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5.24 At-Home Worship & Activities

May 24, 2020

Pick what works for you!

 

AT-HOME WORSHIP & ACTIVITIES

Union Church, Newburgh NY

May 24, 2020

 

 

THOUGHT FOR REFLECTION
Memorial Day (observed since 1868) honors those who have served our nation. It is an opportunity to intentionally give thanks and connect children and one another with values of honor, courage, service, and valor founded in our faith.

 

 

WELCOME

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. For more info visit https://www.newburghpresby.org/

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Food Pantry operates every other week. Next: Mon. May 25 and Wed. May 27 from 9:30-11:30 am. This week the Food Pantry received a MAJOR delivery from West Point of food that had been intended for overseas military personnel. (see photos attached)

 

VIRTUAL Fellowship Time—Next Sun. May 31 from 11:30-Noon
You are invited! Use Zoom on mobile phone or computer with video or phone with audio only is EASY so please attend. We can encourage each other through this stressful time. Details will be sent via separate email. Questions? Call James will do his best to help.

 

 

ORDER OF WORSHIP

 

 

CALL TO WORSHIP          Psalm 106.1

Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

 

UNION HANDBELLS                     America

CLICK HERE

 

 

PRAYER 
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. — Psalm 34.1-4

 

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth 
I call to you, when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; 
for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me abide in your tent forever, 
find refuge under the shelter of your wings. 
So I will always sing praises to your name, as I pay my vows day after day. Amen.  

— Psalm 61.1-4, 8 and Psalm 57.8-10 

 

 

MESSAGE FOR ALL AGES   from Deborah Milcarek, General Presbyter  

Quiz: WHAT is this “THREAD?” 


“There’s a strong thread we can follow. It weaves among things that change. But it does not change. If you follow this strong cord, other people may wonder about what you are following. You can explain about the thread and perhaps help them find it, too. 
But it is often hard for others to see. 


While you hold on to it, you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and you meet limitations of getting old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. 

Don’t ever let go of the thread. If you hold onto this strong thread, you will find your way.”

 — William Stafford, adapted 

 

                                                                                           

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH    Thomas Ken, 1674

CLICK HERE: for lyrics and classic Old Hundreth melody, 1551

 

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 

 

Psalm 105.1-3  (silent or aloud)
O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. 
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

 

 

HYMN      Gloria Patri  (Latin for Glory to the Father)

 

Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.  
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.  

 

 

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE and LORD’S PRAYER  (silent or aloud)

Merciful God, we yearn for hope and healing for ourselves and for the world. We are grateful for those who risk themselves in the service of good—whether in military operations to curtail power abuse or in face-to-face (or face-mask-to-face mask) help for people in need. 

 

We pray for those who suffer in mind or body because of their service—may they be healed of their suffering. We give thanks for those who have given their lives in their commitment to make the world a better place. Out of the grief and pain of this broken world, we pray that your vision of a renewed creation may soon emerge. 

(silent prayer…)

 

Thus, we pray as Jesus taught us to pray… Our Father…
[‘hallowed’= very respected, admired and praised because of great importance]

 

 

ANTHEM             God Bless America                                 Union Chancel Choir 

CLICK HERE:  

 


SCRIPTURE LESSON          Psalm 68.3-10, 35                NRSV  

Let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God;  

    let them be jubilant with joy.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
    cast up a highway for him who rides through the deserts.
His name is the Lord— be exultant before him. 
Father of orphans and protector of widows 
    is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,
    when you marched through the wilderness, 
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, 
    the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
  you restored your heritage when it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness,

O God, you provided for the needy.

 

Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; God gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

 

 

SERMON                                   Praise God…Even Now             Rev. Sandy Larson
CLICK HERE for video; text at end

 


SILENT REFLECTION

 

 

Offering Reminder Please CLICK HERE  or send check to Union Church, 44 Balmville Rd, Newburgh NY 12550

 

 

HYMN                                        My Country 'Tis of Thee  Samuel F. Smith                            

CLICK HERE for music and lyrics

 

 

BENEDICTION HYMN    America, the Beautiful                          

CLICK HERE for music and lyrics

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

 

ACTIVITIES – Pick those that interest you!

 

1.   FOR REFLECTION  

Martin Buber told the story of a rabbi who went to a pond each day at dawn to learn “the song with which the frogs praise God.”

 

Giving praise to children can seem insincere and praising them can create a dependence on external rewards Encouragement is better, like, We appreciate your help. Don’t the dishes shine? or Isn’t the color in the carpet so much brighter now?  

What would you say if a child said that 2+2=22?

 

The hymn, O Come Let Us Adore Him says, “For He alone is worthy.”

 

2.   HUMOR         Taking praise too far?

Bill wanted a horse and saw a ‘Christian horse’ on Craigslist. So he went to check it out. The horse’s owner said, “It’s easy to ride him. Just say ‘praise the Lord’ to make him go, and ‘amen’ to make him stop.”

 

Bill got on the horse and said “praise the Lord.” The horse walked. He said, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord” and the horse broke into a run. Then Bill saw a cliff ahead and hollered: “AMEN!” The horse stopped and Bill whispered softly, “Whew! Praise the Lord!”

 

Not taking praise far enough in this mealtime prayer?  “Praise the Lord and pass the bread. Amen!”

