Virtual Church – March 22, 2020

7:00 am

March 22, 2020

Welcome to virtual church!

Each Saturday morning we will be sending 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 hello@waltonmemorial.com if you would be like to added to our email list.

Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Announcements

• Walton Church remains closed until Saturday, April 4th. 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.

Call to Worship

One: As we travel this Lenten pathway, we journey together, a community of faith.
All: As we travel this Way of Jesus, we journey together, but also alone.
One: Practicing our faith:
All: Living Christ’s call to love God with all that we are, to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
One: Practicing our faith:
All: As stewards on the Way.
(U.C. Lenten Resource)

Opening Prayer

All: God of the hungry times, God of the difficult times, God of all the times of our lives, we need to talk. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the direction we need to go. With all the choices we have in our lives, sometimes we’re not sure when to say “Yes,” or when to say “No.” So we ask for your guidance. We ask for wisdom. We ask for Spirit. In our worship, in our work, in our choices, in our lives. May it be so, loving God! Amen.
(U.C. Lenten Resource)

Scripture Focus – Ecclesiastes 3:1

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every matter under the heaven.”

Opening thoughts

Some of you asked me to repeat the words I shared on last Sunday, March 15th, before we closed the church. They are below:

On Sunday, May 3, our Walton Church congregation is celebrating our 170th anniversary. It might be helpful to reflect both on those who preceded us here at Walton and what some of us here have faced over part of the last 170 years of Walton’s history:

1914 – start of WWI
1918 – Spanish Flu
1929-  great crash and the resulting great depression
1939 – start of- WWII
1947 – start of the Cold War
1949 – start of the polio epidemic
1962 – Cuban missile crisis
1973 – oil crisis
1979 – Mississauga train derailment and evacuation
1987 – black Monday market crash
2000 – Dot com crash
2001 – Sept 11
2003 – province-wide blackout
2003 – SARS
2008 – stock market crash

Yes, the world, Canada, Walton and each of us are in the midst of a massive health crisis, resulting in a financial crisis and some shortages in the supply chain. We should not underestimate the seriousness of it all. We need everyone at all levels – from individual households to the national government – to take appropriate actions. But let’s remember what we and our fellow Waltonians have done over the last 170 years of this congregation in the crises faced, that I mentioned above. They helped each other. They relied on their faith. They did not panic or over-react but were prudent and steadfast. They prayed and prayed.

I want to share with you the prayer our United Church Moderator Richard Bott posted on Friday, March 13:

In this time of Covid-19 – we pray.
When we aren’t sure, God,
help us be calm;
when information comes
from all sides, correct and not,
help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe,
and anxiety seems to be the portion of the day,
slow us down, God;
help us to reach out with our hearts,
when we can’t touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected,
when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can,
knowing that “perfect love casts out all fear.”
For the doctors, we pray,
for the nurses, we pray,
for the technicians and the janitors and the
aides and the caregivers, we pray,
for the researchers and theorists,
the epidemiologists and investigators,
for those who are sick,
and those who are grieving, we pray,
for all who are affected,
all around the world…
we pray
for safety,
for health,
for wholeness.
May we feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked and house those without homes;
may we walk with those who feel they are alone,
and may we do all that we can to heal
the sick –
in spite of the epidemic,
in spite of the fear.
Help us, O God,
that we might help each other.
In the love of the Creator,
in the name of the Healer,
in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all,
we pray.
May it be so.

Hymn – “If you but trust in God to guide you”

by George Neumark [Video with lyrcis]

If you but trust in God to guide you,
And place your confidence in Him,
You’ll find Him always there beside you
To give you hope and strength within;
For those who trust God’s changeless love
Build on the Rock that will not move.
Only be still and wait His pleasure
In cheerful hope, with heart content:
He fills your needs to fullest measure
With what discerning love has sent;
Doubt not our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.
Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Offer your service faithfully,
And trust His word; though undeserving,
You’ll find His promise true to be;
God never will forsake in need
The soul that trusts in Him indeed.

Jim’s message – “To everything there is a season”

That is what the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote centuries ago. We are currently in a season not exactly like any other that we have ever experienced. It is the Covid-19 season. At the end of the very bare-bones social distancing services on Sunday, March 15, we sang our beloved closing prayer written by Don Besig. It had even more significance than ever when we sang the last words of that prayer: “God bless us and return us to this fellowship once again.”

We do not know how long until physically that return may be. But the fellowship is alive and well in the interim. I am touched by the people offering to help other people in countless ways: members and staff starting various groups to help people in the different communities which we serve, the small things one on one I see and hear about that Walton people are doing for others. Many of you have told me how you are already missing your Walton family. I know what you mean, for with the offices closed the other staff, key leaders and members I have contact with – often on a daily basis – are no longer face to face. I miss that. I will miss our time together tomorrow in worship, Sunday School and coffee time. There are things we can do however to regularly keep in touch with those within the Walton fellowship family. Reach out and contact others by telephone, facetime, texting, email, social media and so many other non-physical ways.

There are people who just want to touch base with their church home. I see those who walk by the exterior of the church and just pause, reflect and pray. Often it is by our new, partially completed, front Angel Garden. Some come and play catch, for example, in the parking lot with their kids. Others drop a note or message through the mail slot at the Allen Entrance by the ramp. Others drive here, get out of their cars, and get their daily exercise by walking around the building a certain number of times each day. If they see my car parked in the church lot, and realize I am locked in the building they wave – not even sure if I am looking out the window at the moment. Others are ramping up their prayer time each day with a list of people in the Walton family they have added to their daily prayers.

