Virtual Church – Advent IV – December 20, 2020

8:30 am

December 20, 2020

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 like to be added to our email list.

Sunday Service Video (30+ minutes followed by the hymns)

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.


Announcements

• Christmas office hours – The church office will be closed on Christmas Day December 25, and New Years Day, January 1. There will be no set office hours from Monday, December 28 to Friday, January 8. Please email staff members directly or leave a voicemail at 905-827-1643 with any requests or to set up an appointment to meet at the church. Regular office hours resume Tuesday, January 12.

•  Join us on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning – We will be having 3 virtual services to celebrate Christmas:

December 24th – 3:00pm – Storyteller Service for kids of all ages
December 24th – 6:00pm – Christmas Eve Service with Communion
December 25th – 8:30am – Christmas Day service

Daily Advent Email Devotional – Find greater meaning and inspiration as you prepare for Christmas, with a daily moment of guided reflection and prayer. Inspired this year by the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (made famous by Kings’ College, Cambridge, in the UK), each day you’ll be sent either a Scripture passage or an excerpt from a carol, as well as a short reflection and a prayer. Internet links will also be provided so that you can watch and listen to the carols and readings offered up in worship.
– Throughout Advent, we will affirm and remember our endeavours across the centuries to glorify God and give thanks for the birth of God’s Son. Each day, the devotionals will remind us of God’s enduring relationship with humanity and encourage us to welcome and praise God in our world today.
– If you’ve received the Advent emails in a previous year, you should have received the Advent emails automatically, starting today, Nov 29th. To sign up to receive the emails, please visit: waltonmemorial.com/advent-devotional

Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayers requests can be sent to office@waltonmemorial.com

•  If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at jamescgillwuc@gmail.com


Welcome

Good morning and welcome to this virtual service, on this fourth Sunday of Advent. Do you know what the fourth Sunday of Advent is? Yes, we light the fourth candle, the candle of love. Look, there is a heart in the midst of the Advent wreath; a beautiful red heart with stars on it. I wonder if it is a Christmas heart. A Christmas heart – is that ever appropriate, because the fourth Advent candle represents love. A gift for Christmas, love came down at Christmas. Thanks for joining us, let us join together in worship. Let us say the Call to Worship together.

Call to Worship

All creation holds its breath.
The time is almost here.
The heavenly choir of angels waits for its cue to sing.
Excitement is all around us.
Prepare your hearts – the grace of God takes on human form.
Good news! Emmanuel, God-with-us, comes to us.
We gather to make ready our hearts
for the coming of Christ, our love, our hope, our peace, our joy.
(adapted Rev. Nancy J)

Opening Prayer

Loving God, this week feels like I can make it. I wasn’t sure at first… so many changes, so many challenges, so much loneliness, so much trying to please everyone… I’m sure that is kind of the way Mary and Joseph felt as they left on their journey to Bethlehem, the way they felt when they couldn’t find a bed to lay their heads. The fear of what is next, kind of the way we have felt over the last while as the numbers of people sick have climbed way too high…. But wait… Mary and Joseph trusted you, God, they knew you had a plan, you never let them be alone, although I’m sure they felt like it…. You were there, providing them a warm, sort of quiet, place for the Christ child to be born.

Help us to be grateful that we have a warm, dry, fairly quiet spot to lay our heads, where we can kneel before you and offer our love to you, God. Where you came to Earth to be with us, to walk through all that was happening 2000 years ago. You are a mystery, but you are also there in the midst of our ordinary. In our despair, you are the God of Hope. In our turmoil, you are the God of Peace. In our sadness, you are our God of Joy. In our heartache, you are our God of Love. And so we enter into this time of worship with confidence and hope, knowing you will always meet us where we are at and love us through whatever we must journey through. Amen.

Advent Candle Lighting: Joy

Our Advent journey is nearly complete, yet the waiting continues with anticipation. We pause to ponder, to proclaim, and to prepare for what has come but is not yet fulfilled.

