Ascension Sunday – May 17, 2020

8:30 am

May 17, 2020

Virtual Church

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.

Sunday Service Video (30 minutes)

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 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
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.
• 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.
Free tax clinic now available – Our tax filers do not want you to have to wait any longer. A plan has been developed to safely exchange your tax information so that we can file for you, as long as you have a modest income.  During the initial contact telephone call, we will ask you qualifying questions, advise what information you need to provide and arrange a time for a safe drop off/exchange of documents in the Walton parking lot. Your papers will be held in a quarantine place for 3 days (recommended) and then reviewed by the tax preparer. The preparer will follow up with you by phone. You may need to provide further information and you will receive instructions about signing the required permission form and picking up your papers again from the Walton parking lot. You may call Ruth for information at 905-631-6188

Welcome

Call to Worship

One: Just as the heavens burst forth in praise to God…
All: We celebrate God’s abundant and powerful love.
One: Day by day, and night by night…
All: God watches over us, loving us and healing us.
One: Let us walk in His footsteps.
All: Giving hope, peace and love to each person we see.
One: Come, celebrate with joy the love of God.
All: Open our hearts and spirits, Lord, and teach us your ways. Amen.
(adapted N. Townley@Ministry Matters 2020)

Opening Prayer

Lord, we have come this day to hear your words of  love, healing and hope. Enter our hearts and our spirits and teach us to follow you. Give us strength and courage to your faithful disciples. Help us to walk in Jesus’ steps, living and showing God’s love and light to the world. Help us to step out in faith, to be the change in this world, to take care of creation, and to live with the gifts and blessings God has given us. 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, the power, and the glory, Forever and ever. Amen.

Reading: Footprints in the Sand

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:

“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The LORD replied:

“My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

(Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty)

Anthem – “Jesus Loves” – Junior Choir

Scripture Reading – Psalm 23

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Message

Every parent with children at home is looking for activities for them to do, especially on those rainy days. Often it is crafts and the internet is full of craft ideas for those indoor days. I liked one idea I saw of making family footprints with paint and paper.

The twist on this idea is you start with the oldest person’s footprint then you put the next oldest’s footprint inside the first one, and so on up the age ladder. I saw photos of four generations of footprints from those isolating in the same household together. It makes a great rainy day craft and an enduring piece of family art for years to come.

Years ago I stood in the footprints of someone famous. Our Bible lesson today is the Apostle Paul’s famous speech to the Athenians. For many Biblical accounts, the scholars just have a general geographical idea where the events took place. With this speech by Paul in Athens we actually know the exact place he spoke. It was Mars Hill. You can go there to Mars Hill and stand in Paul’s footprints. When I went there I was humbled to be standing in the footprints of Paul. The message of the Bible became more real in a powerful way. You see the Bible is a book about events that actually happened. We all stand in the footprints of this book.  

Earlier this month Walton Church celebrated its 170th anniversary. When I stand at this pulpit I stand in the footprints of those who have preached behind Walton’s pulpit since long before Canada’s confederation. When we can once again climb those front steps at our tower entrance to worship together, we can think of all the generations who have climbed those same steps since before the start of WWI. They faced their own personal and societal crises, just as we are now.

These days, when I walk around the empty church, the only footprints on the rugs and carpets are mine. I pray that will soon change, and the carpets will be covered with footprints again. These days of COVID – which seem like forever – are only a moment in time. 

In each of the Walton additions, renovations and projects over the last years, actual permanent human footprints were left by some of you, especially in freshly poured cement. Maybe you have put your footprint in fresh concrete around your house or on a new town sidewalk? When you go back and look at those footprints years later it gives you a real sense of the passage of time. Friends, this too will pass. These days are not forever. But what Paul said about God on Mars Hill is forever.

Some of you tell me you are not only getting short on flour, but you are getting short on patience. This upending of our day-to-day lifestyles is really so hard. We want answers and we want timelines. There are so few of either. We can feel like just giving up.

When Paul preached on Mars Hill it was not a great success, like he had in other places like Corinth. Actually, Paul was turned away from the center of Athens. Paul had to leave town. But he did not give up. What Paul said on Mars Hill was true and it has truly endured. He did the right thing. Paul did not let that rough time in Athens define his future. It’s the same for this time we now find ourselves in. We must not allow it to define us.  

Paul said to the Athenians, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” He continued, “God himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”  You see God is alive and well. God was active in this world back in Greece in Paul’s day, and is active in our day.

When I went to Greece it was to see my friend Jim, who was studying with the great theologian Francis Schaeffer for a year. We had set a time to meet in Athens after I flew in from New York. My flight out of JFK, however, had a nearly 24- hour mechanical delay. So I arrived in the middle of the night in Athens a full day late. There was no way to connect with my friend Jim. This was all before the internet. 

