the nations coming and submitting to him. It is an old dream, the restoration of the Davidic empire, only better. However here the peoples who come to pay homage are all mixed together. Like a herd of goats and sheep mingled together as they come into the fold for the night.
Goats and sheep in Jesus day looked a lot alike.
Jesus knows them as any good shepherd knows his flock – calls them and separates them – sheep on his right and goats to the left. But neither group knows why they have been sorted thus. When did we do these things that mark us? When did we not do these things?
The tasks that they did or didn’t do are not a surprise to Jesus’s listeners. They are the same things Jesus had been doing: Feed the hungry, cloth the naked, heal the sick, visit those imprisoned by hard circumstances. The disciples have been doing those very things with him.
Those who practice doing what Jesus came to do – they are the elect.
But the people of the nations, the Gentiles, they are surprised. Because they didn’t know the earthly Jesus, they didn’t recognize him in “the least of these”. If they had only recognized him as the King surely, they would have done right by him!
Some theologians contend that Matthew is arguing that those who are “the least of these members of Jesus’s family”, are Christs followers, esp. missionaries. Others follow Mother Teresa’s understanding that we can see Jesus in all who are in distress. Our understanding makes a difference in how we treat our fellow creatures.
Let’s look more closely at this vision.
The Son of Man is clearly Jesus for he has referred to himself thus earlier.
He has promised to return in Glory to judge all. Here the NATIONS are gathered before his throne. They appear to be a muddled shaggy lot. Goats and sheep mingling together. Bleating. Yet Jesus knows them not based on their appearance but on their behavior. Goats can be a problem because of their behavior. Peter Surgenor had a pet goat named Gobbles at his camp in Pennsylvania that would leap onto the hood of the car of someone visiting the camp. It also had been known to eat the lit cigarette of someone holding one behind their back. There is a reason that Bill Grogan tied his goat to the railroad track - it wasn’t a sheep that had eaten the three red shirts right of the line! I digress.
Matthew is presenting a picture of judgement that is deadly serious. This is the culmination of five discourses that Matthew includes in his gospel to tell his followers what it means to follow Christ. First was The Sermon on the Mount, second, the sending of the disciples – take no money or extra sandals, the third was the parable of the sower of good seed and parables on What the Kingdom of God is like, the fourth in Chapter 18 describes how to be the church, and now the final discourse stories of the end times – the bridesmaids, the silver talents and the goats and sheep.
If we say that “the least of these” are the Christians or more narrowly the Christian missionaries then very few non-Christians have a means of being saved at the final judgement. But if doing the things that Jesus did for the poor in your own communities then many more Gentiles have a way of being saved.
If Jesus is the son of Mankind – all peoples, then it makes sense that he will judge them all fairly, whether they have had interaction with Christian missionaries or not.
The vision of the Kingdom of God is one in which all are fed and clothed, comforted, and visited. This is a kingdom where all are willing to do this work of community building. Those not willing are not present.
Luckily for us our fellow Christians are not the final judge. Speaking for myself, sometimes I give to the needy and sometimes I walk on by. Most everyone has given at least a cup of cold water or a coin or a hot meal to a person in need at some point. Is that enough? Only Jesus knows.
The Presbyterian Church USA has put great emphasis on this vision in the last five years. It describes Matthew 25 as a Bold Vision and Invitation. Here is a description from the website:
“Matthew 25:31–46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities. Convicted by this passage, both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies (2016 and 2018) exhorted the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor….We recognize Christ’s urgent call to be a church of action, where God’s love, justice and mercy shine forth and are contagious. And we rejoice how our re-energized faith can unite all Presbyterians for a common and holy purpose: our common identity to do mission.”
They have identified 3 areas of concern and invite our congregations to focus on one or more of them. The first is healthy vital congregations. The second is systemic racism. The third is eradicating systemic poverty.
A vital healthy congregation follows a rhythm of “gathering and scattering [which] is at the heart of the worship and service of the church: We learn from Jesus and are sent out, then return to experience more of God’s reign of justice, hope and peace. Congregational vitality arises from the development and practice of faith.”
Though we, as a congregation have not become an official MT25 church we are already engaged in addressing poverty by being a steady reliable source of food, clothing, essentials that allow people to stretch $ and make it through the month. Many volunteers are needed and become engaged – packing, contributing, and funding. This morning let’s give a special shout out to Jeff, Gilly, and Donna for last nights wonderful chicken dinner to go. We cleared over a thousand dollars through their efforts. We even have volunteers who show up faithfully who don’t attend church. We also have a benevolence committee that will be meeting soon to distribute funds to help those in need.
At the Presbytery level, HRP has already identified Vital healthy congregations as a key focus. Money has been set aside for Congregational assessment and follow up through Holy Cow. Coaching to help with follow through will soon be available.
There is also a joint proposal from HRP Green and Committee on Representation to develop and lead a multiyear antiracism training. 14 or 15 churches have already written letters of support and commitment to make use of this training if it is funded. Union is one of them! A decision on funding this effort will be made soon so stay tuned!
When we engage actively with the world by doing the things Jesus did we invite Jesus to be present among us. Or, more accurately we find ourselves where Jesus is already present, waiting for us. Two speakers at the Presbytery meeting on Tuesday witnessed that this is so. One, Rev. Ken Godshell described how he left a corner office at a large publishing house to become a minister. He has served a small congregation in Kentucky for the past ten years. He said that his work there didn’t change the world but he himself is changed and he is grateful.
The other witness is Kari Mitchell, our Board of Pensions representative. She left a lucrative job on Wall Street to work for the church. She feels very blessed in her new calling.
As we close out this church calendar year today and give thanks in the midst of it all, we recognize that Christ, the true Messiah is moving among us and we are truly blessed. Amen.
Rev. Cathy Surgenor Rev. Peter Surgenor
(845) 216-4328 (914) 907-9685
44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550
Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955