Virtual Service – December 11, 2022

2:00 pm

December 11, 2022

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.


Announcements

• Carol Service this evening, Sunday, December 11 –This is by reservation only.  If you have registered and are unable to attend, please cancel online or by calling the church office as soon as possible as we have quite a few people on our waiting list.

• Service of Darkness & Light  – Though Walton is not holding a Service of Memories this year, we invite all those who are finding the Christmas season difficult amidst grief or loss to join our neighbours at the Church of the Epiphany for their Service of Darkness & Light. This service for healing, hope, and sacred remembering will be held Monday, December 19th at 7pm. The Church of the Epiphany is located at 141 Bronte Rd.

• Worship at Walton this Christmas – We are so looking forward to having live worship services on Christmas Eve for the first time since 2019, as well as a virtual service which will be sent out via email and posted on our social media pages. Here is the live Christmas worship schedule:

♥ Saturday, December 24 – 5:30pm – Family Service – Registration required
♥ Saturday, December 24 – 8:30pm – Candlelight Communion – No registration required
♥ Sunday, December 25 – 10:00am – Single service, no children’s and youth programs
♥ Sunday, January 1 – 10:00am – Single service – Children & youth programming in Bronte Hall

Registration for the 5:30pm service opens at 9:00am on Monday, December 12. Please register online or by calling the church office.

• Christmas Benevolent Fund Memorials: Anyone connected with the Walton congregation live or virtually has the opportunity of making a special memorial gift to Walton at Christmas time. Donate online by visiting the Walton website and clicking the “donate” button, or contact the office.  These memorial gifts will all be dedicated on Sunday, Dec. 18th  at the 9:30 & 11:00am services. The donations go to the Walton Benevolent Fund (see below for the write-up on “What is the Benevolent Fund?”)  The deadline for your donations to be included in the December 18th dedication, is 9:00am, Thursday, December 15th. We would not want to miss your gift, so please contact the office, office@waltonmemorial.com or go to the Walton website.

• What is the Benevolent Fund??  How does Walton  help people? The Benevolent Fund is a confidential fund, managed by Rev. Gill, with help from some of the other staff, to help people in need due to illness, unemployment,  financial hardship or some unexpected accident, setback, or tragedy. Every year it helps people in this congregation in need through financial and material assistance. It also helps those in the community and occasional transients who stop by the church looking for assistance. This fund helps any youth/adult in the congregation who cannot afford to attend a retreat or church event that involves a cost, and helps with special organization needs in the community from time to time. The money for this fund comes from two main sources. The largest is the Christmas Memorial program (see above notice on Christmas Memorials) and the other is individual donors throughout the year.  All gifts to this fund receive a tax receipt. 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 905-827-1643 or email jamescgillwuc@gmail.com

• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. Let it snow!
• Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayer 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.

Join us again next Sunday for thoughtful worship, uplifting music, Sunday School for all children & youth, and coffee/tea and cookies between services.


Land Acknowledgement

As we gather today on these treaty lands, we are in solidarity with Indigenous brothers and sisters to honour and respect the four directions, lands, waters, plants, animals and ancestors that walked before us, and all of the wonderful elements of creation that exist. We acknowledge and thank the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for being stewards of this traditional territory.

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to worship at Walton, on this the third Sunday of Advent.

Whether you’re here with us in the sanctuary, or following the service online, we give thanks for this time of praise and thanksgiving as we journey towards the coming of Christ.

As each week we encounter our Advent Sunday gifts, we have celebrated in worship the hope we are given by God and the peace we have with God. Today we proclaim the joy that we share in the love of God. The joy of belonging, the joy of forgiveness, and the joy of renewal are each gifts given to us from God each and every day.

Come let us worship our joyful God.

Hymn: “Good Christian Friends Rejoice”  35VU

Call to Worship

One: The nights are drawing in. Our days can be colder and harder.
All: Darkness brings gloom and uncertainty, fear and despair.
One: Yet lights shine out in our darkness, giving relief. Tree lights, candle lights, outdoor lights.
All: They light up our streets and our homes, resisting the darkness, sparkling with joy.
One: Let God’s light of joy shine out in our hearts.
All: Glowing to comfort us, encourage and sustain us.
One: Let God’s light of promise shine out in our lives.
All: Blazing to share the love and joy we have in Christ Jesus.

