Virtual Service – March 21, 2021

8:30 am

March 21, 2021

Welcome to virtual church!

Each Sunday morning we will be sending an email to everyone in the congregation for whom we have email addresses, offering an abridged Sunday morning service — “virtual church.” For the latest news and updates from Walton, please check our Facebook page, Instagram and website.

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

Sunday Service Video (30+ minutes followed by the hymns)

Today’s service will be offered in 2 formats – video and text. If you wish, you can download and print the service from this document – link – or you can read the complete service below.

The hymn-sing is at the end.


Announcements

• Tax preparation for people with modest incomes: The Walton Tax Clinic will be starting up again on March 1st, 2021, as part of the Walton Outreach Committee. Due to COVID precautions, we will manage with an “exchange of documents” in the Walton parking lot and follow-up telephone calls. If you have an interest in having us assist you, please call: 905-631-6188
• Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. One of Jesus’ disciples was a “bad egg.” Do you know which one?
• Last call to drop off Easter Hug cards! Want to send an Easter hug to a Walton senior? The deadline to drop completed cards off at the church is Tuesday, March 23rd. Click here to download and print the cards, then colour them in or add a personal note if you wish. You can even address them to a specific person if there is someone in particular who you miss seeing at Walton. Thank you for sharing God’s love with your neighbours!
• Givings envelopes
– A reminder if you have not yet picked up your 2021 givings envelopes, please do so at your earliest convenience. Please call the church office before coming by to make sure someone will be here. If you are unable to pick them up please let the office know and we would be happy to arrange delivery to your home.
•  Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayers requests can be sent to office@waltonmemorial.com
•  If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at jamescgillwuc@gmail.com


Welcome

Good morning. Welcome as we continue our Lenten journey down the path. We are here for the next step along the path. And today’s step is about giving an authentic compliment. An authentic compliment, not just a compliment like, “Hey, your hair looks good!” The authentic compliment to you Val, is you always choose great locations for these videos. You have that eye to find the right angle and the right location.

Thank you Jim, but I think it is God we have to compliment for the location?
Well, you listen to God and where God wants the setting to be.

Yes. Thank you. And it is a beautiful setting isn’t it, we are so blessed to live in Bronte and have this so close by to just walk over to. It is fantastic!

So that is our next step. Giving an authentic compliment.

Are you ready to join us on our next step on our Lenten journey? Let’s worship.

Call to Worship

From an empty heart to an empty home, we are hollow in a world obsessed with plenty.
A mind too full of doubts, a life too full of stuff; we are restless from an abundance of overwhelm.

Lead us by the hand, Lord, and bring us to this time of worship.

Turn our hearts towards you, Lord, and bring us peace.

Opening Prayer – Prayer of Confession

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy.

Forgive us, faithful God, that we let other priorities and demands distract us from our relationship with you. We do not always put you first in our hearts, or make the time for you in each day.

Renew us with your spirit to seek your presence.

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love.

Forgive us, generous God, that we are consumed by the wealth of the world, chasing superficial desires and empty promises.

We do not always recognize your blessings in our lives, and we neglect to thank you for your care for us.
Renew us with your spirit to acknowledge your love.

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your abundant mercy.

Forgive us, healing God, that we criticize and condemn the lives of others, being stingy with compassion, rushing to judgment in its place.

We do not always extend to others the forgiveness and understanding you give us, and we fail to recognize your love for each one of your children.

Renew us with your spirit to share your grace.
Have mercy on us, O God, and restore us to the joy of your salvation.
Hear now the good news of God’s love: “I will be their God and they shall by my people,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.”

Thanks be to God.

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 Story: Rock or Sand?

When you open a carton of 12 eggs, can you tell by looking if one of them is rotten inside? Nope! And people are the same way. You can’t always tell from the outside if a person is a “bad egg” on the inside. This week in Sunday School we’re talking about Jesus’ 12 disciples and the one who turned out to be a bad egg. Watch the video below to find out what he did.

 

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Psalm 51:1-12

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – A New Covenant
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Psalm 51 – Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.

Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Music: He Put A New Song in My Heart

 

Morning Message – “Knowing God, Inside Out” – Gill Le Fevre

We’re into the home stretch. Lent 2021 is nearly complete. Spring and the Easter promise of new life are tantalizingly within reach.

And for many of us – especially if you give something up for Lent – that is unequivocally good news. Because Lent can have a bit of a bad rep. Of being a season of gloom when we repent and feel miserable over all our sins, or at least try to.

Except that’s not the actual meaning of what’s written in the original Greek word for repentance. To repent is more about adjusting your mindset or changing your purpose; turning our minds towards God.

Or turning our hearts towards God.

I’m reminded here of Martin Luther’s famous quote, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.”

Whatever your heart clings to.

Luther is challenging us to examine all the different things in our life that we have a relationship with, and see which have the strongest hold over us. What do we cling to above all else?

And as we’re mentally ranking different parts of our life – work, family, friends, sport perhaps – where is God in the list? To what extent do we cling to God?

It’s a tough and provocative question, and the irony here perhaps is that God knows exactly how tough a question it is. God – since the beginning of time – has seen over and again just how hard we humans find this.

Look at the relationship God has with the people of Israel. In Exodus 20, God has just brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt – delivered them from untold oppression – and is then making a covenant with them, establishing their ongoing relationship. And the very first requirement God makes of the people – the very first one – is that they have no other gods.

God knew how hard we would find this.