We come to gaze into each other’s hearts as companions along the way, discovering the love that transforms from the inside out.

We come to discover a love brought into a world too focused on division. We come to turn away from polarization to perceive the Christ in one another.

We come to take up the challenge of affirming each person as worthy of love.

We light the first candle reminding us of the way of hope. (The first Advent candle is lit.)

We light the second candle reminding us of Christ’s path of peace. (The second Advent candle is lit.)

We light the third candle reminding us of spirited joy. (The third Advent candle is lit.)

We light our fourth candle to mark how love abides by God’s grace. (The fourth Advent candle is lit.) Let us join together in singing our candle-lighting song.

Sing: Light one candle for love,
One bright candle for love,
Christ brings love to every heart,
He heals, He heals.

Let us join as one community of faith in prayer:

All: We come to worship welcoming you, O God, into the centre of our living. Where you live in our hearts, we make room for strangers and for friends; we make room for enemies and for allies; we make room for our neighbours. We make even more room for the power of your love. We thank you for the blessing of grace-filled love, knowing better each day how to share widely of the love you shower us with. Amen.

Dedication of Christmas Memorials

Youth Story: “The Gift”

Morning Message: “The Doors of Christmas #3 – The Inn Door”

Life is full of doors, some which we choose to open while others remain unopened or maybe totally closed to us. During Covid so many doors have been closed, whether for a period of time or permanently. I wrote this message on Sunday, November 22, the day before Peel and Toronto went into a 28-day lockdown where so many doors closed tightly. In the Christmas story there are many doors as well. In this series of sermons let me ask you what do the Advent and Christmas doors in scripture mean when we open them this year? How do they speak to us in our lives during this Covid Christmas?

Today’s door is the most famous of all the ones in the nativity story. “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Other versions state there was no room at the inn. This inn was probably more like a B & B rather than the Staybridge Suites, up Bronte Road from the church. More like a family opening up their home to all those in town for the census, rather than a large hotel chain.

The point is whether it was an inn or someone renting out their guest room, the door was closed to this family from Nazareth when they came back to their hometown to be registered. So it was not the closed door of the inn, but the open stable door through which Mary and Joseph and soon to be delivered baby Jesus stepped.

Have you ever slept in a barn? I have done it a few times, both in July and October. One night, I was pretty warm and the other night pretty chilly. Both times I was accompanied by the sounds and warmth of goats and horses. Those barn experiences made me think of Jesus wrapped in cloths and placed in that manger. What a truly humble abode for the Son of God.
Mary and Joseph had to adapt to the closed doors they faced, just like with Covid we’ve adapted to closed doors. I am sure since March 15th, I’ve had more visits and meetings out on the concrete pad in front of the church offices by the Allen door than I have in decades at Walton. But what blessings have come from those human interactions at the Allen entrance, both in the warmth of July and the chill of October. People I have maybe not seen for months meet outside our closed church doors. You see the work of God’s church continues, even while the doors are closed. Jesus’s will and way is far bigger than any closed door.

You see the inn (I N N) door was closed but with the manger in the stable, God still found a way in (I N) to human history. The IN- carnation is what we celebrate during Advent and Christmas. God has a way around the closed doors of life. I see the stable as a New Testament ark, with the baby Jesus born among the animals. It was the fulfillment of God’s promises given way back in the prophetic book of Isaiah, taking shape in the birth of the baby in that Bethlehem manger.

The grown baby Jesus says to all of us that we are, “To love our neighbour as ourselves.” At Walton we try to do that. For example, at Christmas our Walton Outreach Committee spearheads many efforts. In November, they hold our Annual Mitten Tree Drive. We usually erect two wooden mitten trees – one on the Bronte Hall stage and the other one at the front of the church Sanctuary. We collect not only mittens but warm socks, gloves, hats and scarves which we distribute to those in need of warm clothing whether they are living on the streets, or anywhere in the Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton areas.

