Virtual Service – May 16, 2021

8:30 am

May 16, 2021

Virtual Service

Welcome to virtual church!

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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.


• Looking for volunteers from our teens and older kids! If you’d like to take part in the virtual Sunday service for June 13, when we celebrate Pride month and God’s inclusive love, please email Gill at There are long parts and short parts; prayers, bible readings or welcomes; and you can record on video or just audio if you prefer – there really is something for everyone! Get in touch for more details before May 31
Parents of Grade 3 Sunday School kids – COVID can’t cancel our Bible presentations for each Grade 3 student! We’d love your family to drop by the church and pick up your Action Bible in person so we can say hello, or we can deliver right to your porch. Pick up and delivery will be available the week of May 30th – watch next week’s announcements for details!
Children and youth are invited to view this week’s virtual Sunday School lesson online. This week we’re filled with joy, and guess what? There’s a Bible verse for that!
•  Walton’s prayer chain is open. Confidential prayers requests can be sent to
•  If you need Rev. Jim for a pastoral emergency, please email him directly at


Good morning! Isn’t it great we can enjoy an ice cream cone this morning? I love having a virtual church service where I can sit and eat this delicious ice cream cone. Some people in different places all over the world join in with us and enjoy their breakfast watching the service. Other people have a bowl of popcorn and watch the service together with their family on a Friday night. It’s great wherever you are to join together in worship together in Jesus’ name. Come let us join in worship.

Call to Worship

One: While our world is a storm of trouble and grief,
Two: in worship we find a time of calm and renewal.
One: We seek the courage of God’s word planted deep in our hearts;
Two: Let us slow to hear God’s truth for us.
One: We seek the comfort of God’s grace, refreshing our soul;
Two: Let us reflect to remember God’s promise to us.
One: We seek the compassion of God’s love, nourishing our lives;
Two: Let us share with those around us, God’s blessings for us.

Opening Prayer

Sustaining God, help us turn our thoughts to you – not just now in this time of worship, but in each and every day as we go about our lives. Help us strengthen our relationship with you, that we may find joy and peace in each day, comforted by your promise to be with us always. Help us recognize the ways your love can make a difference in our lives and our communities, nourishing us and others with mercy and understanding. Guide us with your word, inspire us with your mercy and strengthen us with your Spirit. 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: “Missing Fruit”

Remember the colourful Fruits of the Spirit pictures that used to be on the walls of Bronte Hall? Alison pulled them out the other day and noticed one of the fruits was missing – the banana with the word Faithfulness on it. She was all set to go to the supermarket to pick up a piece of fruit when Val stopped her.

The Fruits of the Spirit aren’t something you can buy in a store. They are gifts from God: the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. And those gifts are always inside us, even though we sometimes feel like we’ve run out of one of them. Val says she’s been running low on patience lately!

When our fruit bowl feels empty, we may have to look a bit harder inside ourselves, or ask God to help us find our missing fruit. But like most things, when we practice using ALL the Fruits of the Spirit, we get better at it. The more we practice using self-control, the better we are at self-control.

And best of all, we can fill up each other’s fruit bowls by sharing these gifts from God with each other. When we give love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control we also receive those blessings back. Aren’t God’s gifts amazing?

Anthem: “God Speaks His Love”


Scripture Reading: Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:5-8. (NRSV)

Psalm 1
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Jeremiah 17:5-8
Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord. They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Morning Message: “Foreign times, familiar faith” – Gill Le Fevre

I was reminded as I prepared for this service that I’ve not actually read the whole of the Bible. If I’m completely honest, I don’t think I’ve even read a portion of every book of the Bible. I remember being very impressed when the Sunday School children a few years ago learnt the names of all the books of the Bible in order, because – nope – I couldn’t do that either.

Don’t get me wrong – I start off strong and Genesis and Exodus are page-turners. But Amos, Obadiah, Hosea – I couldn’t really tell you what they’re about.

Part of the reason for this is that there are chunks of the Bible that are difficult to relate to our lives today, because their context seems so remote and unfamiliar. And the readings for today fall into that category.

Cursing after all is what I do when I catch my finger in a door. It’s not my best moment, and yet it’s also far removed from the notion of bringing down a curse on another person. That type of cursing is even more unfamiliar to me, so unforgiving and absolute, that it’s challenging to read Jeremiah putting this word into the mouth of God.

And wicked is a word that again our context would keep for someone unredeemable. Wicked is a binary term, where nothing good can be found. There’s no ambiguity in wicked, and no hope for change either.

Even when these readings hit positive notes, I’m left uncertain. “In all that they do, they prosper.” I don’t know anyone for whom that statement is true. All that they do? Really?? Prospering? No, not to my knowledge. Even the very best people I know have struggles.

And so I’m ready to blow straight past these readings, deem them irrelevant, and find something else to think about and talk about, until one verse brings me to a halt.

Jeremiah, verse 6, “They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”

Maybe it’s the unusual phrasing of ‘salt land’ or the image of desolation that the passage evokes, but this verse reached out and grabbed my attention. Because after all, we are living in the parched places of wilderness.

My daughter has had two birthdays during Covid, both in lockdowns, one in full quarantine, and so she has yet to celebrate becoming a teenager with her friends. There are entire years of students who are missing out on the milestones of graduation, their transition into the next phase of their lives unmarked by the rituals they grew up expecting.

Even our beginnings are not the same – I heard recently that many universities in the fall will hold orientation programs for their second-year students, who have never experienced campus life, while I’ve watched several intakes of interns at work go through their terms with my team and never set foot in the office, never even meet their colleagues.

