October 25 Worship
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Hello Union Church Presbyterians,
Worship this Sunday, October 25 will be hosted on Zoom with worship beginning at 10:30 am. We will share prayers and reflections.
Full Video: https://youtu.be/ESaNig1B5q4
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.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Union Church, Newburgh NY
October 25, 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. Oct 26 and Wed. Oct. 28 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.
Choral Music will precede the worship service beginning at 10:15 am as people ‘tune in’ to the zoom service.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
PRELUDE Guilmant Grand Triumphal March Margaret Small
CALL TO WORSHIP Deborah Hill
One: Oh Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before you formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Many: A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is passed. Almighty God, have compassion on your servants!
One: Satisfy us this and every morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Many: Let the favor of the Lord be upon us, and prosper the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands.
All: Let us find joy in worshipping our immortal, loving God.
OPENING PRAYER Rev. Cathy Surgenor
Creator God, we gather to worship you, knowing that you desire our presence even as we seek yours. Who are we that you should love us, each of us? There is trouble in our world that needs your attention, yet you embrace us and hold us up. Prosper the work of hands so that we may serve you in ways that delight you.
CALL TO CONFESSION Deborah Hill
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The proof of God’s love is this: While we were sinners Christ Jesus died for us. Because we have faith in him, we dare approach God with confidence.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION Deborah Hill
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you
with our whole heart and soul
and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves,
In your mercy,
forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON Rev. Cathy Surgenor
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.
I declare to you that through Christ we are forgiven.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Deborah Hill
May these words of scripture reach those ears that are open and those hearts that are prepared to receive them.
OLD TESTAMENT Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 Deborah Hill
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
May God add blessing to this reading of scripture.
NEW TESTAMENT Matthew 22:34-46 Rev. Cathy Surgenor
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
They said to him, “The son of David.”
He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
May God add blessing to this reading of scripture.
SERMON “The Trouble with Love” Rev. Cathy Surgenor
(Text at the end of bulletin)
OFFERING AND PASSING OF THE PEACE Jim Alber
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
Lord, you welcome us and our gifts. When we give of ourselves we join in your work of creation. Thank you for making use of our contributions, prosper the work of our hands. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND LORD’S PRAYER Rev. Cathy Surgenor
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.
Lift up the names of those we remember in prayer. Nancy Thomas
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.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...
CHORAL BENEDICTION The Blessing Global Choir
INVITATION TO COFFEE HOUR
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
SERMON TEXT The Trouble with Love Rev. Cathy Surgenor
The Greatest Commandment
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
The Question about David’s Son
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Crunch time: The arguments have mostly been made. Major actions have been taken. Signs posted for all to see. Now the people must judge. Jesus is in Jerusalem, his final week on earth. Tension has been building since he attacked the money changers and disrupted the Temple.
He had defeated the Sadducees, the priests and their faithful with their ridiculous questions about the widow who marries 7 brothers as if she were a possession, a brood mare to be shared. They had tried to trap him. Jesus shamed them into silence.
Now it is the Pharisees turn. They are less transactional, more pious. They were seeking to please God by carefully following God’s laws. Jews had/have 613 commandments and rules that they try to keep to be Holy as God is Holy. Pharisees loved to debate how best to do this in their world. They tended to look down upon those who couldn’t measure up.
One of them, a lawyer, asks a key question. Which of the commandments is the greatest? It’s a matter that was endlessly debated. If you get that right then hopefully the rest will follow.
Today, in 2020 we still are asking that question. What is that motto, that North Star that can guide us in decisions great and small. Don’t most of us want to know that key to living the good life? Some powerful wisdom we can teach our children. Maybe you have chosen one and can recite it right now. But we have way more than 613 possibilities. Psychologists, philosophers, politicians, business gurus, all offer their wisdom on how to be truly happy. Even walking down the street, we see T-shirt advice—Eat, Sleep, Sail. Eat, Sleep, Ride a Harley, or the popular Life is Good.
Every time I go online to look something up there are a display of articles chosen just for me just below the search line. Something I’ll find so intriguing I can’t resist clicking on it. Probably because of my profession, these articles are along the lines of the purpose of life, how to be truly happy, guiding principles. Why we do what we do?
