Virtual Church – April 26, 2020

8:30 am

April 26, 2020

Virtual Service

Welcome to virtual church!

Each Sunday morning we will be sending an email to everyone in the congregation for whom we have email addresses, offering an abridged Sunday morning service — “virtual church.” For the latest news and updates from Walton, please check our Facebook page, Instagram and website.

Please contact office@waltonmemorial.com if you would be like to added to our email list.

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – a video and text. If you wish, you can download and print the service from this document – link – or you can read the complete service below.

The hymn-sing is at the end.

Sunday Service (30 minutes)

Announcements

• If you would like to submit a prayer, reading or thought to be considered for inclusion in this weekly mailing, please send to jamescgillwuc@gmail.com.
• Walton’s prayer chain is not closed. Confidential prayers requests can be sent to office@waltonmemorial.com
• There is a new option for making your regular offering. You can now set up your own weekly or monthly ‘offering’ from your bank account or credit card, using our secure online payment page. Simply choose the schedule that suits you, and when you wish the recurring payments to start and stop. When each donation is processed you’ll receive an email confirmation, and of course, all donations are eligible for a tax receipt at the end of the year. Go to waltonmemorial.com/donate-recurring, or to find out more contact stuart@waltonmemorial.com
• Walton Church remains closed until further notice. All services, meetings and programs are postponed.
• All staff are still working from home and can be reached through their usual contact information or by the central email office@waltonmemorial.com or the central telephone number 905-827-1643. Both are monitored throughout the day.
• If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at jamescgillwuc@gmail.com.
• If you are on your own and unable to get out, or don’t feel safe doing so due to risk factors, the church has an army of volunteers ready to assist with picking up and delivering necessities, prescriptions, groceries, etc. All requests for assistance are confidential; please email the church office or leave a voice mail.

Welcome

Val: Good Morning Jim!
Jim: Good Morning Val
Val: I got a joke for you
Jim: OK

Val: Knock, Knock
Jim: Who’s there?
Val: Heaven!
Jim: Heaven who?
Val: Heaven seen you in ages! Oh, I know, it was bad.

Jim: Great to have you here for this service, this virtual service, as we worship together at Walton Memorial United Church in beautiful Bronte.
Val: Did you know that today is Holy Humour Sunday?!
Jim: That’s wonderful

Val: Ah, I got one for you. Knock, Knock.
Jim: Who’s there?
Val: Stopwatch.
Jim: Stopwatch who?
Val: Stopwatch you’re doing and open the door. ha,ha…..

Jim: Oh but Val, I can’t.
Val: What?
Jim: I can’t open the door, for health reasons, for safety reasons, for social distancing. I can’t open the door yet.
Val: Oh, ok. I know you’re right. But, ah, since it’s Holy Humour I got one more.
Jim: I knew there would be a zinger.

Val: Knock, Knock,
Jim: Who’s there?
Val: Gopher.
Jim: Gopher who?
Val: Gopher the key and open the door

Jim: I sure wish we could open the door. We miss all of you.
Val: Yes,we do.
Jim: It’s not the same, but it’s only for a time.
Val: I hope so.
Jim: And then when the time is over we can open the door, but today we can worship virtually, online, on an iPad, an iPhone or computer. Whatever technology you have. We can worship together on this Holy Humour Sunday.
Val: Fantastic! Come. Now is the time to worship.

Introduction

Holy Humour Sunday is a tradition stretching all the way back to the early church, based on the idea that God had played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus. For centuries then, the week after Easter was celebrated with parties, laughter and joking around. But from the unprecedented crisis caused by COVID-19, to the tragic loss suffered in Nova Scotia last weekend, and the individual anguish so many of us endure today, the world right now seems like a cruel joke. We choose therefore to recognize a day of Holy Humour to acknowledge the different ways God strengthens us to cope with our world; to affirm the many blessings in our lives that help us endure; and to proclaim the ultimate victory of life and love over death. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah. 

Call to Worship

This day is holy to the Lord our God. A day of joy and blessings, as we affirm that, despite our physical isolation, we are not alone. A day of renewed creation, as we recognize God’s presence blossoming in new and surprising ways. A day of eternal love, as we give thanks to our God, who is always with us in our time of need. This day is holy. Let our hearts be holy too, as we come to worship God.