 

_________________________________________________

 


SERMON                      Praise God…Even Now                                     Sandy Larson

                                      Psalm 68.3-10, 35 5-24-20      

 

Social distancing is an opportunity to reflect on important things that usual daily routines tend to eclipse. We can ask significant questions such as, “What is the purpose of my life?”

 

A clear answer comes from first question in the Westminster Larger Catechism, a long revered Presbyterian creed: “[Our] chief and highest end is to glorify God AND enjoy him forever.”  “Glorify” God is somewhat similar to a parent saying to their child:  Go make my proud!” 

 

Do our actions and attitudes reflect well on God? “And,” says that most-quoted Presbyterian Creed: ENJOY God forever.”

 

In my family, children were expected to earn our parents’ pride in us. Our family now truly enjoys being with one another.  God offers an even greater joy for EVER! 

 

Many people are skeptical about God today, especially with so many health and economic uncertainties.  It’s hard to trust God in such circumstances. Yet holding on to faith is especially important when we face daunting challenges.

So how do we have faith when faith is being challenged? Christian folk wisdom says: Have faith until you have faith. Or: Keep believing until you re-gain your faith.

When faith is hard to hold onto—hold on to it. Like a sailor thrown overboard in a storm, keep swimming until you reach safety. Don’t give up hope.

 

Yet how can we hold on to hope and keep trusting God when storms rage around us and throughout the world? Perhaps this analogy helps: Faith is like riding in an airplane surrounded by dense clouds conscious that sunshine surrounds the clouds. God’s grace is like the all-encompassing power of the sun. God’s grace is at work even on the stormiest day. 

 

We know that faith is particularly crucial in times of difficulty. We can practice intractable denial of problems, but denial pushes worries deeper into our consciousness and the unaddressed strife riles our insides. By the grace of God, difficult challenges prod us to act. Difficulties act like a sharp rock in our walking shoe. The pain caused by the rock motivates us to deal with it. Faith is our best tool for coping with adversity.  Faith produces hope. Trusting God pulls us out of despair or depression so that we can face the difficulty with creative action.

 

So, HOW do we bolster our faith, especially when our faith is shaken by adversity or fear?  The practice of repeating something again and again starts to change our consciousness. One approach is to praise God repeatedly. Even if at first we mean it only halfheartedly, repeated praise can change our behavior. Repeatedly praising God can also change our consciousness. Repeated mantras have proven helpful across many cultures. Repeating self-affirmations is popular in our culture—so these repeated affirmations must be helpful. Teachers used to make students write a new learning many times. For misbehavior, you might have even had to write a statement of contrition over and over again, like: I will be kind to others.  I will be kind to others. I will be kind to others. 


Many of you can testify that repeatedly turning to the Psalms is a valuable faith practice.

 

“Praise God” is used 96 times in the OT and 38 times in the NT. In addition, the Psalms use the word “praise” in reference to God 182 times. Many psalms of desperate petition, psalms of bitter complaint and heart wrenching laments conclude with an affirmation of praise to God. People often turn to Psalms as a source of hope and as a model of faithfulness. Psalm 119:164 says:  “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.” This psalm declares: I praise God seven times a day.

 

 

What are some reasons for praising God?  Psalm 117 offers an answer: “Great is God’s steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of  the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! [Ps 117.2]  Many of the psalms open with a centering, and assuring affirmation of faith:  Praise the Lord, for he is good or: Praise the Lord, for he is gracious. Ps 104 says, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” [v.33]
 


Psalm 71 [5-11] is a good testimony of devoted faith. Psalm 71 says, “I have been a portent to many.” Note that we do not know the meaning of ‘portent’  in this context. Was he a ‘portent’ in the sense that his faith was so strong that people noticed that generous love, joy and comfort came from his faith in God? OR: Was the psalmist a ‘portent’ because everyone could see that he had suffered at length and still had faith, like Job?  Later in the Psalm is a hint:  “I have strayed like a lost sheep.” [v 176] Had the psalmist been faithless or sinful and he is now grateful to be back in God’s fold? I believe that no matter how we interpret the psalmists’ claim that he is a ‘potent,’ the psalmist wants to be a model of faithfulness, through whatever life might bring or wrong turns we may take.


Listen carefully to this psalm; and consider that the inspiration for composing this psalm might have been adversity, or having been lost; or the psalmist may hope that his grateful and joyful faith is contagious:

 
You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you. I have been like portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long.
I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long,

though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

 

In light of what you have just heard, listen again to today’s lectionary scripture lesson from Psalm 68 [vv. 3-10,35]

                          

Let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
    cast up a highway for him who rides through the deserts.
His name is the Lord— be exultant before him. 
Father of orphans and protector of widows 
    is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious live in a parched land.

O God, when you went out before your people,
    when you marched through the wilderness, 
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, 
    the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad;
  you restored your heritage when it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; 
  in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

 

Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; God gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!


Repetition helps ideas sink in, so here goes:

Psalm 92 says: It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.

Psalm 113:3 says: From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Psalm 119 says: Let me live that I may praise you, and let your ordinances help me. [v. 175]

Psalm 145:2 says: Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.

 

I hope each one of you can find meaningful ways to praise God…even now.  Amen!

 

OPTIONAL:  Reflect on Psalm 92

 

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