Flash forward, roughly say six or seven hundred years, and we find Jeremiah in our reading today sharing a very similar message. Reminding the people of Israel, that generations of their ancestors didn’t manage this, didn’t stay true to God. And yet affirming that God still wants a relationship with humankind; and that God knew how hard we would find this.

Relationship, acceptance, belonging. God shares these things with us today, just as he did to the people of Israel, and still we struggle to prioritize God in our hearts.

The world around us does not always help, bombarding us with expectations feeding our insecurities, constantly measuring us against what the theologian Marcus Borg calls the “three A’s” of appearance, achievement, and affluence.

The Boston priest, Brother Geoffrey Tristram, warns us, “Our desires are being continually stimulated, encouraged into disordered attachments, and we are encouraged to feel endlessly dissatisfied with the lives that we have.”

What is our heart clinging to?

It’s a sign of this malaise – that we are never allowed to feel that we have enough, that we are enough – that gratitude has become one of this generation’s top self-help hacks for happiness – an industry even. Books, blogs, Instagram feeds are all thriving on the fact that we have forgotten how to be grateful in our lives.

Or perhaps the crux of the problem is that we’re being grateful for the wrong things – appearance, achievement, affluence. What is our heart clinging to?

The Early Church Father, St Augustine, recognized this emptiness, writing: “You [God] have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

I think our hearts are restless because God has claimed our hearts and us.

“Says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

God did not give up on the people of Israel. Despite generations of Israelites turning away from God, God reaches out again.

The reading from Jeremiah shows God willing to start over and make loving God, having a relationship with God, even easier. God is going to make this relationship not only central to the community but central to each person’s life. Instead of the ten commandments with the law – the guidelines for this relationship – written on stone, now God is writing this relationship into the people’s hearts.

God understands it can be hard to trust in something that we only know with our heads, and so now he is deepening his relationship with the people of Israel, planting his love for them into their hearts.

This promise speaks to a closeness and an intimacy that is rightly overwhelming. A love so great it is built into us, inescapable and enduring. A mercy that defies logic, embracing and sustaining. Beating through our hearts in each and every moment.

It is this relationship that the Psalmist recalls when they appeal to God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy. Such vivid words. A love that cannot be shaken, a mercy that ever endures, a grace that transforms our existence.

Because God’s love is there for humankind in their most desperate moments. For the Psalmist as an individual as well as the community of the Israelites, the breach has been immense, their behaviour reprehensible. And yet in their darkest hour, God is there for them. God is willing, as the Psalmist asks, to create a clean heart and renew the spirit of love that nurtures humankind’s relationship with God.

As individuals and as a community we’ve lived through our share of dark moments in the last 12 months. I’ve spoken to many friends who’ve described feelings of overwhelm and sadness, of suffocating gloom. For me, one of these spells came at the start of the pandemic. With so much upheaval in the world, the malaise crept up on me unawares, pulling me into myself and away from the wider world.

Only when my husband pointed out that I hadn’t left the house in several days, did I realize how cut off I had let myself become, from my friends and from God.

I set out on a walk, to start to shake loose the shadow, and inevitably headed towards the lake. That first walk turned into many more and the lake and the sun and the breeze gradually pulled me back towards the world.

And by the lake, God reached out to me. His love written in my heart, inescapable and enduring, patient and healing.

And in that breeze, God gave me words. Words of gratitude and reawakening, prayers of struggle and of hope. Those words became last year’s Easter Pier service, written in my heart while I walked by the lake.

As we reach the end of this season of Lent, let us celebrate that in our times of struggle, our hearts will reach out to God, because he has already written his love there. God’s love for us cannot be shaken, God’s mercy given to us ever endures.

Whatever else we might cling to for a while, at our core God remains there for us. God has written this relationship into our hearts. And as we turn closer to God, we can discover with joy that God is already there.

Thanks be to God.

Pastoral Prayer

Steadfast God,

From the least to the greatest, you hear our cries. From the least to the greatest, you see our need. We give thanks that you are our God and there is nothing we cannot bring to you in prayer.

Hear our prayers, Lord, for the troubles in our lives. Strengthen us to cope with the insecurities of this world – of health, work, relationships. Sustain us to grow in patience and persistence. Reassure us with the unshakeable promise of your peace.

Hear our prayers, Lord, for the flotsam in our lives. Free us from small worries and distracting everyday angst. Guide us to let go of short term drama that creates long term pain. Nurture us to trust in your love for us.

Hear our prayers Lord for the passing of our days. Help us recognise your blessing in each day we share. Help us celebrate your blessing in each milestone we accomplish. Awaken us to embrace your presence in our lives.

Turn our hearts towards you God and restore us to the joy of your salvation.

Amen.

Anthem: “God Speaks His Love”

 

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

Ever-present God, thank you for walking alongside us each day, guiding, supporting and blessing us each step of the way. Help us to give in that way to others as well, sharing your love and grace in the world. Our offering will now be received.

♥ by secure online payment from your bank or credit card. Click here to go to our donation page to make a single or recurring donation. Multiple funds (including Sleeping Children) 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 Prayer

Abundant God, sustain in us a willing spirit, to serve your purpose in the world. Inspire us to share peace where there is discontent; to bring healing in the place of hurt; to shine your love into the overlooked corners of our world. Remind us of the joy of reaching to be closer to you, even as you already draw us near. Amen.

Benediction

Go forth this day with the confidence of God’s love written in your heart. Whatever this week brings, trust that your heart will cling to God and he will guide you with his grace and rescue you with his mercy. 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!

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


In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, March 17th