Worship Service for June 14, 2020

June 14, 2020 – Second Sunday after Pentecost

A message from the Rev. Bob Smith

Welcome message in spoken audio by Rev. B. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

Dear Friends;

For all our longing to be together again in worship, the actual decision involves many decisions over such things as when to open, and what restrictions need to be put in place.  I continue to be struck by the countless ways this pandemic has touched our lives and how for all of us we find ourselves travelling down a path we’ve never been down before.  By email or in print you will be hearing in more detail separately from Bruce Morrison, the Clerk of Session, but the main decision the session has made for now is that we are aiming for a return to worship in our building on Aug. 16.  The session will continue to monitor the situation, plan for that re-opening so that it is done safely and responsibly, and keep the congregation informed, and for this we are grateful.

For now, we remain at a distance, but we continue to be connected through these worship resources.  They are a way of being together, and collectively keeping our focus on God, and God’s call to faithful living.  May these be a blessing to you.

Grace and peace to you,

Rev. Bob Smith

Hope” by George Frederic Watts and assistants (1886), from the collection of the Tate Britain. Courtesy the Wikimedia Commons.

Opening Hymn

Book of Praise – 100 “I’ll praise you, Lord

  • video with only on-screen words.
  • Piano: Rachelle Risling, recorded June 10, 2020. Vocal parts recorded virtually: soprano (Carolyn Glasgow); alto (Rachelle Risling); tenor (Robert Quickert); bass (Rev. Bob Smith).

Words taken from Psalm 138; paraphrased by English Anglican priest and hymn-writer Michael Perry (1942–1996) © copyright 1989 by Hope Publishing Co.
Music (Tune: Highwood) by English organist and musicologist Sir Richard Runcimen Terry (1865—1938) © copyright Oxford University Press.
Music and words used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Recording © copyright 2020 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.

Prayers of Adoration and Confession, Lord’s Prayer

Great and loving God, our hope and our life, it is a joy to be together in Worship, even though in this time of a pandemic, we need to do it at a distance, each in our own place of worship.  We feel more than ever the need to know that you are with us and that you will make your presence known to us wherever we are.  Speak to us, we pray.  Lift us up and feed us with the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation.  Great God, who made us, whom came to live as one of us, and who is present now in our hearts, we praise you for all your goodness to us.

Eternal God, forgive us for failing to proclaim the good news of your love.  You know our excuses – we’re afraid, busy, doubtful.  You call us to travel lightly yet we allow ourselves to become burdened by so much.  You call us to proclaim the good news, cure the sick, offer new life to those who are lost.  You call us to live in hope, but we are doubtful and timid.  Forgive our failure to be obedient to your call, and give us grace and courage to follow where you lead.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, and join voices as one to offer the prayer he taught us:

Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon and the Peace

Friends in Christ, hear the good news.  Paul writes, “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.  Everything old has passed away, see everything has become new.”  Receive the new life God has assured us in Christ, and be thankful.  Amen.

          The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
          (And also with you.)


Scripture reading of Romans 5:1–8 in spoken audio by Cindy Similas. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

Romans 5:1–8 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

Children’s Story

Christian Education Coordinator Laura Alary has prepared two videos this week. The first is a reading of The Very Best Day: The Way of Love for Children by Roger Hutchison (Church Publishing, 2020).

The second is the story “Philip and the Stranger On the Road” from Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers by Laura Alary (Wood Lake Publishing, 2018)


What a remarkable couple of weeks we have just been through.
Violent racism has led to demonstrations by countless thousands of people
          stretching out day after day
                   and encircling the entire globe.
The senseless death of one black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd,
          has resulted in a cry heard around the world
                   that racism must end.

Thankfully, the protests have been mostly peaceful,
          but they have been loud and long and angry enough
                   that no one can help but hear the outrage.
And, one hopes, especially for those of us who are white,
          no one can help but look in the mirror, and ask,
                   Am I part of the problem?
                   Are there ways I have contributed to this suffering?4

There have been some wonderful moments –
          blacks and whites embracing and marching together;
          white police officers joining the marchers,
                   and even kneeling with them in remembrance of George Floyd;
          civic officials promising to do better.

I know we have been here before,
          and too many times.
But something feels different this time –
          if feels bigger, louder
          and the responses from some at least,
                   more genuine and heartfelt.
To me it seems that a door of opportunity
          has been swung wide open to allow for
                   healing for those who have been wronged
                   redemption for those who have realized their complicity,
                   and reconciliation between people too long divided.

Will it make a difference?
Is this the harbinger of real change
          or just more words?
Time alone will tell.
But for this moment at least,
          I think there is a glimmer hope.


Sometimes when the way is hard
          it’s all that keeps us going.
Hope that something better is coming
          hope that there will be some relief from the struggle
                   some reward for our labours.

Paul speaks of hope in our reading from Romans
          in quite a remarkable way,
                   not just as a desire that something good will happen
                             down the road
                   but almost as a promise,
                             something that is assured.

