January 30, 2022 – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
A recording of a video version this virtual worship service will be available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e71J_WQGtY from 12:15 AM on January 30, 2022.
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Call to worship
One: O Lord, in you we find refuge;
All: Let us never be put to shame.
One: Turn your ear to us, O God, and save us.
All: For you are our rock and our fortress.
One: God has been our hope and our trust from our earliest days.
All: God has been with us since we were born from our mother’s womb.
One: Let us sing out our praise of God’s steadfast love.
All: We will offer God all glory and honour this day and always.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
Prayers of Approach and Confession
Almighty and everlasting One, You are hidden in mystery, and yet so present. In a hectic world, you are peace and rest. In a harsh world, you are tenderness and mercy. In the cold and dark of winter, you are light and comfort, and so we bring you our worship, for you are the One who created us, the One who redeems us, and the One who gives us life, our one and only God, to whom we offer all love and loyalty, now and always.
God, whose name is love, we confess our faults and failings, knowing you know us through and through. You tell us love is patient and kind, and you know when our patience and kindness fell short. You tell us love is never rude or selfish, and you see the times we insisted on our own way. Forgive us the excuses we make to ourselves when our love falters. Strengthen us by your Spirit so that our love is genuine and reliable.
Declaration of Pardon
God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love; as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins. Thanks be to God whose love and forgiveness are steadfast. May we be steadfast in our forgiveness of one another.
Thanks be to God.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Today we are looking at the first Corinthians chapter 13.This famous chapter on love was written not for weddings but for the Corinthian church members and adherents who could not work together. This chapter on love is probably not written for people who are getting married or those in the honeymoon phase, but more for people who are married over 10 or 20 years. This chapter is probably not meant for newborn children and their parents but for grownup children and their elderly parents. The text is probably not meant for people about to take their first step on their first day together, but for those about to take one more step on their 20th year. I believe this chapter on love is written for those struggling in their relationships, exhausted, discouraged, disappointed, and wounded, yet still trying to find ways to work through their challenges.
The first Corinthians chapter 13 invites us to deepen our understanding of love: our love for God, love for each other, and love for ourselves. A Christian understanding of love is different from the world. It is not about trading what we have with one another. I will do this, and you will need to do that in return. I will buy this, and you will buy that. It is not about pleasing others. It is not just about making sure we feel good about ourselves and others. It is not about who has the power and the control. It is not about who wins and who loses… But it is about being kind, gentle, patient, and forgiving each other. It is about being true to who we are and to whom we belong. It is about building something together by trusting God. It is not about building something by just trusting our ability and knowledge But it is about building something wonderful by trusting God beyond what we have, what we know, and what we feel.
The kind of love that the first Corinthians chapter 13 tries to show us is different from the sort of romantic love that the Hollywood movie tries to show, two young people madly in love with each other at their first sight. But I believe it tries to show us the kind of love that two exhausted working parents share. It tries to paint the kind of love two elderly partners who are struggling with their health show for one another; the kind of love that the father of the prodigal son shares with his troubled children… and the kind of love Jesus reveals on the cross for our humanity. The type of love Jesus has shown us is far from pleasant, attractive, pretty, and clean. It is the kind of love that we humans cannot generate by just depending on our human abilities to love and forgive. It is not the kind of love we humans can practice by just relying on our knowledge of love. It is the kind of love that comes from God, it is the kind of love we experience near the end of our human reason, strength, and knowledge.
1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 7 and 8 state, “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
The Apostle Paul invites us to experience and share the kind of love that never ends and never fails. He is not talking about our human love. But we humans do. We, humans, do fail, stumble, misunderstand, struggle with forgiveness, and struggle with acceptance. Yet, we humans also know the kind of love that continues even when we say, “It is over.” We have experienced the type of love and forgiveness that continues even after we say, “There is nothing more I can do.” We have learned that even when we fail and stumble, that is not the end of our life. God continues to love. When our ability to love comes to an end, God continues to love; God empowers us to love, God strengthens us to forgive. It is the kind of love we never forget once we experience. It is the kind of love that remains in our hearts even after he is gone, she is gone, and they are physically gone. What they shared with us is not just their human love but the love of Jesus Christ. Dear friends, it is my prayer that daily we experience the love of God that goes beyond our end. May the love of Jesus Christ dwell in you and guide your life always AMEN.
“When love is found” (Book of Praise hymn 600). Words (1978) by English hymnwriter and pastor Brian A. Wren (1936–). Music (tune: “O Waly Waly”) English traditional; this arrangement by Rachelle Risling. Words copyright © 1983 Hope Publishing Co; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2022 Rachelle Risling, used by permission. Performed on the piano by GCPC music director Rachelle Risling.
We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of being present at Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, 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.
Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
God of grace and mercy, receive all our gifts, offered in thanksgiving. We share the fruit of our labours with you, asking that you will multiply their effects in and through the Church. And we share the fruit of our time and talent, seeking to know how you would have us serve in Jesus’ name.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope, The Lord’s Prayer
O God, your love is patient. We give you thanks for all those who have been patient with us, teaching us and caring for us in so many ways. We pray for the patience to love others as you have loved us.
O God, your love is kind.Thank you for every unexpected gesture of kindness we have received. Give us the courage to be kind to others, serving those who seem unkind, rude, or difficult to love in these difficult days. Remind us that each one we meet is your child, our sister or brother made in your image.
O God, your love is not arrogant, nor does it seek its own interests. Thank you for all who work to serve those who cannot fend for themselves. Strengthen those who have lost hope and confidence in their own value. Give us insight to speak the truth in love and to work for change that creates opportunities for those on the margins and respect for any who face discrimination.
O God, your love is not quick-tempered. Thank you for every occasion when someone spared us from their anger. We pray for those who are filled with anger and for all around them who face or fear violence. Raise up advocates for children and elders who are abused, and rescue those who are trapped in relationships that injure and harm.
O God, your love bears all things; it never fails. We thank you for those we have loved in this life and who now dwell in the peace and joy of your presence. Let your comfort settle on those who are bereaved or lonely this day. We remember before you those with heavy burdens, many cares, much stress, and those who find too little comfort and help.
God of love, Hear our prayer. Open our eyes to those in need around us and show us how to offer support and companionship, for the sake of Christ, our friend and savior who taught us to pray:
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.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always. AMEN
- “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated on 2022-01-29 21:00 – Added link to video version of the service on YouTube.