9:30    Youth Choir: “Deo”

11:00 Chancel Choir: “Glorious Light”

Opening Prayer

One: Accepting God, God-with-us in our darkness
All: You meet us where we are and as we are, and welcome us into your care.  
One: Radiant God, dawning light of great joy
All: You renew us when we are weary, you ease the burdens that hold us down.
One: Wonderful Counselor
All: Guide us to follow your word of love.
One: Mighty God
All: Strengthen us to do your will.
One: Everlasting Father
All: Forgive us through your eternal grace.
One: Prince of Peace
All: Soothe us with the promise that we are enough.
One: Accepting God, radiant God
All: We offer you our thanks and praise, that of your greatness there is no end. 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.

Advent Candle Lighting:

One: The first candle we lit, the candle of hope, last week we lit the candle of peace.
Two: Today is the Advent of joy. We light this candle for the joy of the earth, the oceans, the skies, and all that lives.

One:  We live in a world that takes more from the earth than it gives.
Two: We light this candle as our commitment to the joy of living in respect with creation.

One: We are the caretakers of this earth, our home.
Two:  We light this candle in celebration of Jesus, the Light of the World.
(the third candle of joy is lit)

One: Let us join together in singing “Hope is a Star” verse 3.

Candle lighting Hymn: “Hope is a Star” verse 3  7VU

Youth Hymn: “People Look East” verse 1  9VU

Youth Story:  “The Greatest Gift”  Rev. Jim Gill

I found some treasure today – take a look! It’s a gold coin. Would you be excited to find one of these in your Christmas stocking this year? Gold is very valuable; that’s why we associate it with kings and queens and very wealthy people. I even read that Donald Trump even has gold faucets and a gold toilet in his apartment!

Does gold remind you of anything in the Christmas story? (Kids answer)  It was one of the gifts the three Magi, or wise men, brought to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. All three of those items are very expensive, not something ordinary people would have. They were truly gifts fit for a king, which makes sense, because that’s who the wise men were told they were looking for when they followed the star.

Do you think they were surprised to find a stable instead of a palace? And instead of a king on a throne, who did they find? Baby Jesus, wrapped in a simple cloth and lying in an animal’s manger on a bed of hay. They knelt down to worship the baby and offered their special gifts. Which one do you think was the most valuable? (Kids answer).

That was a trick question! The most special gift in that stable wasn’t the myrrh, frankincense, or even the gold. It was the baby in the manger! Jesus is a gift from God, a gift of love that he sent here for all of us. A gift that every person can receive, not just at Christmas, but every day. That’s a greater treasure than even my gold coin!

Let us pray…

Youth Blessing: “Go My Children With My Blessing”  946LUYH

9:30 Youth & Chancel Choir: “Glorious Light”

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:1-6a; Isaiah 9:2-7  Peter Hengstman, Nicole D’Angelo

Matthew 1:1-6
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

Isaiah 9:2-7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;  they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Scripture Response: “Joy to the World” VU59 verse 1

Morning Message: “Family Ties”  Gill Le Fevre

When Rev. Jim told me that the Advent and Christmas theme this year was “The Message of Nativity Scenes,” the historian in me lit up with joy, for Nativity scenes are a major feature in Christian art over the centuries. I find it fascinating to see, through the different approaches and emphases, the changes in people’s understanding of the Nativity event and what it meant to them, and there’s a surprising amount of theology in many of the earliest styles.

By the time of the Italian Renaissance, however, practical concerns had also arisen for artists, and  Nativity artworks were a highly desirable way for artists to demonstrate their appreciation of their patrons, by featuring them and their families in the characters surrounding the main event.

In this painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio, not only have the wise men been joined by John the Baptist, but their retinue has been elaborated to include the patron who commissioned the work and several wealthy local leaders. Ghirlandaio was famous for this — he’s described as having a particular talent for being able to combine portraits of people who were his contemporaries within the religious stories he was painting, “bringing him great popularity and many large commissions.”

It’s ironic then that in this scene, we see more members of several Renaissance families than we do of the Holy Family. In fact, we generally never see much of Jesus’ family in a Nativity scene beyond Mary and Joseph, but perhaps surprisingly, we do learn about it in the Gospel Nativity accounts.

We read this morning from the Gospel of Matthew a portion of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. This is how Matthew chooses to open his Gospel, to start his account of Jesus’ life — by establishing Jesus’ human lineage. You’d be forgiven for skipping right over it, because it’s not exactly riveting reading; yet Matthew gives this part of his Nativity story more attention than Jesus’ actual birth itself.

As we heard, there are names that are likely familiar to us — Abraham, Isaac, King David — along with countless others that are unknown and largely unpronounceable. Matthew is going to great lengths to demonstrate the tangible connection Jesus has to the history of the people of Israel. Which is why it is such a surprise to find, side by side with names such as Jacob and Boaz, not one, but four women. In his overwhelmingly male and substantially royal genealogy, Matthew goes out of his way to include Tamar and Rahab, and Ruth and Bathsheba.

