October 24 Worship
Updated: Oct 25
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, October 24 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
October 24, 2021 10:30 am
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
USHERS today are Dave and Sue Young
Thank you to all the volunteer ushers who signed up for September and October. Ushers needed for November and December, especially Christmas service. If you would like to usher, contact Dan and Karen Olson.
FELLOWSHIP TIME HOSTS today are Sue Sloat and Donna Trafangander
Hosting can be simple. Host with a friend! Use the signup chart in the Fellowship Hall or call the office (845) 562-0954.
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.
FUNDRAISER: THIS Saturday, Oct 30 Chicken Parmesan dinner from 4-7 pm. Pick-up ONLY. Dinner includes chicken parm, penne pasta, salad, and bread for $10; dessert for $2. Call the church office 562-0954 to reserve.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: Please complete a registration form and return to the office. For more info, call the office (845) 562-0954.
HALLOWEEN is on a Sunday this year and we are welcoming children to wear their costumes in service. CE will be hosting coffee hour to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest. We are looking forward to seeing everyone there!
SUNDAY, Oct 31 Carla Loy Song will perform two solos based on All Soul's Day.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD is right around the corner. Packing Party Sunday, Nov 7. Information will be posted on the Union Facebook page. For more info, contact Yvette Pickard.
THANKSGIVING: Sunday, Nov 14 at 4pm, the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council will hold a Thanksgiving service at Union.
HANGING OF THE GREENS Sunday, Nov 21 after service. The Joshua Tree will also be in place for giving.
FOOD PANTRY: NEXT OPEN Monday, Oct 25 and Wednesday, Oct 27 from 9:30-11:30 am. Serving LOTS of people! If you would like to help, contact Kathy or Debby.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
ORGAN PRELUDE “Adagio” (based on the hymn tune AURELIA) arr. Robert Hobby
CALL TO WORSHIP (Adapted from Psalm 126)
Leader: 126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. PEOPLE: Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
Leader: The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. PEOPLE: Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negev. Leader: May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. PEOPLE: Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
God of unity, we come before you in worship and adoration for all you have created and offered to us. We enter your sanctuary to give you honor and praise and your love and care are beyond limits. Receive our worship and accept our thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES
OPENING HYMN “We All Are One in Mission” Blue #435
CALL TO CONFESSION
Our weaknesses too often guide us toward the wrong pathway. As we strive to find a better path, let us confess our sins together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Merciful God, we confess that we are too easily influenced by worldly views of greatness, and easily ignore your greatness. Forgive us, we pray. Alter our perspectives and change our hearts, so that we can honor those who give most of themselves. In Jesus’ name we make our prayer.
(A moment for silent personal confession)
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Friends in Faith, the Good News of the Gospels bring us together in the face of God. It unites us in our collective forgiveness by the grace of God and the message of Jesus, 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 “In Christ There is No East or West” Blue #440
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Guide us, O God, by your Word, and Holy Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find freedom, and in your will discover peace; through Christ our Lord, Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Jeremiah 31: 7-9 John Safran
EPISTLE Ephesians 4: 1-7
GOSPEL John 17: 6-11
SERMON Uniting as One John Redman, CRE
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD’S PRAYER
God of Righteousness, you didn’t spare your son but sent him to us, and for that we give you thanks. He loved us unconditionally yet remained faithful. We are grateful that both he and you can sense our weaknesses and our trials and be reconciled with you. We pray for those who may disagree with us, and for those with no concern for us, even as we move away from both self-pity and self-righteousness. Help us to replace our anger with empathy, replace pride with sympathy, and replace resentment with the conviction to unite in working for justice and truth. And we ask for your healing touch on 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
The offering plate is at the rear of the sanctuary and 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 Grace of Jesus.
OFFERTORY “Intermezzo” setting by Robert Hobby
PRAYER OF THANKS
Gracious God, accept our gifts in tribute, that 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 “The Church’s One Foundation” Blue #442
May the Lord Bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. AMEN.
CLOSING VOLUNTARY “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!” arr. Robert Hobby
INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME
SERMON TEXT Uniting as One
Our theme of Unity today comes from the idea of spiritual unity through our own diversities, and it dovetails somewhat nicely with today also being United Nations Sunday. In 1990, the UN resolved to cut the level of extreme poverty in the world by half in the next 25 years. At that time, the number of people living in extreme poverty was 36% of the global population. By 2015, the number had dropped to 10%, but that still left over 700 million people in extreme poverty, decreasing year by year, with another 50 million people emerging from systemic extreme poverty by 2019, when the UN codified its 17 Sustainable Development Goals in a world conference in New York. I was honored that my company was asked to build and install these 17 iconic columns illustrating those Goals in the plaza garden of the UN.
However, through the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, 115 million were added back into this population living in systemic poverty, and it’s estimated to rise to 150 million by the end of this year, leaving us with 800 million people in extreme systemic poverty across our globe, an increase of 13% since 2015.
