Virtual Church – May 24, 2020

8:30 am

May 24, 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.

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

Hello and welcome to virtual church at Walton! While our doors remain closed, our hearts are wide open, and we’re delighted that you’re joining us today. We pray that the words we share and the meditations from our soul give you strength and comfort.

Come, let us worship God.

Call to Worship

One: Help us God. Our world today is a mixed-up topsy-turvy tangle of sorrow and pain.
Two: Open the eyes of our heart, God, to see all that is good in the world.

One: Help us God. Our lives right now are beset with anxiety and uncertainty.
Two: Open the eyes of our heart, God, to recognize all that is possible in our lives.

One: Help us God. We ourselves too often give in to doubt and fear.
Two: Open the eyes of our heart, God, to give thanks for the love and power of Christ in the world.

Opening Prayer

Ever-present God,
From the despondency of self-isolation, to the apprehensiveness of opening up, be with us we pray. Lift us out of our pain and confusions and hold us close, that we may shelter in your strength and power. Through the help and encouragement of your Spirit we pray for patience, to overcome our selfishness and narrow view of the world. Through the inspiration and peace made known to us in your love, we pray that you ease our grief with flickers of joy. Through the example and comfort of your Son, help us recognize the promise you give to each one of us — to be with us always and deliver us from fear. This we pray, trusting in the hope we have in your promise of eternal life. 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.

Reflections – Lego Bricks

Good morning. I’m letting you into the darkest and messiest part of my house this morning. Maybe you have a room just like this. Or maybe you feel just like this — in utter disarray, broken into tiny pieces. We can’t see our friends right now, most of us can’t play sport, we can’t go out with our family. There is so much that is strange and different. And we’re making do, but it’s not the same. It’s like a car with no doors, or an empty box of crayons.

In times like this, God wants us to know that he is holding us close, and is with us in every day. God comforts and strengthens us, and puts us back together, so that we can keep going. Like this.

With God’s love in our heart, we can be sure that we are going to get through this, no matter how hard each day might feel. God’s love builds us up and puts us back together. Thanks be to God.

Music: Rise Above the Walls – Youth Choir

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 1:15-23

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Luke 24:44-53

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Message – “Called to Hope”

Since the pandemic took hold, we’ve all found ourselves with extra time to fill, as so much of what filled our previous days shut down or was put on hold. There’s been an upsurge, for example, in baking, creating world-wide yeast and flour shortages. In our house, jigsaw puzzles have seen a revival. There’s something immensely satisfying about creating order out of chaos and being able to piece a picture back together.

If only we could do the same with the world. Because we are broken in so many ways.
Our communities are broken: under quarantine we can no longer gather together as we used to or come together to eat and share friendship. Poignantly our celebrations are ruptured, as those of you who’ve experienced a quarantine birthday will know only too well. In the weeks ahead, we’ll need to navigate quarantine proms and graduations, and for Walton our annual grade three bible presentations will need reimagining as well.

Frighteningly, COVID-19 is demonstrating the extent to which our wider society is deeply fractured. As the lockdown has stretched from weeks to months, we’ve witnessed increased protests over the restrictions in place, whether through formal protests such as though outside Queens Park, or individual resistance and the refusal to comply with social distancing policies while outside or shopping. Online, conspiracy theories are more rampant than the virus itself, garnering millions of views and being widely and rapidly shared, even turning into best-selling books.

But the saddest example of human misbehaviour that I’ve come across, is the increase in people deliberately coughing and spitting on others.

Across the country: from Nain in Newfoundland, to Vancouver and Kelowna in BC. Granby in Quebec, Ottawa. And closer to home: Guelph, St Thomas, Stratford, Waterloo, and of course Toronto. Healthcare workers, gas station attendants, grocery store staff. Our most essential workers degraded and abused; the services we rely on jeopardized in the most callous manner. Broken times indeed.

So how do we pick up the pieces of our lives? How do we hold ourselves together and carry on?

Perhaps we recall the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets and tell ourselves that, “this too shall pass away.” Maybe we remind ourselves of everything humanity has endured and survived in the past.

And then we hope.

We hope big, global hopes: for a vaccine and a cure; that schools and churches can safely reopen; that our food supply chain remains intact.

We hope small, trivial hopes: that hairdressers will open up; that a summer camp might run.
We hope deep, intimate hopes: that we aren’t failing our kids; that we keep our jobs; that our families stay healthy.

In the past there have been times when I’ve found hope itself felt like a struggle and maybe a depressing reminder of how much I wish things to be different – but I realized as I read the start of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, how misguided my thinking here has been.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.”

Called. Listen to the power of that word. We’re not just allowed to hope; our hopes are not merely tolerated or grudgingly put up with. We are called to hope; we are required to hope; we are empowered to hope.

With these words, Paul is praying that those who read his letter may understand the extent to which hope is an act of our Christian faith; a behaviour that we are taught to live out, just as we’re taught to love our neighbour.

