Virtual Pride Sunday and Canada Day Service – June 26, 2022

2:00 pm

June 26, 2022

Welcome to virtual church celebrating Pride and Canada Day!

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

  • Looking for last-minute gift ideas for a special teacher? We’ve got gift cards for sale at face value to Season’s Restaurant and to Ardent Automotive for car detailing, a number of Stratford Festival tickets to a variety of plays for just $26.60 a pair, and of course our popular Mike’s Seville orange marmalade for $5 a jar. Contact the church office to purchase.
  • Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. Today we’re learning why a rainbow is the perfect symbol for Pride Month, and for God’s amazing love.
  • 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.

Singing of O Canada  524 VU

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to worship. Today in our service we remember that June is both Pride Month and Indigenous History Month, two segments of our population that experience a disproportionate amount of discrimination and harassment. And we commemorate that this week we will mark Canada Day – as we celebrate the blessings and freedoms we enjoy in this great land.

Hymn:  “All Are Welcome”  verses 1, 5   1MV

Call to Worship

One: Whenever we feel disrespected or overlooked, let down by others;
All: Resting and praying, we affirm that God sees us.
One: In those times when we feel lost or unsure, seeking God’s presence in our lives;
All: Listening and singing, we remember that God leads us.
One: As we worship, we share our worries and concerns, craving answers and support;
All: Praising and reflecting, we recognize that God works through us.
One: Together we remember that our God is a God of surprises;
All: Working in surprising places through surprising people, loving us in surprising ways.

Opening Prayer

All: Unexpected God,
We close our eyes to so much in the world – the problems we can’t solve, the people we can’t help, the strangers we don’t understand. Worse, we close our minds too often as well. To the everyday miracles of creation, to the joy of each new day, to the gifts placed deep within us. Open our hearts to receive the wonder of your surprising love. To see the world as you do – with mercy, hope and love. To serve the world as you know we can – with courage, hope and love. To witness to you in the world, sharing your everlasting peace, hope and love. Amen.

The Lord’s  Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Youth Hymn: “God of the Women” on screen vs. 1, 2 & 4  Carolyn Gillette

Youth Story:  “God’s Rainbow”

In the Bible the rainbow is a symbol which reminds us God keeps his promises. We’re going to learn more about that when we go to Sunday School today. But the rainbow is also a symbol for Pride Month, which we are celebrating today. Does anybody know why?
Pride Month is about celebrating our differences and recognizing that everyone deserves to be treated equally and loved equally, even though no two people are exactly the same.
God made each of you exactly the way you are, and he loves you exactly the way you are. Does he love you more because you wear glasses? Does he love you more because you have dark hair? Nope. He loves all his children exactly the same, and you don’t have to change a single thing about yourself to deserve his love.
We are God’s rainbow – all different and all special on our own. But when you put us all together it creates something even more beautiful!
Imagine a rainbow that was all yellow. (Alison shows a piece of yellow paper) Boring.
What about a blue one? (Alison shows a piece of blue paper) Blah.
You have to put all the different colours together to make a rainbow. (Alison shows a rainbow flag) If they were all the same it doesn’t work.
Does blue feel like it has to look more green to be part of the rainbow?
Does purple tell red it’s not allowed in the rainbow because it’s different from the other colours? Of course not!
I think that’s why a rainbow is the perfect symbol for Pride, for being proud of who we are and not needing to change who we are for anyone. If God loves us exactly the way we are, we should love ourselves and each other that way too. Right?

Let’s pray together:
Thank you God for the beautiful rainbow you created your children to be. That you for creating us and loving us exactly the way we are. Help us to share your love with our neighbours – ALL our neighbours. We ask this in Jesus’ name.  AAAAAAAAA-Men!

Hymn:  “Go My Children With My Blessing”  vs. 1  946LUYH

Scripture Reading:  Judges 4:1-22  Jim Wilcox

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. So the Lord sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help, for he had nine hundred chariots of iron and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

At that time Deborah, a prophet, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, ‘Position yourself at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand.’ ” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh, and ten thousand warriors went up behind him, and Deborah went up with him.

Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites, that is, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had encamped as far away as Elon-bezaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the troops who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. Then Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day on which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand warriors following him. And the Lord threw Sisera and all his chariots and all his army into a panic before Barak; Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot, while Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-ha-goiim. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; not one was left.

Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. He said to her, “Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’ ” But Jael, wife of Heber, took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into the ground—he was lying fast asleep from weariness—and he died. Then, as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went into her tent, and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

Scripture Response: “Your Word is a Lamp”    956VU

Solo:  Emma Smith  “In Christ Alone”

Morning Message:  “Deborah” Gill Le Fevre

One of CS Lewis’s most popular and thought-provoking works is The Screwtape Letters; a satirical set of letters between a devil and his apprentice, advising the devil-in-training of how best to tempt his human target away from faith.

It is both challenging and depressing, to read of the extent to which Screwtape recommends using elements of our faith to trick the human into complacency and then sin.

We are easy, Screwtape tells his apprentice, to trick into praying not to God, but to a representation of God that looks and thinks like us.

