Virtual Church – November 22, 2020

8:30 am

November 22, 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

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 receive the Advent emails automatically, starting Nov 29th. To sign up to receive the emails, please visit: waltonmemorial.com/advent-devotional

Offering Envelope @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

• 2021 Givings Envelopes are available for pick up from the church office. You are invited to drop by Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm to pick yours up. Please come to the back door and ring the doorbell. Thanks so much for your help. If you are unable to drop by during those times, please contact the church and make an appointment. 905-827-1643, office@waltonmemorial.com
For the 2021 giving year, Walton has reallocated congregational envelope numbers. This to reduce the range of envelope numbers in circulation, and thereby reduce excessive waste and administration costs. As a result, please check your envelope number to see if there has been a change; this change will be effective January 1st, 2021. If you are on PAR you will no longer receive a box of envelopes, but if you would like the special envelopes used throughout the year, please contact the office and a set of envelopes will be made available for you to pick up through the church office. Thank you.

• Thank you from the  Outreach Committee!
Please know what you are doing helps!
Please know what you are doing is acknowledged and it is appreciated!
Please know that the people on the receiving end are so grateful and thank you for continuing to support and help them. Thank you!  Thank you!
Our modified Spaghetti Dinner raised over $2,000 with your very generous support, this amount will go to Wesley Mission in Hamilton. As well, your response to our Thanksgiving Food Banks appeal enabled us to pass on almost $2,000. to our local food banks.
Walton’s Outreach Committee is trying to maintain some of our Christmas programs. We want people to remember this time of year and the happiness that goes with it, even though we are in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic.
We plan to have a food drive (monetary contributions are appreciated)
A White Gift program (with gift cards to basic retailers, ie. Food Basics, Giant Tiger, Walmart, Shoppers, etc.
Monetary givings through the church givings would be appreciated as well. Donations can be dropped off at the church Tuesday to Friday 9:00am to 12:00pm. If these times don’t work, please contact the office to arrange an appointment: office@waltonmemorial.com or 902-827-1643

Christmas Memorials – Everyone has the opportunity to make a special Memorial Gift to Walton at Christmas time. There are two ways you can do that this year — you can make a monetary donation or you can donate a virtual poinsettia in loving memory of a loved one. The cost for a virtual poinsettia is a minimum donation of $10.00 and all donations go to the Walton Benevolent Fund.
— Please donate online or contact the church office at office@waltonmemorial.com to make your donation either Christmas Memorial Fund or Virtual Poinsettias. The deadline for donations Wednesday, December 16th. These memorial gifts will be made into a list and will be emailed out to all those who donated by early in the New Year. They will be dedicated in the Virtual Service on Sunday, December 20th. More information – https://www.waltonmemorial.com/benevolent-fund-christmas-memorials/
What is the Benevolent Fund? This confidential fund, managed by Rev. Gill with help from some of the staff, is to help people in need due to Covid, illness, unemployment, unexpected accident, setback, or tragedy. Every year it helps people in our congregation and in the wider community who are in need, through financial and material assistance. The work of the fund remains highly confidential to allow for anonymous support of people in need. For more information, please speak to Rev. Jim Gill jamescwaltonwuc@gmail.com

Upper Rooms for November and December are now available at the church. Please contact the office if you would like to purchase one. Thanks.

•  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

The Mitten Tree is up and ready for your donations! We know many of our knitters have been working hard on mittens, hats and scarves. Our shoppers have been picking up items when they see them on sale. There is a big need for thermal socks!! All donations welcome!
“Warm hands …and feet… and hearts”

Welcome

Good morning. We are standing this morning at Coronation Park in beautiful Bronte at the splash pad right underneath the crown. We are standing here this morning as it is Reign of Christ Sunday.

Call to Worship

We are called to worship and loudly, emphatically, we answer that call.

We are called. The call echoes out, like the cries of gulls soaring over the lake. It reverberates like the lowest note on a double bass and reaches deep into our souls. The call spreads out like a breath of wind, whistling around the world, an invitation too stirring to ignore.

God is calling us to worship. To look into our hearts and our lives, and recognize God already there. To feel the strength of God’s love, to know the calm of God’s peace. To sing and dance in a celebration of God’s creative majesty. To proclaim God’s love for us with triumphant and jubilant roars.

You, God, are our God. And we are loved beyond measure. Shout it out that the world may know.

Opening Prayer

Amazing, awesome God,

We come in worship to affirm that you are indeed our God: ever-present, all-powerful, supreme. We give thanks that we are your people: encouraged, strengthened and saved.