In another letter Paul wrote, this time to the Romans, Paul expands a little further on what it means to be called to hope. He writes, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” The three components he references – joy, patience and prayer – encapsulate the hope that we are called to express.

And when I look at hope like that – as a way to live out my faith – I feel inspired and renewed, and encouraged to hope, and keep hoping, and then hope some more.

We are called to hope, not because there’s no alternative and we’re out of ideas, but because we believe in God’s promises to us. Through the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection and ascension we are shown that death and evil do not triumph, and that we are not alone, because God is with us always. And trusting in these two promises enables us to hope.

A Walton friend sent me a lovely meme as I was preparing this message. It was titled, “Not everything is cancelled.” The timing was particularly appropriate, not only because I was thinking about what to write for today, but because that week I should have been visiting my parents for a much-anticipated vacation, as well as celebrating my husband and daughter appearing in a musical theatre production; two events which for now are very firmly cancelled.

But not everything is cancelled, as the meme reminded me. Sunshine is not cancelled nor spring. Reading and naps are not cancelled; music, dancing and imagination can safely carry on. Relationships and conversation; love and kindness and devotion – none of these is cancelled.

Hope is not cancelled.

I think Paul would rather like the joyful and patient spirit of the meme.

Then my attention was caught by the hashtag that accompanied the meme: #keeplookingup. And almost immediately, I thought of our second reading today, about the disciples and Jesus’ ascension.

Not because the disciples looked up to see Jesus ascend, like a plane taking off, but because of how “looking up” represents the transformation that has occurred for the disciples since Easter. They have progressed from the terror and grief they felt at Jesus’ crucifixion and death, to fear and confusion at his resurrection, and now enlightenment and great joy.
Jesus opens their minds to recognize the fulfilment of God’s promises: that death and evil do not triumph, and that we are not alone, because God is with us always.

Ascension then could refer not only to Jesus being taken up into heaven, but also to the shift in the disciples’ spirits and outlook.

Jesus’ teaching empowers the disciples to move from brokenness to hope. Rather than hiding in a locked room, the disciples head to the temple, where they worshipped Jesus openly, joyfully and hopefully.

Now the disciples “keep looking up.”

In the same way, and despite everything we face today, we are called to hope and to keep looking up.

We hope for a time when we can safely gather together: to laugh and sing, to celebrate and worship.

We hope for a safe way to travel and to go out; for museums, restaurants and theatres, churches and sports grounds and concert halls, to each find a way to continue to enrich our lives.

We hope for a day when hugs and holding hands, handshakes and high fives, are not health-hazards.

And every time we hope, we affirm our belief that death and evil do not triumph; and we proclaim that we are not alone – that there is much to hope for, and much worth hoping for.
Joyfully and patiently then, with a lightness of heart and optimistic spirit, we hope, as we are called to do. And we keep looking up.

Let us now pray to our God who calls us to hope.

Pastoral Prayer

Sustaining God, in our world of pain and despair, of struggle and brokenness, empower us, we pray, to hope.

We hope for a secure environment for those compelled to work outside their homes. We pray that protective equipment and safe conditions can be provided to ensure their health and wellbeing, while enabling workers to support their families and themselves.
We hope for a cautious and prudent reopening of our communities. Guide our leaders in the decisions they make and the directives they give, that we focus on the health of many, rather than individual demands and selfish priorities.

We hope for a satisfactory conclusion to the academic year for students and teachers at every level. We pray for fair and encouraging assessment, for smooth transitions, and the creating of opportunities to inspire learning and growth.

In each of our lives, with our individual challenges, we hope for love and compassion, for understanding and acceptance, and for healing and peace.

Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, that we might hope for opportunities to serve you, and the wisdom and courage to recognize and acknowledge those in need.

Encourage us to keep looking up and to see the world with wonder and gratitude.
All this we pray in the name of the risen Christ. Amen.

Anthem: We Believe – Women’s Ensemble

Invitation to Offering

However we are feeling this week, whatever obstacles have been in our way, we are called to find a way to serve God and to give in God’s name. Be it a gift of our time, our talents, or our money, Jesus assures us that no gift is too small in the eyes of the Lord. Particularly in this time of such great need, every act of generosity is sacred to God.

– 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,
From all we have and all you have blessed us with, we make this offering in gratitude and hope. Near and far, we pray that our giving can bring comfort and strength to those in need. Deliver your children from despair and distress. We lift up these gifts to glorify your name and magnify your love in the world. Amen.

Benediction

Go forth into this new week, renewed in your heart to face confusion and uncertainty with peace and patience; ready to tackle change with strength and courage; and inspired to bless those we encounter with the hope of Christ that lifts us up and never lets us go. 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!

    • Come, Children Join to Sing” (Voices United #345)
    • O God, As We Pause
    • Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord (Lift Up Your Hearts #537)
    • Father Lift Me Up
    • Olde Irish Blessing
 
 
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