Virtual Service – January 8, 2023

2:00 pm

January 8, 2023

Virtual Service

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

• Winter 2023 Video Study- Good Boundaries and Goodbyes: Loving Others Without Losing the Best of Who You Are – #1 New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst helps us stop the dysfunction of unhealthy relationships by showing us biblical ways to set boundaries and, when necessary, say goodbye without losing the best of who we are. Is it unloving or selfish to set a boundary? Are Christians ever called to walk away from a relationship that’s no longer safe or sustainable? Lysa TerKeurst deeply understands these hard questions in the midst of relational struggles. Rev Jim will lead this 6-evening video study Tuesday nights from 7:15pm to 8:45pm in Bronte Hall. There is no cost and no prep required. All are welcome to attend. Please sign up through the church office if you plan to attend at office@waltonmemorial.com or 905-827-1643 . The dates are  Tues Jan 10,  Jan 17, Jan 24, +no Jan 31+, Feb 7, Feb 14, Feb 21 optional days if snow storm or ill health Feb 28,  March 7. Register online – https://waltonmemorial.churchcenter.com/registrations/events/1569243

• Memorial poinsettias – If you purchased a memorial poinsettia this year you are now welcome to take your plant home. Please take the plant only and leave the plastic tray.

• First UCW meeting of 2023 – All Walton ladies are warmly welcome to come out to the first UCW meeting of 2023, on Thursday, January 12th at 1:30 pm in Bronte Hall. Constable Mathew Rocca will be talking about current scams and his role as the Older Adults Support Officer.
Future meetings will be held on the 2nd Thursday of each month so please mark your calendars for February 9, March 9, April 13, May 11 and June 8.

• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. This week we start a brand-new curriculum called Who God Made You To Be.

• 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.


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.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Arise and shine, for your light has come.
Together we proclaim the glory of the Lord.

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to worship at Walton. Our service today has a wide range of influences, as we remember the baptism of Jesus, while today is also only just two days after the feast of Epiphany. But most of all we want to celebrate that you are choosing to spend your time with us, in this new and hopeful year. So Happy New Year, and thank you for your presence as we worship together.

Hymn: Will You Come and See the Light, VU 96, v1-2,5

Call to Worship

One: Arise, shine, for your light has come.
All: Light, like a glimmer of hope and possibility.
One: Arise, shine, for your light has come.
All: Light, like a beacon of faith and direction.
One: The glory of the Lord has risen upon us.
All: Together we see God despite the darkness.
One: The radiance of God’s love shines within us.
All: Let us together proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Opening Prayer (all)

God of light and love, appear to us now and awaken us with your glory, to see ourselves and the world as you see us. Gather us close to you, that we may receive the comfort of your care for us. Gather us close to each other, that we may be supported through the strength of your community of believers. Gather us up for worship and service, to proclaim the brightness of your hope dawning anew. Abide in our hearts, that we can radiate your love into our hurting world. Amen.

The Lord’s  Prayer (all)

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: A Light Is Gleaming, VU82, v1&R

 

Youth Story

Today’s scripture reading is about baptism. Jim describes baptism to the kids and explains that it is a special way Christians have of saying yes to the gift of God’s love.

What do you do when you get a gift? You say thank you, of course. But you also have to accept that gift. You take it from the person giving it to you; you open it, and you use it somehow. Maybe it’s a game you can play, a book to read, or a treat to eat.

God gives the gift of his love to everyone equally, whether they are baptized or not. We can say thank you for that gift, and we can use his gift ourselves and share it with others.

Baptism is more than just a “thank you.” It’s a way of accepting God’s love and using it. It’s a commitment to being part of the church family, God’s family. Most people are baptized when they are babies, so their parents make that commitment for them. They agree to teach their children about Jesus, and to teach them the rules God wants them to follow. But older kids and even grown ups can be baptized too. It’s never too late to say yes to the gift of God’s love.

Let us pray:…

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

 

Soloist: Jillian VanderDoelen “Something in the Water”

 

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 60:1-6, Matthew 3:13-17 ~ Don Rusk/Evelyn Taggart

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples, but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your  dawn.

Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together; they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried in their nurses’ arms.

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you; the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Matthew 3:13-17

The Baptism of Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.

John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him.

And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Scripture Response: “Can you See the Light of God?”

 

Morning Message: “Gather Together” – Gill Le Fevre

Emphasis can make a world of difference. If I was to announce, “behold, a man-eating fish” do you picture a carnivorous monster from the deep, or simply a Friday fish supper?

And I had my own moment of emphasis-adjustment as we celebrated New Year’s Eve and saw in 2023.

In previous years, as midnight strikes on December 31st, my mood is one of exuberance and merriment. HAPPY New Year, HAPPY New Year. The emphasis would all be on the first word.

This year felt different. As the fireworks were set off, and crowds hugged, I exhaled with relief: Happy NEW Year, Happy NEW Year.

