Virtual Service – Holy Humour Sunday – April 11, 2021

8:30 am

April 11, 2021

Virtual Service

Welcome to virtual church!

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Sunday Service Video (30+ minutes followed by the hymns)

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – 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

• Tax preparation for people with modest incomes: The Walton Tax Clinic will be starting up again on March 1st, 2021, as part of the Walton Outreach Committee. Due to COVID precautions, we will manage with an “exchange of documents” in the Walton parking lot and follow-up telephone calls. If you have an interest in having us assist you, please call: 905-631-6188
• Children and youth
are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. It’s more of an un-lesson this week as we take a break from Bible learning and make time to laugh.
•  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


Welcome

Good morning! Good morning! We’re here at the Burloak Park and as you know it’s Holy Humor Sunday!
It is!
When was the last time you were on one of those, Val?
Oh, not that long ago! My bum can still fit between the things. I’m so pleased!

And what was it Jesus taught us that we are to be?
Oh, fishers of men!
And women and boys and girls… everyone!
And here we are! And here we are!

So I have a couple of jokes for you!
Go ahead!

Okay… um… let’s see! If Mary had Jesus…
She did.
Okay and Jesus was a little lamb…
He was.
Does that mean that Mary had a little lamb?
[Jim laughs]

Okay. Moving on!
How do groups of angels greet each other?
Divinely?
Oh, that’s good. “halo! halo! halo!”
That’s better!
[Both laugh]

What do we have that Adam never had?
I don’t know… what?
Ancestors!

Oh these are awful. Aren’t they?!
They are but they made you laugh. Admit it!
They did.

You know what God has a sense of humour too!
God has an incredible sense of humour! Think of the Israelites.
Yes, I’m thinking about them. Oh I know! We’re complaining we can only travel for about a year… year and a half?
It’s over a year since people could travel.
Yeah, and look at the Israelites. How long did they travel for?
40 years and they didn’t even know where they were going!

That’s kind of funny. Sorry! And what about when they got hungry?
I remembered God dropped the manna from the heavens and he had to pick it all up off the ground. That is kind of funny!
Yes, it was the original curbside pickup!
[Val laughs]
No HST!
Oh yeah, right.

Well we are glad you’ve joined us today! This is our Holy Humor Sunday.

Come let us worship together! Let us join in the call to worship!

Call to Worship

Arise! Shine! Embrace laughter’s light!
Even in the midst of challenge, we should laugh?
Come and embrace God’s gift of healing – cheerfulness within the shadows of life.
Surely you jest, for life demands our somber best?
Come to chuckle at the overwhelming irony of living.
To laugh in church, a place of holiness and of reverence?
To laugh, and in the laughter to share, and in the sharing to care, and in the caring to love one another.
Glory to God through all our relations and relationships!
Glory to God as we meet our call within Christ’s mission, and let us rejoice with thankful hearts!
Let us worship, today and always.
(Adapted Gord Dunbar, The Gathering L/E 2021)

Anthem: “Oh Happy Day”

 

Opening Prayer

Bubble up within our hearts, O Spirit, in the midst of this third wave of Covid.
Warm us in the embrace of your nurturing arms, that we may grow:
More joy-filled even in the midst of sadness and loneliness, more grace-filled even in the midst of disagreements and fear, more inclined to see the humour in living, more light-filled when too much of our life and world seems gloomy.
More delighted by the abundance of your love and caring through one another, and in one another.
Help us to share your love and humour and delight in the small things we can enjoy and share with others. Shout with our spirits as we rejoice in your presence with us in all circumstances of our rich and abundant lives. Amen.
(Adapted from Gord Dunbar, The Gathering L/E 2014)

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

Good Morning, did you bring me some water to drink Alison?
No I didn’t bring you water Val, but I am going to use that water as I have a lesson about trust in Youth Story today. We talked in Sunday School this week about Holy Humour and how God wants us to laugh and to have joy. But sometimes we don’t feel like laughing, in those times we have to trust, that is part of God’s plan and he will be sending us some smiles soon. So, this is a little lesson to demonstrate trust.
Move a little closer to me. Val is going to trust me, to do something that seems impossible. I’m going to put this.
Val is going to trust me, to do something that seems impossible.
I’m going to take this paper, put it over top of the cup of water. I’m going to turn it upside down on top of your head.
No, I don’t think so!
Wait, it is going to get better. I’m going to take my hand away and stop holding the paper, and Val is going to trust that it is going to work. I’m holding the cup…. I’m holding the cup over your head with no hands underneath.
I’m holding the cup, holding the cup, my hand is removed. Look I’m holding the cup upside down and the water is still in the glass. Val is going to trust. If it doesn’t work, this is going to be a great Holy Humour Children’s Sunday lesson isn’t it? I took away my hand and ta da!
What??? That is amazing… God is amazing!! Sometimes things seem impossible, it seems like you can’t believe what God can do. Just like this cup of water, it may seem impossible. With God anything is possible, we just have to remember to put our trust in him and remember to laugh, everyday.

