Virtual Service – December 12, 2021

2:00 pm

December 12, 2021

Virtual Service - recorded at 9:30am

Welcome to virtual church!

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text.
• View the video below
• Read this week’s announcements and complete service on our website
• 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

WHITE GIFT SUNDAY Giving – On behalf of many recipients, the Outreach Committee thanks you for your generous donations to White Gift Sunday on December 5th,  2021.
We delivered a van load of gifts and hats, mitts, socks, scarves to Hamilton; we delivered a mixed car load to Safety Net in Oakville and made two deliveries of outerwear to Kerr Street Mission, in Oakville. GIFT CARDS and cash to grocery stores, etc. were most appreciated, allowing many families to have that special Christmas.
Thank you so much in advance from your Outreach Committee and from the many recipients.

• Christmas Services Update:  It’s been a long wait, but we are so happy to invite you to celebrate Christmas at Walton, both in person and virtually this year. While we won’t have our traditional live storytellers service for the littlest ones this year, watch your email for a link to one of our favourite storyteller’s services from years past.  This is a great opportunity to snuggle up with your young kids and a cup of warm cocoa to worship together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in the comfort of your home. As well, we will be offering two identical in-person services on Christmas Eve at 5:00pm and 7:30pm, along with a virtual version which will be shared via email, on Facebook and on YouTube at 4:30pm. Registration for both in-person Christmas Eve services, as well as our Boxing Day service on Sunday, December 26, will open at 9:00am on Monday, December 20. Registration links will be on the Walton Church website as usual, or you may call or email the church office. Please note you may only register for one service on December 24th, not both. If registration is full when you register, please use the wait list option provided. We will be able to open up more spaces once registration has closed and family bubbles are assigned seats.
A Virtual Christmas Day Service will be sent out on Saturday, December 25th, at 2:00pm. Merry Christmas!

•Christmas Benevolent Fund Memorials- Benevolent FundEveryone has the opportunity to make a special memorial gift to Walton at Christmas time, in memory of a loved one, friend or family member.
You are invited to make your memorial gift:
•  By credit/debit card through the website by clicking here
•  By texting a dollar amount followed by the word “Christmas” to 84321. Please also email your dedication message to stuart@waltonmemorial.com
By cash/cheque through the church office — remember to attach your dedication message.
These memorial donations will be dedicated at a special time in the worship service on Sunday, December 19th, 2021. This list will also be emailed out after Christmas. In order for your donation to be included in the Christmas dedication, it must be received by Friday, December 17th, 2021.
All Christmas memorial donations will go to the Benevolent Fund, which is a confidential fund, managed by Rev. Gill with help from other staff, to help people in need due to illness, unemployment, or some unexpected accident, setback or tragedy.  Every year it helps people in the 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. All donations to the Benevolent Fund receive a tax receipt.

•  A reminder for all live services: You must register in advance each week. Registration opens at 9:00am on Monday and closes at 11:59pm on Thursday night. Please cancel if you are unable to attend.

• Sam’s Lady Rose Relish and Sam’s Bread & Butter Pickles (a very limited quantity) is available for purchase at $5.00 each, from the Church Office.

Offering Envelope @ Walton United Church, Oakville, OntarioWalton’s 2022 givings envelopes are now available for pickup.  You are invited to drop by the church and ring the doorbell and we will bring your box out to you during the week. On Sunday mornings, you may notice your givings box is sitting in your assigned pew. Yes, if your name is on the top, those are for you.

• The Prayer Box has returned to our worship services. You are invited to drop your prayer into the Prayer Box on your way into service; it is on the table as you enter the Sanctuary.  Each week the box filled with prayers will be brought forward with the offering plate and placed on the Communion table, and then will be passed onto the prayer chain. Of course, you can always call the church or email any prayer request you may have through the church office any day of the week as we did through our Covid closure.

Walton Kids - Croma posterChildren and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. Today’s Advent character teaches us how to become Christmas superstars, no matter how young or small we are.

• 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.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our holiday services!


Honouring the Land and Territory

Halton Region, as we know it today, is rich in the history and modern traditions of many First Nations and the Métis. From the lands of the Anishinabe to the Attawandaron, the Haudenosaunee, and the Métis, these lands surrounding the Great Lakes are steeped in Indigenous history. 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 third Sunday of Advent, as today we celebrate the joy we have in God’s love.

As we worship today, we hold in our hearts all those for whom this Advent season is a time of grief or sorrow. We pray for comfort and community to lift up those in need.

Now, whether you are worshiping online or in the sanctuary, we give thanks for your time and your presence here in worship as we seek to encounter the joyful and abundant love of our redeemer God.

