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  • Rev. Cathy Surgenor

November 8 Worship

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Hello Union Church Presbyterians,

Worship this Sunday, November 8 will be hosted on Zoom. We will share prayers 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.

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—be prepared. 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.


Union Church, Newburgh NY

November 8, 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.


Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. Nov 9 and Wed. Nov 11 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.

Chicken Dinner Fundraiser Sat., Nov. 21 from 3-6pm

Delicious roast chicken dinner and sides. Pick-up ONLY, $8 per plate.

RSVP: by Thursday, November 19

CONTACT: Church office 562-0954 for more information.

Joint Thanksgiving Worship Service November 22 at 7:00 pm (ONLINE)

The leadership of Union Church and Calvary Presbyterian Church of Newburgh are planning a joint Thanksgiving worship service for Sunday, November 22 at 7:00 pm. Includes: live and recorded segments, highlights the sanctuary of each church, and begins our preparations for this very unusual Thanksgiving holiday this year. You will be able to participate in the service on a Zoom meeting or by viewing the Facebook page of either church. There will be organ selections from Margaret Small, piano selections from Joseph Bush, and scripture readings and reflections on these times and this coming season. Watch for more details.

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 as people ‘tune in’ to the zoom service.


PRELUDE Canon in D Margaret Small


Come, however you are, and lay your burdens on the Lord - burdens of fear and anger, of anxiety and uncertainty. Come, however you are, and turn your heart to scripture’s mandate: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. Come, however you are, and remember the promises of God’s word: that we shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Come, however you are, no matter who you are, and no matter where you are, and let us gather to lean on the everlasting arms of Christ Jesus.


Lord of Power and Grace, may your Holy Spirit be with us and unite us this morning in all the places we find ourselves. We have been caught up in the struggles of our nation, anxious and exhausted. May this worship hour provide the path for you to enter our hearts, bodies, and souls. Amen.


With hearts broken open to receive the grace of God, let us confess the ways our sin has hurt our relationships with each other and with God.


Gracious and Merciful God, you call us to bear fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We’ve spent much time these past few years wondering if these things still matter. We confess that we’ve been quick to ask these fruits of others but have not cultivated them for ourselves. Forgive our shortcomings and help us reflect the fruits that will heal this broken nation. Help us to live by the Spirit and be guided by Her wisdom. This we pray in the holy name of your Beloved, Christ Jesus. Amen.


Hope in the Lord! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the Lord! God’s mercies are from everlasting to everlasting. I declare in the strong name of Jesus, our sins are forgiven. Alleluia! Amen.



Prepare our hearts, O God, to accept your Word. silence in us any voice but your own, that, hearing, we may also obey your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


FIRST TESTAMENT Solomon 6:12-16

Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. One who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for she will be found sitting at the gate. To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and one who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care, because she goes about seeking those worthy of her, and she graciously appears to them in their paths, and meets them in every thought.

SECOND TESTAMENT Matthew 25:1-13

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

SERMON Who Among You Is Wise? Rev. Cathryn Surgenor

(Full text at the end of bulletin)

HYMN Now Thank We All Our God

OFFERING Mary Whidden

You can support the work of Union Church by mailing donations to 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh, NY 12550 or visit to donate online.


Thank you, Lord, that we have gifts to share, whether of talents, energy, imagination, or our money. You are the source of all of these gifts and we cheerfully return a portion to you through our church. We pray that you will ensure that they multiply and serve your people in the ways you desire. Amen.

DOXOLOGY Joseph Bush


God of Grace and Power, we turn to you in faith and ask for your continued blessings as we pray for all people. God of Grace, hear our prayer.

For this congregation, that its search for the leader you desire for them come to fruition soon. God of transitions hear our prayer. For our neighbors and those who seek help and consolation here. God of Compassion, hear our prayer. For our nation, that as this election cycle comes to an end, we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn recognizing your love of both. God of Wisdom hear our prayer.

Naming of individuals with joys and concerns: Nancy Thomas Lord as we celebrate our union with you and your people through the celebration of Communion make our connection to you and each other a healing force. Amen.


This is the table to which Jesus invites us!

Let us participate joyfully!

HYMN Let Us Break Bread Together Joan Baez


The Lord be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts. The pastor may lift hands and keep them raised. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. You have made from one every nation and people to live on all the face of the earth. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. He commissioned us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all nations, and today his family in all the world is joining at his holy table. Amen


We give thanks for this bread, fruit of the earth and hard work, a gift of the grace of God. During the Last Supper Jesus blessed the Bread, broke, and shared it saying: This bread is my body which will be given for you. It is the sign of the new covenant. As often as you eat it, do this in memory of me. We break it and share it in his memory.