Opening Prayer

Compassionate God.

Have mercy on us for we are a people who struggle. Each day, each hour, is plagued with challenges, anxiety and grief. We are striving to hold it together as the world we knew changes almost beyond recognition. We are engulfed by worry, as the certainties of our lives give way. We are reduced to tears in the face of so much we cannot control, mourning all we have lost from our days.

Inspire us with your Easter hope, that strengthens us to persist, knowing that you are with us in our darkest times. Comfort us with your Easter peace, that affirms your constant care for us and our world. Encourage us with your Easter joy, that proclaims the triumph of life and laughter for us today.

We rejoice Lord, in the midst of so much sorrow and uncertainty, that you are with us always. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray together the prayer that Jesus taught us.

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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

Reflection – Knock, Knock

Scripture Reading – Psalm 126, Nehemiah 8: 9-12 (NIV)

Psalm 126
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Nehemiah 8: 9-12
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

Message

Shortly after Easter, Rev. Jim and I started planning for this service and immediately faced the question of whether or not to keep the original theme of celebrating Holy Humour Sunday.
In a regular year, Holy Humour Sunday is a vibrant part of our Easter celebrations; a continuation of the triumphant joy we proclaim each Easter.

But this isn’t a regular year.

For me, the dilemma was summed up by a conversation I had with a Walton friend. “I just don’t feel like laughing right now,” she said. “No, I understand,” I replied. “But I don’t feel like crying either, and most days that doesn’t appear to be a choice I’m given.”

But I can choose to laugh, I can choose to find in each day something to make me giggle or smile. And it turns out, I’m not alone – all around the world, people are using humour to help them cope with the uncertainty and chaos created by COVID-19.

We relearnt the months of the year: 30 days hath September, April, June and November, all the rest have 31 except for March which has 8000. Although I’m no longer so sure about April, now, either.

We’ve discovered new things about those we live with… and ourselves…

Joyfully, Easter was not left out of the comedy.

There was the cartoon showing the Last Supper as a video conference call, or alternatively, having two cops break up the Last Supper because it’s an illegal gathering of more than five people.

Pontius Pilot gets shown in a positive light for once – his hand washing is now a best practice.
Perhaps my favourite showed Jesus emerging from the tomb, to be greeted by a patrol car telling him, “Don’t even think about coming outside.”

And why should the religious jokes be kept for us Christians? Celebrations of Passover were also let in on the fun – because celebrating not being killed by a plague during a plague that you hope you’re not getting killed by, is apparently as Jewish as you can get.

Now you might not immediately think of the Old Testament as a source of joy and laughter, but there’s a surprising amount of celebration to be found, as both our readings today share.

Our first reading, Psalm 126, is a wonderful expression of joy and hope in the midst of hardship; just what most of us need these days.

The Psalmist remembers and gives thanks for God’s past acts of salvation and restoration – when “the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion.” He celebrates the joy and laughter bestowed on the Jewish people by God and the overwhelming power of joy to triumph over tears.

But this Psalm is more than just fond memories. The Psalm is also a prayer for help. “Restore our fortunes, Lord,” pleads the Psalmist, because our world is sowing tears.

The incredible power of this Psalm comes then in the combination of these two elements: joyfully remembering the way God rescued his people in the past, and hopefully praying to be rescued again in the present. Thus, our prayer for help can be made in confidence and thanksgiving. Confidence, as we remember God’s help given to us before; and thanksgiving, as we recognize God’s gift to us of joy and laughter which will triumph over tears.

The reading in Nehemiah is also a reading about rescue. The people of Israel are hearing the word of God for one of the first times after they have returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile, and they are overwhelmed with emotion.

Perhaps this reading provides a hint of how we might feel when we are back in church after our time of separation and isolation. And the reading definitely guides us as to how we should act: joyfully worshipping, enjoying the blessings of food and drink, and sharing our blessings with those who “have nothing prepared.” Because hearing God’s word, praising God and giving thanks are to be exuberantly and generously and abundantly celebrated.

I can’t wait. It will definitely be, as Nehemiah says, “a holy day.”

But the power of this reading is that we don’t need to wait. “This day is holy to the Lord your God,” said Nehemiah. This day. Today. Even if we can’t remember exactly which day of the week it is… this day is holy to the Lord.

