Virtual Service – Christmas Day

8:30 am

December 25, 2021

Virtual Serivce

Merry Christmas!! Welcome to virtual church!

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text.

• View the video below
• download and print the service from this document – link

For the latest news and updates from Walton, please check our Facebook page, Instagram and website. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos of service, the choirs and more!

Please contact office@waltonmemorial.com if you would like to be added to our email list.

Please Note: This service was pre-recorded by the participants on Tuesday, December 14th, before the changes to Covid Regulations, and the pausing of Walton’s live services.
Merry Christmas! 


Announcements

• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online.
• 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.


Christmas Fanfare

 

Welcome

Gill: Hello and Merry Christmas! Welcome to worship at Walton on this most joyous Christmas Day, as we celebrate the love of God and God’s presence in our world.

Val: Our Christmas Day service is a newer tradition at Walton and we’re delighted to be able to share it with you virtually so that it can fit in with all your traditions and activities. So whether you’re spending the day in your PJs – like me – or preparing a big meal and wondering if you’ve remembered to get all the ingredients, in worship we proclaim the inclusive love of God, given for all.

Gill: If you’re craving some peace away from the noise of kids playing, or looking for music and light to fill the quiet of your day, in worship we affirm that God sees us, and heals us and loves us.

Val: The community of Walton is at the heart of our church and our ministry. Covid has certainly challenged many of our groups, but our spirit of togetherness is undimmed. Today, we’re pleased to welcome members from one of our women’s groups to lead this service.

Gill: Thank you for making the time to share in this Christmas worship with us. Come, let us worship God!

Call to Worship

The Nativity story is our story too.
We need a place to welcome and shelter us, as we look to find our place in the world.
We seek a star to follow; a light to guide us through the darkness.
We crave the angel’s reassurance: do not be afraid.
And at this Christmas-time, we can proclaim the good news of great joy.
Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ is born. Our saviour, who is the Messiah.
Hallelujah. God be with us today.

Opening Prayer

God of hosanna and hallelujah, of whoops of delight and joyous shouts, open our hearts to the overwhelming magnitude of your love for us. God of silent nights and tender care, quieten our excitement – just a little – to hear your word this day. God of astounded shepherds and praising angels, lift up our hearts to glorify you this morning. 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 – A Christmas Prayer

Alison found a wonderful book in Walton’s children’s library, called “A Christmas Prayer.” It mentions all the characters who played a role in the Nativity story, all the characters we’ve been learning about in Sunday School and in Rev. Jim’s Advent sermons. As you watch this service from home on Christmas morning, Alison snuggled up on her couch at home to read this story to you:

I sit here by the tree, and look up at the star.
With loving family all around, I see how blessed we are.
So this, my Christmas prayer, is not for toys and dolls.
It’s thanking You for Christmas gifts, you’ve given to us all.
Thank you God for Gabriel, who brought news of great joy.
He said to Mary, “God chose you to have His baby boy.
Thank you God, for Gabriel, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you God for Mary, She let faith lead the way.
“I am his servant girl,” she said. “Let it be as you say.”
Thank you God for Mary, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you God, for Joseph, who trusted your good plan.
He took Mary to be his wife. He was a faithful man.
Thank you, God, for Joseph, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you for the donkey, that helped them all to leave.
And got Mary to Bethlehem in time for Christmas Eve.
Thank you for the donkey, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you for the manger, a bed made out of hay.
And thank you for the cows and sheep that shared their food that day.
Thank you for the manger, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you for the shepherds, who heard of Jesus’ birth.
They saw the angels in the sky, announcing peace on earth.
Thank you for the shepherds, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you for the bright star, that shined and led the way.
So wise men found and worshiped him, as we still do today.
Thank you for the bright star, your precious Christmas gift.
Thank you God for Jesus, your one and only son.
A Saviour sent to save the world! Yes, Christmas has begun!
Thank you, God, for Jesus, your perfect Christmas gift.
God, I know that Christmas is more than toys or lists.
Thank you for loving me so much, and for all these Christmas gifts.
What a beautiful prayer! Amen.

Scripture Reading:  John 1:1-14

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,  full of grace and truth.

Anthem: “Born is the Light of the World”

 

Reading:  The Work of Christmas, by Howard Thurman

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Morning Message: “Taking Jesus Home”

One of my favourite family Christmas traditions is our advent calendar which each day contains a miniature figure to add to a nativity scene. We start at the beginning of December with an empty stable, and by Christmas Day, the full cast of nativity characters have all been given a place in the scene.

