- John T. Redman, CRE
November 28 Worship
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, November 28 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 28, 2021 10:30 am
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
USHERS today are Janice Anderson and Sheila O'Donnell
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 Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today are Donna Trafagander and Jane Miller
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!
OUTREACH Meeting TODAY after Fellowship in the Parlor.
THE 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. 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.
SAVE THE DATES:
Sunday, Dec 12 Union Church presents Tower Trio Concert at 2PM, followed by a Carol sing in the garden (weather permitting).
Sunday, Dec 19 Living Nativity from 5-6:30PM in front of the church.
Friday, Dec 24 Christmas Eve service with Communion at 5PM (This is a brief service.)
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Dec 6 and Wednesday, Dec 8 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
PRELUDE “Prepare the Royal Highway!” arr. by Paul Manz
LIGHTING THE ADVENT CANDLE The Pickard Family
CALL TO WORSHIP (Adapted from Psalm 25)
Leader: Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
PEOPLE: Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
Leader: Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
PEOPLE: Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
Leader: He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
PEOPLE: All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
Gracious God, as we enter this Season of Advent, guide our anticipation of the glorious birth of Jesus with the real reason for this season of joy and celebration and guide us in keeping that message close to one another and to our families. In joyful anticipation, Amen.
MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES
**OPENING HYMN “Sleepers, Wake! A Voice Astounds Us” Blue #17
CALL TO CONFESSION
Advent reminds us of all that is joyful, but we need to remember that we are still cloaked in unavoidable sins and transgressions that we may not even be aware of. Let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Lord, we are incomplete beings searching far and wide to be made whole. Though we try as hard as we might, we will never find completeness in the worldly things we acquire to fill the void. Fill our hearts with the peace that goes beyond all understanding. Call to us, that we may come to you with repentant hearts. Help all to see that your kingdom has come near and that it is You, and only You, whom we’ve been searching for all along. Amen. (a moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
In the journey of this season, we approach the Holidays almost as Joseph and Mary approaching Bethlehem. And in that spirit of new beginnings, 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 “Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending” Blue #6
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, as we turn to your Word for us, may the Spirit of God rest upon us. Help us to be steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing, and in our living. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Jeremiah 31: 27-28, 31-34 Cathy McCarty
EPISTLE 1 Thessalonians 3: 9-13
GOSPEL Luke 21: 25-31
SERMON Something’s Coming John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Gracious God, you tell us through Christ to be ready since we don’t know when the hour will come. Keep us from putting off until another time the discipline that will make us better disciples. Surround us with those who have made similar commitments, so that they may teach us as we learn from each other. As we each go to be about our own tasks, continue to guide us and be behind us to prod us as we seek for you to live within us, as God of Creation, as Christ who keeps from falling, and as the Holy Spirit in whose name we take our faith. 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.
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 “Comfort, Comfort These My People” Genevan psalter, arr. Burkhardt
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 “People, Look East” Blue #12
The Lord Bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.
CLOSING VOLUNTARY “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying!” setting by Michael Burkhardt
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT Something’s Coming
I don’t ordinarily use Jeremiah as a theme for sermons, but this is one I just couldn’t pass up. Jeremiah is a difficult book, one I avoided for a long time, because it’s so hard to understand. Here we have this passage where God complains a lot about the failings of the Children of Israel and what He has done about it and what He intends to do about in the future.
All through this book the prophet Jeremiah is beset with poetic visions and dreams, some of which seem totally incongruous to our thinking today, such as when in a dream God asks Jeremiah to remove his loincloth and hide it in the rocks and then hang out naked around the Euphrates River for several days. When he is told to go back and reclaim his loincloth it’s all ruined, with the analogy supposedly just as the kingdoms of Israel and Judah will be ruined by invading armies who will carry away the best and the brightest and lay siege in the south by Babylonians and not long after, the northern kingdom of Israel will be overtaken by the Syrians. That’s just very odd, isn’t it?
At the time our passage for today was written, the people of Judah have been captive in Babylon for nearly a generation and the northern kingdom of Israel has just fallen to the Syrians, so it’s no wonder that Jeremiah has plenty to have dreams and visions about, not to mention all the weeping and lamenting that he does.
Shall we take a few minutes to get some perspective on what’s going on all around Jeremiah and all these dreams and his writings? Through several generations of civil war, the Promised Land has been divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the North and Judah in the south. And this Babylonian invasion and the fall of Jerusalem, what’s that all about?
Actually, the Babylonians invaded twice. The first time they took the king and his family and a whole lot of gold and treasure and set up a puppet king to rule, under their rules. But that king got too confident in his own power and when he tried to overthrow his Babylonian masters, the net result was the entire army of Babylon laying siege to the city. The King escaped, but his army deserted him, and they were put to work destroying Jerusalem, a task that took another two years. And the rebellious king was captured, and we can imagine what happened to him. As Jerusalem was destroyed stone by stone, anyone of stature or consequence was either killed or taken prisoner to Babylon, along with anything of value, leaving only the poorest of the poor to tend what was left of the fields and vineyards.