Call to Worship

One: As we journey through Advent, may our path be guided with the light of God’s gift of hope.
All: Nurture and encourage us to find hope in each new day.

One: When uncertainty holds us back, may our steps be made steady by the comfort of God’s gift of peace.
All: Soothe and sustain us to encounter each other in peace. 

One: When we can’t see the road ahead, may our travels be eased by the promise of God’s gift of joy.
All: Nourish us and lighten our load through gratitude and joy.

Opening Prayer

All:  Joyful and uplifting God, we give thanks for your most tender and merciful blessing of joy in our lives.In times of darkness and trouble, we welcome the glimmer of your promise of joy, flickering like a candle that reminds us we are never apart from you, God. When we feel alone or lost, reassure us with the glow of your joy in us, burning like a beacon to guide our way. For those days when it all comes together, we give thanks for the radiance of abundant joy, blazing like the sun and lighting up our world. Inspire us always to kindle the light of joy in our hearts, that it will keep us close to you and shine into the world to warm the lives of all those around us.
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 Candlelighting: Advent III – Joy

(as the first candle is lit)
One: On the first Sunday of Advent we lit a candle for hope.
(as the second candle is lit)
Two: Our second candle was lit for peace.
(The third candle is lit)
Three: Today we light a candle for joy. This is the joy we search for:
One: The joy that comes when we go out of our way to help others, the joy that overcomes fear and repression, the joy that Jesus brought to the downtrodden and despised.
Two: The joy that chuckles out from a young baby, the joy that is in the energy of a street hockey game, the joy that comes with a new job and is found in the purposeful retirement.
Three: The joy of compassionate friendship, the joy of a Christian faith that is central to all we do and are.
One: A joy to release us,
Two: A joy to delight us
Three: A joy to encourage us
One: A joy to challenge the despair in our hearts, and our town and among the hopeless of our world.  Amen.

Hymn: “Hope Is A Star”

Joy is a song that welcomes the dawn,
Telling the world that the Saviour is born.
When God is a child there’s joy in our song.
The last shall be first and the weak shall be strong,
and none shall be afraid.

Youth Story:  “Joy”

On this third Sunday of Advent, we are talking about joy. I have two balloons here with happy faces on them, one represents happiness and one represents joy. You know they aren’t the same, happiness and joy?

Well, happy is something you feel, or experience, where joy is something that is inside you.  It is one of the gifts of the spirit and it is part of our being. It’s how we feel on the inside, it is the joy that God gives us. Where happiness is something we feel and tends to depend on the things around us.

You know when you are happy and bad things happen, Val lights a candle to represent bad things that can happen like failing a test or getting a flat tire. Val holds the happy balloon over the candle, and the happy balloon blows up.  So being happy is only temporary.  But if you have joy inside you, and unfortunately bad things happen (Val relights the candle) If you have the love and joy of God in your heart, the bad things still happen and it isn’t very nice, but the joy doesn’t blow up, or leave, it weathers through the bad times. Val puts the balloon over top of the flame, and the balloon doesn’t blow up. It stays the same, the joy is still there!

Wow, that is amazing, what a wonderful gift God has given us. The joy of God is always there, to help us get through those unsettling, uncomfortable, terrible times. The gift of joy is a gift that God gives us, and God’s gifts are forever.  Joy, what an amazing gift that is!

We should thank God, let’s pray:   Loving God,  we thank you for the joy you give us, even though we have to hunt for it sometimes. Thank you for always giving joy to us. Help us to get through the bad times, help us to get through them looking to you in prayer and in comfort. We pray all this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Soloist: “Will You Come to the Manger” Stuart Le Fevre

 

Scripture Readings:  Micah 5:2-5a, Ruth 4:9-17

Micah 5:2-5a – The Ruler from Bethlehem

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.
If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers.

Ruth 4:9-17

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the name of the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.” Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you produce children in Ephrathah and bestow a name in Bethlehem;  and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

The Genealogy of David
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”  Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Morning Message: “A World of Un-”  Gill Le Fevre

It is the wormiest of ear-worms, a Christmas song that will wriggle into your head and stay there all day.

If I could sing, which is of course currently restricted, and to be honest given it’s me that’s a good thing… but if I could sing, this would be in your head all day.

<Linda plays>

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.

Until we moved to Canada, I had never heard of this song, and was blissfully ignorant of its charms. And then one day, my husband Stuart comes home from choir practice humming a few bars.

It had somehow come up in conversation and the others couldn’t believe we’d never heard of it. Stu thought the kids would love it. I’m fairly sure he also thought it would drive me nuts. And he was right on both counts.

