Virtual Service – February 26, 2023

2:00 pm

February 26, 2023

Welcome to virtual church!

Today’s service will be offered in several formats – View the video below,  read this week’s announcements and service below or 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

∼ Annual Meeting – Please join us today, Sunday, February 26th, at 12:00 pm for the Annual Meeting in  Bronte Hall.  All are welcome to attend. The 2022 Annual Report is now available electronically and in print. Please contact the church office to request your copy.

∼ New to Walton? Are you visiting today? Welcome! Please feel free to ask the ushers if you have any questions during the service and we invite you to fill out a welcome card in the pew racks and leave it in an offering plate at one of the doors. Please join us for coffee, tea or cold drinks and conversation in Bronte Hall after the 9:30 service ends and before the 11:00 am service begins. There you’ll also find the Welcome Centre with information about Walton and someone to chat with. Walton nametags, hats, pickles etc. are also available for purchase.

∼ Walton’s Outreach Committee would like to offer a different way to recognize the season of Lent this year. Starting Ash Wednesday we have prayer themes for each week taking us to Easter Sunday. Please join us in praying for these areas of concern. Each week there is a short scripture and prayer; please add your own as you feel guided. The sheets will be available on the table near the entrance to the Sanctuary on Sunday and an electronic copy will be posted with the Sunday Service for each Sunday of Lent. Thank you for your faithful support of Outreach activities at Walton.

∼ Fruit of the Vine – Green-Themed Trivia Night – Tuesday, February 28th 7:30pm to 9:00pm – Wear your best green, break out the St. Paddy’s accessories, and join us for fun, conversation, and community. There will be a prize for the best-dressed green attendee! To keep this event accessible to as many Walton Women (and their friends) as possible, the event will be free. Walton’s Covid-19 precautions are still in place, so please wear a mask. Maybe you even have a green one? Bring a charged device so you can participate in the trivia. A phone or tablet works well. RSVP: This is helpful, but if you need to make a last-minute decision, that’s okay too! Come join us, renew old friendships or make new ones. If you have any questions, send Steph through the office at familyministries@waltonmemorial.com

∼ Naloxone Kits at Walton – Naloxone is a safe antidote for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. It’s safe for everyone and simple to use. We have two kits on hand at Walton in case of emergency: one kit is in the kitchen directly above the first aid kit and the second is in the office. Each kit contains 2 nasal sprays. For more info please speak with Cathy Winn, through the church office.

∼ The CVITP Committee(Community Volunteer Income Tax Program) is beginning to make appointments for March and April 2023. 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.  There is no charge for this assistance. 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 416-840-9418. Tax assistance will be by appointment only – taxes can also be prepared by phone and by e-mail/internet.   As the pandemic closure has been somewhat lifted, we will have you come to Walton Church Allen Entrance for an appointment with a tax preparer, however, you must be masked. Details also found on our website – https://www.waltonmemorial.com/cvitp-tax-clinic/

∼ Hospital – Please let us know if you are going in or are in the hospital; access to patient lists in all hospitals by Walton volunteers and staff hospital visitors has become very limited. If you would like us to know of a procedure, operation, treatment or hospitalization please let the church office know.

∼ Rooms for rent – Looking for somewhere to host a meeting, bridal shower, birthday party, or music recital. exercise classes, sports groups, craft lessons or more? Walton has room for you! We have a number of rental spaces to accommodate groups large and small, for a one-off event or weekly sessions. Contact the church office for more details. See photos on our website – https://www.waltonmemorial.com/room-rentals

∼ Turkey & Syria Earthquake Relief – Walton is now receiving donations to help those who are victims of the Earthquake. Donations can be made online through the Walton website, or by writing a cheque payable to Walton, please put on your cheque “Earthquake Relief,” or cash.  For more information please contact the church office.

∼ Smile! Photographs and videos will be taken throughout our services, programs and special events, to be used on our website, print media, or social media channels. If you do not wish to be photographed, please let us know by contacting the Church Office.

∼ Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. As Lent begins, it’s time for a check-up!

∼ 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.