As a Matthew 25 congregation, one of those goals is the elimination of poverty, goal that unites all of us. And this theme of unity is what permeates our epistle reading for today, from Ephesians. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians isn’t generally considered to have been written by Paul himself, mainly because its structure doesn’t follow the structure and style of Paul’s genuine letters but appears to have been written by an admirer of Paul, seeking to use the name for its influence especially in the issue of unity within the church. But it goes to the heart of being unified in faith, in our church as the one body of Christ, and the unity of the Spirit which binds us together as congregations and communities of faith. And ultimately there is one God the Father of all humankind, who is Lord of all, works through all, and is in all. Those last two are key – he works through all and is in all.
But listen to how Eugen Peterson, in his contemporary translation begins this passage: “I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run! – on the road God calls you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands or strolling off down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.”
Now there’s some unity for you, and some motivation, too.
And from the Book of Jeremiah today, not one of my favorites, but getting more comfortable with it the more I read it, where God proclaims that he will gather them from all parts of the earth, and they shall all come, a great company. Of course, this was part of the prophecy of the Israelites returning to their homeland after being captives in Babylon for a generation or more, but it speaks to us in God’s continuing care, though Jeremiah uses that Old Testament caveat, that God has unlimited care for those who care for Him. But in our reading from John’s Gospel, we have the full assurance of unity, through Jesus reassuring his disciples, whom we guess by now are not just 12 peasants, but a multitude of people who are following Jesus everywhere. That’s just one of the reasons that the Pharisees and other Temple leaders see Jesus as such a political threat – because of his large following that seems to grow by the day. And as the followers converge on the Temple in Jerusalem, I’m reminded of some of the various aspects that have defined us in our true dis-unity as Christians.
And not just Christians, but all denominations excel at disunity for all of us as partners in faith: Just check this out.
The Presbyterian church called a committee to decide what to do about their squirrel infestation. After much prayer and consideration, they concluded that the squirrels were predestined to be there, and they should not interfere with God’s divine will.
At the Baptist church, the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistry. The deacons met and decided to put a waterslide on the baptistry and let the squirrels drown themselves. The squirrels liked the slide and, unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim, so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.
The Lutheran church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creatures. So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist church. Two weeks later, all the squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the waterslide.
The Episcopalians tried a much more unique path by setting out pans of whiskey around their church in an effort to kill the squirrels with alcohol poisoning. Sadly, they learned how much damage a band of drunk squirrels can do.
But the Catholic church came up with a more creative strategy! They baptized all the squirrels and made them members of the church. Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.
Not much was heard from the Jewish synagogue. They took the first squirrel and circumcised him. They haven’t seen a squirrel since.
So each of our persuasions have their own ways to deal with whatever issues confront us, and that drives us further from true unity of faith. But Paul’s idea of being as one in faith is what truly ties us together. In three weeks, here we will host an Ecumenical Thanksgiving service sponsored by the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council, with coordination from me, Lutheran and Methodist pastors, and the rabbi from Temple Beth Jacob.
Our theme will be how we reimagine Thanksgiving for all, within the framework of our diversity in faith systems, and ethnic and social groups, with reflections from diverse backgrounds, and a small choral group composed of people from each congregation. I think it will be an interesting and worthwhile effort and hope you can attend. That’s Sunday, November 14 at 4 pm.
And now that we have strayed from our Scripture lessons, where were we with that? Elsewhere in Ephesians, the writer talks about how Christ tore down the wall, the barrier, in that case between the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing them all together, and that’s what the message of Jesus does for us:
It brings us together as one body, the body of the Church, church here with a big C, and that’s where we find the real strength of our faith.
We each find individual depth and strength in our faith journey, but it’s that shared strength in our collective journeys that brings us here, not as the Union Presbyterians, but as part of the greater church, God’s church, as a part of the greater creation. And speaking of that, you might recall that last week I lost my sermon notes and spoke pretty much from memory, but that meant I couldn’t use a couple of incredible quotes from two very different native cultures.
Remember where we read from Job, where God speaks from a whirlwind, or when he asks: “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you?” And how different is that than the Lakota Holy Man Black Elk when he says:
“And while I stood there, I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together, like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and broad as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”
I couldn’t resist leaving that behind, I just had to bring it back, verbatim.
And when we look at the Gospel of John, chapter 14 last week and 17 this week, we hear: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,” or when Jesus says, “thy know that I come from you and that I am with you.”
And how do those differ so much from the visions of Black Elk? They really don’t, do they?
And at the core of all this is … what? Love, that’s right. God’s unlimited Love. Listen to the words of Chief Dan George, who was not only a beloved character actor, but he was also a real chief of his Canadian First Nation. In his book of poems and essays, ‘My Heart Soars,’ he wrote:
“It is hard for me to understand a culture that not only hates and fights his brothers but even attacks Nature and abuses her. Man must love all creation, or he will love none of it. Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. Without love our very self weakens. Without it our courage fails. Without love we can longer look out confidently at the world. Instead, we turn inwardly and begin to feed upon our own personalities and little by little we destroy ourselves.”
Again, that is just too rich to let it fall away and I thank you for indulging me in a reprise.
But it all does speak to the unity of our congregation, our Mission, our faith that guides us here not just on Sunday but those other days of feeding and clothing others, as our seven candles here remind us that worship is for every day of the week, not just Sunday. And that’s why before we extinguish the Christ candle, we light a flame from it to carry the light of Christ out of here and into the world, as a part of our mission through 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