And although we may strive to read our Bibles regularly, we can be lulled into travelling “round the little treadmill of our fifteen favourite psalms and twenty favourite lessons. We are thus safe from the danger that any truth not already familiar to us should reach us through Scripture.”

It is with Screwtape’s guidance in mind that I chose today’s reading. Because today’s Bible reading is likely not in your list of twenty favourite lessons. It’s a startling and even disturbing account of a bleak period in our biblical history. And yet, its inclusion within the word of God has much to teach us.

Starting with the dismal regularity with which Screwtape and his ilk pull us away from God.

“The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

The phrase occurs with depressing frequency in the Old Testament. If the books of Genesis and Exodus are the history of a people striving to follow God to their promised land, then much of the rest of the Old Testament is the story of how they messed that up.

The book of Judges, from which our reading this morning comes, uses the phrase six times to introduce new episodes – new generations even – of struggle and suffering that the people of Israel endured.

Six detailed accounts of how the people of Israel lose their way and abandon their relationship with God.

The pattern in each one is the same. The Israelites have it all together, but then they start to get complacent and distracted. They forget God’s teachings about how to live in a just and peaceful society and they worship other gods. They ignore and reject God to the point that he basically shrugs his shoulders, steps back and lets Israel’s enemies charge in.

It’s the wake-up call Israel needs, and the people cry out in pain, begging God for help.

And so God steps in again, trusting, hoping, that the time of suffering has shown Israel the error of their ways.

And to save Israel, God chooses someone to lead. The title the Old Testament uses is “judge” but rarely are these people judges in the sense that we would think of a judge today. These judges are military leaders, and they command Israel to victory over their enemies and peace.

You would think that would be the end of the matter – lesson learned. But it never is. Israel forgets God and God’s teachings over and again.

Thousands of years may have passed and yet we’re not so different from the people of Israel. We ignore God and we dismiss God’s teachings to love – to love God above all things and to love your neighbour as yourself.

In a week where misogyny and homophobia were given legal standing by our neighbour to the south, I thought I could be thankful that I lived in a more tolerant, more accepting society; and that these are values we can celebrate as part of Canada Day.

So I was appalled to hear of yard signs celebrating Pride month being vandalized in Burlington. And worse, a property in Oakville – near Rebecca and Bronte – had their cars damaged and the front wall of their house spray-painted with homophobic graffiti, because they flew a Pride flag.

Little wonder two-thirds of Canadian LGBTQ students do not feel safe at school. Two-thirds don’t feel safe in the environment we send them to five days a week; the environment we expect to prepare them for their adult life and give them the learning they need to flourish and prosper.

And when they do move into the workforce their lives are shaped and restricted by questions of safety and acceptance many of us will never have to answer.

JJ Hartley is a transgender person working in Ontario in the dairy industry, but has chosen work that they can primarily do remotely.

“I lose visibility, but it keeps me safe,” explains JJ, who limits where they consider working, as they know on many farms there will be open hostility to a transgender person.

Others in similar situations don’t feel that they can be openly out at work at all, or even leave the communities they’ve grown up in and move to the city; because of how the neighbours would treat them.

In the words of the nineteenth-century poet, Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

Freedom and justice, peace and inclusion – these are values that we celebrate and uphold as Canadians, and values that we can see as important to God, as demonstrated in the book of Judges.

We might forget God’s teachings, but God does not forget us, and instead cares deeply and resolutely about all God’s children. In good times and in bad, “God does not ignore what God’s people do.”

This is how Israel ended up in their subjugated state – God cared how the people were behaving and could not ignore their disregard for justice, righteousness, and peace.

And then, God cared about their suffering. God heard the cries of the people and did not abandon them.

God cares how we respond to him, directly and personally. As God readied the Israelites for victory over Sisera, and prepared to again let Israel benefit from his majesty and power, God doesn’t appreciate having his plans doubted.

Deborah promises Barak victory, issuing God’s command to him along with some pretty specific military strategy, but no, that’s not enough for Barak.

Barak will only go if Deborah comes too. Deborah is to be Barak’s insurance policy – if this all goes wrong, he seems to be saying, I want you there too. I’m not going to take the fall for this; you need to be accountable too.

And God is immediately clear about how he feels about this lack of trust. If Barak doesn’t believe in God’s power, then that’s ok – God can give the glory of victory to someone else.

And this is perhaps the most surprisingly uplifting and even hopeful aspect of this whole account. If you only remember one thing from this message, hold on to this: God loves us in surprising ways and through surprising people. And in this story, by working through two surprising women.

We hear the most about Deborah, and I want to emphasize how powerful and empowering she was. Out of the twelve judges included in the book of Judges, Deborah is the only woman. And she is an unambiguously strong and authoritative leader. She was not an assistant judge, or a deputy – she was the judge for Israel. And not just part of Israel – Deborah didn’t just help other women or children, as is often suggested of women’s roles in biblical times; the Israelites, all the Israelites “came up to her for judgment.”

And Deborah is also a prophet. God works powerfully through Deborah, speaking to her and guiding her to lead the people.