Now I know the New Year is an arbitrary marker of time. If you speak to motivation coaches or goal-setting experts, they’ll tell you any old day can be used to denote a fresh start, but nevertheless, as I spoke to friends and family, more and more I heard a shared desire that this year would not just be ‘new’ but ‘renewing’.

It’s a desire summed up in a poem I read last week — A New Year’s Poem

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to humankind. …

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant one and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

When I first read the poem, the words grabbed my attention with their direct appeal to the troubles of our times — the shapes of foul disease, the lust of gold, the wars of old. The poem deeply captures my longing that this January usher in a new year with renewed possibility.

But if you know your English Literature, and specifically the nineteenth-century poets, you might recognize this as the work of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, written in 1850.

How little our world and our struggles have changed.

That sense of similarity across the decades, and the recurring familiarity of human struggle, is a feeling that I often have when reading the Old Testament. The specific circumstances may be different, but the heart of the human condition is constant.

That the people of Israel lived in a broken world is made clear from a passage in the chapter directly before our reading this morning — Isaiah 59, verse 9: “So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; we look for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.”

Life for the Israelites was deeply fractured — socially, economically, politically. As it is for us.

The pandemic restrictions of the last three years have left us socially fragmented, as communities were pulled apart. Some have lived a form of exile from their old routines, while others through the necessity of work or school or even health-care needs, were forced to navigate a ruined world.

Financially, we also face a time of widespread uncertainty. Newspapers announce layoffs and rising interest rates, while economic disparity across society continues to grow. Energy shortages driving energy prices that somehow also fuel energy profits.

And around the world, toxic politics and imperial violence demand our attention, and challenge the tenacity of our beliefs.

Then and now, this was a broken world.

But it was into this broken world, that God offered hope and healing. The words of Isaiah — Arise! Shine! — compel the Israelites to look toward a different future and way of being. Pushing back the thick darkness, the glory of the Lord, the presence of God, shines out to present a new future.

“Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together; they come to you.” God is acting to rebuild and restore the community of Israel. No matter how divided and isolated they feel at this point, God reassures the Israelites that they belong together and that through his love and work in the world, they shall be restored.

God’s love promises hope and wholeness.

This promise of hope and wholeness is a reason why this text is used each year to begin the season of Epiphany, which runs from now until Lent.

The English word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “appearing” or “revealing.” In classical times, the word was sometimes used for the appearance of dawn, and especially to describe God appearing to a worshiper.

Today, we describe someone as having an epiphany when they have a sudden realization — a truth has appeared or been revealed.

But this doesn’t mean the epiphany arrives out of the blue, and indeed the definition itself suggests the need for a period of significant thought. So although the time for New Year’s resolutions may be passing, the entire season of Epiphany — six weeks this year — calls us to carefully reflect.

Looking at where we are today, what forms of darkness do we each confront? What are you hoping we have left behind in the old year? Where do you need the light of God to shine for you?

And this is not a challenge that we need or indeed should face alone. Both our readings today affirm the public breaking-through of God into the world, and the collective gathering together of God’s people for God’s purpose.

So we are prompted and encouraged to respond to these texts and ask: “How does God engage with us? And what does it mean to belong to God and to one another in community?”

Listen again to the passage from Isaiah: Arise, shine, for your light has come. The Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

God is shining for us, bringing hope into a dark world. Unconditionally and radiantly, God wants to be present in our lives, giving us hope and wholeness.

Hope and wholeness sums up the mission of a charity in Nashville, called Magdalene, that works to create paths of healing and hope for women survivors of human trafficking, prostitution and addiction.

Since 1997, they have offered housing, therapy and training as part of a two-year residential program to help the women recover. When the founder of Magdalene realized that financial difficulties were holding their residents back, the charity also founded a non-profit enterprise called Thistle Farms to provide employment opportunities and business training.

On their website, a heading that could almost have come from the book of Isaiah proclaims, “A Single Candle Cuts Through The Darkest Night.”

One participant, Penny Hall, previously lived under a bridge — a highway overpass — and her world was thick darkness. For over ten years she was trapped in a vicious circle, where she would turn tricks when she was high, to get money for her drug habit. The circle was only broken by a judge who gave her the choice between jail or going to Magdalene, along with $10 for the bus fare to help Penny make her decision.

When Penny went to say goodbye to her friends under the bridge, they laughed and said she’d be back. But so far she hasn’t. Which is not to say it’s not a struggle, but the memory of the bridge and the darkness of her former life keep Penny holding on to Magdalene.

The group’s motto is “love heals” and importantly, the women emphasize that this is not daydreaming about a romantic happy ending, but rather represents an active and enduring vow. A vow they make to themselves and vitally to each other, grounded in the belief that a strong community will help them not only heal, but thrive.

