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The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

November 20, 2022
10:00 am



O God, you call us into your holy place – this solemn assembly. Let our hearts be made full of praise, our eyes full of wonder at your mercies, and our lips quick to tell of your blessings to us in your son Jesus Christ our Sovereign Lord. Let our praise be for the guidance of your hand and the righteousness with which you execute justice, that we might be your presence to our broken and hurting world. This we pray through Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

PRELUDE “Come Ye Thankful People Come” arr. Harold Rutz


“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.”
We worship and adore you, Christ our King.
We worship and adore you, Christ our King.

*HYMN No. 643 “Now Thank We All our God” vs. 1 & 2
1 Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who, from our mothers’ arms,
hath blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

2 O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
and keep us in God’s grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
in this world and the next.


Come, people of God, let us confess our sins.
Let us confess how we have fallen short of God’s plans for us.
Come, to the font to be redeemed.
Let us come to the waters of our baptism to be cleansed.


You, God, are our one and only King. We beg your forgiveness for the other “kings” that we kneel before: money… power… gossip…self-righteousness…racial privilege… We beg your forgiveness, we who are broken and torn apart by our own doings and un-doings. Guide us to be your servants. Lead us to trust in you as the only king we need. Direct our faith in your sovereign power as we strive to follow your Son, through the power of your Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.

Silence is observed


We have done wrong to God our King, but the good news of the gospel is this: God has chosen mercy over vengeance. Together, through the waters of our baptism, we have been cleansed of our sin and are redeemed as beloved servants of a merciful King.
Alleluia! Amen!

*RESPONSE No. 643 “Now Thanks We All Our God” v. 3
All praise and thanks to God, who reigns in highest heaven, to Father and to Son and Spirit now be given: the one eternal God, whom heaven and earth adore, the God who was, and is, and shall be evermore.


Since God has forgiven us in Christ, let us forgive one another. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also, with you.

ANTHEM “The Shepherd of My Soul” Austin Lovelace



Savior God, guide us into and through your Word, that we might be shaped by your Spirit’s message to us today and transformed for service in your world. Amen.

SCRIPTURE Colossians 1:11-20

11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

SERMON “Jesus is Lord????”

Last Monday, I was at the Presbyterian Historical Society for a gathering of Union Presbyterian Seminary Alumni, and during the discussion a pastor asked about the term “Lord.” Could we still use it in the church because of the baggage and historical weight that the term had for the world today. Professor Baard commented that the term Lord was a technical term, a biblical term, and a replacement for the name of God that the Israelites couldn’t say out of respect for God.
We have scripture for today that includes the Christ hymn to the church in Colossae. The confession “Jesus is Lord” was for Paul both absolute and necessary because, it articulates what God had done through and in Christ. When Paul writes that for us there is “one Lord” he surely did not mean that Christ’s lordship was limited to the church alone, and it most particularly did not mean that there other were viable contenders for the title. For Paul, the failure to understand that there is one Lord is tantamount to the denial that there is “one God.’ The heresy that the church in Corinth had committed and Paul was trying to correct.
In fact, there is a close connection between the confession that there is “one God, one Lord” and the content of Paul’s Gospel. When Paul calls in Romans for the confession that “Jesus is Lord” and that God raised him from the dead” he goes on to assert, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Then he asks, But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” The messenger who proclaims the good news, the Gospel, is the herald from Isaiah. The Gospel proclamation begins not with a personal invitation to a religious experience, but with an announcement, like a royal herald, that God is King, and that Jesus is Lord — of all the earth.
To relegate the proclamation “Jesus is Lord” either exclusively to the religious sphere or to the private sphere will be to misunderstand the public and universal dimensions of the claim in its first century context. And so it is that ministers of the Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA and Ruling Elders are asked this question at their ordination, “Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” The acknowledgment that Jesus is “Lord of all” is the beginning point of the church’s proclamation, as it was for Paul.
Christ is the Lord of all, the Head of the Church, the One who gave his life on the Cross for the redemption of Creation and to give life and being to his Church. Most of us identify with a number of different tribes, different groups, some of them formal and some of them not. We have civic clubs such as Lions and Rotary; musical communities such as Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey and the Philadelphia Symphony; bowling leagues; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; Masons, the Pickwick Club, sports leagues and fan clubs like the Sons of Ben; and then groups we create for ourselves, perhaps with names such as FAF or Woodbury Heart and Soul. And we have political entities, Republican, Democrat, Independent or Libertarian. All of these groups and organizations have a focus and purpose.
Each group has its identity and its way of organizing itself, its terms of belonging and its rules and procedures. And then there is the Church. The uniqueness of the Church is that it is always more than it appears to be. Our Head is not an elected President or an earthly monarch like Charles the third. Our identity is not in a shared oath or a flag or political boundaries or a mascot. Our Head, our identity, is centered firmly in the firstborn of all creation, the image of the invisible God, the creating Word by whom and for whom all things exist, who also gave his life on the Cross for the redemption of that creation.
We know that, but it helps to be reminded. When we look only at a baby in a manger, or a tired carpenter walking the roads with twelve friends, or a convicted criminal on a Cross, we may forget that all of these embody the Firstborn of all creation. So, remember that. Remember that when we are part of the Church, we haven’t just joined another social organization; we’ve become part of a kingdom. As it says here in Colossians, “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Remember that, people of Christ.

