Virtual Service – January 9, 2022

8:30 am

January 9, 2022

Welcome to virtual church!

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text.
• View the video below
• download and print the service from this document – link

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Please contact office@waltonmemorial.com if you would like to be added to our email list.

Announcements

• GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP – This education and support group is designed for those who are dealing with the death of a loved one. Taking a faith-based perspective, we will explore various aspects of grief, how grief affects one’s emotions, behaviours, body, mind and spirit. We will look at tasks one can do and adjustments one can make to move through grief, and help find ways to reinvest in one’s life in meaningful ways. The contents of the course are based on the materials of Dr. Bill Webster, Centre for the Grief Journey.
Leadership: The Rev. Dr. Deborah Hart – Minister of Deer Park United Church in Toronto, who has been facilitating grief support groups for over 25 years. Sponsored by Christ First United, Maple Grove United, St. Cuthbert’s Anglican and Walton United churches.
Location: On-line by Zoom
Dates: 6 Wednesdays, Jan. 19 to Feb. 23, 2022 + one follow-up session – date TBD
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 per participant for the course materials
Contact: Maeva Donaldson – 905-845-7454 or maeva.k.d@hotmail.com  for more information or to register
Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. This week we start our new curriculum called “Ewww!” featuring some of the messiest, grossest stories in the Bible.
• 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

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Walton’s virtual service. This was not how we thought it was going to be?

No, no we didn’t, but this is the way it is going to be, so sit back, take a deep breath, close your eyes, clear your mind of whatever is occupying it right now. And let’s ask God to be present in our time together. Let’s hand over the worries, the struggles, and breathe in God’s unconditional love, God’s comforting peace, God’s uplifting hope, and yes, God’s incredible joy.

Let God’s light shine through this time of worship like the Star of Bethlehem so long ago, guiding us to the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace. Come let us worship.

Call to Worship

In this time of short days, of darkness of waiting, of next steps in this pandemic,
we are looking for your hope, your love, your peace, Lord.
We are seeking light

[Light candles]

In our own lives
We are seeking light
In our neighbourhoods
We are seeking light
In our families
We are seeking light
In our work
We are seeking light
In grace
We are seeking light
In our nation
We are seeking light
In our world
We are seeking light
In this pandemic
We are seeking light
Seek and you shall find
Knock and the door will be opened
Ask and it will be given to you
Jesus Christ, you are the light of the world
May we have eyes to see you
And ears to hear you
Shine in our world today

(adapted  from the website of Grace Church in Ealing, London)

Opening Prayer

O star-flinging God, whose light dances across eternity, dazzle us into your presence in this new year. Open our hearts to the mystery of your love.

Awaken us to your presence, knit to the ordinary. Reveal to us what is possible, but not yet present. Heal us, that we might be healers.

Reconcile us to you and to ourselves, that our living might be reconciling.

Stop us often, we pray, with news that is good,

with hope that holds, with truth that transforms, with a Word tailored to this journey we’re on.

May the word of your grace guide our steps, like the sun by day and the north star by night,

as we travel into the gift of a new year. Amen.

(adapted Glenn Mitchell, and posted on MINemergent’s Daily Communique.)

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 Story: “The Rock, a castle, and a mailman”

Have you ever seen a picture of God? What did he look like? He’s described so many different ways in the Bible. Alison has photos showing three of those different descriptions.

#1 – Photo of popular actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Wait, so The Rock is God? That’s confusing…

#2 – Picture of a fortress from the popular video game Fortnite. So, God lives in the fortress? The fortress is heaven? God is in a video game?

#3 – Picture of a mailman. Ok, there’s no way that God spends his days driving around on a little truck putting letters and bills into mailboxes.

Who says these are pictures of God? The Bible does! In the King James Version, Psalm 18, verse 2 says: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.”

A rock is solid and strong and lasts forever. It doesn’t crumble. When you stand on one or lean on one it holds you up, just like God.

A fortress is a place of safety. It surrounds you with protection to keep bad things away. God does the same thing – wrapping his arms around us to keep us safe.

A postal worker delivers in rain and sleet and snow, nothing stops them. God always delivers us from evil, like we ask in the Lord’s Prayer. God delivered Jesus, Mary, and Joseph safely into Egypt and away from King Herod, as we’ll hear in today’s reading.

See, the Lord really is our rock (but not The Rock), our fortress, and our deliverer.

For that we thank you God. Amen.