Now, families being families, we’ve had our fair share of squabbles over the years about whose turn it was to open the calendar door on December 24th and put Jesus into the scene – to the extent that I’ve got a growing list of instructions, including a record of which child placed Jesus that year, which I store in the box along with the Advent set to remind me afresh each December.

But if I think I’ve got challenges staying on top of the arrangements for my indoor nativity scene, that’s nothing compared to the problems of groups setting up outdoor nativities.

I read this week of one community in Kansas who had rather an unexpected challenge with their live nativity scene: an absconding camel.

The kerfuffle began in the most ordinary way: the camel’s halter broke, and the camel wandered away without anyone noticing. It was the next morning before someone called the police to inform them that there was a camel roaming around the local golf course.

Catching a camel is remarkably difficult, as the local police department soon found out. They also discovered, when the camel ventured onto a nearby highway, that camels really can run at 40 kilometres per hour.

Disappearing characters aren’t just a problem for live nativities – sadly however the problem most outdoor nativities face is more prosaic and disheartening: theft.

There seems to be something enticing about a scene with individual, unfortunately portable, figures and the theft of characters from nativity scenes is a well-known problem.

And it won’t surprise you to learn that the character taken the most often is the baby Jesus.

The response of those whose nativity scenes are vandalized in this way is one of saddened defiance, with most expressing a determination to put Jesus back in the stable – the implication being that this is where he belongs.

And while I’ve got a lot of sympathy for their plight, I can’t help thinking that they’re sending a mixed message with the emphasis on putting Jesus back in the stable.

Because ultimately, Jesus doesn’t belong in a nativity scene, static and unchanging. The nativity that is so emblematic of our Christmas celebrations is but a tiny moment in the world-changing life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

I am much more taken with the attitude of Kurt Busiek, a pastor in West Virginia. His church’s outdoor nativity had been robbed of its Jesus, but despite having access to security camera footage, Kurt isn’t interested in tracking the thief down. Instead, he and his congregation are planning to replace Jesus as often as they need to.

Kurt explained, “My thought is, hey, if they steal that one, we’ll keep putting it out. I can’t think of a better way to get the message of Christmas out than for people to keep taking Jesus home.”

To keep taking Jesus home.

Because out in the world and in our homes – that’s where Jesus belongs. In the world where Jesus’ love can heal and teach and comfort and save.

This is the message of the Christmas teaching in the gospel of John. He’s not diverted by shepherds or kings, or dazzled by angels or stars. John doesn’t get caught up in the event of Christ’s birth, but focuses squarely on the power within the story: the power of God’s transforming presence in the world.

John’s Christmas story is one where we get to keep taking Jesus home.

“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

As Reverend Jim explained a few weeks ago, this year our Advent-Christmas series of messages is called, “What Nativity Character are you?” For Christmas Day, Jesus was the obvious choice. But not the baby Jesus.

Because, as one theologian provocatively stated, “The birth of Jesus never saved anyone.”

And on its own, that’s right. While the nativity may be a beloved symbol of Christmas, the Jesus we celebrate today, and every day, is the Jesus who fully lived, in the words of the Howard Thurman poem, the work of Christmas:

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry

This is the Jesus we proclaim – who is the light that shines in the darkness. And this is the ministry we are called to share: an inspiring, sustaining faith, where people can keep taking Jesus home.

And day in, day out, people just like us answer that call.

Finding the lost and taking Jesus home.

William Weaver knows what it is to be lost. He’s now the chief of surgery at a medical centre in North Carolina, but before Weaver could even dream of being a doctor, he was one of 14 black students integrating into an all-white high school.

I use the word ‘integrating’ in the loosest possible sense. Weaver says he doesn’t remember a day that a teacher didn’t make it clear to him, that he did not belong.

He was insulted and belittled, his tests were taken up first, his time running out faster than the others. His first report card was straight Fs and William started to think that maybe the teachers were right, that he was just plain dumb.

That was when his seventh-grade science teacher, Mr. Hill, stepped in and arranged for William to stop by his old school, every day after school and Saturday mornings. Together with a range of other teachers, Mr. Hill tutored Weaver, improving his grades and restoring his self-belief.

Finding the lost.

Weaver was finally able to put the experience behind him when he was awarded a university scholarship in his senior year.

37 years later, William saw Mr. Hill at a funeral. Reflecting on the events of his youth, William said,

“You know, Mr. Hill, if I had not gotten that scholarship, I don’t know what would have happened. And I don’t know how I got the scholarship because I never even applied for it.”

To which Mr. Hill replied, “I know, because I filled in the application and sent it off for you.”

Taking Jesus home.

It happens at work; it happens at rest.

Healing the broken, and taking Jesus home.