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: Lenten Tenebrae Candlighting Prayer

Good Morning, and welcome to our worship time at Walton.

We are very happy you could join us this morning as we begin our Lenten Journey. We are going to walk together through Lent each week, as we keep our senses attuned, attentive to God’s Child, the Beloved.

Even when what we experience may make us uncomfortable or afraid, we do not turn away.

Lent 1

(Six candles are lit, as well as the Christ candle.)

One: We suffer when we do not know who we are.
Two: We are constantly tempted by the seduction of power, the glamour of wealth, and ego-gratifying attention.
One: We are drawn into these temptations because we forget who we are and whose we are.
Two: When we forget that we are created in God’s image,
One: we lose our connection to our soul and to our God.
Two: Like fish out of water, we lose our connection to that which gives us life.
One; We then live with consequences, which are hard to bear, for ourselves, for our society, and for our world.

The first candle is extinguished.

Hymn:  “Don’t be Afraid” 90MV

Don’t be afraid.
My love is stronger, my love is stronger than your fear.
Don’t be afraid.
My love is stronger
and I have promised, promised to be always near.

Two:Let us pray.

All:O God, we really do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from you.  Feed us with your wisdom and your truth. Quench our deepest thirst to find the peace that you offer to us.  In this journey of Lent, travel with us as we seek to find our true self, the self you have created us to be. In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Hymn: “Throughout These Lenten Days”   verses 1, 2 & 5 108VU

Call to Worship

One: On this Annual Meeting Sunday, with gratitude for the vision of all those who have come before and gratitude for the vision that will lead us into tomorrow and the years ahead,

All: we come to this place of worship with heads bowed and hearts open.

One: As God’s Spirit has touched the spirits of so many of our forebearers in the faith,

All: may God’s Spirit touch our spirits this day.

One: Come, Holy Spirit, come with your call and vision for this community of faith.

Sheryl Spencer, The Gathering A/C/E 2022/23

9:30 Youth Choir: “Let Us Sing”  L. Fletcher

 

Opening Prayer

All: Loving God, as we enter the season of Lent, we are conscious that Jesus set his path steadfast toward Jerusalem because his focus was strong on how to live his life.

We often consider Lent as a time of restraint, pulling back, but for Jesus, it was a time of moving forward with a strong vision. We often consider it a time of navel-gazing, but for Jesus, it was a time of reaching out.

And so, in these 40 days, we are reminded that Lent, for Jesus and for you, O God, is all about love, daring to notice the needs of people about us, and daring to care for your world.

May the Lenten season be for us, too, a reaching-out time more than a cutting-back time. May it be a season of love, just like it was for Jesus. Amen.

David Lander, while at Castleton-Grafton P.C., Grafton, Ont.

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 Hymn: “When We Are Tested”  verse 1   65 More Voices

Youth Story:  “Inside Out”

Alison: Who remembers Palm Sunday last year? We waved palm branches and yelled “Hosanna!” We even tried to make crosses out of the palm fronds in Sunday School. I say “tried” because I never did figure out how to do it right! Maybe this year Val will teach me. Palm Sunday comes near the end of Lent, just before Good Friday and Easter. Here we are today at the beginning of another Lent season, starting on the road towards Palm Sunday and the road to that Good Friday cross.

Val: Last year’s palm branches are an important part of this year’s Lent. Does anyone know what happens to them? (shows the bowl of ashes and oil). We burn them and use the ashes in a special service called Ash Wednesday, that marks the first day of Lent.

Alison: What do you need ashes for?

Val: When you come to church on Ash Wednesday, we mark the shape of a cross on your forehead with the ashes. (demonstrates on Alison)

Alison: Is that what’s on your face? I just thought it was dirt! I thought you forgot to wash your face this morning.

Val: I have showered since Wednesday, I promise! But the ash is pretty dirty, which makes sense. Because it reminds us of our sins. All the mistakes and bad choices we have made since last year, all the ways we forgot to honour God. It’s because of those sins that Jesus ends up on the cross.