He’s so certain, he even brags about it:
          “We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.”
And then he goes on
                   in lines that flow almost like poetry:
          “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings,
                   knowing that suffering produces endurance,
                   and endurance produces character,
                   and character produces hope,
                   and hope does not disappoint us,
                             because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
                             through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Now this hope is far more
          than the foolish hoping that is part of idle conversation
                   that is hardly worth the time taken to hope it: 
          I hope I’ll find a parking place.
          I hope there’s enough cream left in the fridge for my coffee.
          I hope the Leafs win the Stanley cup
                   whenever they get around to playing it…

In fact, Paul’s hope is about even more
          than our more serious hopes, that really do matter,
                   and may even form heartfelt prayers.
          I hope my friend pulls through her surgery.
          I hope we’ll have enough money to buy groceries
                   at the end of the month.
          I hope that recent demonstrations will improve race relations
                             around the world
                   and in the hearts of all people and institutions.
          I hope we will soon pull out of this pandemic
                    and be able to gather together for worship.     

In this passage in Romans I think Paul is talking about our ultimate hope,
          that is, our hope of sharing the glory of God.
For him, in a day when to be a follower of Jesus
          will likely mean imprisonment or death
                   this is hope you have to be able to hang your life on.

His boast and his conviction
          are about their future life with God.
It is a declaration
          that nothing that their enemies do to them
                   to threaten their bodies or their lives
                             will be able to touch their souls;
          that while they still see themselves
                   as up to their necks in the heat of the battle,
                             God has already won the victory.

So no wonder Paul starts his bit of poetry with suffering.
Suffering is the present reality of his audience,
          and what he says has to be able to make sense here,
                   in the brutality and despair of a Roman prison,
                             if it is going to hold up for them anywhere else.

So there in the prison,
          where the lashing and abuse of the persecutors
                   are meant to beat them down and break them,
                             and make them turn on their fellow believers,
                             and denounce their faith —
          instead of breaking them,
                   Paul is talking about boasting, and hope.

          “Do to us whatever you want,
                    but we are going to boast
                             even here in our sufferings.
          Because we know that
                   suffering produces endurance,
                   and endurance produces character,
                   and character produces hope,
                   and hope does not disappoint us,
                             because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
                             through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

You can almost hear the faithful in their prison cells
          making it into a chant —
                   “suffering produces endurance,
                   endurance produces character,
                   character produces hope,
                   and hope does not disappoint.”

Their suffering itself
          actually points them to the hope they have in God
                   as Paul will say, a couple of chapters later,
          that nothing in this life or the next — not even death —
                   has any power to separate us from the love of God
                             shown to them in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Just the opposite of what their persecutors are trying to do,
          their hope is strengthened by their experience
                   which in the end is a gift of the grace and love of God,
                             “poured into our hearts
                             through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

For Paul the proof that makes him so confident in his hope
          is found in the death and resurrection of Christ.
In fact, for Paul there is almost nothing about Jesus
          that interests him or is even worth mentioning
                   other than his death and resurrection
                   and what difference that makes to us.

In that moment God’s love was shown
                   more clearly that ever before,
          Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf
                   showed how far God’s grace would reach out to us.
          and whatever life throws at us,
                   our standing before God has been established —
                             we are seen by God not as we are,
                             but as we have been redeemed in Christ.

As hard as it is to imagine
          someone giving their life for someone as unworthy as me
                   that’s exactly how it works —
          while we were still busy sinning,
                   Christ died for us
                   and restores us to our rightful place in the created order.
God in Christ goes right into the pit of human alienation and hostility
          and by taking on that burden,
                   gives us life and hope.

This is why Paul can be so sure
          how this story will end.
This is how he can make such an outrageous claim,
          that our hope does not disappoint us.
This is why he can brag even in the face of suffering
          that one day we will share the glory of God.

Do we sometimes doubt the promise
          that one day we will share glory if God?
Do we sometimes think we aren’t good enough?
Do we sometimes think that it’s a nice story
          and that it’s good that it works for some people — the good people —
          but that God couldn’t possibly love someone like me that much?

Paul would say to us,
          “You haven’t been listening.
          This isn’t about you, and whether you are bad or good.”
                   (just an aside, Paul would say we’re all bad)
          “It is about God
                   who has a love bigger than we can imagine,
                             (the death of Christ being the prime example)
                   and whose love has been freely poured into our hearts.
          And whatever badness you have is irrelevant —
                   it has been taken care of.”

So your hope of glory is secure.
Count on it.
You will not be disappointed.

Now, (and here I think is where we start to doubt)
          we all know about having had hope
                   and being disappointed.
How long is it since the Leafs won the Stanley Cup?
Sure, we have all hoped in vain,
          like with the parking space,
          or having cream in the fridge for our coffee
                   and it serves us right,
                             for putting any stock in such foolish hoping,
                    or at least for bringing God into that picture.

But more importantly,
          sometimes we are disappointed in the bigger matters,
                   the matters in which we felt secure
                   asking God to intervene —
          and my friend doesn’t make it,
          and there isn’t enough to get by,
          pandemics drag on
          racism persists.