Bessie Olford was a Christian missionary, travelling on a tramp steamer boat back to England in the 1930s. Just a few days into the trip, one of the seamen injured himself. With inadequate medicine to treat the wound, it quickly became infected and began to fester and smell. His colleagues refused to let him stay in their cabin and dumped him on deck, where they passed him his food on the end of a long pole.

Bessie instead, seeing the pain of the man, and that no-one else would help, took up his food and a basin of warm water. Despite the stench, she cleaned the wound, washing away the pus and easing the infection.

Healing the broken.

The seaman’s response was one shaped by the hurt and rejection of a rough life. He cursed her soundly.

Bessie said nothing but returned that evening and every day for the remaining two weeks. She brought him his food, washed his wounds, and took care of him, until they arrived in London where he could hobble from the ship.

Bessie’s son recalls that for the rest of the man’s life he remained devoted to Bessie and a convert to her Christian faith.

Taking Jesus home.

And no-one is too old or too young to hear the call.

Feeding the hungry, and taking Jesus home.

Anna Macdonald’s mom started a backpack project with her church. Each week, members of the congregation pack food that’s given out to more than 100 children who may not otherwise have anything to eat over the weekend.

Feeding the hungry.

A mom of one of the backpack recipients was watching as her son got off the school bus one Friday. Before he headed for home, he sat down with another child at the bus stop and started unpacking food from his food parcel. He shared half of what he’d been given with his friend and then they both walked home.

Taking Jesus home.

This is the work of Christmas, vividly real, grounded and pragmatic, shining love into the world. This is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

We see in these pragmatic stories God’s word and Jesus’ ministry alive in the world – giving life, or going back to Howard Thurman again, making music in the heart.

Music in the heart of those whose lives were changed – of course.

And music in the heart of those who helped. For we cannot give to others and serve God, without finding ourselves also touched by God. The work of Christmas is emphatically also the joy of Christmas. Such moments of giving and caring are a gift to us, for as we serve others, we find ourselves also taking Jesus home.

And in moments like these, we affirm the words of John: What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

John gives us a Christmas story to proclaim God’s transforming presence in the world, shining a light for us to follow.

Take, then, this Christmas light, into your hearts and into your lives, that it may be a blessing to you and to those around you.

Praise be to God.

Anthem: “Welcome to Our World”

 

Pastoral Prayer

One: Heavenly God, open our hearts to your presence today, and awaken within us the spirit of Christmas.

Two: Let us dance like Frosty, living with joy and delight, finding pleasure and excitement in each moment. Let us treasure your creations, sun and snow and every season.

One: We praise you Lord, celebrating today that you came down from heaven and you danced on earth.

Two: Help us shine like Rudolph, letting hope conquer despair and injustice; glowing brightly to dispel the dark corners of the world and of our lives.

One: Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us. Send forth your word Lord, and let there be light.

Two: Encourage us to give like Santa, generously and freely to all your children. Remind us of all that you have blessed us with and inspire us to share your gifts with those around us.

One: Give, give, let us willingly give, since God has given to us. Give, give, help us gratefully give, the precious Gospel of peace.

Two: Empower us to love like Jesus, reaching out to others: including the outcast, welcoming the stranger, comforting those alone. Forgiving and healing, renewing and restoring.

One: At this Christmas time, let us proclaim: how marvellous, how wonderful is our Saviour’s love today.

Two: All this we pray, in the name of the Christ child of Bethlehem. Amen.

Anthem: “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

 

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

At a time of year when society talks of almost nothing except for giving, but perhaps really means getting, we pause now to recognize the less fortunate in our communities. Those without a safe place to stay, facing winter on the streets or in shelters; those struggling with food insecurity, dependent on food banks; and those whose lives have been uprooted by war and violence, trying to resettle themselves and make a home for their families.

As we come to make our offering, let us remember the words of Jesus: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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♥ by cheque through the mail slot at the Church office entrance or by Canada Post
♥ by Text to Give. Donate securely at any time just by texting a dollar amount to 84321 (eg. $5).  See our Text-to-Give page for more information.
♥ by monthly PAR payments. To sign up contact stuart@waltonmemorial.com

Offering Prayer

Inspire us, empowering God, to give with joy, gladly offering our time and treasure to serve you. Cherish us, patient God, to give in hope, trusting your presence in our lives. Work through us, resolute God, to transform our communities with your peace. Work in us, redeeming Lord, so that your love shines out in our lives, for all those around us to see. Amen.

Benediction

Go out into this Christmas Day, comforted by the warmth of God’s welcoming love growing in your heart, and renewed by the strength of God’s healing love, filling us and making us whole. Amen.

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, December 22nd