Liturgy and Commentaries provided by Marianne Meye Thompson, Robert Keefer, Ellen Barrett, Stephen M. Fearing, Chelsey Harmon, & Scott Hoezee,

*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH excerpts from Confession of Belhar 1986

We believe in the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end. We believe in one holy, universal Christian church, the communion of saints called from the entire human family.
We believe that the unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; pray together; together serve God in this world; and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity. Amen.

*HYMN No. 367 “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”
1 Come, ye thankful people, come;
raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide
for our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
raise the song of harvest home.

2 All the world is God’s own field,
fruit in thankful praise to yield,
wheat and tares together sown,
unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade, and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

3 For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from each field shall in that day
all offenses purge away;
give the angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast,
but the fruitful ears to store
in God’s garner evermore.

4 Even so, Lord, quickly come
to thy final harvest home.
Gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there forever purified,
in thy presence to abide:
come, with all thine angels, come;
raise the glorious harvest home!


God of abundant blessing, as we approach a holiday of gratitude and a new liturgical year, we pause to give you thanks and praise. We acknowledge all good gifts that come from you and for the many ways you bless us. Especially, we thank you for:

Family and loved ones who encircle us with care …
Clear skies and starry nights that stun us with your creation’s beauty …
Acts of kindness and compassion shared between neighbors and strangers …
Leaders who defy partisan rhetoric and rancor to act with honesty and integrity …

The sun sinks early, and the days grow short in this darkening season, Holy God. Your people languish, yearning for a break from bad news and heavy burdens. In our despair we turn to you and lift our hope-filled petitions for the needs of your people. We pray for:

Victims of violence, war and oppressive regimes …
Those in need of healing from trauma …
Those whose spirits are burdened by mental illness …
Those who believe they are beyond help and hope …

We humble ourselves before you, Christ our King, to pray for
our redemption and the world’s. May we live and love and forgive as you did. May we resist evil forces that seek to turn us from a humane path. May we embrace your way of peace, transformed for lives of love and grace. Now, hear us pray the prayer Christ taught us, 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, for ever. Amen.



In response to God’s abundant gifts to us, let us give generously to Christ’s mission and ministry. Let us present our tithes and offerings to God.



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.


Risen Savior, responding to your love and grace, we offer our gifts of time, talent and service. May our offerings feed the hungry, cloth the poor, quench the thirsty and shelter the most vulnerable among us. Amen.

*HYMN No. 36 “For the Fruit Of All Creation”
1 For the fruit of all creation,
thanks be to God.
For the gifts to every nation,
thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth’s safekeeping,
thanks be to God.

2 In the just reward of labor,
God’s will be done.
In the help we give our neighbor,
God’s will be done.
In our worldwide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God’s will be done.

3 For the harvests of the Spirit,
thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all that love has found us,
thanks be to God.


May Jesus’ name be praised as we leave to love and serve. May our lives reflect Christ’s glory and honor his name. May God, the Father, Son and Holy, bless us and keep us all. Amen.