That sense of hope and healing as something that we do together, and not just something we may or may not have; this is fundamental to how we can make sense of the Isaiah reading, if we’re not to dismiss it as unrealistic fantasy.

God’s love shines for us, yes, giving hope for a dark world. But God’s love also shines through us, so that together we can shine for others. This passage is a call to a community of believers to affirm the vision of God’s presence in the world, and then work together and with God, to bring that vision to life.

The theologian, Charles Aaron, writes: “We can proclaim from this stirring poem that God remains at work in the world. If we lift up our eyes, if we arise and do our ministry, we will find the ways that God acts to dispel the darkness of the world.”

God shining through us, so that we might reflect light into the world. God using human beings for divine purposes. This is the wondrous subtext of the passage we read from Matthew’s Gospel, describing Jesus’ baptism. John, the baptizer, refusing at first to baptize Jesus, recognizing the utter incongruity of that act. But Jesus, nevertheless insisting.

Because in this way, the work of the human and the divine are thus intertwined at the outset of Jesus’ ministry; and both — the human John and the divine Spirit — proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Here then is my epiphany for this season. We are called together to do God’s work and be God’s light.

Gathered together, in worship and love.

I felt the power of this communal calling at Walton over Christmas, listening to our choir, and being transported by the power of the carols they sung — but not just the melodies. What moved me most deeply was when the descant parts were added and the whole piece reached a different level of worship and praise, that is impossible for only a few voices to reach by themselves.

I shed tears of joy back in September when the choir sang together for the first time since Covid, and I did the same in those Christmas services, hearing the majesty of the glorious voices coming together. Quite simply, it is a feeling that we can’t get on our own.

Step by step, we are gathering together, and we are stronger and more effective for it.

We belong to God, and through God we belong to each other. God promises to be the source of our renewed vitality, so that we as a community can radiate with light.

Through our worship here together, God will sustain us; through our community here, we can answer God’s call to love God and each other, and to build a better future for Walton and beyond.

Gathered together, we shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Pastoral Prayer

God in the darkness, be with us now. Arise upon us and bring us hope.

Be with those who journey through places of pain. Comfort those who grieve and have lost loved ones; and soothe the homes where an empty chair echoes in a hurting heart.

Bring us healing and renew us. Help us to look ahead and see the world with fortitude. Bolster us to remember the strength of your love in us. Arise upon us and bring us hope.

Be with those who struggle with times of doubt. Steady those whose futures feel unstable and uncertain; and guide those who cannot see the path ahead.

Bring us faith and nurture us. Help us to look ahead and see the world with possibility. Inspire us to recognize the wonder of your love for us. Abide within us and bring us hope.

Be with those who sink under the weight of despair. Sustain those for whom the gloom outside mirrors the fear inside; and warm those souls that are chilled with sadness.

Bring us joy and encourage us. Help us to look ahead and see the world with energy. Nourish us to seek out the delight of your love for us. Arise upon us and bring us hope.

All this we pray in your almighty name; that our hearts, minds and souls may proclaim your praise and glory.

Amen.

Hymn: Here at Jordan’s River

Here at Jordan’s river all is washed away.
As God’s reign draws nearer, nothing is the same.
Gone are class and status; gone, degrees and fame.
Grace alone can save us on God’s judgment day.
We at Jordan’s river meet on level ground.
Valleys are uplifted; mountains fall to earth.
None dare trust their lineage, none need doubt their worth.
Still the prophet asks us, “Will you turn around?”
God, reform, renew us; turn us toward your will.
Till our hearts for learning; root us in your work.
May the fruits of action grow from all we’ve heard.
As we lose our old lives, God, be with us still.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

As Jesus sought out John for baptism, he affirmed the way in which God uses the gifts of humankind to serve God’s purpose. Our gifts are likewise granted, blessed and sought by God, for God’s work in the world. Let us give now, as we are able, to bring hope and peace to this 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: Down By the Jordan, verse 4

Here in the Church, we are baptized and filled with God’s Spirit.
Freed and forgiven, we’re welcomed with joy! Can you hear it?
This is God’s sign! This is how God says, “You’re mine!”
Let’s take the good news and share it!

Offering Prayer (all)

Abundant God, Lift up our eyes to see the needs of your world; the places where darkness smothers hope and causes pain. Lift up our eyes to see where we can help, and the ways we can use our gifts to proclaim your praise and heal your children. Remind us that we are all your beloved, and make us each a part of the dawning of hope. Amen.

Hymn: O Radiant Christ, Incarnate Word, VU84, vs.1,3,4

 

Benediction

Arise and shine for your light has come. Go forward from here with the radiance of God’s hope shining in your life. Let new possibility dawn in your days, and lift up your hearts to the joy of God’s grace. In faith and in love, may your lives proclaim the praise of the Lord.

Closing Hymn: In the Darkness Shines the Splendour, VU 92, v4

 

Announcements


 

In case you missed it…

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