That’s how I came across Bertrand Russel’s list of what makes Man do what he does. Click – I didn’t know much at all about this brilliant man except that his name was familiar. The article was based on his Nobel prize acceptance speech. In sum, Man is controlled by his desires. Unlike animals, these desires are insatiable. Man can never get enough of them to be happy. Four primary ones that drive all we (Man) do What are they? Acquiring, Power over others, Rivalry, Vanity. Sometimes they work against each other. A man will happily spend all he has to destroy his enemy. Skimming through this article I felt – dismay. It seemed so inane, so hopeless. And yet discouragingly true. But something was missing. There was no mention of Love, of wanting happiness for someone else. I needed to know more about this man. I don’t claim an intimate knowledge; only what I could find quickly. So if one of you has studied his writings—let’s talk.
Betrand Russel. Writer, mathematician, philosopher, inventor of analytical philosophy, lover of logic. Awarded the Nobel Prize for literature – in 1950. Also, an outspoken atheist. Why? He was born into wealth and the English nobility. His father was twice prime minister. But that privileged birth could not protect him from tragedy. His mother and sister died when he was two years old. His father and grandfather died by the time he was six. His only brother, Frank, was set away to school. Betrand had few playmates because he was taught at home. He was raised by his Christian grandmother, a Countess. By the time he was a teenaged he rejected Christianity. So, being extremely bright, he sought wisdom in mathematics, then physics.
He applied their principles to philosophy. Later, he taught in some of the greatest universities of the Western World – Trinity College Oxford – Harvard, U Penn. He was also fired from several. Fired from Trinity at least 3 times, before being made a lifelong fellow. Argued passionately against WWI, even went to prison for his outspoken opposition. Much later he was outspoken against the Vietnam war and attracted a new following. Russel was married four times and believed in open marriage.
Bertrand Russel. He managed to fit more passion into his life than most people could handle. His autobiography written in 1967— “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” What strikes me is the longing for love. That is indeed a motivation. He admits a longing for love, but not a longing to give love.
Thinking again about his statement, “Man does what he does because of 4 insatiable desires – Acquisition, Power, Vanity and Rivalry. Three of those are the very things the devil offered Jesus after his forty long days in the desert. Turn stone into bread –power, control of all the world, and being vain enough to test God. “Cast yourself down, for the angels will hold you up. As for Rivalry – that was what motivated the devil.
So, when Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is what does he reply? Jesus chooses and recites Deuteronomy 6:5 “You Shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6:5 “You Shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is the command given as the Israelites were about to enter the “promised land” at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness. Moses would not go with them. He was giving them words to live by. More fully Moses says, Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you” in a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ In other words, “To live the good life do this and live.” “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
The pharisees would have agreed with Jesus – For this is the great Shama Hear O Israel— It is said as a prayer at the beginning of every worship service and at the beginning and end of every day by faithful Jews to this day.
Why? It orients the person and the community. You are not here on your own. You, (we) are part of something greater. This sense of purpose and belonging are critical to our wellbeing.
How do we love this God, this mystery. Come to know God. Be with others who can share their experience of God. Put yourself in situations where God is at work and join in. Give credit to God. And as the Pharisees argued, Follow God’s commandments.
Then Jesus adds a commandment from the second half of Leviticus 19:9-18. Leviticus is a book of rules. Jesus chooses this one.
"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." Lest we think our neighbors are only those like us, the end of chapter 19: verse 34 states: "The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."
This second commandment Love your neighbor as yourself, might have surprised the Pharisees. But, how can you love God, whom you can’t see if you can’t love your neighbor whom you do see. You can get so busy trying to be more pious than the next person that you loose sight of loving them. It’s not a competition. If you use those rules to judge others so that you can feel superior then you’ve failed the greatest commandment.
All the rest of 613 commandments, and all the teachings of the prophets flow from this two part commandment. Love – all the rest is commentary. This commandment is available to everyone. We don’t have to be rich, or powerful, or the best, or even to vanquish our enemy to live the good life. If you can love, then you have fulfilled the law. It’s not a contest, but it does require your whole self.
My Grandma Tooze lived a long life of overcoming obstacles, getting free of an abuser, getting an education, protecting her family during the great depression, sending a son off to WWII, becoming the unquestioned matriarch of our family. One of my most powerful memories of Grandma was of her holding my 2-year-old daughter in her lap and slowly putting her sock on with such deliberate gentleness. I’ve never forgotten that image. Love. Anyone can give it.
And so, the Pharisees too were silenced. But Jesus wasn’t finished.
Jesus ask the Pharisees a question. How can the messiah be David’s son if he refers to him as my Lord. The Messiah then must be greater than even King David. Here was a brand new thought, a riddle they had not even considered. They went away. Wondering. But both they and the Sadducees would be back.
I don’t think anyone has developed a better North Star to guide our life. It’s a motto that can even fit on a Tshirt – Love God, Love self, Love neighbor. And on the back – Everything else is Commentary. Amen