Youth Choir:  “This Little Light of Mine”

 

Scripture Readings: Luke 2: 1-16, Matthew 2: 1-18 , Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22

Luke 2: 1-16
The Birth of Jesus

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

Matthew 2: 1-18

The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;  and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the wise men[e] and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The Escape to Egypt

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

The Massacre of the Infants

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,  he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Luke 3:15-17

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Luke 3:21-22

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Anthem: “Do You Hear What I Hear” The Waltones

 

Morning Message: “A Star, an Escape, and a Baptism” Rev. Jim Gill

Ever run into someone you haven’t seen for decades? Maybe you have gone back to a high school reunion. Your old boyfriend or girlfriend you run into asks what you’ve done with your life over the last thirty years. In a few minutes, you try to give them a condensed version of your life over the last three decades.

I always feel sort of like that is church life as we go from marking Jesus’ birth on December 25 to celebrating his baptism at age 30, usually on the second Sunday of January. This sermon is sort of like that. A capsule history of Jesus in just under 1500 words. I call this message, “A Star, an Escape and a Baptism.”

It was such a lovely clear sky back on All Hallows Eve this year. The night before All Saints or All Souls Day was a truly beautiful evening here in south Halton. Out trick or treating with my granddaughters that night, we could see so many stars in the sky. We would point up to the sky and say what is this or that star? I would pick up my phone and use one of my favourite apps on my phone called Skyview. With Skyview, you point it at the star or planet and the app tells you all the details of what you were looking at. Saturn and Jupiter were so very close on Halloween creating a super light in that Halloween sky. It made me think, of course, of the Christmas Bethlehem star we read about in Matthew. Nothing compares to God’s stars on a clear night. It is a priceless gift when we can experience that wonder.

In our area we have so much artificial light affecting our viewing of the night sky. Ever been to the Torrance Barrens  Dark Sky Preserve near Bala in Muskoka?  On a clear night, it is truly amazing to see God’s creative powers without any artificial light on the horizon. Imagine how dark it would have been over Bethlehem on December 25?  Imagine how dark it must have been out in the desert wilderness for the wise men travelling west following the star?

In Christmas pageants often a young child plays the star on stage, or here at Walton, we have a portable 450 lumens light that shines down from the balcony onto the big silver star we hang on the wall. But nothing in a church Christmas pageant compares to God’s stars on a clear night. To me, they are truly one of the wonders of God.

For dramatic effect, Every Christmas pageant shows the wise men arriving at the stable just after the shepherds were summoned by the angel from the surrounding fields, where they were keeping watch over their flocks by night. The wise men, or Magi, came from afar, from the East which is now in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen (then known as Persia, Arabia and Sheba). Today we think of such major conflicts in those areas. Yemen especially is in a humanitarian crisis. The wise men are often called the “Three Kings,” but the Bible doesn’t say how many there were, or that they were even kings!  Some simply call them the three wise guys. They became three because of the gifts they brought with them for the baby of the manger of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These three gifts point to the future escape of the Holy Family across the border as refugees from King Herod into Egypt and they point to Jesus’ eventual death upon the cross for each one of us.

These eastern star chasers were indeed “wise” men. The Magi were “Magupati,” a title given to priests in a sect of the ancient Persian religions such as Zoroastrianism. Today we’d call them astrologers. Back then astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall studies and went hand in hand with each other. Today astrology and astronomy are very different pursuits. The Magi would have followed the patterns of the stars religiously. Today we know stars do not determine our future or our daily events. We put our faith, not in the stars, but the Creator of the stars, that is God Almighty. We do not worship the creation but the creator. Important distinction. Hear it again. We do not worship the creation but the creator.

These astrologers would have also probably been very rich as they were able to freely travel such great distances by foot and camel and able to offer such extravagant gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These stargazers were held in high esteem in their own society and by people who weren’t from their country or religion. We can’t be certain, but some scholars point to prophecies around the Bethlehem Star in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. For example in Numbers 24:17 Balaam prophesies, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel.”

After the star and eastern visitors, there was the escape to Egypt. Herod was a paranoid narcissist intent on having no competition, including from a baby in a manager. Herod committed mass infant genocide. Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus escaped to Egypt. We forget that the Holy Family were refugees, like so many refugees around the world today. Maybe you or your ancestors were refugees. Maybe refugees because of war, oppression, famine, prosecution, genocide, politics, religion, orientation or climate change. The escape to Egypt was set in play by the star which brought the wise men to Herod.

So what does the Star of Bethlehem mean to you and me today as we tidy up after Christmas and New Years celebrations? The star reminds us of Jesus’ birth, of his kingship and his divine nature, even though born in a stable. However, the star also reminds us of something critical I feel for understanding why God sent Jesus in the first place.