And we give thanks for the fruit of the vine, for the joy of communion, for alliances that endure in the search for justice and wholeness. Jesus took the cup and blessed and shared it saying, “take and drink, all of you, this is the sign of the new covenant, sealed in my blood, which will be given for you for the forgiveness of sins, both yours and many others. As often as you drink it, do so in memory of me. We take the cup, knowing we are part of a community-people renewing its covenant with life.

(The cup is filled and shared)


Gracious God, may we who have received this sacrament live in the unity of your Holy Spirit, that we may show forth your gifts to all the world. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord through serving others.

The Lord bless you and keep you,

the Lord make his face shine upon you

and be gracious to you,

the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all.

CHORAL BENEDICTION Gospel Singers Incognito: Taking the Word to the People


SERMON TEXT Who Among You Is Wise?

How many of you have been a bridesmaid at least once in your life? And how many have ever been a groomsman? Happy times. Think back to that day. Did you bridesmaids spend hours getting dresses fitted, hair styled, makeup just right. Everyone works hard to ‘look good’! and has high expectations for a celebration with all the trimmings.

We don’t know a lot about wedding customs in Matthew’s story. We know that the wine will flow, and their will be feasting from the story of the wedding at Cana. Apparently, the groom, with his friends, came to the house of the bride and escorted her and her bridesmaids to his or his parents’ home. Usually the whole village got involved and the celebration lasted for several days.

And we know that if the bride or groom is late the festivities can’t really start. Those are anxious moments in our day. These ten bridesmaids were apparently waiting outside the brides’ home, with their lamps lit to welcome the groom and help lead the procession. And as the hours passed, they fell asleep. When at last the groom appears, about midnight, they are roused. By that time their lamps have burned through all of the oil that feeds the flame. Now half of them had thought to bring an extra supply. They quickly refill their lamps and join in the procession. The other five are out of luck. By the time they buy oil and return all the other guests have gone in and the door is firmly shut. When they call out to the groom, he says he doesn’t know them!

When I first read this story, it troubled me for two reasons, one that the wise brides don’t share their supply with their fellow bridesmaids. Doesn’t seem very Christian does it? Secondly, that the groom refuses to open the door just because they are late. After all, he was late to begin with, so it was partly his fault that they were late.

Setting this story in the context of this section of Matthew’s gospel reveals that this is a milder version of a series of illustrations/warnings of what judgement will be like when Jesus returns. Beginning in Ch 23 with the Woe declarations of Jesus against the Pharisees and other religious leaders, who like to look the part, but don’t live righteous lives Matthew writes about the coming judgement against many who expect to be saved. Several of these stories end with people out in the cold, gnashing their teeth in the darkness, or worse. The story just before this morning’s reading describes how the unwise slave is cut into pieces!

Our story this morning is probably more allegory than parable. More filled with symbolism. As a story it leaves a lot of questions. Where is the bride? Where would bridesmaids buy oil in the middle of the night? Why would the wise maidens not share? If we think of it as an allegory, we can guess that the bridegroom is the risen Jesus coming as he had promised. But he is late. Many of the people in Matthew’s congregation expected Jesus to return soon. They were on their best behavior, made sacrifices to stay among the chosen, the elect so that they would enjoy the kingdom of heaven. These people are the 10 bridesmaids in the story. But being a Christian in Matthew’s congregation was hard. Christians couldn’t take ‘shortcuts’, and had to put others’ needs above their own. To say nothing of the persecutions that would have made them suspect, and unpopular. After waiting and waiting for the day when risen Jesus would arrive, some began to be distracted, to look out for themselves. There hearts and minds were distracted. They still were part of the community of Christians and they looked the part. Most people wouldn’t know them apart from the other ‘wise’ members of Matthew’s community.

So, we have a good idea that Groom is the risen Jesus, and the bridesmaids are his followers, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

But what do the extra flasks of oil that the wise bridesmaids have symbolize? The story doesn’t spell it out the oil could represent good deeds, or faith or a continued focus on heavenly things. We just know that half the people were ready, and half were not. Half were prepared for the unexpected hour of Jesus’ return and could go with him to the place of celebration, the kingdom of heaven. The others were left out.

If we are looking for a contemporary example from the headlines, though none of us can really know his heart, Jerry Falwell Jr. comes to mind. He was the president of Liberty University, a school with a very strict moral code which Falwell’s father had founded. Fallwell Jr. made a lot of money for the school and greatly expanded its capacity and reach. But he himself lived a very different private life that eventually came to light. It cost him his job, but only Christ can judge his eternal standing.

Matthew warned his followers in stark terms about losing heart and losing focus, thinking that others good works could ‘cover’ for them. Faith, righteousness, the peace of Christ, are not things that someone else can give you. You yourself need to keep a good supply. God sees into your heart. Hypocrites be warned. Amen.


Rev. Cathy Surgenor Rev. Peter Surgenor

(845) 216-4328 (914) 907-9685

Union Church

44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550

Phone: (845) 562-0954 Fax: (845) 562-0955

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