February 13, 2022 – Sixth 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=wBxcMhSQQGo from 12:15 AM on February 13, 2022.
Whenever you see this movie reel symbol, you can click on it to view a video segment on YouTube. If you experience any difficulties, please contact our webmaster.
Call to worship
One: Sing to the Lord a new song!
All: Let us make melody before our God!
One: Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
All: Let us praise God’s holy name together.
One: How good it is to sing praises to our God;
All: For God is gracious and steadfast in mercy.
One: A song of praise is always fitting,
All: For God heals the broken hearted and binds up our wounds.
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
God of majesty and mystery, we come before you in wonder and humility. Source of all that is, you are beyond our imagining, astonishing us with the detail and designs within your creation. Word of hope and healing, you touch our lives with truth and tenderness, revealing our need and our gift. Spirit of purpose and possibility, you move within us when we least expect it, awakening our gifts, urging us to respond. Receive our praise and prayer this day, and prepare us to receive your Word in its wisdom and warning, for we come to you through Christ our Lord, trusting in his grace and truth.
God of life and love, at this season of the year our hearts are grateful for all the love which touches our lives. Still we confess that we are not always shining examples of the love we long for. Forgive us those times when we failed to keep our word and disappointed those who love us. Renew and remake us through the grace of your Son, Jesus, your love made flesh.
Declaration of Pardon
God is love, and that God’s perfect love casts out fear. We are promised that those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. So claim your hope in this Good News: God’s perfect love abides in you through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thanks be to God.
There are many surprises in our life; some are wonderful, and others are more challenging.
Here are some of my surprises. I never thought I would be a minister… I never thought I would be a YouTuber.
Some people say this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. None of them said they were happy with the pandemic, what they saw and faced, but for what they learned. It has been an opportunity for some to pause and reset their lives. For others, they have learned to deepen their appreciation for people around them.
Although my patience has been tested by the pandemic this week, I can also see some of the blessings. Every life event often offers both blessing and hardship.
Today, the Gospel of Luke chapter 6 invites us to think about the blessings and challenges we experience in our life journey.
I am going to read verses from 20 to 26,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
Jesus in the gospel of Luke invites us to deepen and redefine our understanding of the blessings and adversities we go through.
First, from verses 21 to 23, Jesus invites us to look at our misfortunes, adversities, hardships, sufferings, and failures as a precious opportunity to experience God’s blessing. Jesus invites us to look at our poverty, hunger, sorrow, broken relationships, and disappointments as an opportunity to learn more about who we are and who God is, what God is capable of doing through us.
We may learn to depend less on materials and depend more on God through our poverty. We may learn to seek God above anything else. We may learn to appreciate a cup of water and a small loaf of bread through our hunger. We may discover a sense of appreciation for every little thing we tend to take for granted.
We may learn to understand what others are going through our sorrow.
It may enlarge our eyes and hearts to accept and welcome those who are struggling and suffering. We may learn to forgive ourselves through our broken relationship, and we may learn to accept what it means that we are forgiven by God.
Second, from verses 24 to 26, Jesus invites us to think about how dangerous and destructive our temporal human success, wealth, power, and popularity can become for us and others.
The poverty that the ancient Israelites were experiencing was the direct product of the oppression by the Roman Empire and a privileged few. Although I do not believe Jesus romanticizes poverty, hunger, sorrow, and brokenness, nor do I think Jesus condemns success, wealth, power, or popularity. But Jesus does raise an important question: “How did we achieve our wealth, power, and success, and at what cost?”
Perhaps our desire for having more bread may force somebody else to take that much less bread for his family. We have seen what happened to the toilet papers and the cleaning supplies early in the pandemic. Perhaps our desire for more may force us to see everyone around us as competitors and enemies. Perhaps our desire to be liked may prevent us from making a healthy and Christ-centered decision, and it may force us to ignore the cries of the marginalized.
So what does it mean for us today? How should we approach our life?
I believe our text today teaches us that our life has a journey and its seasons. We go through up and down. We experience summer but also winter. We experience success but also failure. We experience laughter but also tear. We experience light as well as darkness. We should not become too haste in saying, “I am done.” “I am punished.” “There is no hope.” Life goes on, it continues. We have learned and we have been learning that God does not stop blessing us, never stops loving us. We should not give up our hope and trust in God and in each other too quickly.
Our life is not about how successful we become but how faithful we are to each moment and whether we learn and grow through each moment of our life.
I appreciate how a Jewish rabbi, Abraham Heschel approached his life. He wrote, “I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder. And you gave it to me.”
I agree that our life is not an opportunity for us to succeed or to fail but to be surprised by God’s immeasurable love and grace. Each moment is a precious opportunity to experience God’s presence.
May we give thanks to God for God’s faithfulness, remain hopeful and encouraged!
“Come thou fount of every blessing”. Words (1758) by English Baptist scholar and hymnwriter Robert Robinson (1735–1790). Music American folk tune “Nettleton” first published 1813; this arrangement by Colleen Adent. Words and music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 2009 Fred Bock Music Company; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Performed on the keyboard 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, you are the Source of our lives. From you, all loving kindness, justice and mercy flow. Bless these gifts so that acts of kindness, justice and mercy may flow through them, too. And bless our lives so our words and actions show your Spirit at work in us and through us, in the name of Jesus Christ, our friend and Saviour. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope, The Lord’s Prayer
God of mystery and mercy, we come before you today carrying hopes and dreams, the burdens and blessings of our lives. We bring all that is on our hearts and minds to you, seeking your comfort and strength, listening for your guidance, grateful that you hear us when we pray.
God of life and love, we give you thanks that you engage us whenever we need you, in the midst of challenge and uncertainty. We pray today for all those who are fearful about their future, and for all who wrestle with challenges at work or at home. Help us face our fears and our challenges, sure of your steadfast love: God of hope and healing, In Jesus Christ you confronted demons that trouble our minds and the pain and illness which can weigh us down. We pray today for all those who are facing health concerns, and for all who care for the suffering and those in need support.
Surround each one with your steadfast love. God of peace and promise, when we wrestle with any burden, your Spirit prays within us with sighs too deep for words. Today we pray for all those whose burdens seem too heavy to bear: for the victims of violence or disaster, for their friends and families…
For refugees at risk in so many places in the world, and those making a new home in our community…
For those caught in despair and poverty in our own neighbourhoods and in the forgotten corners of your world.
Renew the strength of all facing realities beyond their control with your steadfast love: Faithful God, Hear our prayer.
Receive all our prayers, spoken and unspoken, and equip us to do your will.
We offer our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, 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. Amen
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
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 2022-02-13 13:50 – Added link to YouTube virtual service version; updated information about Musical meditation.