Thank you for always being with us, walking by our side, through good times and bad. When we find ourselves in strange circumstances and grieving for how life used to be, help us hear your word guiding us on. When our hopes feel out of reach and despair creeps in, remind us of your almighty power. When we lose our way and forget all that you have done for us, embrace us with your renewing love.

You are indeed our God: faithful, understanding, caring. We give thanks that we are your people: forgiven, nourished and loved.

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.

Youth Story

This is the final lesson of our Cooking with Jesus Sunday School curriculum before we move into Advent next Sunday. And this week we’re ditching the sugary snacks. (Sorry kids!) Healthy foods do more than just ease our hunger pangs; they fortify us and sustain us during tough challenges, like a long hike (or a long car drive with your family). Trail mix is a super snack because you can put pretty much anything you want in it: nuts, seeds, fruit, cereal…even Jesus. That’s right – you can always add the Bible to your mix. Let’s go in the kitchen with Rachel and Lauren to find out how.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 137: 1-4, Psalm 95: 1-7a

Psalm 137:1-4
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?

Psalm 95: 1-7a
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Anthem: How Can I Keep From Singing?

Message: How can we keep from singing?!

How many of you, on hearing our first reading this morning, maybe found your feet beginning to tap? Or perhaps your shoulders gave a gentle twitch, or you even started to sway to the beat of an unspoken tune?

Because yes, Psalm 137 as we know it is also internationally remembered for forming many of the lyrics of the Boney M hit single back in the 1970s.

“By the rivers of Babylon…”

It is ironic then, seeing that the reading talks of not being able to sing, that this Psalm has been set quite so often to music. And this only highlights the depth of the pain being expressed by the Psalmist.

For the Psalm is remembering the aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem when the people of Israel were taken to exile in the Babylonian empire. The city wall and the temple in Jerusalem were destroyed, and God’s chosen people had been expelled from their promised land. It was a culturally ruinous experience, rupturing the Israelites relationship with God, and the pain of the people resounds through the Psalmist’s words.

Music was abandoned, with all its connotations of joy and entertainment, and the way in which music connected the Israeli people with their history, neither of which they could bear to remember while in the devastation of exile.

More deeply, music was to be rejected because of its association as the “Lord’s song,” a poignant indicator of the grief and despair the Israelites felt, and the way in which exile represented the utter breakdown of their relationship with God.

How could they sing and remember their history, their faith, when all that they had been promised by God lay in ruins, and they themselves were in a foreign country, taunted and mocked.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

How do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? We may still be in our homes, but nevertheless, with the spread of Covid over the last year, we are undoubtedly in a very strange land indeed.

I saw an internet meme talking about the predictable, maybe tired, interview question that so many of us have been asked in the past: where do you see yourself in 5 years? But as the meme points out, no-one who answered that question in 2015 got their answer right.

When I leave the house, my routine checklist, “wallet, keys, phone,” has become, “wallet, mask, keys, phone.” The kids hang out with their friends outdoors and I no longer commute for work. I find busy stores unsettling and my awareness of the personal space I need around me is acute. This is a strange land.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t asked God about this. And maybe ‘asked’ is putting it politely. More like: cried to God, begged God, demanded of God – and what? An answer to this, an end to this? O Lord, bring us out of this strange land.

Recently, significant progress has been announced regarding the development of a vaccine. We’re not there yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And in the meantime, we carry on. And as we carry on, we’re about to come to Advent and then Christmas. I know, it’s only November 22nd, but Advent begins next week, and we are facing a Christmas season like no other.

A British politician recently, misguidedly, expressed the hope that maybe there could be a lockdown truce for Christmas, as there had famously been in World War I, so that friends and families could gather together. It’s a nice thought, if it weren’t so naïve, deluded even. For where exactly are ‘virus headquarters’ for us to negotiate this ceasefire?

Instead we need to confront the limitations we face. We can’t gather in large groups. Our travel is limited and discouraged, and worship is isolated. So how do we sing the Lord’s song?

Well, we do it the only way we do anything hard and challenging: through God’s strength and support and inspiration. We sing the Lord’s song, the same way the people of Israel sang the Lord’s song, as we read in Psalm 95. Because we are invited and encouraged by God to sing – in fact, we are called to do so.

And we sing the Lord’s song, knowing that we are joining in a tradition of believers from the earliest days through to now, who sang of their faith in the most challenging of times.

Although Psalm 95 may sit earlier in the book of Psalms than 137, biblical scholars tell us that this Psalm is in a section of the book specifically addressing the crisis of exile. And so, while the people have doubts and anxiety about what is happening to them in Babylon, Psalm 95 reminds them, and us, that God is still there for them. Their human kingdom has been overthrown, but the divine majesty of God endures and remains “a sign of hope for the community.”