Let us pray:
Loving God, thank you for the gift of laughter, it is the best medicine of all. Thank you for the joy that comes with it, the great big smiles and the feelings we get when we share that joy with others, and make them laugh and smile by sharing your love. Help us trust that we are in your hands, that even the bad times are part of your plan, and that means joy and laughter are just around the corner. AAAAAAmen.

 

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1: 1-10

The Word of Life
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

God Is Light
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Morning Message: “The Joy of Bloopers” – Rev. Jim Gill

I have been on TV numerous times over my life, including on the national news of both the CBC and CTV networks. But I never thought I would be living a virtual life as the year 2020 began. But this is the Covid reality of Walton becoming a virtual church. Part of nearly every week for the last year has involved recording, either in the church or somewhere in the many communities which we serve.

You never know what will happen, especially when recording beyond Walton. Last October we were recording down by Lake Ontario. I was right by the edge of the water, standing in front of a cliff which was just about a foot higher than the top of my head. I began to feel not myself. I started having a real problem concentrating on the script of the virtual service.

When I was finally done recording I turned around and right above my head at the top of the cliff were two people lying on a blanket on the ground. What I thought was the smell of burning fall leaves actually was not. It also was not liturgical incense that I smelled that day. What must they have thought about me praying below them as they got high smoking pot? I think of the words of the verse 1 Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak.”

Today is our annual Holy Humour Sunday. Our reading for this service from I John says: “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all.” I appreciate that phase, “that our joy may be complete.” As believers it is a good thing to be joyful, joyful in the faith. We are not called to be joyless; rather we are called to be joyful. That joy is like that light from God which we heard about in our Bible reading this morning.

A neighbour asked Joseph of Arimathea why he gave up his beautiful hand-hewn tomb for someone else. Joseph responded, “he only needed it for the weekend.”

In the online “Joyful Noise-letter” we read about the history of this Sunday. Many churches are resurrecting an old Easter custom begun by the Greeks in the early centuries of Christianity. “Holy Humor Sunday” celebrates Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday after Easter.

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries the week following Easter Sunday, including “Bright Sunday” (the Sunday after Easter), was observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter,” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. I like that name “Bright Sunday.” With the light of resurrection we are called to be bright, not gloomy.

The “Joyful Noise- Letter” continues: “Churchgoers and pastors played practical jokes on each other, drenched each other with water, told jokes, sang, and danced.” The drenching of each other with water makes me think of how players dump the huge jug of Gatorade over top of a football coach after a big win. While I am not suggesting we do that water dumping on each other, would it not be great to have such joy with Jesus’s big win over death in the Easter Resurrection? Truly we can celebrate the brightness of that familiar statement, “Jesus Christ is risen today.”

The newsletter tells us, “These customs are rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. ‘Risus Paschalis – the Easter laugh,’ the early theologians called it.”

That huge rock in front of the garden tomb did not work. Likewise, the Roman soldiers guarding the burial site did not work. Neither could not keep Jesus in the tomb. It is the ultimate joke on the devil, as referred to throughout church history.

So back in 1988, a group called the Fellowship of Merry Christians began encouraging churches and prayer groups to resurrect Bright Sunday celebrations and call it “Holy Humor Sunday.” Their theme is: “Jesus is the LIFE of the party.” This is what Walton has done for a number of years on the Sunday after Easter. We celebrate Jesus, the “life of the party.”

Many congregations from all different church traditions responded enthusiastically to this Bright Sunday concept. Back when they could be held in person, Holy Humour Sunday services brought back some of the large Easter crowds to churches on a Sunday when church attendance typically drops dramatically. The Sunday after Easter is like the Sunday after Christmas often called a “low Sunday.” But there is nothing low about the resurrection. Easter is the high point of the Christian year.

If you Google Holy Humor Sunday, you’ll be amazed at how widespread these celebrations on the Sunday after Easter have become among churches of all traditions. It’s clearly a movement of the Holy Spirit to brighten up belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

“We get everyone hyped up over the big moment as we celebrate the Resurrection,” writes Rev. Daniel McDonald about Holy Humour Sunday. “And after all the preparation, it’s done in a day. People tend to feel let down. So I say, let’s keep the party going.”

McDonald tells us, “Laughter releases tension, and we have enough of that these days. I think we all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. We need to recognize that this is really God’s world, and God has so much in store for us. We put too much emphasis on what’s wrong and what’s bad with it.”