And we wonder,
          “If God couldn’t fix that
                    how can God fix me,
                             and make me fit for the kingdom?”
And Paul would say,
          as tragic as human suffering is
                   it cannot touch that ultimate hope that we have
                             that nothing can separate us from God’s love
                             and that that love is poured freely into our hearts,
                                      and maybe most liberally
                                      for those whose suffering is toughest.

At those times
          the question is not
                   “Why did God not prevent this?”
          but,    “Where is God in this?”
And the answer is
          “God is with us in our suffering.
          God is on the side of those who are struggling
                   and working to lift them up and give them hope.”

And this brings us back to where we started
          with Paul thumbing his nose at suffering
                   because of the hope that is ours in Christ
                             that we will share in the glory of God.
The greater hope we have that Paul is talking about
          can help us to endure,
          and carry us through,
          and help us to keep our perspective
                   even when our prayers have not been answered
                             as we wish.

Jesus, the same One in whom this hope is assured,
          said to his disciples, shortly before his death
                   words that I’m sure inspired Paul.
He said,

          “In the world you face persecution.
          But take courage;
                   I have overcome the world.” 
(John 16:33)

Life may be hard for us.
Our sufferings may be real.
But these have been overcome for us by Christ
          in whom we are given life.
And the great hope he gives us,
          that we will share in the glory of God,
                   is secure,
                   and will not disappoint us.


“The Triumph of Hope” by Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (1607–1678). Courtesy the Wikimedia Commons.

Musical Meditation

Meditation on “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” performed on the organ and grand piano in the GCPC sanctuary on June 5, 2020, by Rachelle Risling, Music Director of GCPC.

This is a version of the hymn that can be found as Hymn 321 in the Book of Praise (pp 414–415, Presbyterian Church in Canada, 1997). Music: Tune “Lobe den Herren” by German hymn-writer Joachim Neander (1650–1680). Arrangement: copyright © copyright 2008 Hope Publishing Company, used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
Music recording © copyright 2020 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.


We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online via our CanadaHelps page, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope

God of life, you have made your home among us and you love us just as we are.  Help us to show your presence to everyone, and especially to those who are alone and lonely, needy or suffering.

You draw all the world together, to be one family.  Teach us to be open to welcome and include everyone.  Work in the affairs of the nations of the world to bring peace, reconciliation and stability.  In a time of global pandemic, strengthen the selfless efforts of health care workers, sustain those who are providing essential services, bring comfort and healing to those who are ill, sustain and give hope to those who are bereaved, and give us the courage to live within the restriction that have been placed on us, so that we might help move together toward a lifting of those restrictions.

We are coming through a time of racial tension, and of demonstrations and protests again the injustices suffered by blacks in many places.  While we pray for an end to violence and destruction, we pray that you help us to hear their cry for relief, and face up to the racism within and around us all.  We pray with hope that this may be a moment of change for the good, and we commit ourselves to be on the side of a working toward a world where the barriers of race in every aspect of our lives may be removed.

You give us great gifts of time, resources, talents, and insights.  Help us use these gifts to tend and care for all you love.  Teach us how to care, and give and share, and to make the suffering of the neediest in our communities and in the world, a burden that we are willing to help them carry.  You sent Jesus, to be with us as a teacher, companion, and leader.  Help us remember his ways of being open and unafraid, and how he reached out especially to the oppressed.   Speak to those so caught up in themselves that they cannot hear your invitation to life, or receive the gift of your grace.  Come into the hearts of all people to bring your healing and give your hope.

Great and loving God, your will for us in Jesus is the peace that the world cannot give; your abiding gift is the Holy Spirit that he promised, and the hope that is ours in you.  Calm our troubled hearts, dispel all our fears, remove our pride.  Keep us steadfast in love, and faithful to your word, so that in us you will always be able to find a dwelling place, and through us carry out your ministry of love in the world.  O God, in your mercy, hear all these our prayers, and in your love, answer, through Jesus our saviour and our friend.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

Book of Praise – 642 “O Master, let me walk with thee

  • video with no words; see just below for the words; sung words are identical to those shown below.
  • Words by  American pastor Washington Gladden (1836–1918). Music (Tune: Maryton) by English Anglican priest Henry Percy Smith (1825–1898). Both in the public domain.
  • Video recorded at First United Methodist Church (Houston, TX) on January 28, 2017.

Words to the hymn

O Master, let me walk with Thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me Thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me thy patience; still with thee
in closer, dearer, company,
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
in trust that triumphs over wrong.

In hope that sends a shining ray
far down the future’s broadening way,
in peace that only thou canst give,
with thee, O Master, let me live.

Commissioning and Benediction

Benediction in spoken audio by Rev. B. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all, now and forever.


Danish Choral Amen. Book of Praise 780. Music director Rachelle Risling (keyboard); Robert Quickert (vocals). Click triangle at left to begin listening.

© Copyright 2020 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church