The birth of Jesus wasn’t announced to those we would have expected either in the first century or even in this 21st century. The host of angelic choruses didn’t come to the head priests, or the scribes, or Pharisees, or Roman officials, or even to the puppet king Herod. They appeared to lowly shepherds. Yes, shepherds were not high on the social-economic ladder, let alone high on the religious ladder of life.

The third part of Jesus’s life until he began his earthly ministry at age 30 is the dunking in the River Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist. Jesus did not get baptized because he needed to. Jesus was baptized to set an example for all of us. It also shows to us that baptism is open to all. It is a rite of inclusion, not exclusion. It doesn’t matter who we are; we can seek baptism for ourselves and/or for our kids or grandkids. You are not too old to be baptized. There is not a best before date on baptism. We come to the waters of baptism. The invitation is there.

It’s the same way the star didn’t appear to the Jewish scholars and the learned ones of Jerusalem. Instead, the Bethlehem star was shown to non-Jews, Gentiles like you and me. It was a star for all. The sign was given to the Magi who were outsiders; they would have been scorned by devout Jews as unclean. The star reminds us that the gospel of the baby of Bethlehem isn’t just for the highly religious, for the neat and tidy or even for just for the 1%.

The message of the gospel is not only for the poor shepherds of society but also the foreign astrologers. It was and always will be for the outsider as well as those on the inside of every society. The Christmas story from beginning to end is what we might describe as totally counter-cultural. It was announced to the most unlikely candidates, in the most unlikely ways, in the most unlikely places. No author would have written it that way unless it were true. The gospel is for everyone. It is for you and me. It is for those watching this virtual church service today and for those who have never walked through a church door or ever watched services virtually.

The final and most important part of the star story is the last part of what the wise men said to King Herod. “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Hear those last four words: “Come to Worship Him.” That is why we are here on this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, and every Christmas and all the Sundays in between. Happy New Year. God bless you in 2022.

Reflection: Crossing Borders

Friends,
Abraham was a border crosser,
Isaac was a border crosser,
Jacob was a border crosser,
Joseph was a border crosser,
Moses was a border crosser,
Hagar was a border crosser,
Ana was a border crosser,
Esther was a border crosser,
Lydia was a border crosser,
Joseph, Mary and Jesus were border crossers in the midst of a genocide.

The Holy Spirit crossed borders to start the church
and is still crossing borders today.

Churches are border crossing places.
We are border crossing people, all of us with no exception.
No human being is illegal. None!

This country and every country are made of border crossers.
We are heirs of border crossing people.
We must attend the borders without ceasing.

(by Claudio Carvalhaes “Worship Service in Solidarity with Unaccompanied Minors Crossing the Borders” posted on his website)

Pastoral Prayer

All:  Bright Star, Holy One, hear our prayer.
All:  Bright Star, Holy One
One: laugh with those who laugh this day, lift up our joys, our hope is found in You,
All:  may the Glory of God arise.

All:  Bright Star, Holy One
One:Be with those who suffer, struggle, cry out, weep, those who are in pain of heart, or soul, or mind
All:  From the darkness may the glory of God arise!

All:   Bright Star, Holy One
One: Fill the hearts of leaders, nations, cities, and faith communities
All:  with wisdom and grace may the glory of God arise!

All: Bright Star, Holy One
One:Lead our leaders in your way, your hope, your love, and your peace enlighten the pathways
All:  with the Glory of God, arise!

All: Bright Star, Holy One
One:help us in all we do, and all we say, and all we are to be your love shining forth – may the glory of God arise.
All: Bright Star, Holy One hear our prayers.

Amen. 

(adapted byTerri and posted on RevGalBlogPal’s A Place for Prayer. )

Anthem: “Jesus Light of the World Has Come”

 

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

We make an offering this morning because one has been made for us. God created us, unique and different from anyone else. Let us take those gifts and our imagination and let us go out to where we will do the most good in this world. May our offerings go beyond us, out into our community, into our country and into the 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 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

Doxology: “Can you See the Light of God”Linda Fletcher

Offering Prayer

God of all good gifts, who gives to us so freely.

Grant that our lives would be an offering to you, that our good works here on Earth be a blessing to you and to others. Grant that these gifts be freely given in love, like the wise men gave to the Christ Child that Christmas so long ago. We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Benediction

Go into the world with hope and peace in your hearts, and remember the love God has for you.

The light of the world has come to be among us, to shine in and through each one of us.

Share peace, friendship, forgiveness and love with your neighbours; you know who God is nudging you to be in touch with.

In the name of God the Father, the baby Jesus, and our friend and comforter the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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!

• I am the Light of the World
• Will You Come and See the Light
• A Light is Gleaming
• When Jesus Came to be Baptized
• Walk in the Light

 

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, January 5th