Alison: So when we ask forgiveness for those sins, we get the sign of the cross on our foreheads to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice. He took the punishment for our sins and died on the cross so we could be forgiven. And even though you wash the cross off your face – at least most people do – you can’t wash it off your heart. The sacrifice Jesus made for you stays with you forever.

Val: The cross on your forehead is an outward sign of what happens inside your heart. You are sorry for your mistakes, you let Jesus into your heart and he forgives you. Would any of you like to have the sign of the cross on your forehead?

Val and Alison anoint any children who volunteer

Val: Let’s say a prayer:Loving God, please walk beside us through Lent on our journey to the Good Friday cross. Help us open our minds, our hearts, our ears, and our eyes to all the ways you work for us and through us. Bless us with your love and your forgiveness. Amen.

Hymn:  “When We are Tested” verse 4  65 More Voices

11:00 Chancel Choir: “A Thousand Storms” H. Sorenson

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 4: 1-11

The Testing of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished.

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory,  and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Scripture Response: “Be Still and Know that I Am God” G. Le Fevre, L. Fletcher

Soloist:  Stuart Le Fevre (both services)

Morning Message:  “It would be tempting…” Rev. Jim Gill

“The story of Jesus’ temptation is an interesting yet uncomfortable one for us.” Erik Parker writes. “It is one of the few instances in scripture where people are not part of the story. There are no crowds or disciples, no Pharisees or scribes or temple priests. Just Jesus in the wilderness, fasting and praying. And then a figure who is called three different names appears in order to tempt Jesus. The devil, the tempter and Satan.”

It might be tempting to say there is no evil one in the world. Yet, how do you explain the atrocities in Ukraine, the prosecution of Jesus’ followers in Nigeria and the treatment of women in Afghanistan, just to name a few? The Devil, the tempter, Satan does exist. The power of darkness battles the power of light in the world.

On this first Sunday of Lent 2023, we are talking about Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. Not a place of idyllic lands, full of forests and lakes, as our Canadian wilderness is. Not only a harsh topography but a climate with such extremes between day and night. The story today, Lent I, is about the 3 major temptations of Jesus out in the wilderness over 40 days. Traditionally, this scripture starts off Lent in these 40 days of March and April 2023. The evil one can certainly tempt us in many ways. Maybe not by getting us to jump off the tower of the temple in Jerusalem and being caught by angels, but in other ways that are often more subtle and distant.

One way to tempt us is around our thinking about church life. The scriptures tell these three critical points about us living our relationship in the church’s life:

First: as the church, we are the living body of Christ.

Second: the church is a family.

Third: we are God’s children and are called to be as one as a faith family.

The Pentecost spirit has been given to the church to equip you and me for the mission and ministry Jesus taught us about. Sometimes we are tempted to think the church and consequently, church life is not that important. It is important!

Covid showed so many of us how much we missed so many elements of being a family of faith.

In countries around the world, and there are many, the church is persecuted. Maybe they have a much higher view of church life, for it is so dangerous for those followers of Jesus to experience church life. We may be tempted at times to take those freedoms of gathering, proclaiming and sharing the faith for granted.

It might be tempting to say things like, “What is such a big deal with the meeting today after the second service?” Well, today is our first live Annual Congregational Meeting since those very anxious days in late February 2020, as Covid spread across Canada just before we shut down in mid-March. In 2021 and 2022, Zoom annual meetings were the format. We can now be together again in Bronte Hall with each other and with coffee served. I think that is good news as the story of our faith family in 2022 and 2023 is shared!

It might be tempting to think you do not matter in the post-Covid church. You do matter! You certainly do!  Whether you take part live or virtually you matter very much.

We pray for one another even when apart. People are missed. People are asked about. We try as a family to reach out to each other, to connect, to touch base. Out of sight does not mean out of mind.

When I am shaving each morning I use that time so often to go through our family of faith in my mind. I wonder how so and so’s test went? Did that person get the job I was a reference for? How is that other person managing caring for their frail parent? Did they get the help they needed to set up? It is why I keep paper, or my phone nearby to write notes while I’m shaving. Maybe it is why I miss a few places some mornings with the razor!

