The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
January 30, 2022
Worship Notes



God of Gods: We come to worship today to hear your good news, to hear of faith, hope and love ringing out from your kingdom. We know that doubt, fear and hatred can shake even the strongest. Shape us into faithful hopeful people, fill us with your love that passes all understanding. We pray this together in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

PRELUDE                   “Adagio”                     Cesar Franck


Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown.

*HYMN No. 638 “O come and Sing unto the Lord”  vs. 1-4

1 O come and sing unto the Lord;
to God our voices raise;
let us in our most joyful songs
the Lord, our Savior, praise.

2 Before God’s presence let us come
with praise and thankful voice;
let us sing psalms to God with grace;
with grateful hearts, rejoice.

3 The Lord our God is King of kings,
above all gods enthroned;
the depths of earth and mountains high
by God alone are owned.

4 To God the spacious sea belongs;
God made its waves and tides,
and by God’s hand the rising land
was formed, and still abides.


Let us humbly approach God’s throne of grace to confess our sins and present ourselves honestly before our Savior.


Savior God, you call us to love but we relish the fight. We divide ourselves into us and them and refuse to cross over, compromise, or contemplate the ways of the other side. Amen. Humble us in our certainty and arrogance, God. Remind us of the power of love calm conflict and wage peace. Amen  



Our God is a loving God, full of mercy. In Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Believe in this forgiveness, be at peace, and share the love you have graciously received. Amen.

*RESPONSE No. 638 “O come and Sing unto the Lord” v. 5

O come, and bowing down to God
our worship let us bring;
yea, let us kneel before the Lord,
our Maker and our King.


Our peace comes from knowing how much God loves us in Jesus Christ. With God’s help, we try to love and forgive one another as Christ loves and forgives us.
“The peace of Christ be with you,”
“And also with you.”

ANTHEM                   “We Sing the Almighty Power of God”                  John Leavitt

I sing the almighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at God’s command,
and all the stars obey. 

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food
who formed the creatures thru the Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,
where’er I turn my eye,
if I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky! 

There’s not a plant or flower below,
but makes thy glories known,
and clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from thy throne;
while all that borrows life from thee
is ever in thy care;
and everywhere that we can be,
thou, God, art present there.



Holy God, humble us and open us to your life-giving Word. As we hear your Word read and proclaimed today, may our hearts and minds be open to the Spirit’s moving and Jesus’ teaching. Amen.

SCRIPTURE   1 Corinthians 13:1-13

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.


I thought this morning, we would begin with a little music from my friend, David LaMotte.  This singer/songwriter joined used us in September as we celebrated our 300th Anniversary. One of my favorite songs from the album Hard Earned Smile is entitled “FLYING”  (”>

The second verse caught my attention as we think about our scripture passage for today:

So, I’m talking to this friend of mine
But my eyes are on the floor.
I just couldn’t see why she left me or what this pain was for
He said your love wasn’t wasted just because your heart is sore
All that love just stretched it out so it holds a little more

A reminder that Loving is always risky, because we cannot enter into it without being changed. Altered. Renovated. Transformed. Reformed. In the face of this, we might well ask, Do I really want this? Do we really desire to be so undone?

Loving is never just about opening our heart. It is about being willing to have our heart become larger as we make room for people and stories and experiences we never imagined holding. It is about being willing to have our heart become deeper as we move beyond the surface layers of our assumptions, prejudices, and habits in order to truly see and receive what—and who—is before us. It is about being willing to have our heart continually shattered and remade as we take in not only the brokenness of the world but also the beauty of it, the astounding wonder that will not allow us to remain the same.  This type of love can be a true blessing.  Poet Jan Richardson proclaims:

Blessing That Meets You in Love

It is true that every blessing begins with love, that whatever else it might say, love is always precisely its point.

But it should be noted that this blessing has come today especially to tell you it is crazy about you. That it has been in love with you forever. That it has never not wanted to see your face, to go through this world in your company.

This blessing thought it was high time it told you so, just to make sure you know.

If it has been shy in saying this, it has not been for any lack of wanting to. It’s just that this blessing knows the risk of offering itself in a way that will so alter you— not because it thinks you could stand some improving, but because this is simply where loving leads.

This blessing knows how love undoes us, unhinges us, unhides us.

It knows how loving can sometimes feel like dying.

But today this blessing has come to tell you the secret that sends it to your door: that it gives itself only to those willing to come alive; that it vows itself only to those ready to be born anew.

If we accept this blessing of love and are born anew—How does this practice of love play out?

How do we put this into practice?

I attend a preacher’s Bible study on Tuesday afternoons, and last week someone raised a question: How do we preach in a time when our country is so deeply divided? There were a variety of answers, some thoughtful, some troubling. Here’s the only answer I know. Preach love, and challenge people to live out a love that Paul wrote about:

Love is patient;
love is kind;
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way;
Love is not irritable or resentful;
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

How will you and live out this love – a love that endures all things?   I won’t tell you how to serve God. I won’t tell you how to love. But…it is the preacher’s job to say that we Christians must be guided by love. Whatever we are doing, we must do it for the sake of love, and we must be honest with ourselves and with God about our motives. When we are driven by fear, when we are driven by selfishness, when we are driven by hatred–whether it is hatred for liberals or hatred for conservatives, there is little room left for love to guide us or teach us or inspire us.

A final story from Elie Wiesel, the Jewish writer, and holocaust survivor: In his book, All Rivers Run to the Sea, he describes his family life in Hungary during those dark days. His family lived in the shadow of death, knowing that any day the Nazis might arrive at their door. Wiesel tells about a peasant woman by the name of Maria, a Christian, who was almost like a member of their family.