And after more than a generation, why do the Babylonians suddenly turn these people loose? Well, they weren’t turned loose, at least not by the Babylonians because the Persians had invaded and were now in control of Babylon and the Persian King Cyrus sent the Jewish captives back home to Jerusalem, such as it was. The Persians had also captured all the lands of the Assyrians, including the conquered northern kingdom of Israel. And so it went for another two centuries until the Persian empire fell to the armies of Alexander the Great. And in yet another two hundred years, it was taken by the Romans. And you might be interested to know that in the several thousands of years of Jewish history in the Old Testament that nearly a quarter of the books of the prophets have some relationship to the mere 48 years of this Babylonian captivity. Is that because of the iconic stories of Daniel in the den of Lions, of the Fiery Furnace, the mysterious writing on the wall? All these stories intrigue us, and perhaps that’s why so much of this prophetic Scripture centers on these times is that they have so much to say about faith and belief in the face of overwhelming conditions.
As Jeremiah says, this was all because God has punished all of the Israelites both in the north and the south, for their lax ways, their worship of foreign gods, their loose morals and their own conceited ideas of power and worship and their place as the ‘Chosen People’.
Now part of my point in this sort of a history lesson is that this part of the world has been a battleground for centuries, for more than three millennia, and as we all know only too well, that it continues today with no visible sign of letting up any time soon.
Closer to home, one of the biggest challenges we all face in these times of dwindling memberships and attendance is how do we make our faith and our worship relevant to the daily lives of those in our midst? What relevance do these poetic but long ago words of Jeremiah have for us today? Some people will say, “You know that God of the Old Testament is really angry and vengeful, what good is that to me?” Do we follow the logic of the Old Testament prophets, that God does bad things to badly-behaving people?
Likewise, when it comes to relevance, our Gospel reading for today is a bit of a conundrum. What does all this apocalyptic scripture have to do with a new church year or the season of Advent? Look at the contrasting images of Christ coming in clouds of glory with the army of angels announcing the birth of a helpless infant in Bethlehem. Or how the nations are “anxious and distressed” instead of ‘good news of great joy to all the world.’ This contrast helps to set us up for this season of watching and waiting. But it’s deeper than the mere idea of watching and waiting, because while we do wait in eager anticipation through the weeks of Advent for the coming of that special day, we need to look through the lens of anticipation as to what it truly means to our faith.
The waiting isn’t unlike the letter to the Thessalonians reminding them of how to anticipate the coming of Christ with all his saints, or Luke’s image of Jesus descending among clouds of glory. And it all comes together for us in this seasonal tension, and I don’t mean the stress of figuring out what gift to buy for whom, but that almost wonderful internal tension of celebrating a miraculous birth at the beginning of a new church year strung together by the knowledge of the season of what’s to come after that.
There’s a very good reason that our altar colors for Advent and Lent are both purple, divided by the white of Christmas and Epiphany. They represent our two most holy and reverent times, and that’s why the weeks and weeks of green paraments are referred to as ‘ordinary time, even though to me there’s nothing ordinary about it. Those weeks of ordinary time are where we continue to delve into and explore the sources and resources of our collective journeys in this mystery we call faith.
If Jesus were to arrive tomorrow, or even later today, would he find faithful people on earth? Of course, he would, and it doesn’t hurt to be reminded about that. But also, he might be inclined to say, “I left you with the simple command to love one another. What happened to that?”
But let’s go back to Jeremiah and what else he has to say, because it’s in the end of this long passage that really speaks to us today, because it tells of what’s just over the horizon, what’s coming, and it is special indeed.
In explaining why this message in Jeremiah is so important, Bible commentator Matthew Henry said almost 400 years ago:
“God promises that I shall give them a new law, in the covenant of grace. Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it; the law shall be written in their hearts by the finger of the Holy Spirit, as formerly written in the tablets of stone. All shall know the Lord; all shall be welcome to the knowledge of God and shall have the means of that knowledge. There shall be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and No man shall finally perish -- none, who is willing to accept Christ's salvation.”
Sounds pretty relevant to me, and though it was written four centuries ago, if you change all the shalls to wills, it sounds like it might have been written yesterday. And that’s the real point of this reading for today. When God says “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts so that all of them will know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, all will know Me and I will forgive their sinful past and remember it no more.” I’m good with that, how about you?
A more promising time is coming, the prophet says, with the covenant of God’s grace written upon our hearts. Jeremiah looked to the time when God’s grace would be fulfilled in what we know today as Christ’s sacrifice for us, and what a special coming it all was, and still is, because although there are some who may long for a vision of Christ descending in clouds of glory, we already know that he has already entered our hearts and resides with us there. And for all those people of faith from that time long ago, for the time that is today, and for all the days to come, may it be so.
My brothers and sisters on this mysterious pathway we calI faith, 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