Canadian author, Ann Voskamp, writes:

“The family tree of Christ startlingly notes not one woman but
four. Four broken women—women who felt like outsiders, like
has-beens, like never-beens.
Women who were weary of being taken advantage of,
of being unnoticed, and uncherished and unappreciated;
women who didn’t fit in, who didn’t know how to keep going,
what to believe, where to go—women who had thought
about giving up. And Jesus claims exactly these who are
Wandering
And wondering
And wounded
And worn out
As His.
He grafts you into His line and His story and His heart, and
He gives you His Name, his lineage, his righteousness.”

Four broken women. Women who endured adversity and uncertainty and fear. Women who anchor Matthew’s genealogy in the reality of human life and struggle. As the author Nia Anderson writes, “people want to think that Jesus came from generations of water-walkers and miracle-makers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Because it turns out that when the Bible says Jesus became like us “in every respect,” God hadn’t held back. Jesus comes from a family with as many awkward and embarrassing and even shameful ancestors as any modern-day soap opera could wish for.

Indeed, Tamar’s experience is so salacious, and even immoral, that you’ll likely be surprised it’s in the Bible at all; let alone having her highlighted as one of Jesus’ ancestors.

Tamar’s story is in the book of Genesis, chapter 38, and when we first meet her, she is married to the eldest of three brothers, who Genesis tells us is not a good man. He dies, and in accordance with ancient marriage customs, the middle brother must now father a child with Tamar. But this second brother refuses to honour his duty and he also dies.

At this point, Judah (Tamar’s father-in-law) both blamed and feared Tamar and, deliberately deceiving Tamar with empty promises, he denies her any of the expected alternatives, which were: to marry Tamar to the third brother; to have Judah himself act as surrogate; or to release Tamar to marry again.

Tamar is completely out of options — she’s being lied to by Judah, who has told her to wait until the third brother is older, and as a widow, she is utterly dependent on Judah for her very survival.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute, seduces Judah and conceives. When the pregnancy is discovered, Judah must have thought it was a most fortuitous way out of his obligations, and he is swift and resolute in his condemnation of Tamar — specifically, she is to be burned.

Except that when Judah was with Tamar, he had given her his signet ring as an IOU until he could pay her, and facing ruin, she produces the ring. Judah’s triumph turns to shame as he is revealed to be the father and he belatedly acknowledges his responsibilities and Tamar’s ultimate integrity.

Tamar’s story is a reminder that, to quote the American preacher, Amy Starr Redwine, we are invited to “Look beneath the surface of Christmas and find God even there, on the darker side of the holidays—right alongside the loneliness, the family conflict, the financial anxiety, the grief, the fear that right after Christmas Day our problems and the world’s problems will all still be with us.”

The inclusion of Tamar and Jacob reassures us all that there is no-one whose life is so off the rails that there isn’t a place for them with God.

This is God’s grace in action — that God chooses to use those who are cast out and betrayed, rejected and friendless, to help make up Jesus’ family history.

And it is this grace which is the foundation of our joy. Our joy that lives in the power and promise of God who “redeems what is broken, mends what is torn and shattered, and gives life to that which has died.”

So we proclaim and celebrate the joy that God is with us, and the joy of God’s promises to love and care for us, to include us and save us.

For author Timothy Paul Jones, this joy was put to the test when he and his wife planned a family trip to Disney World.

Their middle daughter had previously been adopted by another family, but that relationship had fallen apart and, aged eight, Skylar came to join the Jones’ family.

Now for unknown reasons, whenever Skylar’s previous family had visited Disney World, she had been left with a family friend. Usually — at least in Skylar’s mind — this happened because she had done something wrong.

When Timothy found this out, he wanted to fix the hurt, and decided to take the whole family to Disney World the next time his work required him to travel to Florida.

Timothy had been to Disney World before, so he thought he was prepared for the frenzied anticipation that the trip would create. He never imagined what he describes as the “downright devilish behavior” their newest daughter produced. He writes:

“In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her a snack. She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and, as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.”

Confrontation was inevitable, and so Timothy sat his daughter down to talk. She preempted him: “I know what you’re going to do,” she stated flatly. “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”

I’ll let Timothy tell the story from here:

“The thought hadn’t actually crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense. She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage. The easiest response would have been, “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you” — but, by God’s grace, I didn’t. Instead, I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed. “Are you part of this family?” She nodded again. “Then you’re going with us. Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family, and we’re not leaving you behind.”

I’d like to say that her behaviour grew better after that moment. It didn’t. Her choices pretty much spiralled out of control at every hotel and rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista.”