I am not the only one who does this family of faith check-in in a variety of different ways. So many of you do it too. From prayer lists to phone lists, to texting or just walking past someone’s place to say hello.

Another significant temptation as we start Lent 2023 is this “Back to the Future” one. It would be tempting to think church life will return to the way it was in 2019. I say to myself at times, “If only we could go back to 2019, then things would be all good.” However, more than ever we cannot go backwards, only forwards. Society and church life especially have fundamentally changed. These changes include working from home, the return of inflation, staying at home in front of the large screen with Netflix while ordering in everything from food to groceries to clothing.

Someone told us recently they were waiting to come back to church life and church activities once everything goes back to the way it was before the pandemic. While that would be great, it’s not likely to happen. The days of a buffet serving system for the turkey dinner, passing the offering plate along the row, shaking hands, open trays of bread and wine passed along the pews, paper bulletins, an unlocked Allen entrance door, seating people closely right beside each other…they will not be returning anytime soon.

The new norm of recorded Sunday services every weekend, mid-week check-ins every week, registering primarily online for most events or activities from VBS to Bible Study and donating virtually are only a few of the changes to church life since 2019. Congregations have live and virtual believers every week gathering in worship, service and learning. These changes are not limited to Walton, the United Church of Canada or even Canada itself.

Talking about online giving – today’s Annual Meeting is about reviewing last year’s financials and approving this year’s budget. The last 3 to 4 years or so have changed Walton’s financial situation from what it has been historically. It would be tempting to think your gift is not important to the life of this family of faith. It certainly is critical, now more than ever!

Basically, over the last 3 years, fundraising is down $25,000 a year with no auction. Salaries, especially the salary benefits, are up $25,000 a year, and the general fund donations for operating the church are down $25,000 a year. This decline in congregational givings happens through death, major health changes, moving away, or drifting away from the congregation. Plus there’s the effect that inflation and the war in Ukraine have had on givings as well as expenses, like natural gas.

Fortunately, government grants supported outlets operating funds in 2020 and 2021, helping balance things out. We have also received some large estate bequests and memorial gifts in the past few years, which help offset the decline as well. We also have some reserve funds, but these are non-recurring gifts and funds. So moving forward, we are called to focus on increasing our givings to the general fund and increasing our rentals. We ask for your help in both these areas.

There are also a few other “tempting thoughts” which I share with you today in far briefer form than the ones already shared. They are these:

It would be tempting to think your helping hands with caretaking and the upkeep and maintenance of our wonderful church facilities are not important. But they sure are!

It would be tempting to think your call, text, email, letter or knock on a door is not important, for reaching out to others. This is so critical!  The word we would use for that is “engagement.” How we engage others in a wide variety of ways day to day, week to week is so very important!

It would be tempting to think there were no good things to come out of the last 3 years. Those years brought countless blessings to Walton. It has definitely brought new people to our fellowship, both virtually and in live services. Great to have you in the family of faith. Welcome!

It would be tempting to think Walton is not in a privileged situation. Walton is in a good position overall. We are not facing closure, amalgamation or significant staff or program cutbacks compared to so many other congregations.

It would be tempting to think the gospel message has changed or become less important. In fact, the opposite is true. The message of Jesus is even more needed today than ever.

It would be tempting to think your service within the congregation and the community is not making a difference. It most certainly is. Thanks for what you do, not just on Sundays but throughout the week.

Recently on a Bronte social media account, a local writer wrote these words. I think sharing them on this Annual Meeting Sunday is a timely reminder. The writer said, “Just drove back through Bronte, done it tens of thousands of times. There is a sameness, but also comfort. Especially looking out to the harbours and the lake. The vista changes with the time of day, season and the weather, there is no sameness.  There are certain anchors that always catch my eye, Quinns (this one is for the long-time residents), Bronte Fish and Chips, the old bank building and Gore Park. I always will take a glance at  Walton and read the sign out front, sometimes for inspiration, but more often it is a bit of a bulletin board that tells you our community is alive. While I was baptized at Walton, went to the Cave (another inside bit for long-term residents) joined Cubs and Scouts in the basement and attended far too many funerals, I am not a member. I doubt that there is anyone in Bronte that doesn’t love the building and has visited it for one reason or another. I think we sometimes forget or do not realize, there is a foundation to that anchor. Big shout out to the leaders, the staff and volunteers who keep that building alive and a significant piece of the soul of Bronte and the community.”