Clutching to this hope, seeking to renew this hope, we are invited to praise and worship God in song. And not just any song: joyful song; loud, boisterous, buoyant song. A song that fills your lungs – and your heart – with the affirmation that God is watching over us. A song that lifts us up and reminds us that God is the great God; is our God, and we are God’s people.

How do we sing the Lord’s song? In the words of the stirring anthem we heard earlier, we sing in gratitude and praise to God who is our rock and to whom we cling. To God who is with us in troubled times, sustaining us. To God who lifts us up when we fall down again.

We sing because it is an expression of our faith in God and our relationship with God; a relationship that does not depend on circumstances or on having a good day.

Perhaps it’s the vibrations of the notes through our bodies, or the way in which the music can surround and engulf us, embracing us with feeling and connection. Whatever the reason, continuing to sing, to find ways to safely sing and praise God, underlines the overriding importance of music in our faith and as the expression of our worship.

How do we sing? How do we not? Because when we sing, we connect not to what is outside in the world, but what is inside in our hearts.

As we approach Advent and the gift of all of this season’s music, we are going to need to find new ways to celebrate our faith in this holy season, without the carol concerts and in-person services that are for so many of us the spirit of Christmas.

To help with this, I’d like to invite you to come along on a musical journey through Advent. Our daily Advent email devotional is now in its fifth year and this year the series is centred around the music of Christmas.

Fortunately for Walton, we are blessed not only with a wonderful choir, continuing to record more music for us, but with a catalogue of performances from recent years, and the devotionals will give us the opportunity to enjoy many of these.

If you haven’t had the devotionals before, you’ll need to sign up and details are in the email you received with this service, or on the Walton website.

Each day, by using both the words and the music of worship and praise, we will be anchored in our faith and encouraged to look to God for comfort and renewal. In this way, we affirm and participate in our human endeavours from across the centuries, reaching back to Psalm 95, to glorify God and give thanks for the birth of God’s Son.

So, whether you’re the next Pavarotti or, like me, you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, let’s keep singing. Singing loudly and joyously into Advent and all the way to Christmas. Singing in hope and faith and praise, raising your voices and your hearts to worship our God, for we are his people, and he will never let us go.

Praise be to God.

Pastoral Prayer

We bring before God now the deepest cares of our heart and the concerns of the world. Let us pray.

Come, let us sing to the Lord our God; let us cry out to the Rock of our salvation.
We pray in joy and with deep thanksgiving; we pray in need and from our despair.

When we are in trouble, O Lord, we cry out for your strength.

We pray for those who are worried about their jobs or their finances, for those who are struggling with school or learning, and for those weighed down by their past.

Sustain us God, to find patience and possibility in each day and to remember your reassuring love.

We praise you, Lord, and offer you our thanks; for you are our God, and we are your people.

When we are in pain, O Lord, we cry out for your comfort.

We pray for those struggling with their health, for those waiting for the results of tests or treatment, and for those for whom this day is just another to be endured.

Soothe us God, to find calm in the midst of uncertainty and to know your peace.

We worship you, Lord, and offer you our thanks; for you are our God, and we are your people.

When we are lost, O Lord, we cry out for your guidance.

We pray for those who are facing difficult decisions and unwelcome choices, for those who cannot find hope in their future, and for those struggling with the relationships in their lives.

Lead us God, to follow your teaching and to share your love with those around us.

We trust you, Lord, and offer you our thanks; for you are our God, and we are your people.

Loving God, hear us as we bow down in worship. We kneel before you, our Lord and our Maker. For you are our God, and we are your people. Now and forever.

Amen.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Invitation to Offering
In thanksgiving for Jesus Christ, King of Kings, who lived and died and lives again, and in the hope of living out God’s kingdom of peace and justice here on Earth….let us share together in our morning offering.

♥ 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

Magnificent and wondrous God, accept these gifts today as our act of praise and worship. In gratitude, we treasure all that you have blessed us with; the riches of our lives and of the world. In hope, we affirm the power of your love, and pray that you multiply these gifts to rescue those in need. In joy, we proclaim the eternal wonder of your promise to share your healing and redeeming love. Keep us faithful to the work of Christ today and always. Amen.

Benediction

Go out this day with a spring in your step and a song in your heart. Let the music of God’s love settle deep into your body and renew your soul and give you strength. 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
♬ By the Streams of Babylon
♬ We Cannot Measure How You Heal
♬ The Closing Prayer

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update from Wednesday, November 18th

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