But they went, and had their day in the magic kingdom. And in the hotel room that evening, a very different child was present; the rebellion was over.

As Timothy tucked Skylar into bed, he asked her how her day had been.

“Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World. But it wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.”

It wasn’t because I was good; it’s because I’m yours.

Tamar and Skylar both share a deep pain at the way in which life had treated them. In different ways, they both hurt and feared for what was to become of them.

While their circumstances were specific, the pain they felt is universal. They, like us, are part of the people walking in darkness.

And it is to these people, through the prophet Isaiah, that God makes his promise: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”

The verbs are important here. “The people walking in darkness, on those living in the land of deep darkness.” They’re active and ongoing verbs. The joy that we are promised through God-with-us does not end the darkness, but rather transforms it.

So here is the source of our joy — the great light that is the love and life of Jesus the Christ, the light of all people. And here is our present tense reality. We are walking in darkness, then and now; we are living in the land of deep darkness.

And in this reality, accepting of our reality, we are promised that a light has dawned.

The author Ross Gay asks, “What if joy is not only entangled with pain, or suffering, or sorrow, but is also what emerges from how we care for each other through those things?”

For Timothy, there was joy to be found in a deepening love that could endure challenging and tumultuous times. For his daughter Skylar, there was joy to be found in discovering a belonging that she could not rebel her way out of.

And for us, there is joy to be claimed in the freedom that every day we start afresh with God’s love, that we cannot rebel our way out of; joy to be shared as with God’s help we can seek and affirm our love for this world.

We are called to remember the journey that is our life and invited to proclaim that we do not walk this journey alone. We are guided, encouraged, and blessed with the light that is Christ.

Our joy endures, in the darkness and despite the darkness, because the light of Christ shines on.

Praise be to God!

Pastoral Prayer

Holy One, God with us, be the light in our darkness this day.
As we have lit the candle of hope, we pray for hope, for our world that hurts everywhere.
We pray for those for whom this is a time of uncertainty, for those awaiting results or treatment, for those worrying about money or work.

Christ, Lord of our salvation, hear our prayer.

As we have lit the candle of peace, we pray for peace, for our world that fights everywhere.
We pray for those whose lives have been destroyed by war. We pray especially for those suffering because of the war in Ukraine: for those dying to protect their country; for those displaced by the violence, facing this Christmas in a strange land; and for those struggling to remain in their homes, trying to survive without power and water.

Christ, Prince of Peace, hear our prayer.

As we have lit the candle of joy, we pray for joy, for our world that weeps everywhere.
Be with those who grieve or fear at this time. Be with the lonely, and help them find community. Be with the empty, and help them find meaning.

Christ, our heavenly redeemer, hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we give thanks for the loving gift of Your Son, Christ Jesus, and Your assurance that You are by our side evermore.
Let our voices and our lives be lifted up in praise to your almighty truth.
Glory to God in the Highest.

Amen.

Hymn: “Joy is Now in Every Place”  45VU

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Giving with joy requires us to prayerfully give thanks for all we have been blessed with. To look out from our darkness and see the unwavering light of God. To acknowledge in our darkness that God is here with us. And to proclaim through the darkness that nothing is impossible with God, and so we give and serve and hope, that God’s kingdom continue to light up our lives and our world.

♥  by secure online payment from your debit or credit card. Click here to go to our donation page to make a single or recurring donation. Multiple funds 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 Hymn: “Here Our Gifts We Offer God”  (tune Good King Wenceslas)

Here our gifts we offer, God,
Thankful for your blessings.
Take them, Spirit, use them to
Spread the joyful message
That Christ comes to bring to us
Life for all creation.
May our gifts help bring to all
Love and transformation.

Offering Prayer

All: Joyful and abundant God,
We rejoice in the overflowing magnitude of your gifts to us. Of the hope and promise that calls us forward with you into each new day. Of the peace and comfort that reassures us when life goes astray. Of your generosity and grace that knows no end.
Bless our gifts this morning, that they may bring hope to those in despair, peace to those in distress, and joy to all they reach, that in your love we are all seen, rescued and healed.
Amen.

Hymn: “Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing”  425VU

Benediction

Walking in darkness, yet walking in joy, we rejoice in the promise of God’s love and mercy.
May that love enfold you in the days ahead, guiding you, sheltering you and sustaining you.
May that mercy comfort you in your dark times, dawning anew each day.
And may the God of joy fill you with all hope and peace in believing, so that you may abound in joy by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Closing Hymn:  “Walk in the Light”

Announcements

Scripture Readers: Peter Hengstman, Nicole D’Angelo


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, December 7, 2022