And so it became part of our Christmas tradition, because after all — what’s more compelling than a jaunty, catchy song that you know winds your mother up? It basically marks the start of Christmas preparations in our home, easily beating the tree and decorations by almost a week.

Don’t tell anyone, but somehow along the way, I started to like the song too.

Now it helps that I’ve got this private murder-mystery subtext going on, which I can explain another time, but there’s no escaping the quirky pleasure of an upbeat tune so relentlessly at odds with the somber lyrics.

This song brings me unexpected joy.

And it’s a relief to have something enjoyable be unexpected every once in a while, as we continue to find ourselves in the midst of so much unexpected struggle.

Indeed, to describe the turmoil and upheaval of the last two years as unexpected, is something of an understatement.

I read this week that the word of the year chosen by the Oxford English dictionary is vax. Not unexpected in the slightest. But looking back over the last two years, I think we could make a good case for the prefix un-.

We started with unforeseen, a favourite of leaders around the world, political and corporate, trying to explain why they were caught off guard, as our former way of life rapidly shut down.

We moved very quickly to unprecedented; a glimmer of compassion and recognition that yes, the changes we are living through are tough – Isolating, confusing, exhausting.

Unfortunately in the last two years, we’ve seen plenty of unimaginable and unacceptable. Toilet roll shortages now seem to be an almost-quaint problem to deal with, as we’ve since experienced acrimonious fighting, even violent outbursts, over measures such as mask mandates and vaccine passports.

And we find ourselves now, facing another winter, grappling with another variant, challenged by a virus that never quite behaves the way we expect it to.

These times are unpredictable and uncertain.

We are living, it feels, in a world of un-.

As Reverend Jim explained two weeks ago, this year our Advent-Christmas series of messages is called, “What Nativity Character are you?” And for the message this week, I chose Bethlehem. Not at all, an unexpected choice.

At Christmas-time, Bethlehem takes centre-stage; it’s Royal David’s City, and it gets top billing in all the nativity plays and celebrations.

But our readings today show us a Bethlehem before the census, before Mary and Joseph and a donkey.

A Bethlehem that knew uncertainty; a Bethlehem that struggled with war and destruction, insecurity and famine. A Bethlehem that experienced darkness.

You wouldn’t immediately see this from the reading from Micah, with its forward-looking promise of peace, but reading around these verse shows us just how badly the people of Israel needed this encouragement.

Troops are massed on their borders, the country is virtually under siege, and a foreign ruler is intimidating and provoking.

It’s hard to tell if I’m reading from the book of Micah or the front pages of the Globe and Mail.

The people of Israel were facing an unimaginable prospect, as Micah foretold their downfall as a nation, and the destruction of Jerusalem. And the best they can hope for is a shepherd from the unlikely, underwhelming village of Bethlehem.

And then there’s Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. Their back story was rife with unhappiness and uncertainty – the death of Naomi’s husband and sons; Ruth’s unexpected pledge of loyalty to Naomi, their journey into the unknown, back to Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem in the unenviable status of widows, relying entirely on charity to survive.

And yet, God brings out of Bethlehem, unexpected joy.

The unexpected strength of a shepherd-leader, caring for his sheep; protecting them, comforting them, bringing them peace.

Yes, this passage is often read as a foretelling of the birth of Jesus, the paramount shepherd-leader, but when we focus only on that, then we rather miss the whole point.

This was not a one-time prediction of a future event. This is God reaching out to the people of Israel, being present in their uncertain despair, and reminding them – no, promising them – that God sees them.

This is present-tense salvation; the deep comfort of God’s lovein a world of un.

And for Ruth and Naomi, God brings to them in Bethlehem, unexpected joy.

Ruth gives birth to a son who shall be “a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.”

And the women of the village are exuberant in lifting up Ruth, whom they proclaim, is worth more than seven sons.

In a culture where security was inherently linked with a male relative, the undying loyalty of a woman has provided Naomi’s survival.

This is present-tense salvation; the joyful relief ofGod’s provision in a world of un.

And if Ruth’s story, shared with us in the Book of Ruth is unusual, her other mention in the Bible is virtually unprecedented.

Because you’ll find Ruth’s name in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, as Matthew recounts the genealogy of Jesus. And there amidst the Hezekiah’s and Jacob’s and Zadok’s of the ancient world, is Ruth. One of only four women unexpectedly named in Jesus’ family tree.

Jesus’ story, inextricably linked to God’s care for God’s people in their time.

This is what we are called to celebrate in Advent and Christmas – not the one-time historical event that was the birth of a baby, but the unbreakable promise of God’s care for God’s people in the centuries before and since the birth of Jesus.

God’s promise to care for us, to bring us joy amidst despair, is offered to us as much as it was spoken through Micah and given to Ruth and Naomi.