And so what are we to do with this holy day. Eat choice food, enjoy sweet drinks, and share what we have with those who have nothing prepared. And we are to remember – joyfully – that God gives us strength.

Thousands of years after Nehemiah spoke these words, his guidance to the people of Israel can also be our path for living through these days: enjoy our blessings, however large or small they may feel; and share them with others, whether that’s giving a neighbour a packet of yeast, or telling a joke to cheer up a friend; and above all we are to remember that God gives us strength.

If we choose to, we can find God’s strength given to us in moments of joy. We can choose to find one moment of laughter in each day, and choose to share it and spread that joy. We may have to look deeper and try harder, but we can open our hearts to joy and laughter and discover that – even just for a moment – that coping is easier.

This is God’s gift to each one of us. The joy in today and the hope for tomorrow, and the confidence we can have in both of these because our strength is in the Lord.

Let us pray.

Pastoral Prayer

Knock-knock, God, are you there?

It is us, your people, crying out for help. We have so many prayers, so many worries, too many concerns.

Knock-knock, God. We feel trapped inside and we can’t get out.

Be with those who are isolated and alone at this time. Help them find friendship and community in unexpected ways. Comfort those for whom their home is not a refuge, but a place of fear. Protect them to find a path to rescue despite these precarious times. Be with us, as we miss those we haven’t seen in ages; the people and places that bring us joy. Give us patience and strength, to recognize in our inconvenience, the greater need of our society.

Knock-knock, God. As we plead to get out, remind us to give thanks for the safety of being inside.

We remember those who can’t stop what they are doing, but who open their doors to work for us. Healthcare workers and first responders. Grocery store workers and bank tellers. Farmworkers and truck drivers. Be with them and give them courage. Keep them safe and protect their families.

Knock-knock, God. Lead us to go for the key that will unlock our world.

Support and encourage those working to find treatments and vaccines to ease the suffering and save the lives of those this virus has hurt. May broad-based evidence and compassion always win over selfish aims and corporate greed. Inspire us to examine our ways of living as we seek to emerge from this time.

Strengthen us to reject a return to the behaviours that harm us and damage your creation. Guide our leaders in their decision-making, and our communities in our response, that together we can bring an end to illness and insecurity, and restore the well-being of this your world.

All this we pray, affirming the love of Jesus, who taught us, when we ask, it will be given; when we search, we will find; and when we knock, the door will be opened for us.
Amen.

Anthem – Oh Happy Day

Invitation to Offering

Worry and sadness surround our world and our lives. We remember our past with a sense of wistful longing, and cannot imagine our future. And yet, we affirm God’s love is constant. Through God’s love, we are called to live with compassion for our neighbours, with understanding for all those in need, and with the confidence to know that we can make a difference. Through our giving today, may we rejoice in God’s eternal love.

Since this is a virtual service and there are no ushers, there are different options where those of you who are able can make an offering. The offering will now be received.

– by secure online payment from your bank or credit card.
– One-time payment – waltonmemorial.com/donate
– Weekly or monthly payments – waltonmemorial.com/donate-recurring
– by cheque through the mail slot at the church office entrance or by Canada Post.
– by monthly PAR payments. To sign up contact stuart@waltonmemorial.com

Offering Prayer

Enduring God, lift us up. Though sorrow, grief and fear pull at us, weighing us down and causing us to stumble, we give thanks for your steadying love. You bless our lives in untold, sometimes unrecognized, ways. Help us affirm your gifts of courage and compassion, of healing and new life. Work through us and the offering we make today, to magnify these gifts in the world and to ease the suffering of all your children. Amen.

Commissioning

Go forth into this holy day. Have strength, knowing that God is by your side. Have hope, because God cares for you now, as he always has. And have joy, trusting that the blessings of God endure forever. Amen.

Closing – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Walton’s Musical Message

This morning on Facebook and on YouTube, we’re sharing a video where Linda shares with us several of our favourite hymns! Sing along!

Click here to go to YouTube to sing along! [Link]

    • Give to Us Laughter (VU 624 verses 1 & 4)
    • Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (VU 684  v 1, refrain, v 2)
    • Dear God Who Loves All Humankind (VU 608 verses 1 & 4)
    • His Eye is on the Sparrow  (LUYH 441 verses 1 & 2)
    • The Closing Prayer (D. Besig)
 
 
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