This November and December we only have virtual worship services. How do we fill a mitten tree virtually, we asked ourselves? The answer was simple:. One of the mitten trees was moved to the glassed in area by the Allen Entrance, so everyone can see the tree even though the door is locked. Even during office hours, we must keep the door locked in order to keep track of everyone who enters the church. Everyone has to sign in and out when they arrive and leave, and they have to answer health screening questions. We then keep those records for contract tracing if ever needed.

Since Labour Day, we have had “set” Walton office hours from 9 am-12 noon, Tuesday to Friday, during which people can drop items off, ask a question, or pick something up, like their givings envelopes, or a jar of marmalade. On those days at those times there is someone in the office to greet people when they come to the locked door and ring the outside bell which is now installed to the right of the door. But what I want to tell you about is how clever people are who arrive outside of the scheduled office hours. It reminds me of how the closed door of the inn became the open door of the stable.

To help other people keep warm on the streets they find another way to drop off their donations when Walton’s door is closed. There is a mail slot and the right of the Allen Entrance and people have squeezed many hats, mittens and socks successfully through that mail slot. Their ability to condense these items amazes all of us! We come into the building to find those items safely on the floor inside the dry and secure Allen entrance area, and we place them on our overflowing mitten tree. I often wonder how someone managed to get those heavy-duty outdoor socks through such a small mail slot? When we can again travel, I sure want them to pack my suitcase to get it in one of those overhead compartments on an airplane!

This Christmas you may have a significant door or doors that are closed to you, like the inn doors Mary and Joseph found closed to them in Bethlehem on that first Christmas. Pray this Christmas then for God’s direction for that door to open. If it cannot open then pray he will guide you to another door which will open up for you, or pray even to be guided to a mail slot to find a way through. God bless.

Pastoral Prayer

Good and gracious God, we give you thanks for gifts of life, for gifts of love and joy during this season, for gifts of comfort when we do not or cannot feel that joy, for gifts of healing and mercy, for gifts of patience and serenity, for gifts of hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.

Christ’s presence changes our world, opens a door, so we pray that he may indeed be born in us once again, that we may be continually born anew, that the whole world would be reshaped and reborn as your kingdom emerges around us and within us.

May your Spirit stir within us, and cause us to long for the day when earth will in fact be like heaven.

It is this radical vision of a new heaven and a new earth for which we pray, using the words Jesus taught us:

The Lord’s Prayer

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, forever and ever. Amen.

(adapted byJohn W. Vest)

Anthem – Christmastime

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

God’s word of love came into the world. Love for the lowly, the broken and the fearful. Love for a better world. In anticipation of God’s hope and unconditional love, let us offer our gifts preparing for the coming of Christ among us.

♥ by secure online payment from your bank or credit card – waltonmemorial.com/donate

*Important Note*Please enter the donation in one person’s name (preferably the name shown on the credit/debit card) even if you give jointly with another person. As with cheques and cash, donations made online are automatically credited to both adults in the same household regardless of which one made the donation.

♥ 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

God of many gifts, we thank you for the many blessings we have received, and we ask you to take these gifts we offer to you, to share, and give hope, peace, joy and love to someone who doesn’t know you, and that they will come to see your face and know your story. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Benediction

Go out into the world, into a waiting world we go. Waiting for the birth of that baby who will change the world, waiting for a vaccine to change how we live in this world, waiting for the Christmas spirit of hope, peace, joy and love to find us in the midst of these challenges and remind us that God is in charge and comes to us in love, to hold us and walk with us all our days. Amen.

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!

♬ Advent introit (tune All Through the Night)
♬ Candle-lighting – A candle is burning and Hope is a Star
♬ The Angel Gabriel
♬ Angels We Have Heard on High
♬ Good Christian Friends Rejoice

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update from Wednesday, December 16th