Virtual Church – July 12, 2020

8:30 am

July 12, 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 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

    • Walton’s prayer chain is open. 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
    • A reminder that the church building is still closed, with absolutely no access for congregation members and volunteers. 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.

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to virtual church. I am so glad you’re here. I’m so grateful that whatever your week has thrown at you, and whenever and wherever you’re sharing in this service, that you’re making the time to pause and abide with God.

Maybe you manage this each day; or maybe this is one short moment, snatched from a busy day and a long list of things to do. However you’ve managed to find this time and whatever you’re juggling, give thanks to the God who is always welcoming you with love, and holds you close each day.

Come, let us worship God.

Call to Worship

With our world in crisis, we thirst for calm.
Soothing God, reassure us today with your abiding peace.

With our lives in turmoil, we hunger for focus.
Inspiring God, nurture us today with your purpose for our days.

With our summer in disarray, we crave rest.
Comforting God, enrich us today with your healing love.

Soak deep into our souls in this time of worship, O God, and renew our confidence in your presence in our lives.

Opening Prayer

Sustaining God,

Even the best soil needs renewal and care, and today we come before you, depleted and worn down. We have adjusted and reinvented ways to mark the milestones of our lives, but it isn’t the same. We have adapted or called off our seasonal gatherings and celebrations but we grieve what would have been. We have endured and accepted changes to the simplest routines in our lives, but it all takes its toll. We are exhausted, seeking a let up in all we are managing, and uncertain as to what lies ahead.

As you have been there for us before in our times of need, we call out to you today. Strengthen us through your word. Comfort us through our prayers. Nourish us through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the world. Amen.

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 and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Youth Reflection – Hummingbirds

One of the things I love about summer is watching hummingbirds feed on plants in the garden. I am fascinated by their tiny size and the way they move and can hover while they’re drinking nectar from a flower. In fact, when I’m looking for new plants for my garden, I will also be tempted by those that say they attract hummingbirds.

I think hummingbirds are incredible for so many reasons. They are the smallest of birds – the smallest hummingbird is just 5 cm long – and their wings flap incredibly quickly from 12 to 50 to even 80 beats every second. And perhaps the most amazing thing about hummingbirds is the way it flies. They are the only type of bird that can hover in the air or fly backwards, and they can change direction almost immediately.

And then, I read something even more amazing about these wonderful birds.

Scientists have discovered that hummingbirds can see colours that we can’t see. They can see colours that we humans can’t even imagine.

With human eyes, we can see all the colours of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet – as well as purple which blends blue and red. And that lets us see our wonderful world with all its beauty.

But hummingbirds have an extra way of seeing colour which lets them see colour in greater variety. So they could see different types of green, where our eyes would only see one green.

And what these scientists have shown is that “through hummingbird eyes, the world might look totally different to what we see.” And I think that is incredible.

And all of this reminded me that too often we assume that everyone sees the world the way we do. And we forget that other humans might look at the world differently.

So we might see someone who we think is silent and rude, but they are actually just shy. Or we see someone who is being really loud and annoying, but they are actually happy and excited. How we see others and how they see themselves are almost always two different things.

Which is why Jesus teaches us not to judge each other, but to love each other. He wants us always to remember that God sees every one of us as special and treasured, and that – just like the hummingbird – God sees us in and the world in a way that we can’t even imagine.

Thanks be to God.

Youth choir – Colours of the World

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:15-25

The Parable of the Sower
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Morning Message: An Earthy Faith

As the Covid-19 lockdown stretched through April and into May, a friend and I commented that our gardens were never going to have looked so good, with all the extra time we were spending at home.

As the weather in the GTA improved, and with most other activities still restricted, spending time tending to my garden has been a joy and not a chore.

And I’m not alone. A search on Twitter for the hashtag #covidgardening reveals the hopes, trials and joys of thousands around the world spending more time in their garden.

I can easily relate to Tricia Millar who tweeted, “And so begins another season of Woman versus Squirrel,” while the Emergency Room doctor, Francoise Sheppard, reassured her friends and colleagues that, quote, “I am much better at keeping people alive than plants.” And my heart went out to Kimberly Newhouse whose self-described “first attempt at real gardening,” ended with this plaintive tweet: “I’m hopeful the plant I walked on, plus the one I broke when planting will be hardy and grow anyways!”

The last word goes to Neil Fox who reflected, “There is something wonderful about washing your hands for normal reasons after a session of #covidgardening.”

Ah yes, the ubiquitous satisfaction of soil. It crumbles or it sticks, it gets under your fingernails and in the creases of your hands and collects in a dusty layer around your ankles. And it’s the lifeblood of any garden.

Moreover, it’s at the heart of our reading today. It’s titled ‘The Parable of the Sower’ but I think we can also usefully read it today as ‘The Parable of the Soil.’ The different types of soil, sometimes the lack of soil – that enables the seeds to thrive or to falter and fail.

Except, as Jesus explains, he’s not really talking about soil and seeds, but hearts and souls. We’re the soil being reached by God’s love and God’s word. And like the soil in the parable, and the soil in our gardens, we are shaped by our environment. Soil does not change in isolation, but rather it is nurtured or depleted in response to how it is treated. Soil needs to be fed with nutrients to replenish the demands of crops and given time and space to restore itself.