During the early years of the war Maria continued to visit the Wiesel family, but eventually non-Jews were no longer allowed entrance to the ghettos. That did not deter Maria. She found her way through the barbed wire and she came anyway, bringing fruits, vegetables, and cheese. Maria knew of a cabin up in the hills. She offered to take the children, of which Elie was one, and hide them there before the SS came. They decided after much debate to stay together as a family, although they were deeply moved at this gesture.

Years later, this is what Elie Wiesel writes about that good woman: “Dear Maria! If other Christians had acted like her, the trains rolling toward the unknown would have been less crowded. If priests and pastors had raised their voices, if the Vatican had broken its silence, the enemy’s hand would not have been so free. But most thought only of themselves. A Jewish home was barely emptied of its inhabitants before they descended like vultures. I think of Maria often, with affection and gratitude, and with wonder as well. This simple, uneducated woman stood taller than the city’s intellectuals, dignitaries and clergy. My father had many acquaintances and even friends in the Christian community, not one of them showed the strength of character of this peasant woman. Of what value was their faith, their education, their social position, if it did not arouse their love? It was a simple and devout Christian woman who saved the town’s honor.”

Maria loved her neighbor and that continues to be our call. In the end, love matters more than anything else, outlasts and out gives everything else, and remains the surest sign that God is present in our lives and in our world. Faith will someday be replaced by certainty. Hope will finally give way to fulfillment. But love? Love has no expiration date. Love is always. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Red abstract painting

Liturgy & Commentary provided by Elie Wiesel, Teri McDowell Ott, Carol Penner, Brian Peterson, Karoline Lewis, Jan Richardson, Stan Mast, Robin C. Wright, and James Boyce

*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                        The Apostles’ Creed

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 No. 626 “As the Deer”

As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.
You alone are my strength, my shield;
to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.

As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.
You alone are my strength, my shield;
to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.

As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.
You alone are my strength, my shield;
to you alone may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you.


Eternal God, You call us to a more radical love than words cross-stitched on a pillow or framed on the wall by our bedroom nightstand can convey. You call us to a love that includes our haters, our enemies, those who demean and humiliate us. God, how can we? How can we feel anything but disdain for awful people who treat us awfully? Grant us the courage and the strength, Holy God, to hold to that which is good.

God, grant us patience in our practice of love. Help us not hit send on that scathing email that is so justified. Help us pause to breathe in and exhale out. Help us listen more, seek understanding, and approach those with whom we disagree with curiosity, humility and openness. Help us listen for the story beneath others’ stories.

Peace-loving God, help us not provoke others with hard certainties, let us not be uncompromising and insistent on our own way. Open us to dialogue and to opinions different than our own. Build our endurance for bridge-building across barriers of difference so we can wage peace in our segregated world.

Finally, inspire us by your love through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Transform us in this love to live as Christ’s disciples. Bless those who, in these pandemic times, are suffering, despairing and grieving and most in need of love.

United as the Body of Christ we lift these prayers to you, Savior God. Hear us now, as we pray the prayer Christ taught us by saying together, “Our Father …”

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.



We have been called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Let us return a portion of the gifts we have been given to Christ’s ministry and those most in need of love.



Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below.  Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.


In faith, Holy God, we present these offerings. We know that you will bless and use them to further Christ’s ministry and serve those in need. May these gifts bless those we know who are suffering and those known only to you. Amen.  

*HYMN No. 755 “Alleluia! Laud and Blessing”

1 Alleluia! Laud and blessing
to our God, whose Word is sure;
by whose grace we find redemption,
in whose love we live secure.
Righteousness and rich compassion
shall attend us all our days;
may God’s promise to be faithful
echo through our songs of praise!

2 Alleluia! God sustains us;
matchless are the gifts we share:
light in darkness, hope in conflict,
answers to our deepest prayer.
Ours to give as we are given:
arms to lift when others fall;
images of God’s great goodness,
faithful servants to God’s call.

3 Alleluia! Holy Parent,
all your children now reclaim;
may our lives reflect your justice,
heirs to your most sacred name.
Fill our hearts with understanding,
brace our weakness by your might;
awesome honor, born in wisdom;
your great glory, our delight! 


Love never ends.

May you leave this house of worship showered in the steadfast love of God, inspired by the love of the Holy Spirit, and ready to share the love of Jesus Christ with all who cross your path.

May grace, hope, peace, and love of God the Creator, God the Sustainer, and God the Redeemer, be with you all, now and always. Amen.

The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury
67 S. Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096

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Sunday, January 309:30 am
10:30 am
11:00 am
Christian Education
Monday, January 31
Tuesday, February 16:30 pm
7:00 pm
Cub Scout Meeting
Chess Club
Wednesday, February 29:30 am
7:30 pm
Staff Meeting
Al-anon Meetings
Thursday, February 3
Friday, February 4
Saturday, February 5
Sunday, February 69:30 am
11:00 am
WORSHIP with Elise Russell
Christian Education

of the Presbyterian Church at Woodbury will be held on

Sunday, January 30, 2022 at 10:30 am

The purpose of the Meeting is to receive the 2021 Annual Reports and approve the Terms of Call for the Pastor. All members are reminded to be present for this important meeting of the church.


Church School classes for children and youth will resume in February. Classes will be: February 6, February 13, February 20, and February 27.


Peggy Shirey and family, Joann Brodrick, Joe and Kathy Federici, Dick Hill, Joyce Edwards, Charlotte Nelson, Janet Muhm, Judy Fetty, and Sally Hanna-Schafer. A reminder to keep our military personnel in your prayers, including Jonathan Gabler, Nathan Wadding, Cameron Wadding, Jarrod Fetty, and Wesley Tatham.