This promise is beautifully expressed in George Matheson’s famous hymn: O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go.

Describing the strength given to us through God’s love, Matheson wrote:

O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow thro’ the rain,and feel the promise is not vain – that morn shall tearless be.

It is the promise and the strength that John Bunyan, the seventeenth-century Puritan preacher and author, drew on when his life took an unwelcome turn.

It was 1675 and Bunyan found himself arrested for preaching without a license – now, don’t do getting any ideas – Bunyan refused to stop preaching and he was sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment.

And Puritan preachers being those law-abiding citizens much loved by the British establishment, this was not Bunyan’s first spell inside. In fact, he’d managed to spend 12 years in jail, so he knew what awaited him.

He is reported to have said, “I have been away from my writing too long. Maybe this is not so much a prison as an office from which I can reach the world with Christ’s message.”

Now, ok, these are unlikely to have been Bunyan’s exact words but there’s no escaping the undeniable truth they contain because it was while he was in prison that Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the most significant works of religious fiction ever written.

You might have noticed, amongst all the un- words, I haven’t yet used unbearable. And no, I’m not saving it up for a crashing climax. I haven’t used it, because it’s not part of this story; it’s not part of God’s story, then or now.

The unexpected joy that God promises calls us to a way of looking at the world – of finding the security of family lineage in a daughter-in-law, of seeing an office in a prison cell – a way of looking at the world that sees God at work in everything.

The German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, emphasises this determination:

Tell us, poet, what do you do?
                         — I praise.

But the dreadful, the monstrous, and their ways,
how do you stand them, suffer it all?
                         — I praise.

But the anonymous, featureless days,
how, poet, can you ask them to call?
                          — I praise.

These are not romantic rose-tinted glasses at work, but a defiant vision of the world – grounded in reality, but refusing to be undone by it.

To make this even more tangible, more livable, I offer this advice: in the meantime, if it can’t be happy, make it beautiful.[1]

If it can’t be happy, make it beautiful.

As we make our journey, through Advent and through life; as we crave the joyful relief ofGod’s provision, a resolution to the unhappiness that is too common for too many that we know and love, we can hold on to this:

We can always make it beautiful.

Watching a sunrise or the night’s first star in an indigo sky; a good book, lent or borrowed, the smell of hot chocolate as the marshmallow starts to melt.

The beauty of God’s creation, the comfort of God’s blessings contain joy in every day.

Present-tense salvation, and an antidote to this world of un.

Praise be to God.

[1] Sam Wells, St Martin in the Fields, Journal for Preachers, Advent 2021

Pastoral Prayer

Illuminating God, who brings light in our darkness, whose word shows us the way, be with us on our Advent journey.

Like Ruth, when our journey takes us to unfamiliar places and unknown people, bring us hope.

We pray for those who face uncertainty in their lives, facing unwelcome change or difficult decisions. Guide them and us to see your purpose in our days and to find meaning in our confusion. Encourage us with signs of your presence in our lives.

Like Micah, when our journey is beset by threats and we feel engulfed by upheaval, bring us peace.

We pray for those whose lives are troubled by conflict and those who are living in fear. Help them and us find strength in unexpected places and release us from all that is causing us pain. Protect us with the reassurance of our value in your eyes.

Like Naomi, when our journey involves loss and we cannot see beyond our anguish, bring us joy.

We pray for those for whom this Advent season is a time of sadness, and for whom a celebration seems impossible this year. Comfort them and us with the reminder that we are each loved and treasured by you. Sustain us with the witness of your care for us.

Faithful God, our shepherd and our saviour, enfold us in your eternal love, today and always.

Amen.

Anthem: “Christmas is Coming” The Waltones

 

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

It can be difficult to give in joy when we are surrounded by so much talk of shortages and cutbacks. And yet Jesus teaches us and reassures us that even a cup of cold water is precious in God’s sight. We give then, as we are able, freely and joyfully, trusting in God’s abundant love.

♥  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 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

All: Generous God,
We confess that we do not always give joyfully, free from fear or judgment. Forgive us when we let our desires constrain our compassion, or allow small-mindedness to limit our outreach. Rescue us from greed and envy and open our hearts to grow in gratitude for all you provide in our lives. Help us to recognize the need in this world and notice where our gifts can make a difference. By the power of your almighty love, transform our offering to embrace your children and heal their pain. Amen.

Benediction

Go out this day blessed by the love of our joyful God who delights in you and your Advent journey. Take the joy God has in you and let it radiate in your soul, warming you and all those you meet. Share your joy in this season as a holy gift to God. Amen.


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, December 9th