And if Deborah’s part in the story is a surprise, especially to those who expect biblical women to remain meek and mild, there’s yet another surprise in store. The victory that God is planning is not going to come about in a conventional way. Not only will women be the heroes, but the ultimate stroke of victory doesn’t even happen on a battlefield but in a tent.

All the so-called rules or expectations of this culture – and maybe also of our culture – as to who has power and honour, who God approves of and will work through – all these ideas are overthrown.

Because God loves us in surprising ways and through surprising people.

Our God, who cares about us and watches over us, also challenges us to reject the limits society puts around who is worthy or acceptable, to reject the limits we perhaps put around ourselves. God’s redemptive plan, God’s redemptive love, cannot be confined.

And so I take great hope from seeing how through surprising people and in surprising ways, God’s inclusive love continues to be affirmed.

Hope because the Burlington homeowner has replaced their sign, and affirmed their strengthened commitment to put out a Pride sign every year, proclaiming they will not be intimidated by anonymous hate.

Hope because people like JJ Hartley and other queer farmers are committed to living visibly authentic lives, so that others like them know that they are not alone.

And hope because recognition of the importance of acts of allyship continues to grow.

In a recent interview, Hartley speaks with great affection of a farming couple that hired them – the couple had never met a trans person before, and they struggled with the LGBTQ acronym and understanding gender pronouns. But when they were criticized in their community for hiring Hartley, they pushed back resolutely.

Says Hartley, “They are under no obligation to defend me and yet they do. That, to me, speaks more of their commitment and their allyship than gendering me correctly.”

And in downtown Toronto, the Metropolitan Community Church is actively nurturing acts of advocacy and allyship. They’re starting a youth empowerment program, teaching young people how to effectively campaign for justice and inclusion.

Their minister, Jeff Rock, recently explained, “We’ve always been a human-rights church. This is just having us be bold enough to declare it a little bit more loudly.”

And as much as I cheer their leadership, I’m also struck by the way the church feels it needs to describe itself. “A human-rights church.”

When you reflect on the teaching of Jesus, and the myriad of ways God shows his love to be boundless, accepting, and inclusive, what church isn’t a human-rights church?

Allyship has never been more important, and remembering that this is an expression of our faith and God’s love is essential if we want future generations to know the surprising and welcoming comfort of God’s grace.

A Gallup survey in 2021 found that 20% of Gen Z adults – that’s the generation in their early twenties right now – 20% identify as LGBT. That’s as normal to this generation as being left-handed (15%) or having hazel eyes (18%).

And as a left-handed person with hazel eyes, who’s never been told that God’s love isn’t for her, it matters deeply to me that we affirm that God’s love has no limits.

Because when we do this, we open ourselves up to the surprising ways in which God works in this world. To the surprising people that God uses to witness to his love.

And to the surprising, wondrous, extraordinary truth that God loves us all. Always and without exception.

Praise be to God.

Pastoral Prayer

Unexpected God,
Awaken us to the surprising and unexpected ways you work in the world.
Open our minds to the unpredictable and diverse people you work through.
Expand our hearts to the extraordinary and unanticipated ways you work in us.
Be with us, when our lives are upended by grief: for people or relationships; for plans or dreams. Help us find purpose and healing to move forward each day. Comfort us in our loss and restore us in your strength. Surround us with the support of others to rediscover your joy.
Be with us, when our lives are transformed by abundance: of new ideas and ambitions; of plans to be made or desires fulfilled. Remind us of your blessings in all we are and all we have. Inspire us to accomplish the possibility you have created for us. Renew us with appreciation for the miracles in each day and your enduring care for us.
Be with us, when our lives are stirred up by opportunity: to speak out or stand up for those in need. Give us the courage to reject injustice in our communities. Bless us with compassion for those who are isolated or shunned, and help us make them whole.
Be with us in our waking, our resting, our dreaming. Let us know and share the peace that comes from your eternal grace. Amen.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

In worship today, we proclaim our living faith which through the love and sacrifice of Christ affirms that we are worthy. And so, in service, we open our hearts to that love, and make our offering in gratitude and praise.
Whether you give through a donation made today, or online or with PAR; whether your offering is of your time or your talents – together we give as we are able and commend these gifts to the renewal of our world and the bringing about of God’s kingdom here on earth.

♥  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 Fruit of All Creation”  vs. 1  227VU

Offering Prayer

Creative and renewing God,
We give thanks to you for the blessings we enjoy: the diverse beauty of each province from lakes to prairies, and mountains to coasts; the resources and opportunities to learn and grow, and leave our mark; the freedom to live and love, being true to ourselves. Bless these offerings as you have blessed our lives. Inspire us to discover beauty in those who appear different from ourselves; to create opportunities for diversity to surprise and to flourish; and to share the abundance of your love, without limit or restriction. Amen.

Hymn: “O Worship the King, All Glorious Above”  vs. 1, 2   235VU

Benediction:

Go into this new week, ready to be surprised by God. May God startle you out of complacency and into compassion; awaken you to see all you have to give; and amaze you with the awe-inspiring breadth of God’s care for you and your world.

Amen.

Closing Hymn: “Go Now in Peace”  on screen

Announcements


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, June 22nd