We especially pray for all those on the front lines of this fight with Covid-19, who are often working long hours in very challenging situations. There are also those keeping society’s infrastructure working and the supply chain humming along. We pray for those facing financial-work challenges, child care concerns and those separated from family and close friends. One of you wrote to me from outside the country, “It is a strange time, in a strange land.” I have been reminded often these last days of the great truth in that expression, “There is no place like home.” Prayers for those trying to get back home to Canada from all points of the compass.

Other Walton folk tell me they are bored, having nothing to do with their work closed, sports shut down and social gatherings shuttered. Most mornings I go down to the lake to pray before coming into the office. Most of the week the busiest place in Bronte is Lakefront Park. Dogs are getting more walks than they have had for years. But it is not just pet owners getting out. While playgrounds are closed, most parks are open and at least you can use the sidewalks to get out and about with a good distance between people. Fortunately, with this crisis we are going into spring, not the winter. Get out and appreciate God’s wonderful creation. Give thanks to our Creator for these wonderful communities we live in. Appreciate the lake, go out at night and look at the stars, walk through a forest, or even start cleaning up your backyard or balcony after winter. While we miss being in Walton’s Sanctuary, we can be in God’s outdoor Sanctuary.

Others are looking for projects for this time at home. Start a prayer journal or just start journaling. Begin reading through the Bible; starting at the Gospel of Matthew is a good tip. Take a digital Bible course. Read church history. Do Christian art. Start a collection of inspirational writing or quotes. There are so many free on-line resources. If you wonder about the suitability of a Bible study program, for example, then email me the link and I will respond. Listen to or sing Christian music – there are lots available for free on Youtube, including our channel. There are so many options for you to grow in your Christian walk, not to mention to calm your fears and concerns over all that is going on.

Let this not be seen not simply as wasted time, but let it be an unexpected blessing. Get extra rest if you can, exercise regularly at home, clean out the basement, garage or cupboards, organize your photos – whether online or in paper snaps – read those books you never got to reading, and play board games you have not played for years. As Ecclesiastes reminds there is “a time to every matter under the heaven.” Use this time of Covid-19 in a positive way, and you will find you are more positive. God bless.

Let us pray (adapted from 98.5 Sonshine Christian Radio-South Perth Australia):

Heavenly Father, we come to you right now amongst a cloud of uncertainty. Covid-19 has spread amongst your people. It has scaled mountains, crossed borders, entered countries, and traversed oceans, affecting male and female, young and old. It has entered homes, schools, governments, hospitals, sporting clubs and more. As a people united, we cry out. Do not be far from us God. Come quickly to help us (Psalm 38:21).

For those who are currently afflicted by this virus, we ask for miraculous healing. May lungs be restored to full health, headaches dissolved, body aches disbanded. For anyone battling symptoms, God brings restoration and health. For those who are battling cancers, tumours, and strokes, may you lay your healing hand upon them, Jesus. When we cry out to you for help, may your response be “I am Willing” (Matthew 8:3)

We lift up to you the medical professionals across our nation and around the world; may you bless their gifted hands. For GPs, doctors, lab techs, nurses and specialists, may you give them insight to treat those afflicted effectively, and sustain their efforts with an enduring energy. May the spread of this virus not overwhelm our medical facilities and those who keep them clean.

For the margins of our societies, we ask for protection. Shelter the elderly and vulnerable from this sickness under your wings. May it not cross the threshold of their homes (Psalm 91:4). For those who have nowhere to lay their head, may you not only protect them but whisper to the hearts of those right now who have the resources to give them shelter. For those parents who can’t spare time off work for their kids’ care, surround them with friends and relatives who are able to care for their children during this time. For those worried about finances during this time, and business owners concerned about their livelihood, may you financially provide for them.

For the recently widowed, for those who have lost a loved one through coronavirus or otherwise, may you sit next to them, Jesus and weep with them (John 11:35). Prompt friends and family to surround them, even if not physically, to grieve with them and to love them.

For our world leaders during this time, we ask for you to generously pour out your wisdom upon them, God. May you help them to govern your people safely during this unsure time. May they seek to care for the orphaned, the widowed, the refugee, the poor, and the oppressed (Exodus 22:21).

For those who have felt a rise in stress, depression and anxiety during this time, or who have been battling this for some time, we ask for respite and reprieve. May their hearts be troubled no longer (John 14:1). May they be free in their minds like the birds of the sky who have no worries (Matthew 6:26). Fill their minds with everything true, noble, lovely, pure and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

We are nothing without You, God. You are the masterful author and creator of everything we have, everything seen and unseen. The vast mountains, the wild forests, the gentle autumn rains, and the air we breathe is yours. The ones we love, and the ones we find hard to love all came from your creative hands. We are all brothers and sisters, so may we share with our brothers and sisters now. No hoarding, no gathering more than we need.

Jesus, may we be inspired by your generous sacrifice you made on the cross for all of us. May the spirit of selfishness no longer find a home in the hearts of people around the world. In this time, may generosity flourish among neighbours and strangers, ensuring we all have enough. We ask all of this in your beautiful name, God.

Amen.

Song – “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

by The Byrds [Video with lyrics]

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
A time to build up
A time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together
To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may…

Blessing

May the blessing of God the Creator, Christ and Comforter be with you this day, and every day. Amen.

 
 
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