I found a hotel I could afford in Athens. When I got up in the morning I prayed and prayed, asking where I should go next. I went out of the hotel door, saw Mars Hill in the distance (though I did not know it was Mars Hill at the time) and started to walk towards it. Within minutes I ran into my friend Jim on the street. What an answer to prayer!

Paul was right in what he said to the Athenians: “God himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” God can and does give us patience, hope and direction for these days.  

Today is Ascension Sunday, where we remember how Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after the Easter resurrection. It too happened on a hilltop, near Bethany. Jesus left us with these words that day of Ascension: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are not alone in these times we are living in. Never forget that. The Sermon on the Mount also happened on a hilltop where Jesus said those timely words: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I see God working in the Christ-like actions of so many people in ways both big and small over these last two months. Recall the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, the day before the crucifixion. After instituting the first Communion with the breaking of bread and pouring of wine, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. That act of servanthood set the model for us to serve in these days. 

Every time I record one of these messages I see that Upper Room all over again. For I purposely left up our Lent and Holy Week hangings in the Sanctuary. Every year from Ash Wednesday until Easter Monday we enjoy the beautiful liturgical hangings made by the Sunday School children, hung on the sill of each stained glass window. Those hangings portray just some of the Stations of the Cross. In Jerusalem, you can actually walk in the footprints of Jesus and the steps he took on the way to the cross. The last hanging in our Sanctuary is the empty tomb. I have left all of our hangings up, for when we return to the Sanctuary again for worship we will celebrate the Easter together which we missed back in April.   

Jesus Christ is Risen. Hallelujah.

Pastoral Prayer

A Prayer to Combat the Coronavirus Pandemic
Most merciful and Triune God,
We come to you in our weakness.
We come to you in our fear.
We come to you with trust.
For you alone are our hope.

We place before you the disease present in our world.
We turn to you in our time of need.

Bring wisdom to doctors.
Give understanding to scientists.
Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.
Bring healing to those who are ill.
Protect those who are most at risk.
Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.
Welcome those who have died into your eternal home.

Stabilize our communities.
Unite us in our compassion.
Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in your care.

Jesus, I trust in you.
Jesus, I trust in you.
Amen.
(Author Unknown Ascension Press.com)

Invitation to Offering

God’s presence reaches us wherever we are and whatever our circumstances. God’s blessings and strength – comfort, support, endurance – embrace us in good times and bad. And as we are able, God calls us to make a difference to the day and place we find ourselves in, as we prayerfully consider our offering.

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

God of wonder, today we celebrate the ascension of Jesus 40 days after the Easter Resurrection. We come on this Victoria Day weekend, which is like no other traditional May 24th weekend we have ever known before. What we do know, Creator God, is that we can walk in the footsteps of Jesus and Christ’s servants such as Paul, by sharing as we are able the gifts we have, in these days of social distancing. Bless these gifts to lift up others in the Risen Lord. Amen.  

Closing

Jim: (Singing): “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.”

Val: What? You’ve decided to follow Jesus? What in the world do you mean by that?

Jim: Well, I’m not really sure. I just want to be the kind of person who would make Jesus proud. I want to help others and that kind of thing.

Val: So, you want to do good things to make Jesus like you and be proud of you?

Jim: No…not exactly. It’s hard to put into words. I want to do the kind of things that Jesus would want me to do, you know, like helping people, and being a person of peace. I want to feel some joy in my life, and maybe I can find this joy by being a Jesus-person.

Val: Following Jesus isn’t easy, you know! You really have to make a commitment. Maybe what you need is to seek Jesus’ healing for yourself – to let go of the sorrow and fear in your life. Maybe when those things are gone, following Jesus won’t be so hard.

Jim: I just want to make a difference, especially now.

Val: You can. Learn forgiveness, patience, mercy, justice, kindness, hey that sounds like the fruit of the spirit? Be willing to “go the extra mile” in helping someone. And do it, not because you want to make Jesus proud, but because, as a follower, it is what you do. Live by the words you speak.

Jim: No turning back…no turning back.”

Val: That’s right. The road of hope and peace is before you. The journey awaits your first step. No turning back…no turning back…

Benediction

Go in peace and know that God walks with you on this journey. Bring the good news of Christ’s healing love to all you may meet.  Amen.
(adapted N. Townley @Minstry Matters2020)

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!

    • Draw the Circle Wide (More Voices 145) 
    • We are the Church 
    • In Christ There is No East or West (Voices United 606) 
    • Solo – Footprints in the Sand
    • Closing Prayer
 
 
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