Watch this Service

The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury

October 23, 2022
20th Sunday after Pentecost
10:00 am



Here we are Lord! We come into your house this morning praising your faithfulness, giving thanks for your mercy, seeking your joy. Thank you for creating us and giving us life and breath today. Thank you for your son Jesus Christ, our Savior and for the Holy Spirit whose presence here unites us as your people. Fill us with your peace today. Amen. 

PRELUDE               “By Peaceful Waters”                     Felix Mendelssohn


We gather to worship the One who crafted creation out of chaos, our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise to the God who gives us voice, we bring the songs which have echoed in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God, our joy unbroken in God’s love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched lift the new, new songs of faith.

*HYMN No. 475 “Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”

1 Come, thou Fount of every blessing;
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above;
praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of God’s unchanging love!

2 Here I raise my Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

3 O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart; O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above. 


Beautiful music, every note perfect, joining together in graceful harmony – this is what we imagine our lives to be. Yet our love is flat, our anger often sharp. Let us confess how we struggle to keep the measured beat of God’s life-giving melody in our lives, even as we pray together saying,


Joy-giving God, we know who we are: people who hear the harmony of your grace and love in our souls, but sing off-key so often. We want to learn new songs, but those haunting tunes of our past mistakes run through our heads. We long to make a joyful noise to you, but the hurts inflicted on us, and the pain we have caused others, silence our voices. Sing to us, Conductor of Grace: sing of your forgiveness, your hope, your love for us. Strike a chord of humility in our hearts so our eyes could see all you have done for us; and in seeing, we might believe how much you love us; and in believing, we would echo that new song of hope and life composed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed


Listen to the melody of the good news: Christ is risen, bringing joy into the world. The One who was dead now lives, and wraps us in the delight of life forever with our God.
Now, our dirges have turned to joy; our requiem has been rearranged as a hymn of hope; our laments are lost in a cantata of praise. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.


*RESPONSE No. 581 “Glory Be To the Father”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen, amen.


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                 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”             arr. James Clemens



God of Wisdom and Grace, you speak through your Word read and proclaimed. Prepare us now to listen well. Open our ears to your truth. Humble us in your presence so nothing will stand in the way of what you say to us today. Amen.  


O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
2 The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

7 Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with equity.


7 Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98 makes a compelling case for all creation to join in praising God, for all nations to join in the new song, recognizing that God alone is God, the creator of the universe whose power and majesty call for our response of praise . . . So why don’t we feel like joining in?  Why does praise leave us cold?  In a wonderful little book, Praying the Psalms, Thomas Merton suggests:

Praise is cheap, today. Everything is praised. Soap, beer, toothpaste, clothing, mouthwash, movie stars, all the latest gadgets which are supposed to make life more comfortable — everything is constantly being “praised”. Praise is now so overdone that everybody is sick of it, and since everything is “praised” . . . nothing is praised. Praise has become empty . . . Are there any superlatives left for God? They have all been wasted on foods and quack medicines.

But our situation is more serious than this. This psalm presupposes something that we are far from experiencing, today. When we leave our worship services, following prayers and hymns that praise God as the creator and redeemer of the universe, we soon experience the deep contrast between our worship and the rest of our lives. Our world is not the world of praise the psalm envisions. All nations do not acknowledge God or praise his name. Most of the world seems to get along quite well without benefit of divinity.

In fact, the situation we face is just the opposite of that faced by our psalmist, who lived in a world full to the brim with “gods,” each competing for allegiance. Every nation had their own, and sometimes two, or three, or twenty-three. Throughout its long history, Israel had to struggle against the temptation to worship these false gods as they were wooed and seduced on the midway of this carnival of idols.

How different from our experience! Instead of the psalmist’s world, where sun, moon, and stars are falsely worshiped as gods, we live in a world that refuses to recognize the God who created the sun, moon, and stars. How can this psalm, addressed to a world awash in too many gods speak to us in a world with room for none?

For starters, we need to admit our post-modern difficulty with this psalm’s insistence on God’s rule, a difficulty that often comes under the guise of pluralism. But not the kind of pluralism that rightly recognizes that people are different, that they have differing religious beliefs, and that they should be allowed to live their life of faith and worship as they please. I mean the kind of pluralism that moves beyond tolerance and begins to believe that reality, itself is pluralistic; that truth, itself is relative; that there can be no one true God; that the Lord does not reign; or that Jesus Christ is only Lord for people like me. This is what drains faith of any content, and urges us to declare that, therefore, it doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we’re sincere.

Psalm 98 is utterly opposed to this idea of a fragmented world where the claims of God have no bearing on the rest of our lives. The frame at the heart of our psalm “make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth . . . make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord” declares that God is creator of heaven and earth and thus God of all life and all people, whether they acknowledge it or not, whether they are religiously inclined or not, whether they worship other gods or not. The inclusiveness of the psalm proclaims the exclusiveness of the truth that there is only one God to whom alone belongs our worship and praise.

Once in a while I try in my mind to imagine the sound of ancient musical instruments and the mindset of the ancient Israelites who played them. When they thought of God, their first reflex was Praise. Our first reflex might be far more utilitarian: I ask God for stuff, I measure God by whether God seems to be doing what I need, or else, I question God.

We need to return to the intent of our relationship with God – Praise.  Praise is our amazement at God and God’s greatness, our recognition of the power and tenderness of the creator. Praise enjoys and celebrates God’s love, and it is our best attempt to feel, say, or sing something appropriate to God. Praise doesn’t ask “What have you done for me lately?” but instead exclaims “How great Thou art!”