And I think the parable is most useful for us today when we remember that Jesus is not depicting a fixed and unchanging assessment of our faith, determining once and for all our worth as a follower of Christ. In fact, if you look back over your life, you’ve probably experienced many of these different ‘soils’, many different and changing “responses to God’s word.”

So where are we in this parable today? How is our soil doing right now?

Not what feeds our gardens, but what feeds us, our hearts and souls and our faith, particularly in these challenging times?

With the upheaval we’ve all experienced since March, maybe your soil doesn’t feel so healthy this year.

I have to admit, I really struggled when we first went into lockdown back in March. There were a number of different factors contributing to my anxiety, but the end result was that, without realizing it, I pulled away from almost everything and everyone where I would normally turn for help. At one point, I hadn’t left the house in over five days, I’d barely spoken to friends, and in the absence of the Sunday routine of being present at church, I felt disconnected from my faith.

My soil was – without a doubt – like the downtrodden path, compacted by the absence of ‘normal’ support and systems and not fit for planting anything.

Perhaps your life resembles the rocky soil more, and you’re struggling with the precariousness of life. Job insecurity, health problems, disrupted plans for study, home or work – these all can create great despair quickly undermining the strength of our faith, and leading it to wither.

And then there’s the overcrowded, thorny soil. The life swamped with a litany of concerns and responsibilities: childcare, elder care, meetings at work, groceries, housework, finance. Did we get that refund? Can we take our vacation? When did you last phone your Mum? Days rush past, filled with important but pressing concerns, leaving you drained, squeezing faith into the spaces left at the end.

So, what are we to do with such soil? How can we do all we can to nourish it?

In the garden, a spot of double-digging might be called for, and almost certainly some careful weeding. Add in some compost, move away the biggest stones.

In our hearts, it’s not that different, just a little gentler on our backs.

We start by nourishing our soil with God’s word – you’re already doing that now – opening yourself up to the presence of God, allowing his love to break through the compacted soil that the week has trampled down.

And take the biggest rocks, or the fiercest weeds, and hand them over to God. Pause in prayer and name your fears and concerns before God. You don’t need to solve or plan or strategize. Give the shadows in your heart to God to deal with.

Then slow down and let God reach you. Find a little space in each day to be still and abide in God’s love.

But above all else, remember that the parable is less concerned with what we do with our soil, and more about noticing what the sower does with such varied terrain.

Because the condition of our soil doesn’t stop God reaching out in love – the sower keeps on sowing; sowing frankly, as any gardener will tell you, with an abundance that is ludicrous, reckless even.

Who would take this approach to their garden? I can’t imagine starting at my side gate and scattering seeds on the concrete path, then sowing seeds down the side of the house, the place where I never quite get around to weeding. At the front of the house there are some loose paving stones with soil in the cracks, so I scatter some more seeds there, and then for good measure I finally reach the flower beds where the seeds might actually have a chance of growing.

And yet this is what Jesus tells us to trust in. That God disregards the state of our soil and keeps sowing; keeps sharing his love and grace with every one of us.

None of our lives is so rocky or thorny or downtrodden that God doesn’t reach out to bring us closer to him. It is a gift to celebrate and treasure and affirm, in the midst of all our struggles. God is with us, persistently, steadfastly and eternally, holding us in love.

Pastoral Prayer

Enriching God,

In these times of trouble and turmoil, nourish and inspire our hearts, that our lives may always bear the fruits of your love.

Take our loneliness and transform it into peaceful solitude; a time to reflect and be restored.
Take our uncertainty and transform it into trust, affirming that you are with us always and closest in our darkest days.
Take our grieving and transform it into comfort. Soothe us as we remember absent loved ones, and sustain us as we contemplate lost dreams.
Take our constraints and transform them into gratitude for your enduring blessings in the world. Awaken us to notice the small miracles in each day.
Take our frustration and transform it into endurance. Encourage us to pray our way forward with patience and calm.
Take our fear and transform it into hope. Remind us that with God all things are possible.
Take each day and bless us with moments of joy, strengthening us with your abiding love.

Amen.

Anthem: By the Power of Your Love

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Our offering today, and every day, is an act of love. We give from what we have, and as we are able, but always we give in hope and faith and love.

We now receive our offering – if you don’t already have a regular giving set up, please consider a donation today, either online at waltonmemorial.com/donate or by cheque which can be mailed to the church or hand-delivered.

♥ 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:

Abundant God,
May our giving today play a part in the nourishing of your world, and the nurturing of all your children. Let these gifts give rest to those who are weary, provide sustenance to those who are hungry, and bring healing where there is pain. All this we pray, in the name of your son Jesus, in whose love we are always held. Amen.

Benediction: (based on Ephesians 3:16-19)

Go forth this day, letting the love of God nurture our hearts and nourish our souls. May we reach out to others in love and compassion, and rest each day sustained by God’s everlasting peace. 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!

    • Christ Taught Us Of a Farmer
    • Soil of God, You and I
    • Seed, Scattered and Sown
    • Here I Am, Lord
    • The Closing Prayer

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update from Wednesday, July 8th

 
 
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