Thank you for being part of the “anchor” that goes far beyond Bronte, Oakville, Halton and even the GTHA.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord, you are the mighty one, You created light; you send your light around the world,
You sent your son into the world of darkness as the one true light, the light that brings hope to all.
And yet we want to capture it like a firefly and keep it to ourselves so that only we have the good feelings and experience.
At the same time there are those who would reject your light, try to find any way imaginable to cover the light. But God, you told us to be the light of the world and to let our light shine.
And so today as we pray, we want to let our light shine for others whose light may have grown dim,
has almost gone out, or yes even is in the dark.
We want to shine the light of hope to those who are discouraged, dejected, despondent and disappointed.
We want to shine your light of love to those who are our enemies, are hated, are bullies, abused, bullied, disenfranchised.
We want to shine your light of grace to those who have given up, don’t believe God loves them, and don’t feel wanted – the lonely and the needy.
We want to shine your light of faith, for those who are hungry to believe yet are not sure, those who have struggled a long time with chronic illnesses, frustration, anger and disbelief.
Lord, we carry your light into this world for all to see what a glorious and wonderful God you are.
Amen.

(Rev. Abi, and posted on RevGalBlogPals blog.)

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

God of the wilderness, we thank you for our many blessings, and we give these offerings in gratitude, rejoicing in the abundance of your gifts to us.
We give these offerings in faith, trusting that you will provide for our needs.
We give these offerings in hope, knowing you can use them to spread your love in this world.
And with these offerings, we give ourselves;  May we live with generous hearts, with open hands. Our offering will now be received.
(adapted Joanna Harader, and posted on her Spacious Faith blog)

♥  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:  “For the Gift of Creation”    538VU

Offering Prayer

One: Different gifts, we offer you different gifts, O God. There is money.
(Worship leader holds up bills and envelopes.)
Two: There is bread and wine.
(Worship leader holds up bread, wine, and grape juice.)
One: Yet together these gifts will strengthen the faith community of which we are a part.
Two: They will enable us to support each other in the hard places of life, and bring joy and fresh understanding in our midst.
All:  And together these gifts will send us out to do the work of Jesus Christ. They will enable us to bring good news to each other and to the world. Bless our gifts, Loving God, and give us the wisdom to use them wisely. Amen.
(David Sparks, The Gathering L/E 2023)

Hymn:  “Jesus, Tempted in the Desert”   115 VU

Benediction

Go out in joy and come back soon in peace. You are loved, you are welcomed, and you are valued companions on this journey.  God bless you with deep peace until we meet again, in  the name of the Creator, the Holy Spirit, and the Only Begotten One.  Amen.
(Jani Francis, The Gathering L/E 2022)

Closing Hymn:  “A Blessing for Life’s Journey”  G. Le Fevre, L. Fletcher

Announcements


Lenten Prayer Project

Your Outreach Committee would like to offer a different way to recognize the season of Lent. Starting Ash Wednesday we have prayer themes for each week taking us to Easter Sunday. Please join us in praying for these areas of concern. Each week there is a short scripture and prayer, please add your own as you feel guided to.

Week 1: Sunday February 26, 2023 – Hunger

Matthew 25: 35-36, 40 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.

Prayer: We pray for those among us in our wealthy country who do not have enough to eat. We ask our leaders to work towards a way for people to be able to provide for themselves or receive the help they need to meet their basic needs. Please guide us to help our neighbours where we are able. Bless all those who prepare meals and share food with those in need.

If you feel called to help we have Food Bank donation bins at each entrance and monetary donations are also accepted online or through the office.


Scripture Readers: Warren Caldwell, Jim Wilcox
Soloist: Stuart Le Fevre


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for date