Psalms scholar Walter Brueggemann explains praise for us: “All of life is aimed toward God and finally exists for the sake of God. Praise articulates and embodies our capacity to yield, submit, and abandon ourselves in trust and gratitude to the One whose we are. We have a resilient hunger to move beyond self. God is addressed not because we have need, but simply because God is God.

Praise doesn’t “work.” It is not productive, and it isn’t even about me. Praise means being lost in adoration of the beloved, being awestruck by beauty. Praise is downright wasteful in terms of possible ways to spend your time. To think of God like a lover, one on whom you might dote for hours, requires considerable imagination, a radical reshaping of the soul.

Israel praised with makeshift instruments which craftsmen labored over and their sole purpose was to produce sound that would rise to the skies and be heard by God. Psalm 98 speaks of the lyre. Wasn’t the lyre the instrument Orpheus played in that mythological story? Sailors constantly shipwrecked when seduced by the songs of the sirens. Odysseus managed to sail past their perilous rocks by stuffing wax in the ears of the rowers and strapping himself to the mast of the ship; but Orpheus simply pulled out his lyre and played a song more beautiful than that of the sirens, and the rowers listened to his song and sailed to safety.

Praise is our best counter to evil in the world. If we are “lost in wonder, love, and praise,” there is not much chance we will stumble into tawdry sin or find ourselves jaded and cynical. Praise is the cure for despair and loneliness. If we “make a joyful noise to the Lord,” we experience a quiet in the soul, a community of love – a community together for joy!

The final three verse of Psalm 98 brings this all together, calling on the community’s generosity for the sake of the church’s mission, so we might roar with the sea and sing with the hills, “together for joy.”  May we praise God and respond with glad and generous hearts to the mission of the church that serves this local community and the larger world!!!  May we be a community together for joy!!

Liturgy and Commentaries provided by Teri McDowell Ott, James Howell, Mark Thorntveit, Thomas Merton, Walter Brueggemann, Scott Hoezee, S.A.L.T. ministries, and Stan Mast


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

*HYMN No. 490 “Wash O God, your sons and daughters”

1 Wash, O God, your sons and daughters,
newborn creatures of your womb.
Number them among your people,
raised like Christ from death and tomb.
Weave them garments bright and sparkling; 
compass them with love and light.
Fill, anoint them; send your Spirit,
holy dove and heart’s delight. 

2 Every day we need your nurture;
by your milk may we be fed.
Let us join your feast, partaking
cup of blessing, living bread.
God, renew us; guide our footsteps,
free from sin and all its snares,
one with Christ in living, dying,
by your Spirit, children, heirs.

3 O how deep your holy wisdom!
Unimagined, all your ways!
To your name be glory, honor!
With our lives we worship, praise!
We your people stand before you,
water-washed and Spirit-born.
By your grace, our lives we offer.
Re-create us; God, transform! 


God of grace, Nourish us this day through Word and worship. Strengthen our desire to discern and do your will. Focus us on your path of righteousness so we can walk steadily under your direction. Bend your ear to us, God of love, as we pray not only for ourselves but for people everywhere.

God of mercy, hear our prayers. We pray for those suffering the aftermath of natural disasters, for the lives, homes and businesses destroyed by Hurricane Ian. We pray for those who are exhausted, those struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, those overwhelmed by suffering and in need of a lighter load. We pray for those living in war zones, for the people of Ukraine and the women of Iran, people desperate for justice and peace.

God of mercy, hear our prayers. We pray for leaders, administrators, decision-makers who cannot please everyone, yet still strive to do what is just and right. We pray our nation’s leaders: may they uphold those in need, defend the oppressed, and resist the idols of money and power. We pray for disputes to end, for people to work together, for our nation to know peace.

God of mercy, hear our prayers. We pray for those who are ill and their caregivers. We pray for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Free us from any shame or stigma that keeps us from acknowledging our need and getting the help we deserve. Instill in us a sense of mutual responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all your children.

Finally, O God, mold us for service so we can be the answer to the prayers we pray, according to your Word and inspired by the One who saves, Jesus Christ our Lord.

United as a family of faith and as the Body of Christ we lift these prayers up to you, God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Finally, hear us pray the prayer Christ taught us, saying, “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.


The flowers are given in the glory and honor of God by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Diehlman and Family in memory of her parents Dr. Chris and Betty DiPietro.



Let us give and live generously in response to all that God has done for us. Let us present our tithes and offerings to the Lord.



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. 


Holy God, these offerings are only a portion of all that you have given us. We gratefully present these gifts and entrust them to your work in this world. May our gifts share the good news of the gospel to those who are in need. May these gifts help unburden those with the heaviest of loads. Amen.  

*HYMN No. 694 “Great God of Every Blessing”

1 Great God of every blessing,
of faithful, loving care,
you are the fount of goodness,
the daily bread we share.
How can we hope to thank you?
Our praise is but a start:
sincerely and completely
I offer you my heart.

2 Your Word is our salvation,
the source of endless grace,
in death and life extending
your covenant embrace.
In Christ we are one body;
each member has a part:
sincerely and completely
I offer you my heart.

3 Your Spirit is our teacher,
the light that guides our search,
transforming broken people
into the holy church.
For feeding us with mercy,
for wisdom you impart:
sincerely and completely
I offer you my heart. 


The ocean roars.
The floods clap the shores.
The wind sings over the hills.

God is love and grace,
and God pours love and grace into the world.
And with God’s help, we are about to do the same.

Go now, good people,
to roar, clap, and sing,
and to give everything you’ve got,
together for joy,
in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit.