Virtual Service – February 20, 2022

8:30 am

February 20, 2022

Virtual Serivce

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

•Virtual Annual General Meeting – Walton’s Annual General Meeting will take place virtually via Zoom on Sunday, February 27th at 12:15 pm.  On Friday, Feb 11th, we sent an important email containing the meeting agenda, step-by-step instructions for joining the meeting, a link to the 2021 Annual Report, and instructions for those requiring a printed copy of the Annual Report. If you did not receive this email, or if you require a printed Annual Report, please contact the church office.
The CVITP Committee (Community Volunteer Income Tax Program) will begin making appointments in 2022 for March and April. If you need help filing your return, have a modest income, and a simple tax situation, the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program may be able to help you. For details about the Free Tax Clinic, you can visit the following online page: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/free-tax-help.html or call Ruth at 905-631-6188 or John at  905-869-1484 for further details. Tax assistance will be by appointment only – if we remain on COVID watch, we will operate out of the Walton parking lot, and by phone and by e-mail/internet.  If the closure has been somewhat lifted, we will have you come to Walton masked for an appointment with a tax preparer.
Do you need a space for your club, community group, or business service? Walton is now accepting bookings for rentals. We have large and small spaces available that are ideal for:
Room Rentals @ Walton United Church• One-on-one music instruction (piano provided)
• Tutoring
• Parent/child groups
• Small group fitness or dance classes
• Arts & crafts instruction
• Meetings and more
Our wheelchair accessible facility offers a convenient location, reasonable rates and plenty of parking. Rentals are subject to capacity limits and other Covid restrictions. For more information about available rooms and rates or to book a tour, please contact office@waltonmemorial.com
Walton Kids - Croma poster• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. Today’s Bible story is about something that definitely fits our “Ewwww!” theme – stinky feet!
• 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

Val:  Good Morning and Welcome to Walton Memorial United Church’s Virtual Service! Here we are on this Family Day Weekend.
Jim:  Hey Val, I have a question for you? These historically dedicated doors behind us, how many families do you think have gone through these Walton historic doors?  I mean, how many families have gone through these doors since 1912 when they were put in?
Val:   Jim, I’m not very good at Math. But how many families since 1912?  I don’t know….   A LOT!!!
Jim:  Thousands and thousands. Maybe you have gone through them, or maybe you are waiting to go through them again. Maybe coming through the doors for the first time. So today as a family of faith we are only worshiping virtually. But this family is so important.
Val:  It is! Our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jim:  On this Family Day Weekend, we invite you to come and let us worship.
Val:   Let us join together in the call to worship.

Call to Worship

One:  The call to worship resounds in our lives;
Two: Vibrating in our hearts, stirring the comfort of our days.
One:  We are called out—
Two: Challenged to recognize the shortcomings in our lives by our God who is always merciful and forgiving.
One: We are called upon—
Two: Encouraged to serve our compassionate God; to acknowledge the injustice in our world and to seek to push back against it.
One:We are called in—
Two:Invited to worship our generous God, whose arms are always open, whose embrace is always waiting to enfold us in his love.
Both: Come, let us answer the call.

Opening Prayer

Patient and persistent God,

Tune our hearts to receive the frequency of your message in the world, and help us hear your call to us. Awaken us to notice the hurt of the world, like the low slow groan of a branch with too much to bear. In your name, bless us with courage and compassion. Prompt us to encourage the hope of the world, like the excited babble of birds soaring up in a bright blue sky. In your name, bless us with enthusiasm and faith. Comfort us to receive your reassurance and acceptance, in the soft, gentle whisper of grasses brushed by the wind. In your name, bless us with peace and renewal.

All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who lived your call of caring, healing and welcoming love, and who taught us when we pray, to say:

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 everyone. I hope you’re having a great day and that nobody has asked you to do anything too difficult! Sometimes people ask us to do things that are so hard, they seem impossible! Well, remember that nothing is impossible with God – and that’s a good thing because he asks us to do some pretty difficult things.

You know in the Bible Jesus told us to love our neighbours as ourselves. Well, that’s not all he said. He specifically tells us we have to love our enemies. How on earth do you do that! Loving someone who is mean to you, or who you don’t like, or who you are at war with? That sounds impossible, but it’s not.

In the Bible there’s a story that reminds us how easy it is to love our neighbours. Maybe you know it; it’s called the Good Samaritan. It’s about a man who got attacked and robbed while he was travelling. He lay bleeding in the road and two people walked past him and didn’t stop to help. And not just any people – one of them was a priest and the other was a Levite, a very important leader at that time. Finally a kind person stopped to help – thank goodness! He was from a place called Samaria, so we call him the Good Samaritan.

But here’s what you might not know: the man who got attacked was a Jew, and the Jews and Samaritans were enemies! They each believed horrible things about the other. But when the Samaritan saw a Jewish man lying bleeding in the road, he didn’t treat him like an enemy, did he? He helped him, he took care of his injuries, he even paid for food and a room until he got better. Why did he show so much love to his enemy? Because it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t impossible – in fact it wasn’t even very difficult! Everyone is worthy of God’s love. We are all equal in his eyes; shouldn’t we be equal in each others’ eyes too? Try to remember that next time you are struggling with someone who is mean, or unkind, or hurting your feelings. Instead of getting angry, or trying to get even, show them love instead. And if that seems hard, ask for God’s help with a prayer:

Loving God, help us to love everyone equally the way you love us equally. Help us to love our enemies the way we love our friends. Help us to share your love, even with people who don’t seem very loveable, and help others love us, even when we aren’t being very loveable. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Anthem:  “God Speaks His Love”

 

Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-38

Love for Enemies

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.

For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Morning Message: “Uncomfortable Joy”    Gill Le Fevre

I have only recently started watching the hit show, Ted Lasso. In fact, it’s a telling reflection of our digital life that I’d seen the memes and the gifs long before I watched the first episode.

The upside of that digital memorabilia however is that you can repeat and remember all the quotable moments long after the show is over. Like this one, from early in season one: “Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse, isn’t it? If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

Looking at today’s Bible reading, we could also switch this quote around.

“Listening to Jesus teach is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

Jesus doesn’t really do comfortable lessons, as today’s passage shows.

This is an intense block of Jesus’ teaching. It is placed relatively early in Luke’s gospel, at the start of Jesus’ ministry. Word has spread of Jesus’ healing, and interest is starting to build. Large crowds are starting to gather to listen to Jesus and to be healed.

And so Jesus starts to teach.

His words are startlingly direct, and his intention is nothing less than the transformation of our lives. The faith Jesus inspires, the relationship with God that Jesus proclaims, is wider, deeper, and more active than the faith many have settled into.

He’s not pulling any punches in the passage we heard today. Instead, he emphatically calls out the crowd for letting their faith become too comfortable and narrow.

They were limiting the extent of their love and compassion. They had instead adopted the established ways of their society where relationships were viewed as reciprocal trade-offs. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

A person would treat another with consideration, and generosity even, on the clear expectation of that consideration being repaid. In these relationships it’s easy enough to follow Jesus’ instructions from this reading: love, do good, bless, pray for. Sure, because that all accrues back.

But now Jesus is calling this way of life out as inadequate. “For even sinners love those who love them.” It’s not nearly enough.

Instead we are challenged to attempt the unthinkable, the total opposite. To love our enemies, to extend kindness and compassion with no thought or hope of there being a return.

It’s a very different way of living from the cultural expectation of reciprocity that was the norm. It is equally challenging for us.

And you’re not alone if you think that the teaching Jesus is sharing is frankly a public liability; a short trip to being taken advantage of.

To do good to, to bless and to pray for everyone we encounter; whole-heartedly, without reservation or limitation, unconditionally wanting the well-being of others.

What else have the last two years shown us if not how greatly some people prize their own notion of individual freedom, refusing to do good for our social well being and communal health. In the last few weeks even, how many people have had strangers curse them and shout abuse, for daring to wear a mask.

And these types of people, we are being told to love.

But as I started to wonder what that might look like, it occurred to me that it might look a lot like Ted Lasso.

As one commentator put it, “The show Ted Lasso is not about soccer. It is the story of optimism. The show radiates it.”

“Our world is facing challenging times. We need to see the world through Ted’s eyes. Imagine the life we could lead if we saw every moment as an opportunity.”

I’d go further: imagine the life we could lead if we saw every moment as an opportunity to love.

Like Ted does, we’d see people others overlook; we’d work for the good of the whole, instead of individual wants. We’d lean into tough situations – and relationships – with generosity and hope.

And rather than looking like a liability; well, Ted’s approach looks rather joyful.

And then just when maybe we can start to feel comfortable with this teaching, Jesus ups the ante. Now Jesus is calling upon his listeners to take on a more active faith, to resist the oppression in their society.

Because hidden in the cultural norms and verbal shorthand of the biblical world that Jesus describes in his teaching here, is a powerful challenge urging non-violent protest against injustice.

So when Jesus says, “if anyone…” Well, he doesn’t actually mean anyone. The behaviours Jesus describes were not actions that just anyone at all could do.

“If anyone strikes you on the cheek.” That’s a very specific type of violence to describe. And that’s because Jesus was referring to a very specific situation. There was only one sort of “anyone” who would hit a person on the cheek, and that was a slave owner reprimanding a slave or servant.

And the striking was very specific as well. The master would stand in front of his slave and hit the slave’s right cheek with the back of his right hand. To do this any other way was scorned and would involve an embarrassing loss of face.

So when you turn your head to offer the cheek in this situation, you create an impossible proposition. You’re now offering up your left cheek to be hit, but physically you can’t easily strike a person’s left cheek with the back of your right hand when they’re standing in front of you.

The slave makes the master look ridiculous if he even attempts it. So the slave is standing there, entirely submissive and entirely resistant at the same time; calling attention to the mistreatment and abuse inherent in the act of disciplining and also in the master/slave relationship itself.

Jesus was similarly radical and provocative in his next statement. “If anyone takes away your coat.” But it wasn’t just anyone who would take away a person’s coat. That power imbalance was indicative of the particular behaviour of Roman soldiers and the extortion they could inflict on the population at large.

So when a soldier demands your coat, or your outer garment, give him your shirt – your inner garment – as well. And that leaves you standing there pretty much naked.

Yes, you’re physically exposed and yet at the same time you’re exposing the injustice and abuse that were commonplace in the territories of the Roman empire.

Who are the masters and the soldiers in our lives; who are those who diminish others and expect to get away with it? And how is our society set up to allow this?

I’m sure you can think of people or groups you’d place into this category, and I want to share an example that is personal to me. It might be an unexpected illustration, because oftentimes there is no specific ill intent, but when I think about power imbalances in the workplace, the scenario that immediately springs to mind is a job interview.

It’s a high stakes situation where one party holds all the cards, all the power. Depending on the company or the person, the questions asked could very easily feel like a blow to your face.

And then I read about a blindingly obvious alternative. Unless you’re trying to create an “aha, I tricked you” moment, send the questions in advance. And so since the start of the year, that’s what I’ve done.

It has been transformative in all the interviews I’ve held so far. Applicants have been less stressed and better prepared; I’ve had deeper conversations and made more confident decisions.

It has been a kind of non-violent protest against the structural assumptions of the workplace, which privilege traditionally dominant candidates. It is also subversively joyful.

This is undoubtedly an active and confronting faith that Jesus describes and calls us to, but also one that is richer and more nourishing and joyful.

Jesus promises that when we widen and energize our faith, we will deepen it too, as we are called into an abundant relationship with God. God is caring and merciful, not only viewing the immoral and corrupt with compassion, but also the ungrateful.

“For he is kind to the ungrateful,” Jesus tells us.

I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden, I feel named by Jesus. Seen.

Uncomfortably seen, yes, in that way you might feel when you disappoint someone you care about.

But also reassuringly seen – so that I feel understood and forgiven. Because these are hard teachings to follow. Our society is almost built on the premise that we do not do what Jesus is asking here, and we are after all so very uncomfortably human.

And yet, if we are named by Jesus, we are also reassured by Jesus.

God is kind. As hard as we find the idea of living out these teachings, this is exactly how God lives in relationship with us.

God loves us, blessing us and doing good, expecting nothing in return.

There is a lovely story of a young boy going into a store with his mother. The shop owner kept a large jar of candies to share with his customers and invited the boy to take some. Surprisingly the boy refused, so the shop owner pulled out a handful instead and gave them to him.

Outside the store, the boy’s mother asked why he had been so reluctant to take the handful of candy offered. The boy replied simply, “Because his hand is much bigger than mine!”

That’s the joyful abundance of God’s love.

As Brother Curtis Almquist writes, “Love is of God’s very essence. And love does not exist unless it is given away.”

I find that a powerful and reassuring reminder. Love only exists outside of ourselves. We can’t hoard it or store it up. It only exists when we give it away; an act that is inherently joyful.

And God gives it to us abundantly: “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.” More love than we can contain or hold onto, more than we deserve or appreciate. Overflowing joyous love.

A love to share with others, yes, as we respond to Jesus calling on us to live in this love. And a love to receive for ourselves, as Jesus calls us in to live in God’s love.

Abundantly and eternally loved.

Praise be to God.

Music: “Let His Love Be Found in You”

 

Pastoral Prayer

Eternal and expansive God,

You see the pain of the world, you hear the cries of our hearts. Draw us closer to you in love and hope, that we may hear your word for us.

We ask your forgiveness for the limited and self-centred way we live in the world. Expose for us the ways we are too quick to judge and slow to forgive; too quick to resent and slow to include; too quick to condemn and slow to understand. Ease the pain in our hearts that shuts others out; heal the hurt that feeds our anger. Broaden our narrow view of our lives and remind us of the abundance of your grace to us.

We ask for your blessing of strength and determination, that we might oppose acts of cruelty and oppression in the world. Awaken us to recognize the wrongs inherent in our every day; unsettle us with an understanding of where change is needed and of how we can help. Nurture us to remember the joy of making a difference for others. Broaden our narrow view of our impact and remind us of the abundance of your grace to us.

We ask for your gift of peace and reassurance that we might find comfort in your love for us. Remind us of the overflowing power of your acceptance; encourage us to experience each day with joyful gratitude and praise. Nourish us to draw on your presence in the world and in each other. Broaden our narrow view of your love and remind us of the abundance of your grace to us.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

God has a way of nudging us. When we turn our eyes away from someone struggling, asking for help, or begging on the streets, we look away in fear of getting involved, fear of the look or the state that person is in, fear of our hard-earned money going to drugs, or booze. But truly if we give, we shouldn’t judge how someone is using our gift, otherwise we will never give.

If God was like us humans,  we would never receive any blessings; thank goodness he isn’t.

He gives and loves without judgment, with grace and mercy. The offering will now be received.

♥  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

Hymn: “Take These Gifts” (words by Gill Le Fevre)

 

Offering Prayer

Compassionate God, whose blessings overflow in our lives, help us live out your call to us more closely. Inspire us to resist injustice that relentlessly spreads cruelty and pain. Encourage us to stare down prejudice that fosters hostility and violence. Spur us to love courageously and abundantly, to manifest your kingdom here and now. May these gifts today show our commitment to your merciful love and healing, shared for all your children. Amen.

Benediction

Go forward today with the call of God booming in your life. A call to care for the world and all those around us. A call to resist the selfishness and fear that feeds pain. And a call to love and be loved with an abundance of joy and mercy. Amen.

Hymn: “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”


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!

• Open the Eyes of My Heart
• Be Still and Know
• Spirit, Open My Heart
• Come to My Heart
• Change My Heart O God

 


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, February 16th