In fact Rev. McDonald apparently gave one of the world’s shortest sermons ever recorded on Holy Humour Sunday. He announced that the focus of his talk on Bright Sunday would be on the topic of sin. “Don’t do it,” he said from the pulpit. “Amen.” Then he sat down.

Rev. McDonald is right. Don’t do it. It was the humour of that “Don’t do it” sermon which people will remember.

So often it is an unexpected real-life situation that blesses us. People see us each week out doing our video recordings. They will stop what they are doing, and stand and listen. They will also stop us and ask questions. They will even video us videoing ourselves for the virtual services! At Wesley Mission, in Hamilton, we were actually photo-bombed on Outreach Sunday.

Last fall we were videoing out in rural southern Ontario. We were packing up to leave that particular farming location when we had unplanned visitors. It is one of the virtual services people remember the most and they still talk about, as one of those “holy cow experiences in life.” Val said, “Jim go stand by the fence and give a blessing.” I rushed over and did it. For behind me I had my own live congregation for the first time in months. It was a flock of Hereford cows, photo-bombing me while I was reading the benediction.

It made me think of the Bible story in the book of Genesis of the Egyptian pharaoh telling Joseph in his coat of many colours about his dreams of the seven fat cows and the seven skinny cows. Those cows that day were definitely not the thin type of four-legged critters.

Many people love blooper videos. It takes us at least three tries usually to get the right video that we feel good enough to send off to the Silvas to work their magic for posting each week’s services. We would now like to share with you on this Holy Humour Sunday some of our favourite video bloopers.

Pastoral Prayer: Miracles Liturgy

Lord God,
You spoke into darkness and chaos and then there was light;
You imagined this earth in its complexity and beauty and called it into being
You created humanity in your own image and gave us a home to live in.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

Lord God,
You walked with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego through the fiery furnace.
You shut the mouths of hungry lions and kept Daniel safe until morning.
You gave Hannah a family, when she despaired of ever having a child.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

Lord God,
You changed water into wine so the wedding party could continue.
You calmed a storm and your disciples with words of quiet authority.
You transformed a boy’s picnic into a meal for a multitude, with plenty leftover.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

Lord God,
You healed a woman from 12 years of bleeding and rejection.
You asked Bartimaeus what he wanted and then restored his sight.
You watched a paralysed man being lowered through the roof and helped him to his feet.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

Lord God,
You called Lazarus from the tomb and restored him to life.
You walked past the mourners at Jairus’ house and gave his daughter back to him.
You suffered a horrendous crucifixion, in order to defeat sin and death and give us life.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

Lord God,
You told your disciples that they would do greater things than you had done.
We hear and read stories of miracles in our world—of you healing the sick, setting prisoners free, releasing drug addicts from their addiction, providing the right amount of money at just the right time.
We believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God.

And yet, Lord, we don’t see many miracles happening around us.
Or do we?
We have friends with cancer, and we pray, and they are not healed.
We have friends who long for children, and we pray, and they do not conceive
Our doubt is mixed with faith, our trust is accompanied by questions.
We acknowledge the mystery of faith and prayer, and the ways in which they are connected.
We acknowledge that you often do things differently than the way we would do them.
We long to know you better, to understand more of your ways, and we believe you can do miracles!
But even if you don’t, you are still God!

Lord we believe!
Help our unbelief!
Amen.
(adapted, by Jen, and posted on the Grace website worship archive. http://www.freshworship.org/)

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Having heard the story of the road to Emmaus that Jesus’ presence can transform lives, challenged lives can become lives of hope and joy, we give what we can so that other people’s lives can be transformed too. The offering will now be received.

♥ by secure online payment from your bank or credit card. Click here to go to our donation page to make a single or recurring donation. Multiple funds (including Sleeping Children) can be included in one donation by using the “Add Donation” button.
♥ 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

Generous God, we give of our time, talent and treasure to help transform the world to a more pleasing place in your eyes – a place where there are stories of new life, new hope and new view of the challenges that lie before us. Grant us patience, strength, hope and love, we ask all of this in your son Jesus’ name. Amen.

Benediction

If you have smiled today, go out and share a smile with someone…. I know a bit of a challenge with a mask on…. but make your eyes smile.
If you have healed here, even a little, then please listen to someone else’s pain this week.
If you have grown a little today, then give thanks to God.
Now go in peace, but go….
Yes, you too!!!

Solo: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

 


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!

♬ This is the Day
♬ Sing Your Joy
♬ Give to us Laughter
♬ Sing a Happy Hallelujah
♬ Joyful, Joyful We Adore You


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, April 7th