Our lives right now are a wilderness of lost expectations. All the things we thought would happen and haven’t. We’re journeying through a salt land where nothing comes easily, and as the Psalmist wrote, our certainties have been undone, like chaff, the debris of seeds, blowing away in the wind.

So yes, I realized, these readings do know what our lives are like today.

And if they understand our struggles, perhaps they also offer a word or two of comfort for us; a signpost to help us move forward.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,” says Jeremiah. “Happy are those who delight in the Lord,” reminds the Psalm.

Trusting in God, both readings tell us, is like being a tree planted near a stream of water.

I grew up in Australia, and one vivid memory I have of the Australian outback is of the way in which acres of harsh scrub and grasslands were crisscrossed with gullies – creeks or rivers, sometimes seasonal, that were thronged with trees. The aerial views are quite stunning of these ribbons of trees surviving in the midst of wilderness.

These trees can endure all sorts of conditions, surviving relentless harsh summers, and long-lasting droughts that dry up the surface water, all because their roots grow deep under the ground, tapping into water that we cannot see.

This is the endurance that the Psalmist tells us is a gift from God to us through faith. As both readings recount, when our hearts turn to God, when we make God a part of our days and our nights, when we fundamentally trust in God’s teaching and promises to us, we will have nourishment and sustenance that means we can endure all of life’s wilderness.

And not only endure, but flourish, and bear fruit.

I know, I know – it sounds like a lot, when just getting up in the morning, or putting on pants can seem like a major effort. And yet bearing fruit is what the Psalmist and Jeremiah both say is possible; not only possible, but promised by God.

Remember after all, that God does not look for strength in us. He gives us strength precisely when we’re weak and in need. The trees, both in the outback gullies and in the Psalm, did not first grow tall and then send down roots to find water, they started with the water and grew from there. God only requires our trust.

As Reverend Jim talked about last Sunday, we’re called to bear the fruit of Christian character and Christian conduct, which is fruit that can emerge in surprisingly small and seemingly insignificant ways.

I like how the first letter to the Thessalonians puts this: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This is the fruit of our faith: the ability to find joy in small moments, to notice the awe of creation. The comfort that God is always listening to us and for us, whether we pray formally in a church service, or during the everyday moments of life – at our desk, in the car, folding laundry.

And if both those acts feel like a stretch, then we are encouraged to give thanks in all circumstances. In all circumstances. Because in the wilderness and the uninhabited salt lands, there are still thanks to be found and given.

We might thank God for being with us. Or thank God for opening us up to the possibility of hope. Or simply thank God for being able to pray. Even prayers of despair, or fear, or anger, are prayers we can take to God – the book of Psalms is, after all, full of them.

A new week stretches out in front of us, filled with who knows what. Anger, fear, despair. Joy, excitement, gratitude. Lethargy, frustration, aimlessness. A little of everything perhaps.

But whatever we face and whoever we encounter, we can draw on our roots, let our hearts be nourished by God, and seek to rejoice, to pray and to give thanks. And trust that we will be sustained.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Pastoral Prayer

Boundless God,
When we feel that our lives are being blown off course, our hopes dispersing like chaff in the wind, we pray for your reassuring love.

Soothe us and all who struggle through days distorted by stress and uncertainty. Help us to let go of the worries outside our control and to find release by bringing our anxieties to you in prayer. Remind us of your care for us and the power of your love that embraces all things. Lessen in us the urge to try and control our world, and grant us peace.

Strengthen us and all who have their lives overwhelmed by sickness or infirmity. Be with those undergoing tests or treatment, that they might receive good advice and guidance. Support those working in healthcare and research, that their gifts and presence may ease the suffering in our world. Help us to grow in patience and endurance, and grant us peace.

Comfort us and all who suffer at times engulfed by anger or shame. Remind us of your everlasting forgiveness, and encourage us to offer that compassion to those around us, and also to ourselves. Inspire us to treasure and accept those around us as children of God, and recognize that blessing also in ourselves. Help us to welcome you into our hearts, and grant us peace.

All this we pray in the name of Jesus the Risen Christ. Amen.

Offering of Ourselves, Our Gifts, Our Tithes

What a privilege we have been given to see God’s creation grow and blossom these last couple of weeks. To experience all the colours, light and warmth, longer days as the hope of summer and the joy of being outside in that beauty of creation. We thank you God for these blessings and offer up to you our offering to share your hope and love to others this week.

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Offering Prayer

Healing God, may we proclaim the joy and calling of the Psalmist, finding ourselves nurtured by your love, that we might bear fruit in all circumstances. When the winds of turmoil blow through our world, let our giving affirm the steadfastness of your care for all your children. When the desolation of hunger and violence injure our world, let our giving provide hope and courage throughout creation. As you bless and sustain us, may we encourage those around us, trusting in your everlasting love. Amen


Go out into this new week, nourished by the grace of God. May God’s love sustain you through the challenges you face and inspire you through the blessings you encounter. In every moment, may you bear the fruit of this eternal love, offering up praise and thanksgiving. 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!

♬ Come Away From Rush and Hurry (LUYH 527)
♬ Like a River of Tears (Renewing our Spirits) (More Voices 98)
♬ The Tree (Ken Medema)
♬ Be Thou My Vision (VU 642 v 1,2,4,5)
♬ Gather Us In (LUYH 529 verse 3)

In case you missed it…

Here is Rev. Jim’s mid-week update for Wednesday, May 12th